Thursday, October 10, 2013

Growing Organically

Wow!  Tilapia grow so quickly! Just a few months ago these guys were only about 3"-4" long and not very meaty.  Now they're 7"-8" and pretty heavy in my net!  I'm going to have to get a bigger net eventually! I love growing fish and plants together!  They really do compliment one another in sustaining each other to grow healthy and thrive! The best part is it's EASY! I wish everyone had one of my set ups in their yard! They are so handy and exciting to have. For example, yesterday I pulled a couple of my sweet banana peppers off and made a delicious egg casserole  from the recipe at this link( Doesn't growing your own organic ingredients seem so much healthier and more interesting to cook with.  It really makes you think about where your food comes from. In fact, being in tune with what I eat and where it comes from is one of the reasons I started aquaponic gardening.  Do some homework and you'll see!

This photo doesn't do justice. They're about 7.5" from mouth to fin.
(Do not name the things you eat)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

June - August

     I wanted to post this sort of time-lapse so that you can have a good view of what has changed from the time I started in June till now three months later.  
     Over the past quarter I've had many plants die, due to my lack of a green thumb, but I still have a few pulling their weight.  My original plants started were: one green onion, oregano, tomato, greek basil, and a red bell pepper. I lost the green onion, oregano and recently my red bell.  I would say that the cause of death for all of them was due to water;  too much water leading to root rot.
     Others that I have planted were the green bell pepper, jalapeno, sweet banana pepper and duckweed.  Unfortunately I lost my jalapeno to root rot. The duckweed didn't have the right conditions.
     The tomato and basil I would say have tripled in size from then till now and have been doing very well.               

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tomato and Sweet Banana Pepper Blossoms

 My tomato and sweet banana pepper are blooming! I purchased these plants from Lowe's Garden Center.  They have a good selection and their plants look healthy. Keep the green growing!

 Sweet Banana Pepper

Tomato Flowers!

These buds should be growing into tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Root Rot

Well, the Jalapeno and Red bell have had root rot.  My Jalapeno died because I didn't know what was wrong with it until my Red bell started doing the same thing.  The leaves get super soft and droopy, and the roots are brown and soft.  I pulled all the brown roots off of  the Red bell hopefully that was what I was supposed to do.  There were only a few short white roots left, thicker than all the brown hair roots but still not enough to support itself at its current sized.  

When transferring plants from soil, CLEAN the roots completely, especially on the peppers.  Also, spread the roots apart don't just dig a hole in your grow medium and plop it in.  If there are chunks of soil and/or the roots are just in a ball, they will not dry enough between water cycles; the plant will drown.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Greek Basil & Growth Comparison!

This is a small part of my Greek Basil that I pulled off and stuck in the rocks.  Its growing nice and big now!  You can see in the picture below the smaller leafs growing.

Here's an old updated view of the grow bed.  The small plant in the back right corner is a weed.  Check out the other pictures to see the difference in growth!

 This is a close up of the weed in my grow bed.  Compare this to the next picture and you can see a huge difference!

Our new Shnoodle puppy Branson!  He's about 8 weeks old!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Composting Red Worms in Aquaponics

I went to Bass Pro Shops to see if they had red worms and they did!  I got a small container of thirty red worms for $5.00.  I counted to see if I actually got thirty and I was counting past thirty. I counted to thirty-eight and stopped with plenty more to count.  I put about ten of them in my grow bed and fed ten of them to the tilapia.  I had the rest in a five gallon bucket i was going to use for composting.  My lovely wife hated the worms and dumped the bucket in the trash.  The worms are good for breaking down solids and create good chemical waste for the plants.  They also clean the solids out of the grow bed and keep everything flowing.  My fish love them and as the worms cycle through the system they'll be picked off by the fish.  The worms should lay a lot of eggs every week.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sweet Banana, Green and Jalapeno Peppers

     Saturday I added the breeding tank underneath the grow bed and three pepper plants!  

 I've got the sweet banana pepper, a green bell and a jalapeno plant getting used to their new location.  The heirloom tomato is doing really well growing new leaves and branches.  Growing a few buds as well!  My banana pepper came with three buds on it so hopefully they don't drop off and I can get some peppers soon! I harvested the red bell pepper off to let the plant focus of getting it's leaves back and growing larger.  The pepper was bruised and dried out on top anyway.  I lost my onion due to being too deep in the water.  I cut a tip off to taste it and the next days later It started wilting a lot.  I was curious and was pulling it up to see how deep it was and the whole top just came off.  The stock was just a mushy jelly.  I was experimenting with some baby carrots that turned out to be like the mushy onion. I planted them half in the water with just their tops showing I checked them when I checked the onion.  Live and learn, work on that green thumb!
 I went to Lowes's and got a 50 gallon tote to build this breeding tank it's kinda flimsy I had to zip tie the lid on for a support to keep it together.  I hope it lasts a while.  I had a problem with the tank filling too quickly, and I spent all night sunday trying to figure out a way to regulate the water flow into the tank while still having the siphon work normally. I ended up with what you see in this picture above with some of the water going off into the tank and a majority just going into the sump.  The water in the tank is being replaced about every three hours with this set up. Now I'm waiting for these guys bellow to grow a bit larger so I can start breeding.  I put a couple 4" PVC pipes 6" long to give them somewhere to hide from each other.  They seem to be constantly chasing each other around.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Self Sustainable Living

Urban farming is growing rapidly.  Aquaponics is an amazing way to do that. Watch this video and see their story and learn from what they're doing that you can implement at your home and share with your community. It's like homesteading in a sense that the goal is to be off the grid and produce your own food sustainable but stay in the city rather than off in the woods some where.  This uses less water, it's organic, it's character building and there are so many ways to benefit from running a system like this.


Garden Pool in Mesa, Arizona

Garden Pool is a non profit organization in the McClung's family backyard.  They bought a house and the pool was empty and they did not want to fix it so they decided to turn it into a large green house with a pond in the deep end. They give classes on many different topics such as: what to grow, how to grow it, how to harvest, what works, what doesn't.  They are also making efforts to teach community members how to grow their own food! Here are some pictures of my duckweed and string algae production.

                                Trying to get some string algae to grow to feed the Tilapia
                                I propped the shade cloth up to get some breeze flowing through
                                and to shade the walls from the sun.  The're acting like a furnace
                                radiating heat.

                                My grow media cubic feet bio filter to gallons of water is: 10 cubic
                                feet of grow media to about 85 gallons of water(25-30 gallon
                                sump/grow bed plus 55 gallon fish tank)
                                7.48 gallons = 1 cubic foot
                                85 gallons needs to have a minimum of 11.36 cubic feet. This is a 1:1 ratio.
                                If we say that I only need to filter the fish tank water of 55 gallons then,
                                55 gal to 7.35 cubic feet

Five Tilapia, Duckweed and String Algae

Today I was searching for aquaponic groups in Mesa and I found Garden Pool. They were featured on the news a while back because they turned an empty pool into a green house with a pond in the deep end.  I got to check it out today when I bought the Tilapia and plants from them.  I got them at 5:00 pm and have had them in a five gallon bucket this whole time letting the water temp slowly rise and periodically adding some of my aquaponic water to their water.  It's been 7 hours, the fish have been snacking on duckweed and having a bubble bath.  The 27 feeder fish that I was trying to put in my system all died in three days.  I put the bag of fish into my fish tank to let the water temp match up and it changed too quickly killing all of them rather quickly.  So hopefully these fish are as resilient to changes in temperature and water quality as they're supposed to be. 

My camera battery is died and I cannot find the charger... I really wanted to show you the changes I've made to grow the string algae and duckweed.  

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blog Day 2

Last night I decided to bring the two survivors in. I had two 5 gallon buckets that were all ready to go with a nice water temperature of 75 degrees. They seemed pretty happy to be in an ice bath after boiling for a day and seeing all their buddies die. I used to have lids covering both my fish tank and sump I took the lid off of the fish tank this morning before I went to work, and came home to the water at 96 degrees. I noticed that my sump air temp was pretty high while I was taking some pictures of the system, so I decided to take that lid off too.

My two minnows are still kickin' it; I'm worried that they are starving because I have not seen them eat anything.  I tried feeding them fish flakes but they had no interest. 

Here are the pictures I captured this afternoon:

 Grow bed is 6'x2'x10", 55 Gallon fish tank and 30 gallon sump.
 I used all 1" PVC piping. 
 My lava rock media growing some moss.
 My siphon would not work without this elbow.
94 degrees!  Woohoo!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Welcome to My Aquaponics in the Phoenix Area

Let me introduce myself a bit.  My name is Ryan and I live in Mesa, Arizona.  I married my beautiful wife Caitlin about 9 months ago. We both go to work full-time, I work at a manufacturing company in Tempe and Caitlin just started working at an automotive care center, today was her first day.
 I planted an Oregano, Red Bell, Tomato, Green Onion and Greek Basil  about two weeks ago and yesterday I put twenty-seven feeder minnows in. I currently have five plants and two fish, yes two fish from the original twenty-seven. For those of you that do not live in a HOT climate, I envy you. I went to my local aquarium store today to test my water for the fish, for free btw, the test results showed that the water was perfectly fine.  I bought a floating thermometer and dropped it in the fish tank when i got home.  The water was at 98 degrees. Now, that is a little bit too much on the warm side for any fish. I spent this afternoon searching for ideas on how to cool the water down.  I could buy a water cooler for $300, ha, someone else suggested on yahoo answers to freeze water in bottles and float them in the water, I decided to give that a try.  The water melted pretty quickly and the water temp came down to about 96 degrees, yippie!  My observation is the temperature dropped because it was getting later in the day. Tomorrow I'll see if the little minnows are still swimming right side up.
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Red Bell (Was planted too deep and all the leafs popped off)
Tomato (Got a little crispy, now I think it just needs more nutrients)
Onion pulled from my in-laws dried up garden.
Oregano dried up (Tastes amazing though)