Monthly Archives: July 2010

Timer installed and other updates

Last week I was finally able to get the timer I’ve been wanting installed from my friend Bill. It’s set right now to run just long enough to fill the upper tank (4:30) and then shuts the pump off for a spell (15:30) making the grow tank flood 3 times an hour.

The system might look jury rigged, but the wiring is solid. We’ll see if that works any better. Before it was running roughly 4 times an hour because all I had was the gate valve. This is way better, but way more expensive. Still, it means my electric bill for running the unit is going to drop roughly by two-thirds. Very cool.

Radish Growth

Everything, as I said before, is standing up straighter. The radishes look good but I haven’t noticed any actual growth of product yet. I’m over the due date, but I’m giving it time since I feel like everything was stunted without the fan.

I’m not entirely sure how radishes are supposed to grow, but is this normal?

I’m thinking they are pushing out the top because the netpots are putting too much pressure on them. It might also be explaining why the scattered ones don’t seem to be doing much better. The river pebbles are possibly too heavy. Maybe I should be reading the other aquaponics blogs more consistently. I’ve read about how some do growing with sand. Makes me wonder if I set this system up with sand and a decent filter on the bottom I could get these suckers to grow properly.

Snow Peas

The new snowpeas in the corner are growing like crazy. They’ve actually surpassed the little trellis I setup. The stalks also seem to be stronger than the old ones were because when they got this tall previously then tended to sag and fall over.

If you look at the radishes photo up top you can also see the growth of the old snow peas. The leaves have turned a darker shade. I’m wondering if this is because they were planted before the new light AND before the fan. Question mark, question mark, speculation…. hmmm…

I also harvested whatever snow I could get off them. The growth is… weird….

The big one is from the snow pea plant that is closested to the air intake. Now I’m wondering if enough air is flowing in. Thankfully, I bought two fans, so if I want to I can set this one up at the window. The only reason I don’t is cause I don’t want to disturb the neighbors.

Bib Lettuce

Almost forgot about the bib lettuce. It’s standing up really straight now. You can see on the comparison photo from just after I installed the new light and way before the fan was setup, the lettuce used to lie there just kind of limp. I assumed that’s what it was supposed to like because I’ve never grown food before. I guess I need to do a littler more reading on the growing and a little less on the technology.

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The exhaust fan is really helping

I thought just having the garage door opening a couple times a day was enough oxygen for the little setup of a few plants growing in the garage. I didn’t have the plastic down over it to encourage the wind blowing over it. But none of that seems to have been enough because now that the exhaust fan is in there sucking out the oxygen and sucking in the outside air the plants seem to be doing a lot better.

This bib lettuce for instance, the only full head of lettuce that remains from my harvesting, is standing straight up now. The leaves were kind of droopy before and had no center cohesion, but now it’s tall and strong. It’s pretty shocking. The radishes are looking heartier as well.


The leaves use to droop in the water, but now they too are standing up straighter.

My Uncle Ron wrote me the other day and did inform me that cucumbers need to be pollinated. Silly me. I’ll use the excuse that I’ve been more interested in the technical part than the actual plants. But since I setup the exhaust, apparently bees have attempted to come in and pollinate anyway. Here’s the photo of a dead one that Jonathan and I think got caught in the flow of the water and couldn’t fly out.

That got our wheels turning about bee farming in conjunction with the aquaponics but that is a talk for another day.

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Aaand it’s essentially a grow house now…

I’ve been talking to Jonathan and we’ve been debating why the growth in the grow beds isn’t as great as we were hoping. It’s good, but not great. Everything is just like what we’ve read about in other sytems, save two things: we aren’t using natural sunlight and the air circulation isn’t what it would be in an open field.

Since I can’t solve the lighting issue, I decided to solve the air issue as best I can. There’s a window near by the unit and we have already setup visquin over the whole so all it required was setting up an exhaust fan.

And look! A plug! So easy this time!

I installed a cheap exhaust fan that you can get at the Home Depot for like $30 with some tube from the window to the unit. It’s a NuTone Basic 696N fan for a bathroom. It’s air movement is 50CFM, which is pretty small because the unit is only 3’x4’x4′ in terms of square footage.

I cut some holes out of a piece of plywood I had lying around the house and run expandable 3″ duct tube to dryer exhaust port things I put in the wood. I put in two so one would be the intake for air from outside. It’s not the tight seal you would need for a real grow unit but it’ll get more air regularly circulating as opposed to the air that comes through when I open the garage door.

And now we wait for the police to show up with a search warrant. Hooray!

It looks like I’m incubating an alien instead of snow peas…..

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Replanting a bit more

I’m of the opinion that the cucumbers are just a complete bust. The leaves are getting this yellow trim that I honestly don’t understand. Take a look.

There’s also the fact that no cucumbers have shown up yet. It’s been about 3+ months and nothing. According to the package, it should have only been about 2 months. Instead I’ve gotten nothing. Take a look at how long this one has gotten and yet not growth.

I opted to take out all of the smaller ones that didn’t get as long as this one did. I left this one so that it would still suck up enough nutrients to continue to bio filter for the fish tank.

I replanted with snow peas again since it’s on the edges of the grow bed where the trellis is installed. I used a couple that came out of the package I bought I also planted one from the giant snow pea pod that I found hidden inside of one of the plants.

Radishes are supposed to be harvested on the 6th, but I don’t think they’ll be ready. We’ll see.

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Snow Pea beget snow pea

I plucked one of the snow pea pods on Monday. I was debating cooking it, but only having one seemed kind of pointless. Instead, I cracked it open, and planted one of the seeds inside.

It’ll be interesting to see if it actually grows.

You can also see the growth of the seed I replaced last week here.

It’s growing nicely. It was probably just an issue with the seed, but using just the scattered technique is just flat out easier than the net pot. So if that way works consistently, I’m going to go with it.

I ate some more of the lettuce too and replanted where the roots were. It’s been a week and I don’t really see any change. Again, having no idea what I’m doing, I figured it would just be easier to replant this time.

I’ve got one sign that the spinach is popping up. It’s below. Tell me if you spot it.

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