Exciting week in my parents back yard. Let’s take a look!
Radishes: The radishes are sitting right now at about one and a half inches tall. I thinned it out, so now it has roughly the recommended spacing where the rows are 12″ apart and 3 to 4 inches apart from each other.
Radish growth - Week 2
Romaine Lettuce: this one is taking a bit longer and is only 3/4″ tall right now. these are meant to be 18″ apart in terms of row spacing and 8″ apart from the next ones. Right now, basically, I’ve got two growing.
Romaine Growth - Week 2
Garlic: the garlic seems to be doing really well. I’m actually very surprised by it’s growth. It’s current height is three and a half inches tall. Further reading has told me that garlic takes 8 months to fully mature. Holy god, what was I thinking?
Garlic Growth - Week 2
Fish #2: Today I went out with my niece and we got our second fish named “Blonde”. Seems to be about the right time to add a second fish. There is sufficient growth to warrant it without concern that it will add too much waste thereby creating fungal growth. This was a problem for the one in the garage, so hopefully I haven’t overstepped in the purchase.
Miss Mev and "Blonde"
And that’s it for this update. I’m heading to SF for a few days. We’ll see what it looks like when I get back. The radishes are supposed to be harvested around December 13th. That’s only three weeks out and I’m not sure these guys will make it. Also, the water testing is fine in another week or two, I’ll get a third goldfish.
After not one but two people said to me that it would be grossly, GROSSLY negligent to not make a stronger attempt to keep my fish warmer as the winter gets colder I had to make a decision: somehow warm it or let it live in 40 degree water. With this obviously overwhelming demand how can any one man, with any morals, leave their fish to freeze like old people that can’t pay their electric bill?
Therefore, to avoid the townspeople grabbing their pitch forks and torches, I have turned the fish tank into: THE SPACE FISH TANK!!!!
So it shall be launched into the stratosphere, while the voice of Charleton Heston says "iiiiiinnnnnn sppppppaaaaacccceeeeee"
Oh yes. The SPACE FISH TANK (patent pending). A simple modification to the unit. I bought one of those “blankets” that is normally used to wrap hot water tanks. I might even go so far as to get a mirror to redirect the sunlight that is low in the sky into the tank. That idea is a little extreme, but hey, better that than the alternative.
Oh yes dear both of my readers, it is Thanksgiving Thursday, the less known holiday before tomorrow’s Black Friday (the only holiday African American’s get outside of February’s Black History Month) I’m going to talk some fish action and some mulch action. SAY WHAT?!?!
It’s been nearly two weeks since I fired up the unit and it was high time I actually check the water in the unit. If you’ve never read this before or have no idea what I’m talking about, you have to check the water periodically to make sure that it is within optimum level so your fish don’t turn belly up and float to the top.
If you’re interested in seeing all of the data I’m recording for this aquaponics project, just visit this link or the one in the sidebar.
As you can see from my levels, I’m working within normal parameters so far. I was kind of expecting the Nitrate and Nitrite levels to be a bit higher since the plants are still pretty small, but instead the levels look rock bottom. This means that comes Sunday, to the great joy of my niece, we’ll be getting a second fish. No longer will Redhead have to go to the fish bars all by her lonesome. She’ll be accompanied by Blonde or Brunette, depending on the color of the next fish.
The temperature of the water seems like it’s getting pretty low at night. It’s dropping as low as 45 degrees, which is a solid twenty degrees LOWER than goldfish are supposed to be swimming in. I’d get a heater for it, but honestly, this is about durability of the fish and the waste it can provide. Redhead seems to basically go dormant at night, hiding in the giant black PVC thing I’ve got in there for her at night. I’m hoping that once I’ve got the rest of the mulch containers in there it will provide a bit more ambient heat for the unit.
THAT said, I’ve started to add the mulch containers under the growbeds. I’ve dug up some worms from the backyard to add to each container. There might be other critters I need to add as well, but for now this will aerate the unit containers and “mix up” the waste as it were.
And that is where I’m at. I’ll have more photos for my usual growth update on Monday!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING INTERTUBES!
Growbed 1 - Week 1
GROWBED ONE: The radishes are starting to peak their heads out. I’ve been gone since last Thursday, but it looks like they popped out a day or two ago. Germination for radishes is between 4 & 7 days, so this is a little on the late side but still on track. Harvest is 22 days, which I’m not sure if that’s after germination or if it’s included, but we’ll see around Dec. 15th.
Growbed 1 - Radish growth
Growbed 2 - Week 1
GROWBED TWO: The garlic is doing pretty well. At first I thought that two of them weren’t really growing, but after shifting the rocks a bit I found them. They might have just been buried a little too deep. Hopefully the shift will help them grow.
Growbed 2 - Garlic
The romaine lettuce is doing ok. When I checked on it last night I couldn’t see any growth, but this morning I saw it poking its head out finally on the left side. The right side though there hasn’t really been any movement that I can see, so if nothing creeps out in the next few days I’ll replant there with probably more garlic.
Growbed 2 - Romaine Lettuce
GENERAL NOTES: I’m debating when to upgrade to a second goldfish. My concern is over nutriating(sp?) the tanks and getting fungal growth again while everything is still growing lightly. I’m thinking of giving it one more week, then if it’s doing ok and the water PH etc isn’t too high I’ll drop one more in.
Also, I’m going to stick the compost bins under in a few days. They nearly have a sufficient amount of food to work with.
After spending some time researching to determine the best possible plants to grow this time around (which I think was 15 minutes on Wikipedia), I settled on the following:
Grow Bed #1: Radishes: That’s right, I’m doing radishes again. Primarily because they grow fast and don’t require bees to pollinate. (DAMNED CUCUMBERS!!!) Below is an image of the pattern I used to plant them next to what the grow bed actually looks like on day one.
Grow Bed #2: Garlic & Romaine Lettuce: There are two reasons I decided on this one. The first is that I was going to go all garlic because the growth room needed is tighter, but then I figured I could just go with half/half. The second is to see if my friend Ken, of KenRocksMyWorld.com fame, will actually come to my house with an axe and destroy the unit. 🙂
This should also give me a chance to see how the above ground growth of the radishes compares to the below ground growth of the garlic in the pea pebbles.
I’ll be looking at doing hopefully weekly updates on the growth. If things pick up, we’ll move to twice weekly. Per usual, there will be periodic updates of the trials and tribulations of the unit as whole.
Ok, it took me most of the weekend but I got the unit up and running. Below is a quick video tour. Nothing is growing yet, but that will soon change.
I ended up planting radishes (again), romaine lettuce, and garlic. (You read that right Ken.)
Additionally, I’m debating adding a grow light in the upper back portion so I can extend the daylight hours for the unit. That part is up in the air, but all things considered I feel pretty good about it.
As I continue to search for full time employment I also work at keeping myself busy. There’s only so much time one can spend writing cover letters and trying to convince companies that you are the one to pick over the other 300+ applicants they get per job. (Trust me. That’s a very real number.)
That aside, the time has given me the chance to finally return to the aquaponics unit! There is only so much time I cans spend on my other projects (Magician Christian Cagigal, The Tall Blog, Hot Nerd Girl, Ken Rocks My World) that don’t require much getting dirty before I really want to pick up a power tool and MAKE something.
My kingdom for AutoCAD
So this time I’m setting up the unit in my parents backyard in Sacramento. That means we’re moving out of the garage and into the backyard. That also means we’re going to need a green house.
I’ve been scanning the inter-tubes considering different designs. Size and shape are a big consideration, as is the cost. I’m still working on it, as the drawing above shows, but I do have a few things I know I’m doing that I can mention.
1) Eliminating the upper flood tank: The upper flood tank isn’t needed anymore since I got the timer. I had several issues with the system as well. The water bottle kept catching on the pipe coming out of the flood tank to fill the bottle or simply falling off. It’s not so much a flaw in the design as it is my inability to get it to work properly. But with the timer and all the valves I’ve got hooked up I should be able to pull it off without it.
2) Tiny greenhouse: The greenhouse is only going to encapsulate the unit. The idea is to minimize space since my parents aren’t interested in a giant greenhouse in their backyard.
3) Compost pit under the unit: This one might not work out, but the plan is to do some composting/mulching underneath the unit for warmth. If it doesn’t work out, obviously I’ll stop. I did see a video though on Youtube where it was working well in the northern Midwest so I figure it could work here too.
Other than that, I’ll have a run down of the unit hopefully on Saturday.
Even the thought of working with my hands makes me happy 🙂