Growth Update Week: 11

Wow. It’s been a while since I posted on here. Been reeeally busy with work. Fun things are happening with the unit.


Wow. some of them are frigin huge. It’s really an array of sizes because weeks ago the small ones weren’t pulled out to allow all the nutrients to go to the bigger ones. Still, pretty cool. I’ve pulled a few of them and they taste very strong. Like tangy as hell. Pretty cool.

radish exploded from aquaponics project

It grew to the point it exploded. Kind of awesome.



late harvest garlic

Kind of weird, cause the garlic I planted at the beginning (11/17/10, 11 Weeks ago) has kind of ended up with dried up tips at the top. I’m told that just means the garlic roots are going deeper or something so it’s a good thing, but as you can see from this photo, the late harvest garlic (planted 12/11/10, 7 weeks ago) is actually taller now than the original garlic. IDK what’s going on with that, but it’s cool.

Since half of the radishes had to be harvested, and the garlic is growing so well, I decided to go ahead and plant more of the garlic in place of the radishes. In a week or so I’ll probably pull the radishes and replace them with Garlic too.

Solar Powered Water Heater

I picked up the refrigerator coil from my grandparents house this weekend, which gives me the last main part of the solar-powered water heater that I need to really get the ball rolling.

refrigerator coil

I took the aluminum cans that my family has been saving for me and attached them in the wood box with the left over caulk I had from fixing the fish tank a week ago. Then I spray painted it with two coats of black spray paint to absorb the heat better once it’s installed..

I bent the coils so now they are flat. All that is needed is to get the right fitting and try it out. This part I’m assuming would take the longest to make sure it worked. Unfortunately, the weather has turned rainy this weekend so it’ll have to wait. I’m not terribly interested in trying to get it all hooked up in the rain as it could take a couple trips to the store and reducing fasteners, etc.

Hope to be back up with a new post next weekend, as the following two weekends after that are kind of spoken for with trips and Ficken Esquire coming to the city. LAWYERED!


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Growth Update: Week 5.5

All right, I’ve been gone for just over a week and there has been some pretty decent growth.


They’re looking good. Still waiting to see them start bulbing up at the bottom though. It’s almost two weeks past due in terms of when they should have fully grown, but I’m assuming that has to do with the fact that I’m only using gold fish.


The garlic is growing like gang busters. The biggest has nearly doubled in size to about a foot tall. As you can see the top part of one of them is kind of wilting. Is that good?


Starting to sprout. I’m mildly concerned I didn’t plany the bulbs low enough, but you can see them starting to creep out.

I didn’t even take pictures of the Romain Lettuce cause one of them seems to have disappeared all together and the other one is hardly growing at all. I’m thinking of replacing them with garlic too, for now.


Ok, this part is the craziest part. After watching some videos online (at the bottom) I decided I could make a solar powered water heater for the fish tank. If I’m right, the pressure from the fish tank should cycle the water through the pipes and heat the water.

Right now, there’s no way I could farm Tilapia because the fish tank gets as low as 55deg’s sometimes and as low as 30 some nights. Tilapia can’t live in waters below 60 degrees. They just die. And paying to heat the water regularly is just flat out cost prohibitive. This led me to looking into solar powered water heaters.

This thing is going to require 132 soda cans. I have 21.....

The basic idea is that the light from the window passes through, hits the copper coil that from either a refrigerator (or something I’ve made) heating the water as it passes through. The aluminum cans behind the coil also act as heat gathers. I’ll also be spray painting them black before I’m done. The hardest part has been trying to find the refrigerator coil for the box. Older refrigerators have the coil in the back while new ones have bunched up coils on the bottom. And seemingly no one has the coil I’m looking for. I’ll figure it out eventually though.

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“Brunette” purchased & other things

Several things going on with the unit. Like to hear about?

NEW FISH – “Brunette”

Purchased a third fish, which max’s out the capacity of the unit. Gold fish run a high alkalinity, so if there were more than three (from what I’ve heard) the fish would start dying.

maddy with brunette

Hoping to switch to tilapia in the Spring, but this will do for now.


The other garlic bulbs were doing so well, I decided to plant some more. So I went to the Safeway and settled for Christopher Ranch garlic. SET-TLED. And these seeds look huge. Atleast 50% bigger than the last ones I planed.


fresh garlic bulbs



In preparation for a potential switch to tilapia in the Spring, I want to start growing some duck weed. The plan is to use the upper tank that I took off the unit to grow the it. Eventually, I ‘d move the goldfish over to nutriate it. Right now, going to use the waste from my turtles cage to feed it. Just gotta find some frigin duckweed seeds. I’ll save this one till I get back from the city.

That’s it for the update. I won’t have anything again until I get back from the city on the 23rd. Hopefully the new garlic will have made some headway and we’ll see some radish bulb growth. That’ll put the next update as Growth Update: Week 5.5. Rage.

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Growth Update: Week 3.5

I’m a little late this week with the update as I was in San Francisco longer than I was expecting. Exciting things happened with the unit!


radishes 12.09.10

While the radishes doubled in size, from 1″ to 2″, they are still way behind the curve in terms of expected growth. According to the package of seeds I got, I should be able to harvest on Dec. 13th, a scant 4 days from now. As you can see, there are no radishes appearing yet.

radish leaves 12.09.10

This happened in San Francisco as well. It probably has something to do with the overall weather as well as the fact that I’m using goldfish for nutrients as opposed to the more common tilapia. With a larger setup, of say a solar-powered water heater for the fish tank I would switch to tilapia, but it’s just too cold right now.


romaine 12.09.10

Well… it’s growing. It’s up to a full 1″ height. I got nothing else about this one. I’m a stones throw from chucking it for something that grows better. Like….


The garlic seems to be doing reeeeeally well. It’s nearly doubled in size in the last week and a half from 3″ to 6″. I’m debating replacing the romaine lettuce with garlic bulbs. I have no idea what kind of garlic my Mom gave me to plant, but she told me it was the standard white Christopher Ranch garlic she buys at Safeway. If only I knew someone who could tell me what that kind of garlic it is QUESTION MARK QUESTION MARK EXCLAMATION POINT

garlic 12.09.10


It’s growing mold. So I turned it. It’s been a while since I did that. Obviously, that needs to happen more often.

compost 12.09.10


Probably going to get a third fish in the next say or two, much to the joy of the niece. Hoping the increase in “nutrients” from an additional fish gets us some more growth.

When it starts to get warm in Sac, I’m planning on switching to tilapia. This comes with its own host of issues, namely: where do I get them and rigging a feeder on a timer so I don’t have to remember to feed them 3 times a day (or whatever is required). I’ve read that they eat quite a bit/often so we’ll have to see about that one. The cost is mostly what concerns me about it.


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Growth Update: Week 2

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

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

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

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"

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.

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space fish

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.

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Thanksgiving, Goldfish, and Mulch

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.

Aquaponics Water Tracking 1If 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!



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