Aquaponics - Sweet Remano Peppers

I raised the rest of my precious stash of Sweet Remano Pepper seeds in the sprouter over the last few weeks, and this time I've been laying beer traps all over their growbed space.

Beer is a wonderful, delicious thing, and an excellent use of grain. But it's even more attractive, and poisonous to slugs and snails as it is to humans.

A snail and slug beer trap is a relatively environmentally friendly way to kill slugs and snails, and involves putting a little beer in a bowl or cup, and leaving in the area you are trying to protect. I use Chinese tea cups. The slugs and snails love the stuff, and either drown in it, or it's poisonous to them in some way. Either way, you find them dead in the traps the next day.

I put four traps out for the last few days leading u to the time I figured I would be transplanting my sprouts, and trapped a few the first day, and none since then. The beer was changed every night at sundown (slugs become active at night) because the alcohol evaporates. I'm not sure if the alcohol has anything to do with it, but I'm guessing it does.

So I diligently maintained the traps before the transplanting, and last night I planted twelve of the sprouts into half of my scoria filled, flood and drain growbed, and another ten or so in a clump in the clay ball filled flood and drain growbed. The ten in the clump were planted like that so I can find space for them later, or fill the gaps from any that don't survive in the bed where they are nicely spaced.

I'll keep up the baiting until my beer runs out.

120 Things in 20 years - Aquaponics - Sweet Remano Peppers - One for the slugs, one for me. One for the slugs, one for me.

Aquaponics - PVC Tube tomatoes

My PVC tube tomato now seems to be growing at full speed.

There's stacks of new growth every day, and the first of the tomato flowers are just starting to form.

That should really read "the first of the tomato flowers since I cut all the existing flowers and leaves off, so that I could jam it into a PVC tube, are just starting to form".

The entire point of the exercise was to get the tomatoes outside where it could grow as big as it wanted without taking up all the space inside, but it looks like the entire system is about to be outside.

The grow house isn't UV stable, and as a result is turning to dust every time I so much as look at it.

Even a sly sideways glance from a distance sees yet more daylight induced destruction.

The hardware chain I bought it from will probably replace it, but this is my third one from them and I'm starting to wonder if they really care about the percentage of my life I spend dealing with a product that really shouldn't give any problems.

Any % of life spent at a returns counter, is too much %.

Aquaponics - Sprouts

It turns out leaving the sprouts in the sprouter for way to long is counter productive.

Who knew.

They went soggy and the leaves fell off.

So I have only one cucumber, (or perhaps it's a rock melon) seedling planted out into the growbed.

I put the last of my Sweet Remano Peppers in the sprouter a few days ago, so they have all sprouted.

I'll be watching them closely to make sure I plant them before they also succumb to my bog inducing delinquence.

Aquaponics - PVC Tube tomato

My PVC tube tomato seems to have found it's feet.

It took a while after I removed all but four or so leaves on each of the four plants that make up this particular experiment.

 It's probably back to around what it looked like four weeks ago.

By my standards, that actually constitutes success.

On a side note, the foliage in the background is the grow bed that I emptied and flooded around five weeks ago (flooded to get any slugs out).

That's lettuce you can see, and we've been cutting a salad a day from just that right hand side. The left hand side was Bok Choy, but that all went to seed, and has since been fed to my worms.

When I put the seedlings in (bought from a shop) I also sprinkled some mixed lettuce seeds around.

It looks like this five weeks later.

We've been harvesting from the front, and you can see some of the seedlings from the seeds are looking a little weak because they have been struggling for light, but now they have some, they will spring to life.

In summer, and harvesting a light lunch size salad each day, (in Adelaide South Australia at least) we found you need around half a blue barrel worth of growbed real estate, as long as you seed every week.

I like coz lettuce because it can be harvested as it grows (ie just cutting off leaves rather than pulling up the plant) , but these loose leaf varieties are proving to be quick growing, and can also be repeat harvested. if you drop seeds in around the seedlings when the seedlings are around the size you buy them at, the seeds are seedlings when the lettuce has been repeat harvested as much as it can, and finally gets pulled out.  I just read that again, and I think all that means something. 

The leaves get bitter toward the end of the lettuce life cycle as they are about to go to seed. The leaves  also grow further apart. So once they start growing from a stalk rather than from a central point at the base, it's time to pull the plant up, and let the light in to the little ones, that are by this time the size of the store bought seedlings.

I don't think I've ever grown the iceberg style lettuce that grows like a cabbage, so I don't know if you can repeat harvest that, but I suspect not. 

I used to take a lot of care with growing lettuce seedlings, and transplanting them, but now all I do is put a stack of different seeds into a jar, and sprinkle a pinch of them around directly into the growbed. 

I suspect the clay balls are better than scoria when you direct seed. I think the seed (especially small seeds like lettuce) fall down until they stick to the side of the media once it's deep enough that the media is damp. 

I suspect that's just right as far ar growing goes. 

Perhaps with scoria, the seeds catch in the holes in the media before they get to the correct depth. 

Or it could just be luck, but I'm seeing much better germination rates in the clay ball media. 

But it's also a constant flood grow bed, so perhaps that's got something to do with it as well. 

120 Things in 20 years - Results, but no science to back it. Oh, and also PVC Aquaponics tomatoes.

Electronics - Aquaponics management system

I've decided to remake my demand feeder from scratch.

I just couldn't figure out what was wrong with existing model, and it may well be because there were just some random bits soldered on. Some stuff didn't seem to serve any function.

So I thought I'd start with some proper documentation and some kind of plan. That way I can work out which chip I need, depending on what functionality I require, and also some plan for expansion.

I also plan on making it work as a demand feeder before making it do anything else like regulate how much feed the fish can have. At the moment my fish can have as much as they want, because I have much more filtration system that I need to cope with only two fish.

The plan looks like this at the moment.

I just started.

I realise that isn't very informative as far as pictures go, but it does in some small way, indicate just how much more I have to do.

120 Things in 20 years - I'm exhausted already just thinking about thinking about the plan on how to make an electronics based aquaponics management system.

Aquaponics - New system bits

I got this.

Which is a 500L grow bed.

And looks like this from the inside.

And I got this.

Which is a 500 litre bucket.

And a stack of bags of this.

Which is around 500L of expanded clay ball grow media.

And now I need to figure out what to do with it.

I was giving some serious thought to getting rid of my aquaponics system, because we need the space for a business venture, and there really isn't anywhere else it (the aquaponics or the business venture) can go.

So I bought all this extra stuff.

This will take my grow bed, and thus filtration capacity up from around 300L to more like 800L

And depending on what I do with the gigantic bucket, I might fill that with media as well and take the capacity up to 1300L

That would mean I could actually have enough fish that it would impact on my diet.

Which is nice.

120 Things in 20 years - Busy with new aquaponics system bits.

Aquaponics - Tomato in PVC

It's been a while since I used PVC in a novel way, so I thought I'd cut all the leaves off my tomato and ram the stems and roots into a PVC pipe.

It seems to have worked.

I like to think of it as a solution.

I started with four tomato plants that have been happily growing with their roots just dangling in my fish tank.

That's them after I fulled them from their comfortable home and lay them on top of the fish tank. They are around a metre long from root tip to top.

They look healthy, and have a stack of clusters of flowers and little fruit forming all over the place.

They were a bit bushy to fit them into a PVC tube with a 90 degree angle and it was going to be way too difficult to jam all that foliage through the pipe, so I trimmed some of it away.


Now it fit easily into the pipe so that the tips were peeking out of one end, and the roots hanging out of the other.

The only thing now is to see if my aquaponics system will be a nice enough place for it to live that it bounces back from my cutty mistreatment.

I'm willing to bet this experiment will work quite well.

One potential problem I can see is that it will still try to make foliage in the pipe, and as a result, the conditions in the Tube will be damp and still, and that might lead to disease.

If that looks like being the case, I can always simply cut the PVC away with scissors.

It only has to last long enough for the tomatoes to reach outside and concentrate their growing out there.

Once there is enough foliage outside, and if I do have to cut the PVC away, it should be easy enough to keep the stems inside the grow house free of new growth.

120 Things in 20 years - only time will tell if my aquaponics PVC tomato works. It should be just a few weeks before I know.

Aquaponics - Cucumber sprouts

Every single one of the capsicum sprouts got munched by slugs.

Now I have cucumber sprouts that have worked realy well in the bean sprout sprouter.

These seem to have done particularly well in the sprouter, but that could just be because they are a large seed, and make a large sprout.

I'm calling using a bean sprout sprouter to raise seedlings for aquaponics, a total success.

This cucumber sprout is around 240mm in total length from tip of root to leaves.

That's a big sprout.

All grown from seed in the bean sprout sprouter, and all strong, healthy, and best of all totally organic.

Actually the real "best of all", is that it doesnt contain any dirt that needs washing off before planting in the system.

Also, it's length means the roots should reach nearly to the bottom of my grow beds.

Much more than they need to find all the water and nutrient they could desire.

And all that means they should have no problems growing.

120 Things in 20 years - struggling without a spell checker to post anything at all, but still managing to put some semi-science out there in the form of my Aquaponics cucumber sprouts.

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