Friday, August 3, 2012

2012/08/02 - The season is winding down

I admit, I've been neglecting everything in the garden lately.  Fiance still gets in there, but he doesn't plant new things.  I need to get some good stuff started, or we won't have any to eat.

So here's what happening amidst the benign neglect:

Fiance's purple peppers

The last of the roma tomatoes

An armenian cucumber, finally!

Some beautiful golden bell peppers

An overview of the jungle (I mean "garden") after fiance heavily pruned back the tomato plants (not that you can tell - they're still huge)

And we definitely need to harvest some fish.  I'd like to pull out some of the overgrown leafy greens, but they're necessary to balance the fish load.

One of the interesting things, to me, is the discovery of what we'll actually bother to harvest. 

I've learned that we're not that big on lettuce. 

We'll eat hearty greens if I go get them and prep them, but they aren't fiance's first thought.  On the other hand, the lettuce and hearty greens were seriously infested with aphids and cabbage worms.  That makes both of us less enthusiastic about even touching them.  Fiance works hard to keep the worms down (and the fish appreciate the snack) but it's still been an issue.  We got a new, aquaponic-specific, organic spray to try.  It just came in this week, so I don't have anything to report yet.  I'll keep you posted.

I think many of the specialty salad greens were just too unfamiliar to fiance.  If you're not sure what to do with something, you tend not to harvest it.

He also pulled out most of the brussels sprouts.  They were covered in pests, and still didn't have... what do you call the actual edible parts?  Well, they still didn't have them.  He got frustrated and gave up.

It's been a learning experience.  We'll consider carefully what we plant next, to make sure it's stuff we'll use.  And we'll keep our fingers crossed on the new pest spray.

Also, we need to start planning the solar water heater now, while the weather is still very comfortable.  I don't really want to deal with the large electric bills any more from that bucket heater, but the fish can't be out there in cold for 4 months.

On to the planning!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012/07/18 - Enjoying the produce

Not much to say this time.  Things have gotten terribly busy and I haven't spent as much time in the garden as I'd like.  But the tomatoes and cucumber have been wonderful.

We oven-roasted some tomatoes:
We used those and our basil to make a marinara sauce, and have had homemade pizza several nights.

We've also been enjoying snacks of fresh, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers:

I just love to look at the lemon cucumbers.  Fiance took this picture.  Isn't it beautiful?

We're getting married in a few months.  This weekend we're going to try making a bruschetta topping from our garden and freezing it, then thaw it in a week or two and see if it's still good.  If so, we'll be feeding 100+ guests an appetizer from our own garden.  Yippee!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012/07/01 - Tomatoes going wild

I've got pics from 6/25 and 7/1 to share here!  The lettuce and tomatoes are in full swing, and we're finally in our "salad days" I guess.  lol  The regular cucumber vine only produced two fruit, but we've got a lemon cucumber we picked yesterday, and it has a few more fruit growing.  I don't think the armenian cucumber is going to produce this year.
Lettuce is totally insane, and I'm feeding some to the fish to try to stay ahead of it.
Bell peppers are ripening.  Brussels sprouts are huge leafy plants, but don't seem to be putting out their mini-cabbages yet.  We get a strawberry or two each week.  Cilantro has gone to seed, so it's now officially being called coriander.

Okay, on to the pictures!

First the set from 6/25:


Cherry tomatoes

 Lemon Cucumber

Buttercrunch and red romaine lettuce

Brussels sprouts


Early Girl tomatoes

Roma tomatoes


Purple (eventually) bell peppers

And the pictures from 7/1:

Lemon cucumber

Cherry tomatoes

Frisee and rainbow chard (that didn't get rainbow colored)

Purple (hopefully someday) peppers, with a golden near the bottom


Early Girl and Roma tomatoes

Roma tomatoes

Early Girl tomatoes

Brussels sprouts


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012/06/12 - And finally some harvest

Haven't done much in the system lately except change out more of the water to try to get things balanced again.  Of course the right answer is to eat more of the fish.  I'm waiting to have time to do that.  Meanwhile though, things are looking healthier and I have high hopes that they'll continue to improve.

Meanwhile, we've have at least been eating some of our stuff!  We had a salad of our lettuce (I know I took a picture, but I can't find it).  And last night we picked a few cherry tomatoes and a cucumber.  And of course we've been using basil.  We even made pesto for some of our homemade pasta.

And on to the pictures!

Lettuce (buttercrunch and red romaine):


A few *very* small sections of the cherry tomato bushes about to go insane:

Happy basil:

And recovering rainbow chard:

And here is last night's harvest:

The tomatoes have such a depth of flavor.  It's been too long, and while I know I hadn't been enjoying the store bought tomatoes, I'd forgotten how amazing the home grown ones could be.  And the cucumber was wonderful.

But I admit I'm afraid of how I'm going to feel about it once all those cherry tomatoes start ripening at once!

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012/05/25 - Aquaponics Community affiliate!

I've become an affiliate of The Aquaponic Store.  I buy nearly everything from them already, and they've just started an affiliate program.

I encourage people to start aquaponics because I love it and think it's wonderful.  That will not change.  I will never use my relationship with them to encourage you to buy something you don't need.

But if you've already agreed that it sounds like something you want to try or are already an aquapon, and are looking to purchase components or food or other AP items, would you consider clicking this banner to visit The Aquaponic Store?  Yes, I will earn a small commission from sales.

But I do buy through them myself for anything I couldn't get just as easily up the road.  They have extremely high quality products, helpful staff, and are true aquapons themselves so they have a vested interest in making sure their products actually work as they should.

Silvia Bernstein, owner of the store and of The Aquaponics Gardening Community (the forum I always recommend) has always been extremely helpful to me in learning about aquaponics.  Her book came out last year and she's got quotes from many of us from the forums about how we got started in AP gardening.  In fact, someone from my very small town had bought the book, noticed that there was a quote from someone in our tiny town, and found me to ask questions.  He and his mother stopped by last weekend to see the garden.  What a small world!

I do encourage you to read the About Us page from The Aquaponic Store.  I assure you from my personal experience that they are exactly as wonderful as they seem.  And I hope that whether you use their products or not, you consider joining the forum there. 

Here's my page so you can start off right away with a friend:
I started that page with my first tentative exploration into the world of AP and it has grown with me.  :-) 
I look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012/05/21 - In which fish are caught

First a picture of the underside of the seedling raft:

We separated a lot of seedlings last week.  Some of them got a little big and interwoven so it was more traumatic to them than it needed to be.  Lesson learned: things grow too quickly to be put off an extra week or two.  Get to them as soon as they're ready, or pay the price.

But a MUCH more important lesson has been the balance between fish waste and plants.  I knew our fish were getting big, and I knew we didn't have very many plants (or at least not very big plants), but I hadn't water tested in a while so I didn't realize how bad it had gotten.  Our nitrates were SO high, and even the ammonia was starting to increase.  Also, our plants are suddenly getting really pale and my plant guru told me (without knowing the status of my water) that excess nitrates can cause this.  So we've done several large water changes in the hopes of bringing it all back under control. And we've decided we need to buckle down and start pulling fish out.

Here's the seriously leggy cilantro (I cut the top foot of stalks off and put them in a flower vase in the kitchen to be easy access).  To their left is the happy basil, and to their right are one of the many clusters of flowers from a tomato plant that thinks it's going to take over the city.

Clusters of cherry tomatoes that will, no doubt, ripen at the same time as all their brethren, causing me to have a panic attack in my attempts to capture and cope with them all.

Tomato plants that are 6 feet tall and literally pushing the top of the greenhouse out in their attempt to get larger.

Freshly cut bunch of cilantro on its way to the flower vase in the kitchen

Cucumber plant starting to get tall enough to use the trellis
 Itty bitty cucumbers

Lettuce (with another cucumber plant behind them)

Brussels sprouts

Since we had to drain a lot of the water, it seemed like a good time to also shut off the air long enough to get a few pictures of the fish.
In the top center of this first one is my algae eater.  He's fat and happy.

And here's one separated out for dinner:

 This one is just over a pound.  I think most of ours are about that size.

And here's our neighbor on his way to catch one for us and teach me how to clean it.

I had videos of a fish being caught, and another of the fish swimming around the bottom of the half empty fish tank, but after uploading them to Facebook I deleted them from my phone.  And I'm evidently not smart enough to pull videos back down from Facebook.  But don't worry, you didn't really miss anything.

We did eat the tilapia a few nights later.  Plus fiance bought some more tilapia filets at the store.  We could both tell the difference without any trouble.  Ours were sweet and had a wonderful texture.  The store bought fish was mealy and tough and nearly flavorless.   It's official, we've eaten our fish and they're the best!