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!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012/05/06 - Seedlings going crazy

Haven't had time to do much, but wanted to at least post a pictorial update.

The seedlings are just going crazy.  Fiance had to move the peas away from the other plants so they wouldn't start climbing them.
 (The seedlings in the front left are the neighbor's sunflower seeds.  Wow, huh?)

Tomatoes need to be whipped into shape again:
Cilantro, Basil, and Strawberries doing well:

I'm hoping to get some good trellis netting (plant hammock) this week so we can start moving seedlings to their forever homes!