Gardening

Insects

Insects come in all forms from the creepy crawly to the stunningly beautiful. I have found as we've built our soil and increased the plant life, the insect population has grown as well. Learning to live peacefully with some insects can certainly be challenging but many provide valuable inputs into the system we are creating when we build sustainable landscapes. Our goal here is to highlight some of the challenges and some of those insects than can contribute to the life in our yards in a beneficial way.

Aquaponics resources

Forums and email lists

Backyard aquaponics forum

If you are interested in adding an aquaponics system, I'd recommend spending some time on this forum. The people on the list are extremely helpful and have a great sense of humor. Be prepared to disappear into the site for long periods of time. The site is based out of Australia but there are members from all over the world.

Yahoo barrelponics group

Aquaponics overhaul

I spent the afternoon in the greenhouse making some changes to our aquaponics system. When we initially setup the system, we put two beds above the others. These beds were dedicated to raising duckweed and are setup to be a constant height of water with no other media in the bed. We have had to clean the beds several times since water comes in directly from the fish tank and then settles out in the bed leaving a lot of fish waste in the bottom of the tank. We also have a fingerling tank that is fed directly from the main fish tank and has similar issues.

Thoughts on building soil

  • When you are attempting to build a new garden bed area, decide where the paths will be and where the planting areas will be. Only walk on the paths and avoid walking on the planting areas. This protects the soil structure, allowing the worms and other microbes to build tunnels and connections easily destroyed by walking on them.
  • Think about feeding the soil. Some techniques such as lasagna gardening and sheet composting work on the idea of feeding the soil microbes. Rather than building a compost pile on the side of the garden, the items are composted in place.

Aquaponics, we have tilapia fry

The water in our aquaponics system has been warming over the last few weeks as spring finally set in. Every few days I look into the water to see if there is any sign of tilapia fry in the tank and this morning, there were. I madly scrambled around and created a home for them. I made a square out of PVC tubing and elbows so it would float and then put that around a pond plant pot to secure the fry from the big bad adults in the system. So far, I've only found three little ones, but I'll keep watching and adding any more I find into the containment area.

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