Aquaponic Gardening

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I read in Rebecca Nelson's (Nelson & Pade) book Aquaponic Food Production that those of us using flood and drain systems should clean out the grow beds occasionally. Does anyone do this  and is it really necessary? I would have to remove all my plants to do that and it sounds like a royal pain to do. 

If I should do it, how often? I'd do one bed at a time so I wouldn't lose all my plants but geez...

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I've heard of people using worms in their grow beds to constantly "clean" their grow beds to prevent compacting and build up.

That's interesting. I already have red wigglers in my grow beds. I wasn't sure they were there but then found some in the sump tank below. Using worms would certainly be a lot easier than pulling all the plants and washing down the media. 

7 months running - No and hope never to need to.

I have some beds that are over 3 years with red wigglers in them.  I dug through them recently and the look pretty good still.  I probably will need to clean them out in about 2 years.

Every five years sounds better. 

I do agree that beds need to be clean, or at least clean enough to allow air and water to flow throughout. Depending on your fish density and maturity, worms will keep everything right. I've got beds 2 yrs old with no cleaning, but honestly, it's about time. My lava rock beds have a pretty thick layer of fines at the bottom, substantially reducing the volume of growbed that gets air, and thus reducing the biofilter capacity to support fish load. I actually think adding more beds is better than cleaning the old ones, but finding room to do that is the problem.

If your going to clean, I learned a trick from another user on this forum, can't remember who. Use a shop vac. Just start sucking media with shop vac, and the roots will stay with the plant, hopefully. When your done, you should have a stack of rooted plants and a vac full of media. Rinse the media in FT water and put it back, replanting as you go. This is also a good time to spray the plants with Organicide (natural fish-oil pesticide I use for whiteflies, mites, and powder mildew), as you don't have to worry about drips getting back to the FT. The dunk water will now contain all the solids and gunk, and worms. Not sure the best way to harvest worms, but the whole mess could be added back to a worm bin.

Hello.

My system has been up for about a year; 1 chop2 system with a 350 gallon fish tank and four 50 gal stock tanks. How can I tell when it is time to clean the growbed(s) out? I do have wigglers one act. Two grow beds have black lava rock and pea gravel on top; the other two have lava rock in the bottom and clay pellets on top. 

The other day the fish tank water smelled like kale (which I have growing in the one growled); the sump tank is clear as can be yet the fish tank has particles floating around and sometimes appears cloudy. Is it time to clean a grow bed or two already?!? Any help appreciated!!

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