Aquaponic Gardening

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Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables...or Tall and Lanky vs. Short and Stocky

OK, so even though it's been raining here like crazy the last month and I've forgotten what the sun looks like...I've decided to try out Jon Parr's tall and lanky, deep planting method. (Since it may come in handy...for instance last year, it only rained 3 or 4 times from April til mid July, so ya never know...)

A little background first...

When it comes to gardening, or AP systems (or anything really) a lot of us have certain ways of doing things that may be different from the way other people like to do those same things...Hopefully there is a good reason for why you do anything the way that you do it. For instance, I love Metal Halide light bulbs because they give me super thick stalked, strong plants with tight inter-nodal growth. This is important to me when growing indoors because vertical space is at a premium. When getting a head start on seedlings that will eventually make their way in the outside garden, it is beneficial to me because I basically live on the North side of a hill and the winds can be down right brutal for days on end sometimes. Short, girthy plants do much better for me here. Water, isn't so much a problem and I like to use irrigation tape. And because I grow mostly day neutral plants like tom's cukes, peppers etc...I don't notice a difference in yields from when I switch out to HPS for flower/fruit I don't anymore

I'm guessing Jon's method would work quite well in sunny California. I'm not purporting to have any inkling as to the weather out there, but I'm guessing it's a good deal milder and hotter, and perhaps drier...hence...Tall and lanky on the left, short and stocky to the right...

I sprouted about 300 tomatoes, from 7 different varieties in seeding trays. They were all started under MH lights indoors and were the same variety. (Incidentally, they grew up listening to "Robot Hive Exodus" by the band Clutch and did just fine...regardless of what Ms. Dorothy Retallack and the Colorado Womens College in Denver have to say about plant growth and american Rock n' Roll :)  When they got big enough to re-plant into nursery bags (or whatever they're called)  the horde of little tom's got (what little) "direct" sunlight during the day and the light from a couple 400Watt Phillips Son-T-Agro's during the night.

All but two of them that is...these 2 guys I kept partly shaded during the day and got nothing at night. Needless to say they stretched and got real tall and skinny (though not sickly so). I then dug a pretty deep hole far from the irrigation tape. I didn't measure, but it was deeper than the holes for my cucumber netting posts, so I'm guessing like a foot and a half at least. Watered the hole a bit, filled the hole somewhat with compost/vermicompost (though not clean castings) watered a bit more and buried the plant past the cotlydons up to its first set of true leaves. Then spread the rest of the compost around the plant. The other lanky one I just planted 'regular' next to the irrigation tape for shits and giggles.

I didn't consult with Jon about how to do any of this, figured it might be more fun this way. I hope Jon can can now tell me/us if there's anything he does differently than what I described above and why. i.e how deep is the hole supposed to be, the watering regime, how deep to bury the plant and why etc...

At any rate these two very different methods both have their place, and depending on where you live, their pros and their cons might be inverted. Just as different AP styles/methods/materials, will largely depend on your particular set and setting and what you the operator wish to get out of your system...and why.

What do you all do differently from "the Rules", or what the man on the DVD said? And why did you decide to do it that way? 

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Cool experiment.  Yea ya gotta try different things.  I mean sometimes the guy on the DVD doesn't explain why he does things the way he does so you sometimes need to figure things out by trial and error. 

What might be THE way to do something in one place could be totally pointless or even detrimental in another situation.

Lots of people have trouble learning to garden in FL since almost all the gardening books are written for temperate climates so the gardening seasons are all pretty upside down or inside out here.

Yeah, I totally agree. One of the things that school and working at an engineering/consulting firm taught me was that "you don't always have to re-invent the wheel", but you do have to know where to look for the pertinent information to help you solve the problem at hand. And it REALLY, REALLY helps to have somewhat of a grasp of the underlying principles/processes at play. How they work and interact and why...this understanding will help you to better modify a thing (or process), or at least keep you from doing something totally stupid and catastrophic while experimenting. Of coarse, I'm still an impatient jack-ass sometimes and do things I "know" I probably shouldn't (or the books say not to). Sometimes, I'm pleasantly surprised by the results, while sometimes...well, they can't all be zingers.

Having seen and learned a ton from these little various bio-ponics/organic-home made nutrients-hydro systems, I'm trying to ease my way into learning a bit more about fish, and fish biology...I'm hoping to go a bit beyond just what you 'need' to do and what you need to avoid, but why it is that you need to do, or not do those things. I'm not too crazy about 'experimenting' with the fish, unlike the plants.

Yea, it does kinda suck a little more if a fish dies, since if you don't deal with it quickly it could kill them all.  Unlike in a veggie garden, most experiments might just mean you loose a plant or two and not the entire garden.

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