Aquaponic Gardening

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"Gravel Pit Self Reclaiming Aquaponics System"I knew When I ordered the book that there must be more to Aquaponic Gardening than using waste water from my fish tank,

and am enjoying getting started reading it! Especially since what I've learned about so far has confirmed what I decided would happen by my pumping water to flood irrigate from the free flowing liner-less pond in my gravel pit onto the gravel surface. I was sure this was a success of some kind despite of a huge increase of string algae (I must have 10,000 Japanese Trap Door Snails in there now from this) as the orchard grass which could barely grow there before filled in nice and thick with it getting 5 feet tall in places, and I was right the cottonwood trees growing in a stand next to the pond has taken off quite well now from having fish in there.

Now that I know my fish will do well and that the filtration system works,,,so to speak, can't wait find out/or figure out from the book and this forum what more to do, I will begin adding more fish (I spent around $10 on them to begin with, common goldfish and rosy red minnows as a test) I want to add Koi and edible fish of some kind, not sure how many goldfish I have now, but there appears to be plenty of minnows and snails to support many fish without extra feed, though the hoards of water boatman bugs have been scared off or eaten and only a few remain. I also have Water Sedge plants (quick former of peat) and bulrush plants (a wetland edible) ordered for spring planting along with quite a few of my spring planting trees that are on order being ones that will do well in the swampy condition/while making a nice wind break, so I should have a good start on my filtering of the water!

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My freshly planted fruit trees are hopefully loving and soaking up this nice rain I'm having, should help out the pond too!

Feels nice being able to have the windows open without the summer heat coming in, during the day this is quite a treat around here!

My pond was down to the point of concern but should refill nicely partly thanks to: this rain, extra humidity from both the rain and the neighbors' irrigation fields, that humidity usually does most of the refilling other than over the cool and cold months when wetness abounds.

I was offered the opportunity to receive up to 18 Rouen Ducklings from a friend who's wife has some of their ducks eggs in an incubator.

I hope to pick up some minnows to feed the bass/add to populations in my pond tomorrow for my niece and nephew to release in the pond as a surprise to them.

I've been afraid of doing much continuing of pond muck removal with the water level so low for fear of maybe bass are sunk in and hibernating, but did do a bit carefully inspecting for any fish in the handfuls.

Other than the grasshoppers/locusts, bugs seem to becoming rare around here, but imagine many more than I realize still show up to get eaten by my birds and fish.

The pond is doing well, but I lost at least 1 duck and a total of 18 chicken hens.

Not quite sure what all caused this other than multiple causes, only a few were with scattered feathers, many showed signs of over eating that day and there was enough rain water in my wheelbarrow that there could have been a flash flood.

Getting ready for another round of real hot weather, at least real hot for around here, biggest end of my trees are growing real well with all the recent heavy rains and this heat will be needed to green up the ones yellowing from to much water.

I am bottle feeding a kitten that showed up with eyes still closed.

Was beginning to wish I would at least see some flies till what happened to my chickens, now they are swarming around the garbage can like crazy, but I imagine most will go off in search of my ponds water soon, and when they do, hungry bass will get a feeding.

Only a week or two with no pumping of water this time, low water shows up earlier every year and sticks around a bit less.

Sure is plenty of grasshoppers and locusts to go around for my remaining birds is one good thing out of all this that happened.

Things are picking back up around here, but had several more weeks with extremely low water level, last nights rain seems to be refilling it and there is a bit more rain on the way today.

We must have gotten 1 1/2 inches over last night, what a good soaking rain!

I have bought some trees for fall planting, 4 apple trees, a pear tree, a Japanese lilac tree, and a big ball and burlap Swedish Columnar Aspen, I got 2 Maximilian Sunflowers as well.

The sunflowers should put an end to chickens keeping my sunflower seeds from sprouting in the back yard and make good shade for the foundation of the sunny side of the house.

I can sure smell stinky fish in the pond, hoping it is the bass going through puberty and getting ready for reproduction.

I wills sure be excited if I start seeing baby bass fry swimming all over the place!

The new batch of ducks is doing very well, growing like weeds, I bet they will eat plenty of bass eggs and fry, will slow down population expansion for some length of time, but the ducks are supposed to cull for productivity (they help the fish selective breed by removing certain fish so the remaining are highly productive high number female offspring female fish and only the best males).

15 more days till the 7th anniversary of my pond getting dug!

There was sure getting to be a lot of duck droppings in the clump of cottonwood/poplar trees that are next to the pond, the big rainstorm last night sure watered them into the root systems of the trees, just in time for them to put on that burst of growth they go through this time of year.

I found lots of good clearance deals on Organic Fertilizer and bought a bunch, but will still check to see if there is enough fish waste to put on my garden and trees after fall dormancy sets in, should be a bunch there, would be better to let decompose over the winter but think that may be to much to let accumulate that long.

Despite the fact that if I splash my ducks they have a panic attack most of the time, they sure love my new rain-bird sprinkler hooked to the one inch water pump a lot better than the stationary sprinklers!

Two days ago, I was given 3 Rouen ducklings, and hopefully will get 3 more later on.

The friends who gave me these ducklings have 4 more ducklings but are hoping one is a male as they need another drake and hope to keep one for the purpose of even amount of hens to drakes.

The Rouens seem to be adapting well and are hanging out with my 9 1/2 week old Khaki Campbell ducklings.

I am supposing that next year I will hopefully start seeing bass fry swimming around, if not this fall.

Whew, less than 2 weeks till 7th anniversary of my pond getting formed, so excited!

Apples that taste ripe are starting to fall off of one of my apple trees, the one I sampled yesterday was so juicy and sweet!

Most were only fit to toss to the chickens, no thanks to the ants.

One of my Native plums is almost ready to harvest.

My squash are doing well, but I am thinking of trying to get some pond muck dumped around their root systems to hurry them along.

Those 3 Rouen ducklings as well as my 14 Khaki's are growing like weeds.

Speaking of weeds, they sure seem to like the wild chrysanthemums next to the pond, not sure though if they were actually eating them or just all the bugs they attracted?

At any rate I could sure smell the wildflowers again and again when going to the pond and have sure enjoyed all those yellow flowers!

The bass sure got a good feeding of flies yesterday, was glad to take a break from feeding them pellets!

I'm wondering again and again if my garden will make it through the cool nights, a few light frosts already have nipped its leaves.

I got some pullets for replacing the chickens I lost earlier this year, mostly Rhode Island Reds and a few Brown Leghorns.

The pond's still been low despite frequent enough of heavy rains, I'm guessing that the lightening strike must have maybe cracked the rock where it struck near the pond earlier this year, if any such thing is possible even for lightening to do, and letting more water drain down, I know it did make a thunder spring and give extra fillings of water during a dry spell in the spring.

The other lightening strike I had on the place 7 years ago seems to be a thunder spring as well that flows water out every 3 years, usually waters quite well a sizable patch during the dry year of the 3 year weather pattern that I think may be broken now and I'm waiting to figure out the new pattern.

I have seen a few fish snatching food lately, sneaky little fish, they are so hard to ever spot.

I even got to spend some time with the absence of grasshopper chorus's while waiting for a new wave of the hungry insects to invade, the long vegetation only being around the territory of my birds got them utterly vanquished for a change.

They are back now, they seem few but are growing in numbers thanks to the second cutting of hay in the neighbors field.

The second cutting of hay also means the last of the irrigation will be put on the field soon, and that means lots of good things for my pond, for starters: less of my water running off under their field from their water table being full, attracted aquatic/wet loving bugs for my bass, mater vapors more prevalent round the clock for my vegetation to pump into the ground, alternate swimming site for my ducks.

I got lots of fall planting done, a dozen perennial sunflowers to attract beneficial insects, 3 more fruit trees, 8 water elm, 13 willow, 3 dogwood, 1 barberry.

All this should provide good food and shelter for wildlife and myself while helping pump lots of water into the ground after established.

I believe now that the grasshoppers are pretty well under control is a good time to give grape vines another chance, they grew so good before when I planted them, but for that one trouble of the grasshoppers finding them so very tender and eating them all gone.

My pond water was lukewarm and felt on my feet like coffee with cream today.

Seems to be that time of year that the warm currents flow into the pond from the hydro-thermal and I hope they stick around most all winter if not all winter.

More storms on the way, thank goodness!

The Russian Olive trees around the pond are sure growing good this year, and 2 even have a few "olives" on them.

I have some grape vines on order 3 each of: Vitis Riparia (swamp grape, northern muscadine, fox grape, wild grape are some names for this one), and Vitis amurensis (amur grape).

Thinking about ordering some mulberries to plant behind the house, but think I will hold off and maybe get some more water elm or some hack-berries instead.

Also of thinking of giving persimmons a try.

Hi Larry,
Love Your reports about Your pond.
Do You have any pictures?
Question:  Are You trying any floating gardens?
I have a picture of a garden someone created using 55 gal. drums for support.
This one even had a shade frame built around it.
I will see if I can find it and forward it to You.
Paul.

Larry Dale Smith said:

My pond water was lukewarm and felt on my feet like coffee with cream today.

Seems to be that time of year that the warm currents flow into the pond from the hydro-thermal and I hope they stick around most all winter if not all winter.

More storms on the way, thank goodness!

The Russian Olive trees around the pond are sure growing good this year, and 2 even have a few "olives" on them.

I have some grape vines on order 3 each of: Vitis Riparia (swamp grape, northern muscadine, fox grape, wild grape are some names for this one), and Vitis amurensis (amur grape).

Thinking about ordering some mulberries to plant behind the house, but think I will hold off and maybe get some more water elm or some hack-berries instead.

Also of thinking of giving persimmons a try.


My pond is much to small for this, but I have good luck re-vegetating the gravel pit that water drains down into the corner of to fill my pond.

The dryer years like this one usually are just maintaining the vegetation and the wetter years are the building up, but this year has been all around different:

First, last fall my preparations for the coming spring must have worked (soaking and fertilizing [with fish water from the pond+some supplemental Alaska Fish Fertilizer where extra all over the surface of not enough was going on from self sufficient care] I did not only the gravel pit but a area where I wanted a better lawn and hoped to make a good spot out of for planting trees) because the whole place came to life despite being a dryer year (even places I have done pretty much of nothing with especially recently), the ground was soft and very workable for spring planting of my trees despite little snow and not much spring rain and has stayed that way, the grass grew like it had gone crazy, new grass plants have sprouted up all over spots and areas where none were before.

Second, the gravel pit which had shrinking rye-grasses from the sever stress and aging of the plants renewed and even stayed green almost all summer.

Third, the water holding capabilities  of the gravel bar are finally taking hold as not as big of a soaking rain is needed to noticeably raise the level in the pond as well as much longer time between big storms during dry spells can occur without needing two of these big storms within a few days to refill the pond level noticeably, and the ground temperature stays much cooler.

Fourth, all the pond muck made my trees pull a lot more water out of the air at night and draw in more big rain amounts.

I hope to have enough water build up from my conservation practices to build some floating beds like this, not this big and would have to have them fully enclosed to keep the ducks out, possibly could tryout some tiny ones to start testing my design (which I must develop over the winter) as I am sure plants directly drawing and cleaning the water are what my pond is beginning  to need since apparently either more trees drawing from the area surrounding the pond lets more yet need for more direct treatment, or that all the lower branch pruning may have reduced the pulling power from their being less leaves.

Would be a idea for helping shade the pond!

A small floating nesting box for the ducks could be either separate or included in the design.


Paul Smith said:p


I have been at a loss for what is worth taking pictures of this summer, I will have to remember to get the camera out soon and just take some, if I don't do that overly often I can usually find something worth showing.


Paul Smith said:

Hi Larry,
Love Your reports about Your pond.
Do You have any pictures?
Question:  Are You trying any floating gardens?
I have a picture of a garden someone created using 55 gal. drums for support.
This one even had a shade frame built around it.
I will see if I can find it and forward it to You.
Paul.

Here we have my dog Mac snooping in a kind of meadow that may still leave a lot to want in being a good place to get trees and shrubs started on a dry year liker this, but watering in extra pond water last fall helped a lot with water conservation this summer, but most everything but the pine to the far left will pull out of it's scraggly state. I only water in pond water here when the pond is too dirty, or when fall weather sets in and the leaves drop from the trees and there is extra water.

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