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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I fretted over my ability to pump only 2 or 3 times a week when most systems pump several times a day, yet reducing pumping to only once a week or so has been an improvement even if I found that out quite by mistake when I was gone for 8 days on vacation.

Better breakdown of fish waste and ammonia + less harmful disturbance of beneficial bacteria + less watering = less nitrogen burn + less supplemental pond health cost and cleaner water + less fungus and bad bug infestation.

Some of my Bass are already as big as was estimated they would get by 6 weeks or so from now when the active growing season was estimated to end for them by the changing of the seasons and local climate. 

Some of my goldfish, which I thought for sure the birds or my cats had gotten came out from hiding a few days ago, still haven't seen hardly hide nor hair of the five dozen goldfish I put in a month ago other than the floater a few days ago.,,,But I suppose it is just as well they hide and keep mostly safe from the birds!

It is so dry here this year that the other day when I told my uncle that we had gotten just over a quarter inch of rain so far this month, he said that at first he thought I said we got an inch, and that is about all we ever got so far this year, we are several inches behind the record low amount of precipitation for the year to date.

I feel lucky to have a high water-table filling my pond, but feel sorry for the farmers and ranchers around.

Several Goldfish and Koi have come out of hiding in my pond, they are one's I don't recognize,,,and I wonder how many more are hiding in the vegetation that never come out?/

The bass are out and about more too, and though the Goldfish and Koi are hiding when I go down by the pond they come out when they see me. I guess they know when I'm there the cost is clear!

Some of my Bass even look as though they may be as much as 6 inches long X 3/4 inch wide, but most have mostly fattened up,,,,at least ones I see, they sure like to keep out of sight most of the time!

I got a hard frost the night before last, didn't hurt anything that was amounting to anything anyway, but I seem to get the first fall frost a week earlier than the year before since moving here! Last year the day before labor day I woke up to a severely frosted garden, this year a full 9 days before labor day, I think the year before that  the week after labor day,,,,when I first moved in no frost till October (but still earlier than others around me). 

I finally got a third line hooked up on my water pump, then I checked the first line to see how much water was coming out, a bit more than normal, second line maybe even twice as much as normal, the new line with no induction screen for a aerator and half as much length of pipe, lots and lots of water, might even use as much water now as my water right says I am, go figure how more lines makes more water per line, but I guess less restriction allows more flow? Sure sucked the pond dry quick as a wink,,,or as dry as the about one foot mark the pond drains down to before my pump draws air instead of water, was only about 20 inches deep, normal for this time of year despite little precipitation, I feel like I can't wait till the leaves on the trees drop, that usually raises the water level up to about 3 or 4 feet for good protection against freezing clear to the bottom over the winter....I found saying I "feel" like I can't wait instead of just plain old can't helped me feel like I can,,,there went the suss-pence "killing" me! 

Much to look forward to with the coming year even if we have a re-peat of this year and have the wet year coming on the forecast, then at the last minute it gets changed to dry as a bone. 

This year may have seemed by a disaster in some ways with loosing possibly all of my nursery stock that was planted in the Aquaponic Gravel Pit to nitrogen burn plus fungus attacking the weakening  burnt plants, but blame it on the dry year making dry air to dry out the plants causing the burn, and the mild winter of last one following the very wet year letting fungus overwinter or not, and I'm going to mostly cycle the system to build up the grasses growing in the pit, they did just fine and will build a layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture while filtering the water.

The one tree I did plant there that may possibly survive is the Liberty Elm (American Water Elm) I got from the Liberty Tree Society http://libertytreesociety.org/Liberty_Tree_Society.html it came with membership and mostly got eaten off by my very hungry grasshoppers because of it was so short, after it got a pruning of the bark eaten off branches it has very green bark and I think now that the weather is cooling off it may leaf out again same as many of my other grasshopper eaten clean of foliage trees/shrubbery are doing one by one,,,,I may order a few more of those next spring in a bigger size, this seems to slow down the grasshoppers as most of them stay close to the ground (about grass growing height) as most that have survived my mostly all natural control can't or don't fly very high.

They (the bass) were out of hiding and in plain site in great numbers today when I went to take a cold soak! 

We've finally been getting a break from the 90 deg weather, even a while back when it frosted it got up near 90, and a range of 37 to 81 is what we had today. 

It seems to bee the cooler days when the bass are out from the cool end of the pond where the water is protected by aquatic vegetation growing in there, I guess they like the cooler temp in there! 

The bass sure are growing good too, lots of them are getting to be 4 to 5 inches long!,,,some even bigger, they seem to be fattening up good too! 

I still have a full bag of feed out in my freezer, but think I'll look to see if the spring and fall food is stocked yet where I buy the feed, it is cooling off good at night, and the cold water food should be better for them soon.

Speaking of cold, I made a trip into town and got an old fridge loaded on the truck, then topped off the load with tires for my water conservation efforts, but had forgot about how hot the fridge could get setting in the sun and left it on the truck while finishing resting up from loading the tires.

I wished I had let it go at the 20 minute rest driving home as it took several days for the fridge too cool off even with the machine plugged in, finally I gave up on it actually getting cold and un-plugged it due to the fact the compressor unit was getting hot.

Then remembered about it being an early energy efficient rebuild upgrade was why I had gotten it from a friend and that it needed to be plugged in for several days before it was cold due to the fact they didn't have as much cooling power back then and let it sit another 24 hours before plugging it back in, it is slowly cooling off now, though it was only down to 60 in the freezer when I checked earlier.

Just goes to show you have to do things in a timely manner (no dawdling) and be patient (with what you have to work with that does dawdle) if you want to get the job done at all! 

Kind of like I was fidgeting about how slow some of the bass were growing way slower than others, but then noticed how the few really fast growing ones that are huge compared to the slowest growing ones, had almost stopped growing, and then realized the slow growing ones were the ones right on schedule going to show the old saying about the tortoise and the hare being true in this case, as the majority were the tortoise and the few hare's now dawdling may be passed in size by the smaller bass that didn't keep eating without getting sick till they were tired of there food and "went on a diet" of sorts, they haven't been chasing the minnows as much when I've been seeing them and haven't been seeing the big ones as much, now the medium growth rate ones are almost caught up in size and aren't slowing down as much, with the slow ones gaining on them now too!

Once again I have found there are more Goldfish coming out from hiding in the horn-wart, this time some bigger than the others out,,,,which frightened most of the smaller ones that had been out back into hiding,,,,go figure, every time I go play in the horn-wart with my hands trying to look and feel for fish, some figure out I'm not going to hurt them even though I never seem to do any of my end of the finding!

The bass have been less afraid of me too, so I guess they are slowly deciding I'm safe as well, but when I start harvesting them that will change in a hurry!

The warm season is sure winding down here, last time I ran the gas engine water pump I sure had to fight with it, I think I have water in the gas, any way I put a splash of sea-foam in the tank which will take care of the water and/or clean the fuel system. My fish are still doing well, and the cooler weather has perked up and revived the growth of the duckweed. With the return of the duckweed the fish haven't been hungry enough to eat the feed I've been putting out, so I can save most of that for spring. I found duck droppings by the pond, I wish I'd seen the duck or ducks, I'ts been a while since I saw large birds at the pond.

I found 3 of the large-mouth bass floating yesterday, still this has been small amount of loss from the 200 put in, they appeared to have gorged themselves to death.

One was almost as big as a caned sardine and would have been big enough to eat by next fall.

I had opened the lid on the com-poster and have begun to notice a connection between large numbers of tiny flies that can get in through the ventilator of the com-poster and the overeating of the fish.

So now I'm not sure if my Idea of moving the bin down near the pond to get the flies away from the house would be good or bad.

However I have an idea that the bin near there will reduce the number of flies getting in and better control of  flies going in and out of it for better population control so less will fly out and to the pond all at once when I open the lid after it's been closed for a few days.

The flies are those little fruit flies, and they were just a thick cloud coming out!

I had just almost gotten them under control in the house too!

The bin is too full of only partly decomposed material to move right now without taking out and putting back in, but I think that may be a plan, not sure of why I didn't think of that sooner, but I do my best thinking while writing or typing and this forum serves as a good place for me to think things through and solve my problems that most people would come up with right off the bat, but I don't due to a thought process disorder I have that twists reality and bogs down my mind.

Goat milk and eating fish help my brain, so I'm sure the Aquaponic gardening with the bass included will help me more than aiding in getting things growing around here.

I ordered some teosinte to plant in the spring, and as the Indian Corn nearly made it despite being too root bound to separate and getting planted in one big clump, I feel it should do just fine being planted direct sown in the planting bed.

I'm not taking any more chances starting stuff that grows so quick in peat-pellets that can root together quickly while being delayed for the poorness of weather, what a waste of corn and squash seed this past spring!

The season might be too short here for the stuff but an under developed crop is better than no crop!

I found out my state universities nursery has now added a few 8 gallon pot selections to their list I called about them and got added to the back ordered portion of my last springs order 2 golden current and 2 willow trees which should do much better than the small stuff I tried out there this year and should be just fine with the improvements I'm making.

It was some heavy shovel fulls and had both my wheelbarrows full of compost before I had the bin light enough to move safely but now I should have some peace from those fruit flies and the fish should have full bellies on a more regular basis since the prefer to catch their own food. 

The pond is 1/16th of a mile from the house but the extra distance to relocate food scraps will be worth it for the gain in sanitary measures and free fish food. 

There were very few flies in there today compared to the other day, so maybe with any luck I won't loose anymore to aver eating from this, I have my fingers crossed! 

I sure do miss seeing large birds that used to raid the pond, but the fish are apparently kept safe by the sections of pipe I put in for them to hide in and have not only not seen raiders, but have noticed very few missing, and when I do have missing fish they usually turn back up! 

The fish seem to be slowing down growth with the cooling of the seasons but with the exception of the goldfish and Koi which seem to for some be taking off growing now. 

I lost two more bass from the extra flies from moving the bin, but now there are very few flies in the bin, so back to getting rid of them in the house. 

All the fish seem more active now that they have a supply of flies, the minnows have perked up their apatite some, so maybe I can go back to feeding them every day. 

The water is slowly getting colder, but is still comfortable to go for a wade on a warm day. 

The trees are changing color if not dropping their leaves, and still hadn't seen any sign of the fungus attacking my stand near the pond, so maybe it has finally gotten the weak ones weeded out, and/or the hot dry year gave them a hand. 

Now it will be much more convenient to harvest the string algae from the pond, like I did last year, and add it to the compost. 

Those buckets of algae with all that water made my arms feel like they were going to fall off, and a couple of times I even thought maybe I had disjointed them on the long pathway to the compost piles. 

This year I had plenty of compost from elsewhere and never felt up to it, and the algae wasn't taking over so bad.

Still time to get some of it in there, sure seemed to help what it covered to decompose faster last year! 

Sounds like you need a better garden cart.  Work smarter not harder.  Of course with the compost closer to the pond, you won't have to lug the algae so far

Yup, I never even thought of using something to haul it with, but then it probably would have spilled going over the long rough pathway,,,,,unless I filled the wheelbarrow with the string algae and added it a bunch at a time! Now there is something to think about next time the water table is up high enough to have the pond that big to grow that much algae (it was 100 feet X 200 feet, instead of the usual 15 feet X 35 feet, and man was the algae running rampant late in the season last year), I mostly let it grow to hide the fish from birds this year, but now I have plenty of Horn Wart growing in there to hide the fish.

It's been snowing here and the fish have been hiding, I miss seeing the fish but the return of moisture is something well worth the disappointment when I peer in the pond!

The water table is coming up good from the snow fall, though little as it's been, and soon the trees by the pond will loose there leaves and the pond will double in depth all on it's own from the lack of needing to supply the trees with lots to drink.

I figure if I spare some of the irrigation to the roots of the existing stand with the third line I added a while back they should take enough water out of the air to replace what of the pumping they consume, just like the grasses did.

I got to thinking the line watering the cottonwood trees will probably help build water, not just replace it, as the trees put water into the ground part of the time anyway, and they will get to shading the pond sooner to help slow evaporation losses while keeping the water temperature more stable. 

I gave the trees a good dose of volcanic ash today, lots of rare trace minerals in it I believe to go along with the Silicon it is sold as a source of, it will build a good amount of expansion the the trees root systems over the winter to help them take off good next spring.

The volcanic ash is turning out to be quite cost effective as a multy-purpose fertilize and insect damage regulator, and will help tide me over till I get to the point of being fully self sufficient to rely entirely on my fish waste and compost to supply all my organic fertilizer needs. 

I got 3 new tetra for my tank in the house as I wanted to increase the level of nutrients extracted from it even though I still only have it as a regular aquarium because I use the water to fertilize my house plants. 

All the fish in there seem much more active now, even the older fish which are near their maximum life expectancy and maybe should have already kicked off.

I may, if weather permitting, this coming spring plant some of my Hubbard Squash seeds out on the grow bed like I had planed to this past spring until weather was poor till to late and I was to sore from unexpectedly planting so many ball and burlap trees, I figure if I have nitrogen burn and fungus issues out there again, those very tough squash will make it through if noting else will, and should be a good selection even if I feel confident of having solved the problems with changing the water pattern and the ammonia level being kept in check by the population control of the minnows.

It has been a very long fall for us around here, and I hope the extra time for trees to store energy will help them recuperate from the damage done by the hot dry year so they can grow good next year. 

I joked with my mom earlier today that maybe we will get dumped on with snow all winter to make up for how dry it was all summer!

My mom was told that the old timers around were saying for every week of 90+ deg weather we have we will get a foot of snow, when she told that to a co-worker the reply was that then we will have 50 feet of snow, everyone tells my mom hopefully not all at once! 

I'll be glad if we get some good snow fall, and will try not to complain if I think we are getting too much or too little when whatever we get will be better than none at all!

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