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 feel like a whole new person after two ice baths today, and the fish were quite active, though I'm not sure if I even saw any of the bass out of hiding. 

The water was almost warm down in the horn-wart where most of the fish hide while under the ice. 

I think the fish will be just fine in there despite low water table this winter, but hope the coming storm and or ground water will raise the level a bit more.

Last night's snow put 0.19 inch of precip in the ground by my gauge, just a bit of snow was what it was, but will help and may snow a smidge more tonight.

No ice over the end by the horn-wart today.

It has got down to single digits at least twice since I last posted, but was almost 60 today, hard to believe it is December and half the surface of the pond is thawed, there should be six inches of ice on there this time of year as a minimum around here.

I did a bit on the chicken coop today, all I got done was to: cut two boards, find I need some longer screws, and weed eat where I'm building the coop.

And weed eating the area went slow since I got out my new weed eater and put it together to start breaking it in, and of course found it kind of sluggish since the still new engine was tight and stiff but I ran most of a tank through it and got a good start on limbering it up.

I figure the chickens should improve the aquaponic gardening enough to give enough forage for the ducks I will get later on after the chickens by eating enough of the grasshoppers for it to grow a better stand, and the ducks will be leading to the rye grass being kept short enough for co-existence of the rye grass and vegetables while getting rid of even more grasshoppers.

Getting to be more normal temps again now, was -10.5 last night and is cooling off faster this evening. 

We got 3.5 inches of snow a few evenings back, most soaked into the pond water but is now and ice surface. 

I've had some concern about if my fish will do OK under the ice with the low water table this winter but am very optimistic about how they'll be just fine since the more balanced population with now predators to feed on the ammonia mass producers, and the ball I put in the depths of the pond just before freezing over to give an eco-boost over the winter months breaking down the waste and keeping the water clean. 

Just the same spring will tell all, but snow drifting over the gravel will seep into the supply soon since we are going to have warmer weather again for a spell. 

I plan on getting a load or two of tires from the tire shop to stack in a row on the mostly windswept hill at the west end of the property, I have been thinking of snow fence there since I almost first moved in, and had for some reason not even given a thought of using the tires from there on that area till the other day. 

Not sure if that area is a source of water supply for the pond or not but figure dust collecting will give topsoil to cover old vegetation making a humus rich loam and the snow will water and fertilize the vegetation. 

I read about a greenhouse located a ways west of me at a town that gets 5 or 10 deg colder in the winter, in Zone 4 Magazine. The greenhouse is half buried into the ground and never gets below around 15 deg F despite outside temperatures of down to -35 deg F (and even sometimes colder) this is heated by solar heat and ground warmth only. The rock to make raised beds, a few small ponds, and a cistern absorb heat during the day and keep it warm during the night. It is entirely watered by rain water from the gutter for the roof and is collected in the cistern to supply water to the ponds trees and bushes located inside. So now I have hope of being able to build one of these for a year-round place to Aquaponic garden, putting some supplemental heat to the water I could maybe even have tropical fish. 

It is a long way off till I have my house paid off to have money to expend on this  but would be a wonderful project for me that would allow me to grow things I cannot grow outdoors here. 

I don't know about keeping tropical fish but you could likely keep it running enough to grow some cool weather veggies along with your fish and other things year round.  Remember, 15 F is cold enough to freeze water so I expect all the solar gain and storage during the day is going to be lucky to keep the water above freezing.  For keeping the tropical fish you have to keep the water above 55-60 F and that is just with them hibernating.  If really trying to run something like tilapia I would want to keep the water above 70 F for most of the year.

Good points, much to think of, I was thinking of small ponds (or maybe insulated tanks) with electric heat supplement, but something that would survive cold temperatures and only need what heat from the sun would be better in case of power outage during a cold snap. I might be best off if I wait till when and if I get one built then see what climate I have in it, the local winds might make it colder or the slightly warmer winter temps might make a difference in what I could grow in there, but I think I would be best off with water wise plants trees and bushes that are suited to warm climates at least as far as in ground vegetation,,,,,and another idea I have is the main cistern to be a cement wading pool with fish in it and a well for supplemental water for dry spells. I have long dreamed of having a large enough greenhouse for a mango tree, just would have to keep it pruned as a bonsai.

The increased vegetation on the gravel pit, mostly rye grass this year, seems to be catching twice as much snow as before the Aquaponic cycling, much progress even if what I tried to get started out there was a flop, has been melting good to make room for more snow to get caught with the coming storm one fore-cast said 3-6 inch the other said 8-14 inches,,,,the bigger amount is the more reliable fore-cast but the the smaller seems more believable though time will tell. I have been nursing back to health from the germs my sisters kids gave me for Christmas or I would have got started on getting loads of tires to build the snow fence or working on the chicken coop, now that I'm almost better it is going to storm so I will have help continuing getting rest, probably a good thing since I usually over do it when getting back in the swing of things and come down sick again. There is getting to be lots of deer droppings on the place, they usually start piling up later on towards spring when they run low on food else where.

Kind of hard to tell how much snow is on top of the pond without taking a chance on slipping on the steep bank and not being able to get back up, but looks as if the water level may be finally getting near normal level, but I will be able to tell better if the next few days are as warm as the weather forecast says so the snow melts decent. 

I finished the book I was reading up on chickens, now have started reading a book on cold hardy cacti and succulents so I can try to get something growing in the backyard which has always been a disaster, and have given up long ago on grass back there, and now think edible cacti would be good to grow back there, if I can find enough edible cacti to vegetate the whole area that is, otherwise some ornamental plants will do for much of it. 

The clay soil back there is unsuitable for the cacti and succulents to grow in but I plan on trying to till in some sand and volcanic cinders and if need be make raised beds filled with ordinary top soil on the top of that. 

I found the volcanic cinders on the internet today, and plan on adding some to the regular garden too. 

Lots of decisions to decide on with the chickens, I think I'll start with Americana Pullets for my first batch, they are from South America and have a wide variety of colors of eggs, almost like Easter Eggs only all the time! 

I found a few suppliers for Wild Turkeys and now hope of getting some of those as well as ducks later on, I figure the wild turkeys will be good range birds to clean up the grasshoppers while making a supply of good quality meat. 

What is left after that is the sheep I want, some that wouldn't need shearing would be good, since I don't want to mess with the wool. 

There are meat and milk breeds of sheep.

Yes, and I researched and there are hair varieties of both of those,,,,,hair instead of wool producers, not sure which I will do meat or dairy, but will research thoroughly before hand. 

I love eating sheep and I am not sure I want to have to milk every day but would love the fresh milk also,,,,wool producers usually break even from what I read online as well as I wouldn't have enough to be worth messing with from my small acreage, I have long dreamed of having goats but I think sheep will do better here.

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