Aquaponic Gardening

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what do you have the most success growing?  what specific varieties to you recommend?  what should be avoided, in your opinion

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I have a 6 ph and my green beans are growing well. I also have them in same GB with corn, avacadoe trees , date tree and have been giving iron to the avacado, which everything in the GB's should be getting. I have a seashell that I use in the GB for calcium. I have the troubles with zucchini, broccoli, lettuce and most types of tomatoes, but my squash is growing well, go figure.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
The plants I've had the most success with are the leafy's, cucumbers (amazingly productive. coming to our house now is like visiting someone who is growing zucchini in August. everyone leaves with a cucumber!), leeks, broccoli, and tomatoes. And herbs of all kinds, but especially basil, parsley and dill. The drier herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram) struggle. Sugar snap peas and peppers are doing well also. My nemesis has been beans. I seem to get a nice initial crop, but then the plant becomes deficient in what I think is iron. Super sensitive to pH, perhaps? Anyone else have this issue? Tried carrots as well, but the aphids got to them before they could do much.
What kind of system are you running Ken? Flood and drain media or is it constant flood or raft or what?

How long has your system been running? And I'm a little worried that you haven't tested for ammonia or nitrites? Do you have fish that are surviving?

Really new systems often struggle some the first season since trace elements normally have not built up in the system and fluctuating levels or high ammonia tend to set plants back. Also, salting through the initial cycling is pretty common to help protect the fish from brown blood disease from the nitrite spike can also set some plants back too.

If you system initially cycled up with a higher pH and now your pH is 6, well that could mean that the pH has dropped and stalled out the bacteria. Are you sure the pH actually is 6? Many standard pH test kits only read down to 6 but the actual pH could be much lower which could explain why so many plants are not thriving. I think more complete water test results are in order.
What plants do well in my systems.

Bananas, go bananas.
Basil
Tomatoes
sweet potatoes
jicama
yardlong beans
okra
papaya
meyer lemon
cayenne peppers
jalapeno peppers
Hot wax peppers
turnips
carrots
sweet potatoes
lettuce
collards
broccoli
spring onions
leeks
fennel
dill
parsley
oregano (regularly asks for Iron though)
cabbage
bamboo
marigolds
water chestnuts
plantain (the healing lawn weed not the banana like fruit)

and I'm sure there is more
In my high pH big system I've never had much luck with cucumbers or anything closely related to pumpkins or zucchini, I think they all like lower pH and more Iron that they get there. Will have to try some in the 300 gallon system once it matures some more. The yardlong beans seem to be doing better in the 300 gallon system than in the older higher pH system too.
I plan to try watercress in the big system since it's supposed to be fond of alkali water.
I have found that some things that struggled terribly the first year in my big AP system are thriving and going bonkers in this year's system (okra.)

I do have lots of trouble with ants farming aphids on the peppers, okra, and beans however, I've refused to do anything about it other than try to be careful not to get bit by the ants. Some plants might suffer a bit for it but I'm still getting plenty of harvest so, let it be. (No way to get rid of ants here without killing everything else around so I figure why bother with the less toxic and very temporary attempts and just save my energy by ignoring them as best I can.)

Aquaponics gets better with age.
Oh, I've also got pineapple tops growing in AP as well as Aloe and zinnias and blackeye suzan vines.
And Artichokes like AP.

I've grown stevia in AP but so far in my experience it has not been a robust plant any way I grow it. I keep trying though as I use the extract as a sugar substitute in my coffee and it cost alot to buy.
I've done rye grass with great success- from seed to seed.

Growitright Aquaponics said:
Does anyone have any experience with wheatgrass in an aquaponics system?
I have heard mold is a big issue with wheatgrass an not a good choice. I am thinking
this may have something to do with temperature or ventilation control because wheatgrass
likes a cold climate. Any feedback would be great.
It is a flood and drain system, a little over a year old. The fish are goldfish and getting very big, have 18 of them. When I first had them I had 23. A few died the first couple days, but I think they would have any way. Then after a while when no more died, I had one jump out of the tank over night with the water at that time being a little high. Since then they have been very healthy and active, and look more like small koi they are getting so big. The ph testing i have is the paper strips and will get lower then 6. I will get a regular test kit in the near future and check it out, just cost right now is having to prioritize things. Thanks for your reply.

TCLynx said:
What kind of system are you running Ken? Flood and drain media or is it constant flood or raft or what?

How long has your system been running? And I'm a little worried that you haven't tested for ammonia or nitrites? Do you have fish that are surviving?

Really new systems often struggle some the first season since trace elements normally have not built up in the system and fluctuating levels or high ammonia tend to set plants back. Also, salting through the initial cycling is pretty common to help protect the fish from brown blood disease from the nitrite spike can also set some plants back too.

If you system initially cycled up with a higher pH and now your pH is 6, well that could mean that the pH has dropped and stalled out the bacteria. Are you sure the pH actually is 6? Many standard pH test kits only read down to 6 but the actual pH could be much lower which could explain why so many plants are not thriving. I think more complete water test results are in order.
Hi!

So, I haven't been active on here in a while, but, Ken and Sylvia, I wanted you to know that I also have an issue with my water pH dropping well below 6. Mine is a constant flood system that half fills the ice tray I'm currently using as a grow bed (so I could put my tank hood back on). I turn it off for 5 minutes when I remember, but I don't have a timer plug that fits 3 prongs right now so it goes constantly.

I remember reading somewhere that plants prefer a pH closer to 4, which doesn't help my fish in the slightest.

I don't have a nitrite, nitrate, or ammonia issue, and most of my fish tolerate a wide range of pHs, such as my pleco which does well between 5 - 8. They're also ornamental fish, but I'll get into that.

I had peas from seed growing fantastically in my system until my brat cat chomped them off at the base (vertical system, here I come!), but I am still doing well with basil cuttings, yucca transplants, and green onions from the grocery store.

Because I've got ornamental fish, I've used supplements for the water to try an balance out the pH - I also am not consuming anything from my plants until I get that and another issue under control. I cannot find calcium carbonate, as was suggested to me by Murray, in it's own form, but I have found it within other stabilizers. I also use some clam and snail shells from deceased pets to help naturally keep the pH higher.

The "other" issue is that I lost some of my larger plants to an unknown crystallization which occurred within the leaves and slowly crept to the base, eventually destroying my prize anaheim pepper plant that was doing swimmingly up until then. This particular plant's earth-bound sibling (it was a transplant from a friend) also had this issue, so I'm not concerned of it coming from the water as much I am about it being contagious to other plants. I should probably be more concerned about the water additives than I am, but then, I'm not eating these fish, either.

I've also come across the issue of fungus growing on my hydroton which in turns kills off the less hearty plants. I guess we can mark that on the "grows well" list, too ;)

The other plants that started well and then died due to the fungus are:
bell peppers
pumpkin
cucumber
cilantro
tomato

My lettuce did not want to grow, and I killed off every strawberry plant in sight, so I gave up on those.
Actually, I think it was Rupert who recommended the calcium carbonate. Sorry!

Emma Lysyk said:
Because I've got ornamental fish, I've used supplements for the water to try an balance out the pH - I also am not consuming anything from my plants until I get that and another issue under control. I cannot find calcium carbonate, as was suggested to me by Murray, in it's own form, but I have found it within other stabilizers. I also use some clam and snail shells from deceased pets to help naturally keep the pH higher.
It might help to know that calcium carbonate is basically Lime. You could get a bag of garden lime from the hardware store and use that. Also, chicken grit like is given to laying hens is often oyster shells which is mostly calcium carbonate or sometimes it is crushed lime stone. These are all effective buffers.

By the way, plants won't like a pH of 4, that is way acid for most plants. In Hydroponics most plants are in a range between 5.5 and 7.5. Strawberries, blue berries and cucumbers will be at the bottom of that range and lettuce is pretty high thinking 7 is fine.
For the calcium, I believe Murray also talked about saving eggshells, microwaving them to kill any bad on them, then putting in a cut off end of pantyhose(or even cloth paint strainer) and bury in your grow bed. You can check it from time to time to see if you need to add more. My ph has never been higher then 7 when I added water to the system and I believe that Murray suggest it being around 6-7ph. Oh also he suggested saving in a container in the freezer your eggshells. You can get a cheap timer at Home Depot that will cure the timing problem, but will need a "socket" from ground 3 prong to a 2 prong.

Emma Lysyk said:
Hi!

So, I haven't been active on here in a while, but, Ken and Sylvia, I wanted you to know that I also have an issue with my water pH dropping well below 6. Mine is a constant flood system that half fills the ice tray I'm currently using as a grow bed (so I could put my tank hood back on). I turn it off for 5 minutes when I remember, but I don't have a timer plug that fits 3 prongs right now so it goes constantly.

I remember reading somewhere that plants prefer a pH closer to 4, which doesn't help my fish in the slightest.

I don't have a nitrite, nitrate, or ammonia issue, and most of my fish tolerate a wide range of pHs, such as my pleco which does well between 5 - 8. They're also ornamental fish, but I'll get into that.

I had peas from seed growing fantastically in my system until my brat cat chomped them off at the base (vertical system, here I come!), but I am still doing well with basil cuttings, yucca transplants, and green onions from the grocery store.

Because I've got ornamental fish, I've used supplements for the water to try an balance out the pH - I also am not consuming anything from my plants until I get that and another issue under control. I cannot find calcium carbonate, as was suggested to me by Murray, in it's own form, but I have found it within other stabilizers. I also use some clam and snail shells from deceased pets to help naturally keep the pH higher.

The "other" issue is that I lost some of my larger plants to an unknown crystallization which occurred within the leaves and slowly crept to the base, eventually destroying my prize anaheim pepper plant that was doing swimmingly up until then. This particular plant's earth-bound sibling (it was a transplant from a friend) also had this issue, so I'm not concerned of it coming from the water as much I am about it being contagious to other plants. I should probably be more concerned about the water additives than I am, but then, I'm not eating these fish, either.

I've also come across the issue of fungus growing on my hydroton which in turns kills off the less hearty plants. I guess we can mark that on the "grows well" list, too ;)

The other plants that started well and then died due to the fungus are:
bell peppers
pumpkin
cucumber
cilantro
tomato

My lettuce did not want to grow, and I killed off every strawberry plant in sight, so I gave up on those.
Of course it was something as simple as that! Haha, I was about to start buying the crushed coral for saltwater tanks.. They're calcium, right?

Also, thanks for setting straight on the pH. Sometimes the internet is wrong. ;)

TCLynx said:
It might help to know that calcium carbonate is basically Lime. You could get a bag of garden lime from the hardware store and use that. Also, chicken grit like is given to laying hens is often oyster shells which is mostly calcium carbonate or sometimes it is crushed lime stone. These are all effective buffers.

By the way, plants won't like a pH of 4, that is way acid for most plants. In Hydroponics most plants are in a range between 5.5 and 7.5. Strawberries, blue berries and cucumbers will be at the bottom of that range and lettuce is pretty high thinking 7 is fine.
Hi Emma...so great to hear from you! I"m just seeing this now (in the Seattle airport after dropping my daughter off for college - sniff). I agree with all the great advice TC and Ken are sharing with you. Plants generally like a pH of 5.5 - 6.5, fish are generally pretty tolerant - just don't swing the pH quickly is all they ask. Murray mostly uses lime, as TC says, and he mixes it in some water adds it to the grow bed so it has less immediate effect on the fish. You are probably seeing fungus either because you are running continuously, or because you don't have an inch of dry media at the top of your bed, or both. Pretty easily fixed.

Hope we see more of you around here!

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