Aquaponic Gardening

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I recently read a discussion post by my friend David Lindemann in reply to Natural Pest Controls where he wrote:

" My philosophy is "Let it Grow!"  This means all plants, insects, animals and bacteria.  When the balance (the ultimate goal of aquaponics) is complete, a micro ecosystem will evolve and all of the plants and animals will live in harmony.  Wasps, aphids, worms, squirrels, cats, ladybugs, bees, humans, dogs, water fleas, fish and everthing else will balance out and the growth will be awesome.  Don't try to kill anything, try to cultivate the best of everything.
The bottom line is - every living thing needs to eat.  Sometimes we need to sacrifice some of our food so the other creatures can eat and we are part of the ecosystem - as opposed to the belief that we are the ecosystem. Let it grow, let it grow."

 

Well, I too, in general, like to let nature take it's own course. However, recent incidents at my small Aquaponics Research Farm have drastically changed my view. So far, I have trapped 4 possums, 3 large raccoons (the last one was so big, must have been over 10lbs, that it destroyed the cage), and half a dozen squirrels. I am not fortunate to have an enclosed greenhouse and thus am exposed to the natural elements. I do believe that these unwanted visitors have found their garden of Eden and are hell bent on destroying it. While the possum and the raccoon visits have been reduced somewhat, there has been a tremendous increase in squirrel activity...they in fact now visit at all times of the day, not at all afraid of being caught in the act. Just yesterday, as my friend David Hart was walking in to feed the fish, he noticed two rather large squirrels eating the tomatoes and lettuce. He ran towards them waving his arms and making a loud noise...they just scampered with their spoils in hand, and looked back at him from a safe distance showing him the food they had just stolen. David says he almost caught one but I am glad he did not...what if he had been rabid and had bit him. 

 

He cleaned up and re transplanted numerous lettuces etc.

 

Well what a shock I had this morning. The barsteward squirrels had revisited during our absence, (scrambling when I arrived), and virtually destroyed sections of my garden. Numerous tomatoes were scattered around the raft beds, the newly planted lettuce and other crops had been destroyed as they had dug into the coir mixture and significant damage was done to the other growing plants. Boy! so much for "Let it grow,let it grow". I take this as a sign of "War" and will now get to work defending my property. But How?

 

So here is what I am planning...I do not have the luxury of an enclosed space, or the ability to keep a dog. I am thinking of building a removable screen enclosure (like swimming pool), to go around and over the DWC raft bed (in 8 ft sections - 48 ft long), putting up an electrical wire - like that to keep out deer, and have just purchased two Sonic control monitors. David jokes that he is going to camp out with his BB gun and pellets (another friend said he would be willing to do the same saying squirrel meat is good...funny, I never fancied that). Now what else to do. The fake owls did not work, they just dance around them, red pepper spray and cinnamon does not work as it gets washed away (lots of water around). Any suggestions?

 

 

 


 

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Ya might have to start growing your lettuce in Zipgrow towers then.  Only the very bottom lettuces in my towers have been pillaged by rodents.

Sorry about your pest problem Sahib!  The bird netting definitely works to keep everything out of the greenhouse and would definitely recommend it for a way to keep squirrels and other varmints out.  Just nothing smaller than 1/4" mesh as you want to still allow beneficials in.  We are very diligent about keeping any animals out of the greenhouse as we want to insure a little furry visitor doesn't bring along some kind of contaminate on a late night visit.  There has been much discussion as to how pathogens could be introduced to our systems and critters and even our own dogs and cats could easily be a culprit.  

As for squirrels, they are really nothing more than very persistent rats with cute, bushy tails that diligently dig through horse poo looking for grain.  I am guessing where you are Sahib, there is probably not a horse anywhere near by, but you've got to wonder what else they might be digging through! Ick!  Good luck!

do you have owls in your area Sahib? if so you could research the possibility of putting up an owl box near your farm

 

 

 

Thank you Gina,

 

I am going to put up fine bird netting...just a pain in the b... , especially after the system is built and operational and I have Workshop classes scheduled in the next two weeks. As if I did not already have my plate full!

 

Yes Sir, I can deal with possums, raccoons, mice, rats etc. but squirrels...they are at present right up there as being my number one "Wanted Dead" critter. I will certainly buy a safe solution for their disappearance and/or elimination :-)

 

Now as regards being "very diligent about keeping any animals out of the greenhouse as we want to insure a little furry visitor doesn't bring along some kind of contaminate on a late night visit.  There has been much discussion as to how pathogens could be introduced to our systems and critters and even our own dogs and cats could easily be a culprit", I total agree that is important if you have the means such as an enclosed green or hoop house. We should do everything that is possible to grow our food locally and naturally taking care to follow Best Growing Practice that has been used for centuries. We do however have to be careful that we do not get so fanatic about this so that we are only comfortable with growing food in "Lab. type environment" (as many Hydroponic / Aeroponic), growing facilities are. The majority of people that I know are your typical "backyard" gardeners who do not have such facilities. Further, what about all the food grown today on our farms. How do we protect that from natures elements. We can put up deer fences etc, but the ultimate best practice of growing food for consumption comes down to sustained hygiene, acknowledged gardening practices and thoroughly washing any food before consumption.  

 

As far as horses, I am not sure about my Winter Park location, but my home is in Lake Mary, the local capital for horse training. While I do have abuse by squirrels at my home Aquaponics system, it is in no way close to that at my small research farm. Even my Horticubes are not safe ( I will post a picture later).

 

God bless,



Gina Cavaliero said:

Sorry about your pest problem Sahib!  The bird netting definitely works to keep everything out of the greenhouse and would definitely recommend it for a way to keep squirrels and other varmints out.  Just nothing smaller than 1/4" mesh as you want to still allow beneficials in.  We are very diligent about keeping any animals out of the greenhouse as we want to insure a little furry visitor doesn't bring along some kind of contaminate on a late night visit.  There has been much discussion as to how pathogens could be introduced to our systems and critters and even our own dogs and cats could easily be a culprit.  

As for squirrels, they are really nothing more than very persistent rats with cute, bushy tails that diligently dig through horse poo looking for grain.  I am guessing where you are Sahib, there is probably not a horse anywhere near by, but you've got to wonder what else they might be digging through! Ick!  Good luck!

Hello Jason.

 

I do not have owls in my urban area...as far as I know. A few years ago, after Hurricane Charlie, we had to have our office building roof repaired. There was a hole for some time and this led to loads of pigeons making this place their home. They refused to leave even after the roof had been replaced. We ultimately placed two fake owls on adjoining roof tops and that solved the problem. 

 

I have done the same at both my house and work. My wife placed one on our large pomegranate tree at home, dangling from a string so that it would look real with movement by wind or branch shaking. Well, it worked for a month or two...then they started to dance on top of the owl and totally ignoring it. plucking the fruit and looking towards us while eating it...Barstewards!

 

God bless,

jason maggs said:

do you have owls in your area Sahib? if so you could research the possibility of putting up an owl box near your farm

 

 

 

 

florida has five types of owls

great horned, barn, burrowing, screech and barred.

 

one barn owl can eat over 1,000 mice a year

 

If you can I would find out about the regulations in your neighborhood about putting up an owl box

 

Thank you Sir :-)

 

I will look into that.

 

God bless

jason maggs said:

florida has five types of owls

great horned, barn, burrowing, screech and barred.

 

one barn owl can eat over 1,000 mice a year

 

If you can I would find out about the regulations in your neighborhood about putting up an owl box

 

We just planted some new seeds on Monday and Tuesday form Johnny Select Seeds and some Burpee Lettuce Mix in Horticubes. So much for the Coir mixture given the fact the the #1 pest Mr. Barsteward Squirrels have a love for that. Feeling safe that at least we will have some new seedlings to plant soon, we placed them in our seedling area and left for Thanksgiving.

 

Look what I saw yesterday. Horticubes are also not safe. Guess have to build a protection area here too (:

 

 

Argh.

 

Due to the lack of natural predators to keep such populations under control, I do what I feel is necessary.  I use traps and pellet rifles for squirrels and traps and .22 for possums and raccoons.  Don't transport the critters to cause problems for someone else.  In fact, that is illegal here and may be where you live too.  Good luck.

How bout some predator urine?

 

http://www.predatorpee.com/

Interesting Chi.

 

I had purchased some spray labeled as "Squirrel repellant", that smelled like awful...stale urine...only thing that got repelled was me...had to take a shower and change as some of the spray blew back on my clothes...Disgusting but not a squirrel repellant!

 

 God bless,

Chi Ma said:

How bout some predator urine?

 

http://www.predatorpee.com/

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