Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello folks. I know it's kind of last minute, but I'm organizing a Santa Cruz area tour of AP gardens for August 18th, and possibly the 25th if demand calls for it. If you have an AP garden that you would like to share, or if you would like to join the tour, please contact me at jonparrco@gmail.com

So far I have my own place, the Aquaponic and hydroponic gardens at Cabrillo College, and a handful of others awaiting the details. After the tour, guests are welcome back to my place for BBQ, beer, campfire, live music (hopefully, my band just informed me their drummer is out of town), and overnight camping if you like.

Contact me soon, and this is RSVP only. This is just for fun and education, no charge, and we will have a good time.

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Tourists, so to speak, listening to Paul explain how his Non-fed, very natural, bog-based system works, and how he used chelated minerals to alter flavor of his veggies. At the heart is a small pond/bog where Anaerobic bacteria release minerals from decaying material, and acids which regulate pH; two benefits not normally found in Aerobic AP styles.

UCSC. System is idle during the summer, and hopefully will be resurrected in the fall when students return. I'll be offering my help to redesign it for them.

Elio (no shirt, pink pants, Santa Cruzan personified) describing his IBC system being built on a flat-bed trailer, so no worries if he someday has to move it.  Genius.  Elio is such a great guy, and so passionate about AP. It was nice to see a brand new system for those interested in building their first ones, because everything was shiny and clean, easily view-able and able to follow plumbing from start to finish. Elio even pulled out his BSFL bin, made from an old ice-chest.

Peter Shaw of Cabrillo College, standing in front of the AP raft lettuce beds, beginning a "discourse" on AP and Hydroponics, with no sugar-coating. We saw and discussed fish and fish problems, Organic Certification, nutrient deficiencies, pests, pest management (predator insects), climate control, seasonal growth expections (even in greenhouses), commercial viability, water testing, pH control, RO, automatic seeders, seasonal changes in water hardness...in short, too much to outline here.

Hydroponic basil in the foreground, tomatoes in the background. And Peter hiding in a hydro cucmber jungle.

Those were some pretty cukes. And tasty too. They start from hydro buckets on the floor, drape over a pipe overhead, then were all the way back to the floor. Peter says they will be past their useful harvest before they get back to the ceiling. Seriously, the leaves were 16" across.

Finish all that up with beer, some mint tea from the garden, pasta salad, beans, green salad, and bbq chicken. Mario even brought a few quail from his yard to throw on the barbie. It was a good time for all, and we are doing it all again this weekend, the 25th of August. At least one stop will not be able to participate, but there is at least one new one to see. A few tips for any wanting to join us this weekend: 

-dress in layers and bring sun-block. I got scorched. You never know what Santa Cruz weather will be.

-younger kids had a hard time staying interested all day, and some of the parents were spent by the end of the day as a result. Teens, so long as they're into gardening, will probably enjoy it much more than little ones.

-take my number down and give me yours. There were a few tourists we lost and even some we gained as the tour progressed. I was worried somebody got left behind (Bryan, where did you go? I had visions of your wife going into labor all day, but didn't have your number)

-pack water and snacks, maybe even lunch. I will plan a longer lunch period this weekend, as last week's lunch omitted with traffic and staying on schedule. I personally didn't eat all day, until we got to my house as the last stop. I doubt most others did either

To RSVP, drop me a note at jonparrco@gmail.com with how many would like to attend, and whether or not you'll be staying for dinner and/or camping. If you already attended and want to again, that's fine, but I may bump you if newcomers number too many. Thanks again.

Jon

Thanks for the great pictures!

Does the seed start tray flood and drain too?

Jon Parr said:

Paul Holowko's fish tank, .... and now some bluegill Paul got from me. From here, water flows to flood and drain tables growing veggies.

Bob, actually the seed tray sits in a solid tray that floats on top of the water, for convenience and thermal mass I presume. I think it is hand watered as needed.

Thanks so much for the photos! Looks like a great experience! Hopeful on next one... we'll see.

No, the seed tray is not a flood/drain system.  It's not needed.   Plugs are put into each hole. A seed into every plug.  The whole tray is lowered into the water just by a 1/2 inch or so.  Pete in the plugs suck up the water as needed.  The point is to germinate the seeds being accustomed to growing in water.  As I'm sure you know, it is hard to convert a larger plant from soil into AP.  These plugs will go into rafts in a couple of weeks or so.

Bob Campbell said:

Thanks for the great pictures!

Does the seed start tray flood and drain too?

Jon Parr said:

Paul Holowko's fish tank, .... and now some bluegill Paul got from me. From here, water flows to flood and drain tables growing veggies.

I have had a very difficult time starting seeds.  Overall I'd say most of my success has come from starting directly in the net pot, but I loose 90% of my starts to what I suspect is a fungus on the stem.  Usually they get about 2" tall and then fall over and die.

It's embarrassing, but I have been looking carefully at what others are doing so that I can stop buying my plants from Lowes.

These are being started with a plastic cover similar to yours.  I made the media wet, planted the seeds, and have given them a quick spray twice a day.  The two vent holes are open all the way, but I'm not optimistic.  I've tried for 6 months to get seeds started and like I said 90% wilt and die.  So I get my plants from Lowes. 

Paul Holowko said:

No, the seed tray is not a flood/drain system.  It's not needed.   Plugs are put into each hole. A seed into every plug.  The whole tray is lowered into the water just by a 1/2 inch or so.  Pete in the plugs suck up the water as needed.  The point is to germinate the seeds being accustomed to growing in water.  As I'm sure you know, it is hard to convert a larger plant from soil into AP.  These plugs will go into rafts in a couple of weeks or so.

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