Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

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

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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Pythium wilt, Bob. Try not top-watering, but rather soak the trays in a little water once per day, and not sit in water otherwise. If you suspect pythium is setting in, or even as prevention, water with hydrogen peroxide. It is counterintuitive to water something already over-watered, but peroxide will bring O2 to the water that's already there. Some sterilize their starter mix, I have found that an initial watering of of peroxide shortens germination time, improves germination percentage, and provides a localized dissinfected area from the peroxide.

Here's a site with some advice.
On that note, I have started using professional seedling plugs from I-Hort in Holister. My trays are about 13"x26" and are 392 cells each, holding $11 worth of sponge plugs made from bark. I get 100% germination by simply placing seeds on top, placing in full sun, and watering once a day. Germination was faster when set in shade and greenhouse, but shock was extreme when I moved them to sunlight.


There are two things you can do to help get a higher survival rate.  You can only buy store sold seeds.  These seeds are required to contain a fungicide to be sold in the US.  If you are collecting your own seeds, you may not put any fungicide on the seeds.  The second thing you can do is keep the bottoms of your plug tray moist while keeping the top part warm/dry.  I do this by keeping a plastic top over my plug tray.  This acts like a lens and helps keep a humid climate inside, but not keeping the seeds in total water.

The other thing I do is use perlite.  I place the seeds in perlite and wait until they grow about an inch or so, pull them out and place them in a flood/drain AP system.  When larger, I put them in rafts.

Bob Campbell said:

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.

Thanks for organizing this Jon. The wife and I had a great time. Anyone have any tips on cleaning biodiesel out of an IBC?

You can try growing oyster mushroom mycelium.  You don't need it to flower.

mario cole said:

Thanks for organizing this Jon. The wife and I had a great time. Anyone have any tips on cleaning biodiesel out of an IBC?

Thank you and the misses, Mario.

Heat is your friend for cleaning biodiesel. I'd start with a blow dryer to melt it, pail it out, then wash it with paint thinner, then soap and water. Oyster mushrooms is interesting, Paul. That's some serious volume of wood chips and time, though. I know oil is easily broken down in a biodigester. Fill it with water and cow shit and seal it up, let the bacteria do the work.
Hey everybody. I emailed a tour schedule to all I know of who signed up for tomorrow's AP tour. Two stops in SJ, two in SC. If you would like to join us, and you did not receive an emailed schedule from me today, then email me at

Thanks again for all who participated in the Aug 25th tour. I'll post some more pics, as there was a new stop, an entirely new group of tourists, and I didn't post any pics of my system the first time. It will probably take me some time to get those pics, hopefully tonight.


Wow, tours look awesome!!  I can only say I was there with you retroactively in spirit (if such a thing is possible).

In response to earlier mention of seed tables, I'm trying an idea in my just-started tray-based system in my little greenhouse.  System includes 3 flood-and-drain trays of lava rock for biofilter and solids collection, followed by 11 trays of rafts.  I lowered the height of lava to just below the max water height and put my seed trays on top of the lava.  Since there are holes in the bottom of the seed trays and pots, the seeds are watered from below with every cycle of the siphon.  Wasn't sure if the full volume of sprouting medium (coir) would soak up the water, but turns out that's not a problem at all.  Now wondering whether the coir is going to stay too wet actually.  Any comments from folks more experienced at this than me?  Thanks.

(the area to the right of the seed trays has lava at full height).

Thanks Paul. It looks like your seed trays are in your new GH that we toured when I was there in Sac. How's that going? Looks good, and thanks for the pics. In my experience, coco stays too wet, and runs the risk of pythium wilt. Lava works great by itself, but small seeds may fall too deep and be washed away. I have had good luck with mixing the two, coco helps with wicking and water retention, lava provides more anchoring structure and air. But I know of many who start exactly as you describe with success. A word to the wise; if you let your starts go too long, the roots will anchor to the lava below, and moving the net pots to their final home may break some roots and shock them for a bit. It's amazing how fast the roots travel.

Some pics of the August 25th tour.

Paul's place, and some eggplant getting ready

Here we are at Michael Lueck's place in his front yard (that's right...front yard). Michael shows us what he can do with an IBC and some carpentry skill. Even the fish tank is an IBC with a window cut in. Thanks Michael (in the black shirt, orange writing, sorry that's the only pic I got of you)


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