Aquaponic Gardening

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There has been some (much?) chatter on other AP forums about using redworms in your media beds to "process" your solids.  I love this idea!  Not only are the solids removed, but the plants benefit from the vermicompost.  I added about a pound of worms in my six beds a few weeks ago, and I'm hoping that they are happily going to town in there.

So here are my questions...

Do you use worms in your system?  How many to use per square ft of bed?  When do you add?  Do you feed them something (food scraps) besides the delicious fish solids?  

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Worms....

To me is a very important link in the chain

 

Yesterday I noticed some interesting worm behavior.  I was pulling out the roots of a chicory plant that had been harvested several days previously to toss it into the compost bin.  To my surprise, the entire root zone was a wriggling mass of worms! 

Normally when we harvest our plants we immediately pull the roots and compost them.  After a bit of thinking about it, I'm guessing that the worms were feeding on the roots that had died back after the top was sheared off.  I have never seen that many on healthy plant roots before.


Anybody else have any similar experiences?  I'm wondering about those of you with media-filled beds and worms - do the worms help with the clean up in the media after you harvest?


Yep

Check this out.    Look ma no fish!

 

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/gardening/vermiponics/

 

I am thinking of doing a test run this summer.

 

I have a few red wriggers in my test last year ( I have 2 worm bins running now for supply ) and I would place banana peals in to feed them.  

 

I am really looking forward to this summer to see how all this works out.!

I found a way to battle the fruit flies in your bin.   I spent a few hours searching and I found a trap that is easy and cheap.

 

Take a ziplock bag and put a old banana peal inside it.   zip it up and poke some tiny holes in the bag.    The fruit flies will come to the bag go thru the holes and will not find their way out ( I don't give them time to find the way :-) )

But this worked very well for me.

 

The other way is to take a bowl of vinegar ( small cup )  and add 2 drops of dish soap  to it  ( breaks surface tension so fruit flies drown) .    Place plastic wrap over the top and again put some small holes in the plastic ( so they get in and is hard for them to get out.



Michael Cosmo said:

I recently got the "Secrets"DVD from Murray. http://www.aquaponics.net.au/product/prod138.htm
In it he shows how the worms live in the bottom few inches of his drain and fill beds. I also have the DVD from Omloana gardens in Hawaii. http://www.olomanagardens.com/Sales.html
They are a huge worm farm. He uses the worm castings for seed starter pots. They also put worms in their drain and fill beds. I have a Worm Factory and I am now fighting fruit flies. I bought Beneficial nematodes and Pyrethrum spray. I will let you know how that goes.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012BGXXY/ref=oss_product
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000MRD5JO/ref=oss_product

Murray,

Is there any place to see pics of this? I have heard of someone doing something like this with a tube, but not sure how best to do it so I don't just have an accumulation of rotting veggies.
Murray Hallam said:

Worms are the Aquaponics secret weapon that is for sure.
I actually add food scraps to the grow beds using a worm feeding station in the corner of the grow bed. Works very well.

k edmonds said:
When this discussion started I had never thought to put worms in the system. I love to experiment so I added about a dozen red wigglers, have not seen any since they burrowed in. I am sure they are in there somewhere.
The neat thing is that my four-year old daughter likes to catch regular earth-worms in the soil garden and keep them in buckets etc. About two weeks ago she asked if she could add some worms to the fish tank so they could have a treat. I said sure, knowing that the gold fish would probably pass, I think she added 4-5 regular earth worms directly to the tank. Tonight I cleaned the filter on the pump and when I took the cover off there were two of these regular earth worms on the inside of the case next to the filter. I laid them on the gravel bed while I cleaned the filter and by the time I got back three minutes later they had already burrowed into the gravel. I never would have guessed that regular earthworms could live in water for a couple of weeks, apparently they found a place that was hospitable.
I have also been adding some worm bin leach-ate every few days. I'm not sure if its the worm juice or the system is starting to get into the "zone" but the plants have really perked up and the seedlings have just exploded in the last couple of days.

There are a few videos on youtube about building worm towers, as they are called. They all deal with soil garden setups but im sure it would translate well to aquaponics.

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iWeF63mA2Y

meant veggies that went moldy or possibly creating bad bacteria in the system
Michelle Silva said:

Murray,

Is there any place to see pics of this? I have heard of someone doing something like this with a tube, but not sure how best to do it so I don't just have an accumulation of rotting veggies.
Murray Hallam said:

Worms are the Aquaponics secret weapon that is for sure.
I actually add food scraps to the grow beds using a worm feeding station in the corner of the grow bed. Works very well.

k edmonds said:
When this discussion started I had never thought to put worms in the system. I love to experiment so I added about a dozen red wigglers, have not seen any since they burrowed in. I am sure they are in there somewhere.
The neat thing is that my four-year old daughter likes to catch regular earth-worms in the soil garden and keep them in buckets etc. About two weeks ago she asked if she could add some worms to the fish tank so they could have a treat. I said sure, knowing that the gold fish would probably pass, I think she added 4-5 regular earth worms directly to the tank. Tonight I cleaned the filter on the pump and when I took the cover off there were two of these regular earth worms on the inside of the case next to the filter. I laid them on the gravel bed while I cleaned the filter and by the time I got back three minutes later they had already burrowed into the gravel. I never would have guessed that regular earthworms could live in water for a couple of weeks, apparently they found a place that was hospitable.
I have also been adding some worm bin leach-ate every few days. I'm not sure if its the worm juice or the system is starting to get into the "zone" but the plants have really perked up and the seedlings have just exploded in the last couple of days.

Michelle,

 

My experience is that the worms are perfectly happy consuming fish effluent.   They seem to be reproducing quite well.  Adding a feeding station might distract them from breaking down the solids.  Which I consider to be the biggest boon to the system.  When I change water in my aquariums I separate the solids, mix them with cardboard and feed it to my worm bins.  They LOVE it!

Michelle Silva said:

meant veggies that went moldy or possibly creating bad bacteria in the system
Michelle Silva said:

Murray,

Is there any place to see pics of this? I have heard of someone doing something like this with a tube, but not sure how best to do it so I don't just have an accumulation of rotting veggies.
Murray Hallam said:

Worms are the Aquaponics secret weapon that is for sure.
I actually add food scraps to the grow beds using a worm feeding station in the corner of the grow bed. Works very well.

k edmonds said:
When this discussion started I had never thought to put worms in the system. I love to experiment so I added about a dozen red wigglers, have not seen any since they burrowed in. I am sure they are in there somewhere.
The neat thing is that my four-year old daughter likes to catch regular earth-worms in the soil garden and keep them in buckets etc. About two weeks ago she asked if she could add some worms to the fish tank so they could have a treat. I said sure, knowing that the gold fish would probably pass, I think she added 4-5 regular earth worms directly to the tank. Tonight I cleaned the filter on the pump and when I took the cover off there were two of these regular earth worms on the inside of the case next to the filter. I laid them on the gravel bed while I cleaned the filter and by the time I got back three minutes later they had already burrowed into the gravel. I never would have guessed that regular earthworms could live in water for a couple of weeks, apparently they found a place that was hospitable.
I have also been adding some worm bin leach-ate every few days. I'm not sure if its the worm juice or the system is starting to get into the "zone" but the plants have really perked up and the seedlings have just exploded in the last couple of days.
How many red wrigglers are reccommended for colonizing an aquabundance system? 1/2 lb 1 lb 10 lbs..?
For one of those little beds, something between a hand full and 1/2 lb in one of those beds should be sufficient unless there is already an abundance of organic waste in the bed.  Worm populations will balance out based on food supply.  I only populated each of my 150 gallon home made grow beds with a hand full of worms each when I first started them up and the population of worms expanded all on it's own.

Yesterday after the pump shut off, I splashed some straight Maxi-Crop With Iron onto the still-wet media, near the old and new grape vines. Figured it would get retained in the GB better than if it were added to the running stream...

 

Everywhere the undiluted Maxi-Crop dripped down past the top layer of media, red wrigglers came squirming up into the daylight. They seemed to rush out, look around at where they were, and proceed to burrow back down. No barfing or purging noted. No rash (what would a red wriggler's rash LOOK like?) or inflammation.

 

Either it irritated them, or the iron felt like a "shock," or they got 'drunk' on it and reversed their normal "away from the light" way of work temporarily.

I will return to diluting my Maxi-Crop 'cause I don't want to upset the little guys. They seemed nice and healthy, and it was good to see them however briefly!

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