Aquaponic Gardening

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Rick-When/where is the next meeting? 

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It will be at my place on November 25th at 3pm.

did I miss October?

Yes we had it last weekend.  I post them all here on the site at least 2 weeks ahead of the scheduled date.  Check in here for the schedule.

@Rick, I would like to come to see your system at the next meeting.  Would it be ok if my wife comes along? Also, where are you located? We will be coming from Everett and if you could send me directions to I would really appreciate it.  I can't wait to see your setup.

Mike - did you get location for this Sunday's meeting? If not message Rick directly and he'll give you the address, it is in Yelm.

    My advice, if you find directions on Google Maps [assuming that you are coming down from the North], is to continue down WA 7 rather than take the fork below Puyallup. It is an easier drive as the fork is NOT well marked. It is marked, but easier to stay on 7. And the turn off of WA 7, towards Rick's, is a stop light and very well marked.

    Just an FYI, if you will.

Hi Derrick,


My address is 803 317th St Ct E Roy WA 98580

Derrick Kerr said:

@Rick, I would like to come to see your system at the next meeting.  Would it be ok if my wife comes along? Also, where are you located? We will be coming from Everett and if you could send me directions to I would really appreciate it.  I can't wait to see your setup.


Llody, thanks I did. When I mapped it it gave my the hwy 7 route. I'm going to try to make it as I missed last month. Can't leave until the weekend visitors from Canada leave though. Michael

Does anyone coming to the meeting on Sunday have any trout food I could buy? Can't get it in Seattle and I'm running a bit low of the size for 6 inch fish. If so I could use about 10 pounds at what ever the going price is. Thanks Michael

Meeting is tomorrow!  Looks like we will have a good showing.  Topics covered will be:  Winter varieties, Light and Heat - the balance needed for optimal growth, Winter pest issues.

Tis is Lloyd Booth's accounting of yesterdays meeting.  Thank you again Lloyd for your detailed account. It is very much appreciated.


We had 3 new people at the meeting this month and a bunch of returnees.

>>  Jeb led a good discussion about the use of seeds and a quick overview of seed-saving. We covered the difference between open-pollinated versus hybrid seeds, and a quick overview of the meaning of F1, F2 and F3. Basically the number refers to the number of years it takes to cross, F1 = 1 year, F3 = 3 years. It does not reflect the number of crosses, which is pretty variable (and secret). You can use open-pollinated seeds over and over, but hybrid seeds do not reproduce true to the crop you grew it from, so you need to buy them every year or three.

>>  Jeb also noted that some seeds are good for many years, and others need to bought every year. He told us that if we have seeds from previous years, we could test them by wetting a paper towel, spreading 10 seeds over the wet paper towel, folding it over and covering it (dark for the seeds) in a warm place for the time listed for germination on the seed pack. The number of seeds that grow out plants is the percent x10 of likely growth from that package. So 7 seeds growing = 70% germination. Anything over 50% is likely to grow out for you; 50% or less means it is probably time to buy new seeds. Seeds store better in low humidity, low light, chilled environment. He uses a silica bag in a Mylar bag in the freezer with all of his left over seeds. In the Spring, before planting, he takes out the seeds needed for the year, lets them thaw in a cold room, and then plants as the season progresses. That way, he only opens the bag once.

>>  We went on to talk about light and temperature of the Maritime climate this time of year. Basically we are on the same level as much of Maine. But Maine records half-again more sunlight than we do at any point in the year except July to September. We do have some sunny days through the year, but Maine has many more. More light means more growth. So, even with equal or better winter temperatures, we get so little sun, the plants go dormant until mid to late February.

>>  He also found a reprint of Binda Colebrook's book: Winter Gardening (5th Edition, 2012) available on Amazon. This is a useful book for us as it looks at OUR climate and is based on years of growing during the Winter in the PNW.

>>  We also looked at a number of seed catalogs, Territorial Seeds are here in the NW, and Jeb has had good results with their seeds. He had about 15 different seed catalogs. He encouraged us to look at any seed catalogs, including Ferry & Morse who are British seed sellers. Europe has so far declined to accept GMO (gene-manipulated organism) plants or seeds, so they are relatively free of that sort of contamination.

>>  We had a introduction to mushrooms by Deanna with a suggestion of using “Strophia” as it is a garden booster type of mushroom in the growbeds to assist with remineralizing the rocks into available nutrients for the plants. She suggested that we use the catalog from Fungi Perfecti to order our kits. (Catalog can be ordered by going to and requesting a catalog.) They are located in the Olympia, WA area. She also demonstrated a Alder log that she and her children had set-up to grow Shitake mushrooms by drilling holes in the log, and filling with mushroom spawn plugs. The plugs will grow out mushrooms in a year or so and again 3 or 4 years on. Dick noted that he planned to grow mushrooms under some of his growbeds in plastic bags as demonstrated in the same catalog.

>> Don gave a brief report on using the refractometer on three different tomatoes grown in the same greenhouse, using the same fish water, from the same seed pack, but grown in different manners. In the thin-film technique, the tomatoes were 2% sugar (Brix); in the Deep Water Culture technique, the tomatoes were 4% sugar; in the wicking beds (grown in untreated coir) the tomatoes were 8% sugar. (Personal taste test confirmed that the wicking bed tomatoes tasted MUCH better than the others). The testing was repeated on 3 different tomatoes from the three different plants, with the same results.

>>  Rick reminded us that if we harvest more than 20% of the plants, at one time, without replacing them we can cause a huge spike of nitrates, and if much more we could potentially hurt the fish and even the bacterial species in the growbeds. This was because the plant roots are big consumers of the nitrates (plant nutrition), and if we reduce them suddenly, the nitrates will be still produced, but not consumed.

>>  Dick told us he planned to have a seed-growing beds, so that as he pulled one plant out, he could replace it with another immediately. He is planning to do that with pots pushed into the growbeds, and just pull a pot and replace it with a different pot with a young plant already growing in the new pot. That way he has a new plant, not just a seed to replace the plant pulled.

>>  Jeb talked about growing plants in succession. That is if you use 3 lettuce plants a week, there is no point in planting 20 of them all at once. Rather plant 3 lettuce plants every week, harvest those as needed, knowing next week's lettuce was going to be ready when it was needed. Same for every other routine vegetable. This doesn't work with, say, melons as the melons have a defined growing season. [Defined growing seasons can be extended by using cloches, hoop houses, cold frames, or green houses, but only so far.] For those vegetables that produce plenty all at once, think about how you will preserve the harvest [drying, canned, freezing, etc.]

>> Don also reported that he had stripped out his flood and drain gravel bed, after 3 years, and found some volunteer worms, and a lot of “soil”, neither of which had he put into the bed. Group speculated that the worms and the water had broken down some parts of the gravel and the result was some amount of dirt, as a result. This might explain why flood and drain beds get better over time. This phenomena has been reported consistently around the world.

>> There was a brief show and tell about current technology LED lights using flashlights. 5th generation LEDs were compared to 6th generation ones and the 6th were found to be much brighter. We are hopeful that the next generation of LEDs will be powerful enough to act as grow-lights efficiently. The current generation shows much promise, but still insufficient lumen strength to be truly effective. The other benefits of LEDs are lower cost, lower heat produced, much longer life (like 50,000 hours or more) and lower cost of powering them.

>> Next meeting is scheduled for 30 December also at 3 PM. Given reasonable weather, we will be having a presentation of worms and worm ranching, by 3in1 Farms out of Poulsbo, WA.


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