Aquaponic Gardening

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I've almost got my system up and running, have the water cycling and I'm about to add the bacteria starter.I'd like to get a few plants going but the heat in Austin is unbelievable, high of 107 today.

 

I'm planning on starting off with some basil, chard, early fall/late summer cucumbers and some beets.

 

I was curious if anyone uses a shade cloth for the summer heat and what % of sun blockage works best for you.

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Natural Gardener has 40% and 60% I believe.  I want to say 12ft wide rolls, sold by the foot... I think 20ft of 40% was ~$75.  It works okay to limit the direct burn, but it doesnt help the air temperature.

hay, I'm not in TX but the Florida sun can be pretty extreme too.

I Have one system that gets natural shade from the house and trees at different parts of the day so I haven't had shade cloth over that this year but some of the cool weather plants that hung on into summer are looking really poor by afternoon though the heat loving plants seem fine with it.

 

My other system out under full sun pretty much all day, I had to put some shade cloth up directly over it.  I used some 40% aluminet and it does help not only diffuse the direct sun a bit but also reflect some of the heat and is definitely worth it.

 

Other things that might help through the extreme heat as well as help through cycling might be to run constant flood if your system design allows that easily (like if you are running a timer system, just set it to always on through this part of the year.)

 

Sweet potatoes like the heat as do mellons and lufa and yardlong beans and okra, and water chestnuts and bananas.

Good point on the air temperature Mike, if it did lower the temp I'd probably start a line of clothing made out of it =)

 

TC, Thanks for the suggestions, I actually didn't know that Luffas were grown from a plant. Very cool! I've had good luck with Okra in past summers, that would be a good fit.

Yard long beans (sometimes called asparagus beans or I think the variety I get from Johnny's is Red Noodle) are good for hot summers too.

Hard to believe, but... I have completed my first aquaponic year and have yet to install shade. Definitely see plants struggling when the gravel is in full sun. But with some planning you can use plants to shade other plants to some extent - grapes for instance can be run up to some clothesline and then spread All Over The Place. It is happy to get first dibs on the sun!

Right now my natural shade from 4 chile plants and two eggplant is actually too much for the understory stuff! I am looking at thinning the chiles and cutting tomatoes way back to let MORE light thru for some new squash seedlings.

 

If cloth is the only shade, I'd guess from 50% to 70% would work for us in the high summer.

 

Good summer sowing list, maybe have a corner with some other 'microgreens' which can be sown any season. To your beets and chard, add kohlrabi and pak choi... onions any time...

 

It's probably late for both eggplant and okra, unless the okra is for leaves (not that there's anything wrong with that).

 

Throw in some cilantro seeds, by the time you've forgotten about them in the fall they'll be coming up. You can't have too much cilantro. And start your fall tomatoes inside or in serious shade.

 

Rick

And if you want some serious shade, plant some lufa, however, you need some serious support to keep it from smothering everything.  It has a really hefty root system though so you might even plant it in the ground next to the AP system if you don't want it hogging the root space in the grow bed.

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