Aquaponic Gardening

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     Spider mites. That's what the horticulturist told us. Tiny, almost microscopic, bugs that love to live on and devour my plants. And we've got 'em bad. Oh joy.
     I knew I had spider mites already, I just didn't realize how many. Funny how some plants are effected differently by the same pest. I recognized the damage on the cucumbers, squash, and green bean plants immediately. But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was going on with my basil and rosemary plants. And some of my seedlings. Because of the different textures of the plant, the damage looked more like a film, along with little black dots. I thought it was a blight or mold of some kind.  
     Actually, it's kind of relieving. As annoying as the little buggers are, I far prefer them to some kind of mold. I think mold would have been harder to treat. And just the fact that I actually know where the problem lies is a great relief as well. Another great thing about this whole ordeal is that it has been a good lesson about gardening. It's not perfect and it's not easy. Simple. But not easy. And I knew that from the start, but I think it was good for me to experience problems at the beginning of my aquaponics experiment. rather than be duped by extra-ordinarily good experience with aquaponics. I want to be doing this my whole life, whether planting systems in other countries, or just doing some farming here in the states; and to learn the kind of things I have to "look forward" to with this kind of career braces me for what's to come. I can expect the worst and hope for the best. If I get the best, I can be more grateful, because I know what the worst is like. (Not at all implying that this is the worst thing that will ever happen to me)   
     So the whole thing has been a blessing. Really.  And I'm not just trying to look at the positive side so I can endure the negative. It's not just wishful thinking or an "every cloud has a silver lining" moment where I just try to look at the silver part and ignore the fact that there is a big ugly storm cloud raining on me. I really think this is a good thing that has happened. My cloud doesn't have a silver lining, the whole thing turned to gold.   
     Plus I got to take out my aggression on some mites. Oh, and did I put them through some hell :) Literally. I actually constructed my own personal Hades in a 55 gallon steel barrel to bring judgement upon the blasphemous little insects! And I destroyed their homes and flooded their lands, feeding the captives to my hens, leaving the remnant to be devoured by carnivorous insects. Hopefully they've learned their place in MY garden: they are welcome to stay, but their sole purpose is to be food for MY predator mites! (insert maniacal laugh)    
     Now that my plants are gone, my filter is gone too. So my nitrate levels, which were already high and were starting to improve, have gone up even higher. My fish keep dying off; almost time to order some more :) I'm thinking I'll go to a greenhouse or something and just buy some young plants to get a head start on my grow beds. So I'm basically starting over, but I do have a beautifully cycled system that is keeping up with ammonia and nitrites really well. And besides the spider mites, the plants I had had in there previously were looking pretty sweet. So here's hoping for a more favorable round two!
     Do you have any aquaponic or "greenhouse" of horror stories? Like this post and leave your comments! And check out my page for upcoming pictures of me burning bugs alive at the stake. Could be therapeutic for those who have had problems with spider mites in the past.

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Comment by Carlos A. Gorricho on April 21, 2013 at 8:01pm

Alex, not quite sure how you dealt with the spider mites. 

In the "Popular Hydroponics Gardens" published by FAO (UN´s Food and Agriculture Organization) they mention a couple of preventive measures against such plagues, that still keep the horticultural production organic. Namely, concentrated garlic, onion, or chili tea, sprayed over the plants regularly. I have not tried it my self, since I am just on the studying phase. But was wondering if you or anybody else use such substances.

Comment by Alex Veidel on April 14, 2013 at 6:14am
BLAAAH! A friend pointed out that I used "effected" instead of "affected". Hate it when I do that. Not sure how that typo got by me :P
Comment by NetJon on April 11, 2013 at 6:34pm

You are truly a villain.  :-)

Comment by Alex Veidel on April 10, 2013 at 5:28pm

Yeah, I'm not crazy about the idea of getting plants from the store, but I need the plants now. Takes too long to start from seed, unless I can talk to my fish about taking their business elsewhere until the plants are grown :)

Comment by Vlad Jovanovic on April 10, 2013 at 10:54am

Spider mite horror stories eh?...Too many to re-count. I hate those damn buggers. One of the things I've learned to do (which is probably part of why I've not had a bad infestation in a long while) is bi-weekly spot checks with a magnifying glass. This has allowed me to catch them early, a number of times. If you catch them early enough, dealing with them is a piece of cake. If you wait until you notice the webbing, then you already probably have a healthy, breeding, adult population...and it's probably too late to do much. so buy a magnifying glass and check around the undersides of leaves a couple times a week. Most of my horror stories (pest, fungal, pathogenic or otherwise) began by me buying seedlings from a store/nursery/other good luck with that one.

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