Aquaponic Gardening

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I am working on my first aquaponic system, and retrofitting an Aerogarden for an inlet, an overflow, and a normal return for an ebb and drain system. I drilled three holes in the Aerogarden shell with a 1 1/8" paddle bit, and then made them slightly larger with a rotary grinding tool. I then fit all the holes with threaded drain fittings, and sealed them in place. The holes are positioned so that the overflow starts to drain when the "fill to here" mark in the aerogarden is hit (3.5 Quarts from my measurement). The normal return is positioned higher than I'd like, but I didn't want to put holes in the base plate. If this present problems, I'll add a siphon line which will hit the bottom of the tank. The water inlet is slightly higher than the overflow return. The water pump I'm using has a 60 gph flow rate, with 2 feet of lift.

I did my first leak test this morning, hooking up all the water lines, and the pump (with a 5 gallon bucket as my reservoir) and discovered that I'm going to need to re-seal the normal return. I'm re-sealing today and will re-test tomorrow.

I transplanted 7 strawberry crowns from my garden to a normal Aerogarden set up on 3-13-10, and as of this morning (3-16) I'm seeing new growth on 5 of the plantings. This will be the same unit I'm using for the aquaponic set-up, the cover, lights, internal pump and base will all be used on the new set-up.

I've got a new under gravel filter for my tank coming in the mail some time this week, so I'm confident that the whole system will be up and running by the to follow after its assembled.

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Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on June 15, 2010 at 8:03pm
Hi Daniel,

I thought your post was wonderful - a lot of work went into that article!

I'm not surprised about the strawberries - did you see my blog post about strawberries? Here it is - - you might enjoy it, or at least relate.

Lettuce and basil both do astoundingly well in the AeroGarden. We clocked germination at 18 hours after planting once.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your blog post! Hoping for many more.
Comment by Dan Brown on June 15, 2010 at 1:52pm
Sylvia - Unfortunately you were very right about the challenges I'd be facing. Strawberries are difficult to maintain in the Aerogarden, and after watching them sprout yellow and then white leaves, I couldn't torture them any longer and returned them to the garden. 5 of them made it back in, and 3 of those survived. I planted lettuce and it sprouted in 36 hours. I didn't know that was even possible. I'm clipping it for microgreens, and I'll add a photo or two later today. Thank you for featuring my blog, I hope you like the article.
Comment by Dan Brown on April 1, 2010 at 7:58pm
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on April 1, 2010 at 7:49pm
I'm not only without brilliant salvage ideas, but am also concerned about your other beautiful, healthy plants. While the most likely issue is crown rot, you may have a disease issue. Those babies look pretty far gone. I'd yank them ASAP. Sorry no better news - we saw this a lot when we were trying to get strawberries to work in the AeroGarden. It's tough, but if you can get them to take off they are great.
Comment by Dan Brown on April 1, 2010 at 7:35pm
I've added a number of current images in the folder I already had. I'm pretty sure I'm going to pull those two damaged plants on Saturday at the latest, unless you've got a brilliant salvage idea.
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on April 1, 2010 at 6:44pm
Yes, I bet that raising the plants would help but I'd love to see an image. Can you attach one to your next post?
Comment by Dan Brown on April 1, 2010 at 6:43pm
They are all above the waterline, but they may be wicking moisture off the sponges from the master gardener kit. Will raising the plants help? I can see mold on the major roots of the two are damaged.
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on April 1, 2010 at 6:36pm
Daniel, were the crowns (where the leaves meet the roots) getting wet? Strawberries are super sensitive to any moisture on the crowns and will develop what is called "crown rot".
Comment by Dan Brown on April 1, 2010 at 6:18pm
Update - looks like I'm going to lose a couple of strawberry plants to mold. I had to trim the main root when I transplanted (due to the depth of the grow bed) and now I've got mold two plants. Any suggestions for how I can deal with that mold? I'm going to remove the plants if they look this bad tomorrow, but I'm curious as to whether or not there is an alternate approach. Do you think this is caused by air exposure? I don't have any media in the aerogarden, but putting 3.5 Quarts of hydrotron in would be easy enough to do if you think it would alleviate the potential for facing this particular problem.
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on March 16, 2010 at 11:41am
Hi Daniel,

You might also want to start a forum topic on this.


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