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Garden Gloves (Sponsored)

 

Unfortunately the sponsor is no longer selling these gloves.
These protective garden gloves with claws, make it easy to dig in your garden. They're also water proof. The size fits most hands and are of decent quality. If you search online, it should be easy to find other sellers.



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How to get started with aquaponics

What is aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a way of growing plants and aquatic animals together in the same system. It is the combination of the two conventional farming techniques, aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic animals like fish and shrimps. In hydroponics, plants are grown in water using mineral nutrient solutions, without soil. So, aquaponics is growing of plants while rearing aquatic organisms together. In this great combination, fish and plants live in a symbiotic relationship. Fish in the water tank excrete waste. The water in the tank that contains fish waste is pumped out to the media bed where plants grow. There are bacteria in the media bed and they convert the fish waste in to smaller absorbable compounds. These are the nutrients for plants that they use for their growth. So plants absorb the nutrient compounds in this media bed. In another way, plants have helped to purify the fish waste in water. This cleaned water is returned back to the fish tank. It is a symbiotic relationship where fish feed the plants and plants clean water for fish to live in.

In aquaculture the waste from aquatic animals accumulate in water and increase the toxicity. Fish excrete ammonia as a metabolic product. Higher concentration of ammonia is toxic to fish. Excess ammonia can cause diseases and even death, so need to be removed from the system. The nitrogen cycle circulates these products within the system and helps detoxify the water.

Illustration of the Nitrogen cycle in aquaponics

Illustration of the Nitrogen cycle in aquaponics

Nitrogen Cycle 

Bacteria play an important role in aquaponics systems by performing major steps of the nitrogen cycle. In aquaponics systems, the bacteria colonies form on solid media surfaces. The toxic ammonia, released by fish, is broken down to nitrites and then to nitrates, which are lesser toxic to organisms than ammonia. This process is called the nitrification. The two groups of bacteria, Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter are involved in nitrification. Nitrosomonas convert ammonia to nitrites and Nitrobacter convert these nitrites to nitrates. The toxicity of nitrites is lesser than ammonia and nitrates are even lesser toxic than nitrites. Plants absorb both these nitrites and nitrates. On the other hand, now the water is clean, without ammonia, and is sent back to the fish tank.

The bacteria are a group of microorganisms, which are minute and cannot be seen by our naked eyes. Though some bacteria cause diseases and harmful to humans some bacteria are helpful and essential for us. Nitrifying bacteria are those who convert ammonia to nitrites and nitrates, like Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. They are kind of helpful bacteria. Nitrites (NO2- ) and nitrates (NO3- ) are two forms of ions, soluble in water, produced in the nitrification process in the nitrogen cycle. These ions are easily absorbable by plants and they are essential plant nutrients. But for fish, these ions are toxic, if accumulated in higher concentrations in water. 

Source: http://www.evanimal.com/MISE-MAGAZINE

Source: http://www.evanimal.com/MISE-MAGAZINE

Aquaponics and sustainable living

Aquaponics is a way to produce organic food without adding chemical fertilisers. Both the harvest of plants and the fish produce can be consumed. Not only that, it uses the resources to the maximum. It has an efficient water usage. Recirculation of water between the water tank and media bed ensures the maximum usage of water. You don’t have to purchase nutrients regularly for your plants. You only have to buy fish feed. It is an environmental friendly way of sustainable food production, providing meat (fish) and vegetables.

The resources in the nature are declining and the world needs more sustainable food production to feed the growing population. If you can practice aquaponics, may be in commercial scale one day, you are contributing to fulfil this need in a sustainable manner. If you do it small scale now, you can enjoy the fresh organic harvest of plants and fish produce at your own home, in a sustainable manner.

My first aquaponics system

If you are going to build an aquaponics system for the first time, start smaller. There are different types of aquaponics systems. ‘Media based systems’ use a non-soil medium in grow beds. They are the most common and most suitable for home use since they are easy to maintain. Deep water culture (DWC) / raft based and NFT (nutrient flow technique) are two other types of aquaponics systems. DWC is the preferred system among commercial scale growers.

Though an aquaponics system has complex chemical conversions of nutrients by microorganisms, setting up of a small scale aquaponics system is not that hard. The basic things you need are water-pump, air-pump, water heaters and media for plants. A water pump is used to pump water from the tank to the growing beds. You need to select suitable plant varieties and fish types. Leafy green vegetables are popular as plants suitable for aquaponics. 

As growing media you can use river rocks, but be aware of limestone. Rocks that contain limestone change the pH of your water. Another option is clay balls that can be purchased. The bacteria forms colonies on the surfaces of your media rocks, so the media should have the maximum surface area. Over time media beds will build up solids. Your system may need to be cleaned every 7 months if you do not have enough filtration. Worms may take over a role in your system. They digest any organic matter in water.

Do you want a bigger system? This might be a question in your mind. The decision to move to a bigger system should be chosen wisely at the correct time. If you need to rear more fish and grow more plants or you need an income from this, you can think about moving to the next level. Generally speaking, larger systems are easier to maintain, more constant water temperature and less fluctuations in water quality. However it’s best to get experience on a smaller set up first. Our Aqua Garden system is good for an intermediate stage. For a commercial scale system, you will need a land area and capital investment. Once you are confident with the management of aquaponics systems and you have basic knowledge and adequate skills you can go to a bigger scale system.

The Best Fish for Aquaponics (Infographic updated in 2017)

The Best Fish for Aquaponics
(Infographic updated in 2017)

How to select best fish for aquaponics?

Choosing the best fish for your aquaponics system depends on several factors. You may rear fish as an ornamental or for your consumption. Some major things to consider, when selecting fish for your system are, environmental conditions, feed source, your purpose and size of the fish and tank. Are you living in a hot, cold or tropical weather? The fish type you select should be able to tolerate your environmental conditions. The fish should match to the size of your tank. Some fish grows bigger and some fish, even they are small, need a big space to swim through. Also, importantly, check whether the fish type you select does not have legal restrictions. Some fish are prohibited to be cultivated in certain countries. Most commonly used edible fish types are Tilapia, Barramundi and Murray Cod. The favourites among ornamental aquaponics growers are Gold fish, Koi and Siamese Fighting Fish (Beta). Fish types have their own features that you need to consider when selecting them to be in your tank. If you use Siamese fighting fish, you cannot put more than one in a single tank as they fight with each other. You need to select a fish feed, like fish food or dead fish, depending on your fish type.

Gold fish is a great option for you as a starting aquaponics grower. They can live well in a wide temperature range between 10 to 23C (50 to 74 F). Not like Siamese fish you can put any number of Gold fish in one tank. Gold fish are the easiest to get started with because of the wide range of conditions and temperatures they can endure. When you are starting out in aquaponics, Gold fish are recommended as they are the easiest to work with.

How to maintain your aquaponics system

After setting up your aquaponics system you need to wait some time before adding fish. At first, use a source of ammonia such as urine or seaweed extract. This is to cycle your aquaponics system. Bacteria colonies form during this time. The aquaponics system should have built up its cycle before adding fish. For a small system, it takes about 6- 8 weeks to run smoothly. Ensure proper circulation and then you can add fish after this time.

Once your aquaponics system is established and running, you need to maintain it to ensure the smooth functioning. It is essential to test your water regularly. The parameters you have to check are the pH, temperature and water quality. Temperature should be in the range suitable for your fish type.The pH is one of the most important factors you need to check.

 

       i.          Monitor the pH in your aquaponics system

PH is a measure that gives an idea about the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Your aquaponics solution has free ions in it.  The pH measures the concentrations of the ions that are responsible for acidity and is measured in a scale ranges between 0- 14. Pure water has pH 7, which is neutral. The values below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. The solutions have a certain pH value where pH 1 is extremely acidic and pH 14 is extremely alkaline (basic). The proper pH for an aquaponics system is 6.0 – 6.4. Some ions become unavailable for plants at pH values higher than 7 or at too low pH values. This unavailability means, though the nutrients are present in the solution plant roots cannot absorb them.

The aquaponics systems tend to reduce pH with time due to the nitrogen cycle. Nitrification adds nitrites and nitrates to your system and these ions make the water acidic, means the pH value goes down. This can be adjusted and bring the pH back to the ideal by adding the correct chemicals. If pH goes down, add an alkaline compound and if pH goes up, add and acidic compound that suit. It is also good to add a buffer solution, which can maintain the pH at a desired value. You can use a pH test kit to test the pH of your water. If the pH has risen, to lower it down, you can add nitric or phosphoric acid. There are things that you need to consider when adding these chemicals. Some chemicals may not suitable for your system. For example, phosphoric acid can cause a high growth in algae, so you need to control. Also, avoid citric acid. It is anti-bacterial and will kill your helpful microorganisms. On the other hand, your system’s pH may have gone down and you need to increase it. Try adding calcium carbonate or potassium carbonate or hydroxides of them. Dissolve these chemicals in water and add gradually to your system over a time period while testing the pH. Do not get the chance of a huge pH change in your system as these chemicals are strong and can change your systems pH dramatically.  Always wear gloves when handling these chemicals. They can burn your skin. Simply, add the suitable chemical in a safe way to your system.

 

      ii.          Add nutrient supplements, if needed

Plants rely on a combination of nutrients. Some of them, like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), are needed in large quantities and known as macronutrients. The nutrients that are needed in minute amounts are called micronutrients. Some examples are iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu). You may need to add some nutrients like N, P, and K to your aquaponics system as they are not available in fish food and not excreted by fish, but essential for plants. Calcium and iron are also required as supplements. You can add them at regular intervals or when plants show deficiency symptoms. When adding nutrient supplements, you should adjust the pH. Normally potassium and calcium is added as carbonates or hydroxides to increase pH. In this case you are actually adding the potassium and calcium nutrient supplements to your plants. The nutrient supplements can change the pH level of the system. So, best thing is to adjust the pH at the same time you add your nutrient supplements.

 

     iii.          Test water regularly and keep records

Test your water and keep notes on them. This help to understand how your system performs.

 

     iv.          Know when to harvest your produce

Have a variety of plants that you harvest at different times, so there are always plants to clean the water. The balance between plants and fish is important to maintain the equilibrium in the system.There should be enough plants at every time to remove the waste products of fish. If there is a large number of fish compared to the plants, the toxics may not be removed by the plants completely. This can cause fish diseases and may eventually lead to deaths. If you select different varieties of plants that are suitable for different times, then you always have plants for your system.

 

      v.          Check your system components

Ensure good circulation of water between the fish tank and media bed. Poor circulation results in poor oxygen content in your system. A good circulation will reduce the risk of plant and fish disease outbreaks. You can use a filter to avoid entering of particles in to the growing beds. Solids filtration will keep your system running healthier for longer. Keeping backup equipment is also a good idea.

 

     vi.          Control the pests

A good pest control plan will keep unwanted insects and pests away from your system. You can choose cultural, biological, physical or chemical pest controlling methods. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and can be selected according to your needs. These should be handled in a safe manner and some methods need extra care. Remember to be very careful when using chemical pest controlling methods, as the chemicals can get in the water and affect the fish.

The Aqua Garden by Desima

The Aqua Garden by Desima

Aqua Garden’, your first aquaponics system

If you are going to purchase an aquaponics system for the first time, Aqua Garden is a good starter for you. Aqua Garden is a desktop aquaponics system that you can keep on any table, specially designed for home usage. It is ideal for start-ups and you can get started quicker.

Aqua Garden is small enough to go indoors. It includes an acrylic fish tank, 2 bell siphons and 2 media beds. The kit comes with comprehensive instructions. It is great for your desktop in the living room or your garage or even your high-rise roof top. For those in colder climates, Aqua Garden is small enough to be used indoors and thus easier to keep warm for your plants and fish.

Aqua Garden is simple and smaller system to learn first on. Especially, if you are totally new to aquaponics, or you have only had a small ornamental setup, then the Aqua Garden will be the best to learn this farming technique. It is small enough to keep on your desk and big enough to grow your vegetable plants. Most of the desktop aquaponics systems available in the market are not large enough for vegetable plants. But in Aqua Garden, each media bed is large enough for you to grow a tomato plant in it. It is easy to maintain. You do not have to be afraid to start at this small scale.  It is ideal to improve your skills and learn to manage your aquaponics system. You will soon be able grow your own healthy organic vegetables and fish at home. May be next you’ll have your very own full size farm.

 

Click here to order your Aqua Garden.

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Recommended Succulent Planters

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The Best Monthly Seed Club

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The Best Monthly Seed Club

The package arrived!

The package arrived!

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What I got in the October seed pack from UOG Seed Club. 

What I got in the October seed pack from UOG Seed Club. 

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Looking forward to all these growing and having a bumper harvest.

Looking forward to all these growing and having a bumper harvest.

What I received in my October package

What I received in my October package

It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?  It sounds like the lucky packets we all cherished as children before sugar and plastic took over the world.  Now, the prevailing trends of mass production at all costs, have forced us to proactively search for healthier dietary and lifestyle options.  To most people who have neither the time, knowledge or resources to adopt a more organic lifestyle, this may sound daunting.  Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, you can start growing your own organic produce indoors (or outdoors) with the Urban Organic Gardener’s (UOG) Monthly Seed Box, delivered right to your door!

Let’s face it – we all long for a healthier life, less stress and more quality time with friends and family.  Increasingly, organic gardeners are discovering that growing your own organic food ticks all these boxes and gives you the benefit of being physically healthier, and financially more self-sustainable.  Relatively few adults have experienced the sheer delight of having their hands in the soil, and the excitement of anticipating the germination of something they have planted, let alone the unparalleled reward of harvesting and eating something they planted from a seed.

Organic gardening is fun and rewarding for the whole family and promotes exposure to the sunshine and fresh air, and ultimately healthier fresh food.  However, there are more serious reasons to consider growing your own organic produce.

Humans need to eat, just as surely as we need to breathe and there is growing evidence that our food is no longer fresh or organic.  The use of toxic fertilizers, insecticides, and ripening agents is well publicized and research is confirming the harmful effects these chemicals have on our bodies.  Add to this the ongoing Genetic Modification of our food, and you are probably losing your appetite already.  If not, then consider this: industrialized mass production of fresh produce is known to:

·        Adversely affect the livelihood of local farmers.

·        Exploit immigrant agricultural workers.

·        Increase the carbon footprint of the industry because of long-distance transportation.

These are a just a few reasons, but they are enough to be of serious concern.  As awareness spreads, more people are embracing organic gardening as a viable way to ensure that their families eat healthy, chemical free food, and they are having loads of fun doing it too.

When the opportunity arose to write a post about UOG’s Monthly seed club, I eagerly accepted.  Not because it was a sponsored post, but because I am a huge fan of their seed boxes.  There are several monthly seed subscriptions available, but UOG’s Seed Club by far offers the best value, even with shipping.  The UOG Seed Club puts organic gardening within financial reach of everyone and best of all, you will only get seeds that are hand-selected for you.

Irrespective of whether you are gardening in patio containers or have backyard hydroponics, UOG’s seed packs are the way to go, because the UOG team creates your tailor-made parcel each month, taking into consideration your geographical location, prevailing weather, growing season and your growing preferences.  How do they know what’s best?  Well, I think there is some magic involved (and I suspect you will too when your first seeds germinate), but just to keep it conventional, they ask you to complete a small questionnaire about your garden.  Their seeds are:

·        Superior raw quality,

·        Untreated, non- Genetically Modified (GMO) Heirloom garden seeds,

·        Most natural seeds available, and (drumroll please…)

·        Guaranteed to grow!  Yes, it no longer has anything to do with the color of your thumbs.

The UOG team carry the pressure of sourcing exciting new seeds of only the finest quality every month, at unbelievably affordable rates, and all you must do is follow the easy instructions on each seed packet’s label, and watch the magic happen.  You will receive different seeds every month, and many subscribers say they enjoy receiving seeds that they might never normally have been exposed to, especially seeds that are more expensive and would be riskier to try.  You can expect your seed box to include vegetable seeds, culinary herbs, fruits and even edible flowers.

Seeds are shipped to your door on the 5th of every month in moisture proof, clearly labeled bags that, if stored in a dry, cool, dark environment, will preserve your seeds for many years to come.  I especially love that the seed bags have their own labels and instructions because many other seed clubs post their how-to instructions online and this can be a bit frustrating when you have a dirty garden spade in your hand.

There are several subscriptions available, starting with a commitment of just $1 per month, which will entitle you to one variety of seeds per month with detailed instructions to grow.  Shipping is added at a cost of $1, and there are no hidden costs whatsoever.

Pro membership offers fully customizable plans ranging from $10 - $57.  Pro subscribers receive five seed varieties every month and their boxes also include soil, plant markers, and other surprises. Even with shipping, UOG’s Seed Club offers unbeatable value, and they even offer gift subscriptions.

Whether you are already an organic gardener, or you are keen to get started, UOG’s monthly seed sub boxes really are supreme.  The only thing that could possibly make them even more magical, (in my humble opinion) is if they were to tuck a recipe or two in, with ideas of how to prepare meals using the produce you harvest from your seeds.   While I dream about organic recipes, you can sign up for your UOG Seed Club Sub Box so long – you won’t regret it! 


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10 Awesome DIY Aquaponic Builds to Inspire You

Green Wall Style Aquaponics


Ikea Shelf Aquaponics


Classic IBC Tote Aquaponics


Classic Wooden Aquaponics with NFT


Converted Gutters


Converted Water Tank Aquaponics


Large Indoor/Outdoor Aquaponics

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Planter Style Aquaponics


Wall Mounted Aquaponics


Bathtub Aquaponics

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Fancy Acrylic Style


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How to grow an avocado tree from seed in 4 easy steps

You might have across my other popular blog post on growing an avocado tree from seed. 
Just follow these simple steps to get started.

Step 1

  • Remove the seed from the avocado and peal off the outer skin.

Step 2

  • Place the seed facing up in a jar filled with water and keep the bottom of the avocado seed always submerged.

Step 3

  • Wait until your avocado seed sprouts, be patient this can take awhile.

Step 4

  • When it reaches around 8 inches in height, it’s time to pot your tree.

 

Infographic on how to grow an avocado tree from seed in 4 easy steps.

Infographic on how to grow an avocado tree from seed in 4 easy steps.

Remember if you use this infographic on your website, you must have a link back to this page and our home page www.desima.co

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Raised Bed Gardening Guide

Use this guide to help you build the perfect raised bed garden for your home. Raised bed gardening makes it easier to control weeds, pest control, planting and harvesting. It's important to choose the best materials for your budget. Raised beds also make it easier on your back. Using a quality soil mix as outlined below will help you increase yeilds and quality of your harvest.

Raised Bed Gardening Guide Infographic

Raised Bed Gardening Guide Infographic

Remember if you use this infographic on your website, you must have a link back to this page and our home page www.desima.co

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Biological Pest Controls

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Biological Pest Controls

Mite Munchers Biological Pest Controls

by Alex Owen

Unfortunately, pests are an inevitable problem facing ALL gardeners and farmers at one point or another. Controlling these bug populations has always presented a quite the challenge for aquaponic growers and farmers. There are so few pesticides that are 100% guaranteed not to be toxic for fish. When dealing with closed-looped systems, especially when those systems are enclosed in a greenhouse, you will soon find yourself with an out-of-control infestation unless you have a reliable system of pest control in place.
When a pest population requires treatment, the best way to deal with it head on is to use biodiversity to our advantage by educating biological control. Biological control is defined by using one species to control another. For crops and plants, we supply and release ladybugs to eat aphids (although they will eat other soft bodied prey as well), predatory mites to combat spider mites, and I welcome the many species of spiders that spin their webs over plant beds and provide a fantastic catching and killing service. We also use a wide range of nematodes for use on soil crops and fruits (although you can use some species on the plant living bugs also). Predatory wasps also do a very good job as they can seek out high numbers of pests for laying (injecting) their eggs in, the young then use the host as a first meal! Usually within a matter of days, they then burst from the infected host into the world and carry on the cycle started by their parents, a single wasp can have a HUGE impact, there can be up to 100+ young emerging from a single host!!
Biological control is a complex field that requires an understanding of the life cycles of the pests and the beneficial species, and it can not replace preventative practices unless actioned correctly. I always like to start early with treatment plans and over treat certain hotspots picked up on from previous years of growing.. With biological controls there are a lot of benefits to commercial growers and certainly for use in aquaponics due to the sensitiveness of the fish used in the systems.

At Mite Munchers we strive to be in front of the problems caused by pests! For any questions you may have head over to our Facbook page @ https://www.facebook.com/mitemunchers/ or try our Garden Pest Control Help Page @ Alex Owen - Mite Munchers Biological Pest Controls
Unfortunately, pests are an inevitable problem facing ALL gardeners and farmers at one point or another. Controlling these bug populations has always presented a quite the challenge for aquaponic growers and farmers. There are so few pesticides that are 100% guaranteed not to be toxic for fish. When dealing with closed-looped systems, especially when those systems are enclosed in a greenhouse, you will soon find yourself with an out-of-control infestation unless you have a reliable system of pest control in place.
When a pest population requires treatment, the best way to deal with it head on is to use biodiversity to our advantage by educating biological control. Biological control is defined by using one species to control another. For crops and plants, we supply and release ladybugs to eat aphids (although they will eat other soft bodied prey as well), predatory mites to combat spider mites, and I welcome the many species of spiders that spin their webs over plant beds and provide a fantastic catching and killing service. We also use a wide range of nematodes for use on soil crops and fruits (although you can use some species on the plant living bugs also). Predatory wasps also do a very good job as they can seek out high numbers of pests for laying (injecting) their eggs in, the young then use the host as a first meal! Usually within a matter of days, they then burst from the infected host into the world and carry on the cycle started by their parents, a single wasp can have a HUGE impact, there can be up to 100+ young emerging from a single host!!
Biological control is a complex field that requires an understanding of the life cycles of the pests and the beneficial species, and it can not replace preventative practices unless actioned correctly. I always like to start early with treatment plans and over treat certain hotspots picked up on from previous years of growing.. With biological controls there are a lot of benefits to commercial growers and certainly for use in aquaponics due to the sensitiveness of the fish used in the systems.


Advantages of biological pests control

 

1.                There is few or no detrimental effect on other organisms or even humans.

2.                Pests rarely resist biological control.

3.                Often the results are permanent or for a long time.

4.                Harmful insecticides are not used.

5.                Cost/benefit ratio very favorable.

6.                Avoid secondary pests.

7.                There are no problems of intoxication of fish and water.


Ten Best Tips for Aquaponics Success using biological controls:

Avoid duckweed

The number one problem with new growers and with those interested in aquaponics is the use or the recommended use of duckweed. Yes fish, specifically tilapia, will eat duckweed with gusto, and yes the duckweed will repopulate faster than the fish can eat it. It’s this info that makes it very attractive as a fish feed to aquaponic growers. We’ve even seen claims that duckweed is around 40% protein and that it is perfect diet for those trying to grow a high protein fish.

 

Be careful using tap water

This is one of the biggest mistakes of first time growers in their aquaponics systems. Most of the cities in the world add chlorine and fluoride to their water. Specifically chlorine can be deadly to fish. If the only access to fresh water you have is through your tap you need to “off gas” the water before letting you fish come in contact with it. If you are setting up a brand new system you can do this by adding the water to the fish tank and letting it sit for 48/72 hours with the aeration unit going. If you have a running system and need to add water to it, you need to off gas

it before you add it to the system. If public utilities is your only access to water it would behoove you to keep a steady supply of off gassed water, just in case.

 

Don't add too many fish

Those starting out tend to want to grow as many fish as possible as quickly as possible. The problem with this is that an overcrowd fish tank results in stunted growth and high nitrate levels, affecting the health of the fish. When starting out with a system for the first time, keep your stocking densities low. Colleagues recommend one pound of fish for every five gallons of water in your fish tank. This is lower than the generally accepted densities but from expert experience low densities do not hinder plant growth and over the lifetime of the system create a more stable environment. In addition it will save you money in feed which adds up over the lifetime of your system. Unless you are growing on a large commercial scale it is highly unlikely that the fish portion of your system will be profitable. As a small scale or hobby grower you should be looking to keep the fish side of the operation as low as possible to maximize your margins. Don’t make the mistake of overstocking, you can always add fish later, it’s a cruel waste to stock too densely and end up losing fish.

 

 

Plan your Pest Management Strategy

Even if you are growing indoors you’ll want to have a plan that you may never need than get caught with unwanted pests. If you are growing outside you definitely want to have a pest management plan. Pests are really the only threat to your plants’ health in aquaponics. A simple Google search for organic pest management will bring up a variety of source material on how to manage pests easily. I promote organic pest management in every case possible, the benefits for us as humans is huge!! By using beneficial insects you will also make your life a lot easier as they do all the hard work for you by hunting out all the pests and dealing with them in various ways.. Choose methods that pertain to the crops you are growing and the region you are in. Some pests are native to certain regions and some are widespread. It is up to you to determine the actions you need for your aquaponic project size and location.

 

Test Your Water

The success of any aquaponics system lies in the water. The flip side of that coin is true as well, most failures lie in poor water. Aquaponics is a living ecosystem and nutrient levels in your water fluctuate over the course of time. If certain levels fluctuate too far from where we want them then it can affect the health of our fish and plants in a bad way. The good news is that once a system is established it is very stable and takes minimal maintenance.

 

Design your first system with industry standards

In addition to experience, the best way is to build up your assumptions with industry best standard math based on already existing systems. So if you are looking to start your first system, look to the internet and those who have experience in aquaponics and utilize their designs for systems. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in this regard. When you do branch out to designing your own systems keep them simple. Do not overcomplicate your design and always design your system around one water pump. Take advantage of gravity to move water freely whenever you can. Adding more than one pump into the design almost never works out and only causes headaches down the road.

 

Use a pH neutral media

Another common mistake in aquaponics comes in choosing their media. The issue with almost all media is that they will affect your pH in some way, at least initially. For instance, people use expanded shale in systems. This expanded shale raises pH, in large systems it generally raises it .51pH. This quick initial raise can affect the health of plants and fish and for that reason it is advisable not to add either until a few days after the shale is added. Over the course of about 6 months the pH lowers slowly back to an acceptable range for both the plants and fish. However, there are other suitable options for media that do not affect the pH. These include hydroton and lava rock. On the flip side one example of unacceptable media is limestone. Limestone affects the pH in an irreversible manner and will affect the health of both the fish and the plants. While it is attractive because of its availability and cheap price tag it is not suitable for aquaponics operations. To test to see if the media you picked affects pH, Test the pH of your water, and then add water to a cupful of media and test the pH 2448 hours later. If it has changed significantly you can be certain that your media will affect the pH of your system.

  

Do not use harmful additives

Aquaponic gardens are systems of relationship and balance. Generally speaking an excessively high or low pH will find equilibrium over time. This is called “returning to homeostasis.” Some people are impatient and resort to using chemical such as muriatic acid to lower their pH. Chemicals will lower your pH but they are untested in aquaponics and many of them may harm the health of your fish and plants.

 

Ensure proper circulation

Make sure your fish tank turns over once per hour. Another key component to maintaining good health in your system is consistent turnover of the fish tank. Make sure that the volume of your fish tank turns over at least once per hour. This comes down to proper pump selection and over sizing your plumbing to prevent clogging. In general it is better to oversize your pump as their efficiency does deteriorate over their lifespan. Over sizing your pump gives you more life out of your pump as well as ensuring you get proper circulation throughout your system. More turnovers, more the better.

 

Always keep back up equipment

The success of your aquaponics system comes down to the success of your equipment. In every

Aquaponics system there is typically a water pump, an air pump and water heaters. Each of these items is key to your system’s health and there for the success of your system. Because these different pieces of equipment are so critical, every successful aquaponic gardener has a backup of each of these pieces. Pumps and heaters do not last a lifetime and they can fail without any previous warning signs. You don’t want to risk losing your fish because you didn't have a backup

Pump on hand. It is too risky to assume that your local aquarium or hydroponics store will have the materials you need. Plus, if your pump goes at midnight you will likely a nightmare on your hands before you can get to a store. To the new gardener, backups might seem like an unnecessary expense but every experienced gardener will tell you: take the expense on up front,

Because if you aren’t prepared it will cost you more in the long run. Worst case scenario for being prepared is that you never need to use your backups.


Most popular biological controls used in aquaponic and farming

 

1.   Beneficial Insects (my favorite)

This form of “bio-control” consists of adding and raising populations of beneficial insects (lady bugs, aphides wasps, etc) to feed on bugs that eat your plants. . Lady bugs will devour up to 50 aphids, mealy bugs, scale, leaf hoppers, or other destructive pests per day! You YOURSELF can even serve as a surprisingly effective live “biocontrol” with a high powered spray bottle or hose and a wet cloth! If you have just a few pests, putting such beneficial organisms to work in your system will help prevent many pest outbreaks and big infestations. I always over treat hot-spots from previous years with predators to avoid a large outbreak happening again second year round.. With the use of beneficial insects in aquaponics it us usually best to purchase the slow release sachets so the insects can make their own way out onto the plants, using the vials containing the predators and vermiculite could be dangerous if not done carefully because when sprinkled over the plants vermiculite could drop into fish tank and be harmful if consumed by the fish.

 

2.  Biological Sprays

Another type of “biocontrol” (as in not synthetically-produced) method for dealing with more stubborn bug populations involves making homemade remedies or buying commercial pesticide sprays made out of organic plant materials or animal byproducts. Examples include garlic/pepper/onion sprays, worm casting tea, fungi spore sprays, and my personal favorite “Mite Munchers Magic Mist”, this is our specially formulated powerful organic insecticide and fungicide, this had worked wonders for me for years and I recently started bottling it up and reselling it, only to find I cant make enough of it to cover the strong demand!! I make it out of a list of organic oils and two other organic ingredients making it safe for all consumables!! Magic Mist has the power to keep plants at peak health purely with the ingredients used not to mention keeping all bugs and fungus at bay!! It can also be diluted and fed to the very young plants and will provide a great start in life making them stronger and a little more prepared for the world!!

The two methods of pest control (aka “biocontrols“) are all that most backyard gardeners usually need to combat pests and prevent infestations of many pesky bugs.

 

3.   Soap Sprays

Used in moderation, (worst case scenario) diluted glycerin based soaps applied to plant foliage are the least toxic “synthetic chemical” substance you can use to control pests in your aquaponic garden. NOTE: be extra careful not to let large quantities of soap getting into your fish tank. Soap is dangerous to fish in significant quantities. Fill a spray bottle with a few drops of glycerin-based soap and spray onto infested area of the plant foliage (careful not to spray or let a ton drip into the media bed itself). Or purchase a pre-made soap spray that comes perfectly diluted for your organic gardening needs like:

Indoor Pharm Organic Insecticide and Fungicide, With Pure Rosemary and Almond Oil.

Made with certified organic glycerin-based soap, almond oil, and rosemary oils Controls insects and prevents fungal spores from traveling and maturing to disease Will prevent powdery mildew Indoor Pharm is safe for use on herbs and edibles Controls fungus gnats, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies and scale.

Again, take note that excessive soap scum can clog fish gills and potentially kill your fish. So like everything else on this document moderation is key!

 

4.   Neem Oil Spray

Neem Oil Sprays are handy for use as an “on-the-spot” treatment for when you see a few pests or to combat small infestations.

Neem oil organic pesticide spray, also something that you can grab directly from Mite Munchers.

Neem Oil Spray is an all purpose insecticide, miticide, and fungicide for organic gardening. Neem oil can be used on virtually any plant, including roses, flowers, vegetables, herbs, spices, houseplants, trees, turf, and shrubs. Kills all stages of insects, eggs, larvae, and adults. Makes a great dormant spray. Imparts healthy shine to leaf surfaces.

 

5.AzaMax

AzaMax Antifeedant and Insect Growth Regulator is a natural product with a broad spectrum of pest control. AzaMax contains Azadirachtin A and B as active ingredients and uses only food grade formulation ingredients — no hard chemical solvents. Works by starving and disrupting the growth of insects (making them weaker and easier to kill). Effective on spider mites, thrips, fungus gnats, aphids, whiteflies, leaf miners, worms, beetles, leafhoppers, scales, mealy bugs, nematodes and other soil borne pests.


At Mite Munchers we strive to be in front of the problems caused by pests! For any questions you may have head over to our Facbook page  or try our Garden Pest Control Help Page 


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1 Comment

This Is One Tomato Plant

I came across this on reddit, there's a lack information about it on the net. From my understanding apart from providing awesome nutrients to the plant, you need to prune it in this way to get the desired shape.

If anyone knows anything about this, please comment below, it would be great to hear your thoughts.

Found this video on youtube, from my understanding this isn't open anymore and was perhaps replaced with a "Frozen" exhibit. "This is part of the Disney World tour at Epcot called "Behind The Seeds". It is a behind the scenes look at the "Living With The Land" attraction"