Aquaponics Part 4
A new week brings new challenges with some hard work and problems solving to move steps closer to sustainable food production.
System 1: The water flow between the half barrels of the new grow bed became a problem and some new modifications were needed. Water flow was much to slow and an extra connection pipe needed to be added to increase it.
With the new pipes added between each bed the flow was now enough to let the siphon work properly. The beds were refilled and planted with some tomato cuttings from the first grow bed that is now shut down and ready for a remodel. I am using coco husk and a finer gravel mix for my plants and cuttings to start in. I am also using a large PVC pipe with a pot inside for the tomatoes so I can change them out easily and contain the root systems more.
System 2 had settled well with the introduction of all the new fish, the pH has come down and plant growth has increased nicely. The raft beds and fish tank are now contained within a timber surround to stop direct sun light entering to reduce unwanted algae growth.
The fish are doing very well and to my surprise a new batch of fingerlings were found in the tank. It seems strange that a tank holding more males than females are breeding so well but if the water conditions are good food is plentiful “life will find a way”. I’m now very wary of moving any fish from this tank as I can not be sure which female and which male it is that are breeding together. For now I will just leave them be and try to find a few other breeders for the breeding tanks.
Hard work and good progress have been made in the back garden area this week, with a couple more elevated beds in and lots of composted horse manure introduced. Seeds that where directly planted into the beds have sprouted, the peppers show nice re-growth and it will be an interesting next week to see what else comes up.
The new shade house for seedling and cutting has become a nice place to work protected from the harsh afternoon sun. We will have many seedlings ready to go in the next weeks.
We have a large amount of empty cleaning product bottles to recycle, cutting the tops off, washing them well and letting them dry in the sun. We then punch out some holes and use them for our seedling and cuttings to grow in. They are a good size, readily available and free!
While building the shade house I found a very nice vanilla vine growing in a tree. I did some extra research and made the decision to propagate more of them.
Cutting the vanilla vine should be done immersed in water so none of the capillaries close off.
1. Make cuttings 5-6 nodes long and remove all but the top two leaves.
(Nodes are the point the leaves are connected to the vine and new shoot grow from.)
2. Place cutting with two nodes in water for 5-7 days inside in 50% light. (Some sites say 3-5, some 5-10, some suggests putting a small amount of liquid fertiliser in the water too.) I also changed the water every day.
3. After 7 days, plant the cuttings in a well drained potting mix, laying two nodded beneath the soil and a support for the vine. Keep well watered and mulched in a shaded place.
I will leave them in the pots until I see some good strong new growth and plant them out beside a shaded tree base to continue growing. We would need many more vines to start producing vanilla and will also need to learn how to pollinate and age (cure) vanilla too. (Curing vanilla is a long and tricky process that needs to be done right to produce good quality vanilla beans.) But for now this is just step one in building up the number of vines we have.