Monday, June 17, 2013

Aquaponics and Other Planting Strategies

The aquaponics system is nearly completely set up! Last night, Chris began planting the towers with little starts he has been nurturing under grow lights in his basement.
Each zp-start tower has a vertical slot into which two layers of rather coarse fiber growing medium are slid. A felt-like polyester fabric is sandwiched between the layers of growing medium to wick the water, which I presume would  flow through the medium very fast otherwise.
Then the seedlings are sandwiched in and slid into the slot.
This morning when Chris stopped by on his way to work the seedlings (assorted lettuces and basils) he planted last night looked very happy to be out of those confining starter trays and stretching their  leaves and roots.

Already overnight, the seedlings had begin to turn and grow upward. As they get larger and heavier,  gravity will  counteract the upward reaching and they will grow more sideways.
Here is a view of the growing tower system in the greenhouse so far. Eventually  towers will hang along the entire center aisle of the greenhouse.  It will shade some of our growing area, but hopefully we can still grow some plants such as lettuces  there. It is all an experiment!
When the  plants in a tower are ready to harvest, the entire tower will be removed and set up in the produce section of a store. Customers will clip off the still growing bunches of greens (about as fresh a you can get!)  When they are all harvested, Chris will switch out the towers for new ones and replant the harvested towers. He expects to have produce ready for sale  in July!
You can follow Chris's progress at his website and blog, Fresh With Edge.
AS Chris was working on the aquaponics system, Rog was  working on installing  gutters along the south side of the barn for a water catchment system. It will provide water for the pond/aquaponics/greenhouse and  even better, prevent so much water from draining into our sacrifice pasture (see previous post about mud!) Before hanging the gutters, Rog had to cut off a strip of the metal roof with a sawzall, working on a tall ladder.  I could not even watch this scary procedure!
In other gardening news, Cadence's  squashes and melons in strawbales have sprouted. They line the west edge of the greenhouse and the idea is to train them to grow over the edge onto the ground outside the  high tunnel. Planting them in the strawbales is our strategy for dealing with such unbearably wet, heavy soil this spring. As cool as the spring has been, we thought they would also appreciate the added warmth of the high tunnel.
We have now had three days of warm, sunny weather (knock on wood) and the tomatoes are responding exuberantly. I think they have at least doubled in size in those three days.
MIraculously, the potatoes did not rot in the saturated ground and  also look healthy. (So do the weeds.)
The raspberries are smothered with buds, just beginning to flower. Fingers crossed for a bumper crop!
This morning at 8 a.m. when I took this photo, the bushes were already  buzzing with honeybees working the berries.
Which reminds me, I  must do a little beekeeping this afternoon.
P.S. Thank you to  all the wonderful folks who stopped by yesterday to  visit the farm, shop in the store and at the artisan booths, listen to music, and/or eat pizza with us!

And special thanks to the musicians - The Nodding Wild Onions, Cadence  and Israel, and Jon Sievers!


Tyche's Minder said...

Your garden looks beautiful, despite the delays. And that aquaponics system is wild. I love it. I'm totally hooked to see how it plays out.

Marcia said...

What an amazing adventure in new ways to garden. Can't wait to read the next installment.

katiegirl said...

How cool is that tower system?! Can't wait to see how it looks when the plants are ready for harvest!

Allie said...

This is cool!