Well. My aquaponics ended closer to Day 770 when I pulled all of the plants outs. I was able to salvage some of the plants by planting them in the garden. I figured I had nothing to lose if they didn't make it.
I haven't had tilapia
in about four months, but my plants kept on growing. Can you believe the size of the swiss chard leaf from the system? (kinda my fav & prize photo) That is the power of aquaponics, and the reason why I can't completely abandon aquaponics for good. I really haven't done anything
to the system these past few months.
Maybe I'm having a hard time letting go, but this is the state of the greenhouse. Here
are a few reasons I'm calling it quits with the tote system. In a perfect world I would sell it, but I don't know how to get it out of the greenhouse without cutting the bolts from the greenhouse. Plus, I'm keeping the water going thinking I can keep the worms alive to reuse them for another system. More importantly, this mulch pile is eating my lunch, and I want to finish that before I move on to another project.
I have been dreaming/researching a new system, despite my endless tasks in the garden. With my research, came a few things I could have done differently with the existing system.
WATER TO GROWBED RATIO. This ratio seems to be an art. Even though the tote system is common, it's my personal opinion that there isn't enough grow bed. I would really like to get closer to a 1:1 ratio.
UNDERSTAND THE MAINTENANCE. The growbed stuff turns into soil and can get gross if the bacteria isn't balanced. Also, the fish tank isn't easy to clean. Even if I had the biggest greenhouse in the world, it would still be hard to clean the sides with the growbed on top.
THE FUTURE AQUAPONICS SYSTEM
I've been looking for the right setup and come up emptied handed most of the time. The top two photos is the greenhouse setup I continue to go back to. I like the growbeds on either side and the fish tank at one end. I'm thinking I'll have two rows by two high of growbeds only on one side. The other side will be winter storage and seedling shelving. The smaller growsbed are something I can pick up myself.
I'm also still considering the fish tank. I'm thinking goldfish this time and wondering about a 55 gallon aquarium for aesthetics. Then I read that aquariums outside will grow algae which lead me to an ugly stock tank. I'm wondering if I can spray paint an aquarium on three sides, so I can still see them. Would that work?
The plumbing is trickiest part. I'm thinking of using the one sump pump system, so I think I would need to cut a hole in the aquarium. Planning for the electricity to go off kills my plumbing plans every time. The power does go out, so I automatically listen for the pump when I go outside now. I was having issues with the breaker tripping for awhile...
I have a few more projects in the line before I try to get the tote out of the greenhouse or build a new aquaponics system. It's always good to plan though, right?!
credits & resources: greenhouse sketchup model & interior greenhouse system images by aquaponics.org.uk // all other images by Jamie at A CITY GIRL // resource book: Aquaponic Gardening by Sylvia Bernstein