Second Sowing For The Season

Not that we have spring, summer, autumn and winter here in Equatorial wonderland. What we have here is Wet, Wetter and Wettest :)
It is time again for me to sow more seeds to get plants going on my newer sets and to replace those aging round the back.
Using small pots is easier as compared to trays that have too many compartments and cumbersome to position. Since I am planting for a backyard setup pots is best due to only few plants are needed at a time.
Kulai Chili, Kailan and Cherry Tomatoes sown and position in the Strawberry growbeds. I have other seeds like Cucumbers and beans but those require support and not prepared for it yet.
Water sprayed lightly with spray bottle before putting seeds in these pots, once they are in the growbed then no additional watering required. I need to ensure those potting mix remains moist for seed germination.

Gardening is soothing to the body and mind, its thereputic effect is relaxing, aquaponics give everyone the chance to do this even at a small area.

Test Posting - Blogging On The Go

I am testing this android apps blogaway. Previous apps is not satisfactory even from google or blogspot itself.
It is a small apps that can do basic blogging on the go. The important features that I need are ability to easily edit, arrange photos, integration with photo resizer and able to view how the blog post going to be like.
No particular reason why I post these few photos, all are randomly selected to try out.
I will try this apps, and if it's good I am going to purchase the full version.

Stepping Up Dengue Fight ?

Why don't the MBSA City Council be proactive in encouraging residents to take up fish keeping, it is proven that if we have fish ponds, tank etc the number of mosquito population in the vicinity will reduce.
Aquaponics is one of the ways, encourage people to do it and we will rid of mosquito problem more effectively.

My previous short write up on it refer these links below;
  • Aquaponics - One Way To Reduce Aedes : Here
  • Aquaponics and Mosquito : Here

Something About Pumps

Water pump is an important item in any Aquaponics setup. It is a simple device that draw in water from surrounding and send out to location that need it. Basic understanding of pump function and safety precaution is important to ensure trouble free operation and no mishap.

Pump specification usually its;
  • Voltage requirement either it is Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC) at a rating  of 110 Volts or 220 Volts. DC voltage is much lower, but this write up will only deal on AC pumps. Voltage rating is local to your area, normally it will follow all electrical equipment in that area.
  • Power rating in Watt this is the energy use by the pump while operating and this will determine how much you will be paying for the electricity bill.
  • Maximum water delivery flow, this is the liter/hr rating and usually at 0 height.
  • Maximum Height, this the height that the pump can deliver if you are to transport the water vertically.
Most of the time we will use submersible pump for Aquaponics, the pump may has a float switch to cut off once water reaches it lowest safe operating level or just a straight forward pump without any switch to control. It is safer to use a pump with a float switch since it has safety back up.
 Above is a float switch pump and below without.
Higher quality pump has a thermal cutout that will cut off pump operation if temperature rises above a predetermine value. This is a good feature because pump can be damage if its cooling fail or overheated. If you experience pump cutting off and then restart intermittently this could be one such case where the thermal switch cut off power to pump internally.

One important factor for choosing a pump is how much water is needed. Lets say each growbed has a siphon and each siphon requires an average of 800 liters per hour to function correctly. 

What is the pump rating that needed for this system ?

If you need actual 800 liter per hour water inflow into the growbed and if it locate at a higher point say half a meter from the fish tank water level, you will need to take into account this factor to chose the correct pump.
Chart above show roughly various pump capacity with reference to delivery height, as the height increase its delivery drop to virtually zero and as the height  reduce to zero flow will be at its maximum.
Therefor as an example if the capacity needed is 800lt/hr at 0.5 meter base on the above chart you will need at least a 1000 liter per hour rated pump. On multiple growbed installation, the pump capacity is the total flow required by all growbeds. 
Above is another example showing pump delivery with respect to height where it also showing pump power consumption above it. Not all pump are created equal some are more efficient that others.

In general there are two type of material for making a pump rotor which is the center rotating part. A Magnet rotor will made it into a Permanent Magnet Motor pump and an alloy rotor will make it an Induction Motor pump.
Above illustration is an Induction motor pump, which has an alloy rotor.  It will become an electromagnet once induced by current flowing in the stationery part within the pump motor housing.
Above is a magnet rotor from a small pump, this pump behave like a synchronous motor since it rotational speed will follow the AC frequency. Power rating of this pump dependent on strength of this magnet, as  magnet deteriorates it will reduce pump delivery capacity. However it does takes a long long time for this deterioration to happen, more likely a mechanical failure or wear and tear will occur before the magnet looses its strength.

Induction Motor pump is stronger and more efficient, they are more expensive too. These pump are made in the higher capacity range, on averages it start from 4500 liter per hour rating and above. This pump has a better cooling and overall mechanical build. If you are setting an Aquaponics set with 4 growbed or more it is advisable to invest in one of this pump.
Above example is an Induction Motor pump which is energy efficient and very quiet in its operation.
Example of a cheap Magnet Motor pump for low flow operation. These pump is okay to use if you are not having multiple growbed.
Another sample from same manufacturer but at higher capacity.
Typical pump rating that gives the wattage, flow rate and maximum height that this pump can deliver. The rating of 1540 or 1660 liters per hour is at zero height and more likely at max height, the flow will reduce to a trickle zero.

Safety

Electrical power and water don't mix, this is a dangerous situation submersible. Pump must comply with a very high standard of insulation and water proof specification of IPX-8. Routine inspection of electrical wires, pump casing and its internal rotor is important. 

When working within the aquarium or fish tank it is mandatory to switch off the pump and isolate it from the mains. This is to prevent accidental electrocution while we have our hand and feet in the water.

There are many type of water pump, to cover all in a simple write up is not possible, this short blog post is the tip of what kind of pump available out there and the objective of this short posting is for reader have some idea of what the important thing to look for in a pump.

That's all on a typical pump, I'll write on pump maintenance next.

Back To The Roots

Plant roots are an important indicator that a plant is doing well or not. If a plant has good and strong root system it will be able to get more nutrient for growth and at same time provide a stable foothold to brave the elements.

Decaying roots is a sign of unhealthy growth or unsuitable plant for that particular area either be it soil or Aquaponics. In Aquaponics plant root are subjected to a more watery condition as compared to soil planting. Proper water control is important to get root to grow and flourish under these conditions. Root require air otherwise they will rot and eventually causing the plant to die.

Don't be afraid to pull out few of your plants in Aquaponics to check on the root formation, especially plants that you are not familiar with or just starting out to try.
Root like these shown above from a lemon grass plant is an example of a good root formation and we will be sure that this plant will do well in Aquaponics.
Kangkung roots are indicator of this plant adapt well to Aquaponics.
I am new to Strawberry, but looking at the root it is a good sign that the plant will grow without much problem.
Gandarusa plant above and below, has good growth as well.
Sambung Nyawa below also do very well as the roots are healthy.
Turmeric can do well but require good water control, otherwise it will not form much needed tuber.
Rosemary below, the root not doing well. This plant not able to grow on Aquaponics. I need to test again to see if I did something not right.
Anthurium is bad to, no sign of good root growth after three months.
So to know whether the plant will do well or not, don't be afraid to pull it out and check the roots. 

Equatorial Lowland Strawberry Project - Journal 16th August 2014

After few week decide to redo my Strawberry plants into bigger growbed before it started to set in. Some plants are already 2 months old and some only couple of weeks in the lowland. Weather looks good for transplanting, re-potting or just rearrange those plants.

A note about Cameron Highland Strawberry plants
  • Plants that we bought from Cameron Highland usually are old expired plants, they are at the end of their useful life in term of fruiting. Who in their right mind in those places want to sell us their prime plants.
  • All is not lost, if you bought one of these plants please don't expect them to bear fruit. Instead use them to produce runners so that you can start with fresh plants.
Longer in this growbed they will set in and will be more difficult and to do, plants need to recover if they grow bigger then it will takes longer time to recover. If it's too small they will not make it.
There are few runners and those that is has established I move them to pot.
The runner below is already one month old and has good root formation in LECA.
Prepared few pots with seasoned LECA from one of the growbed for planting the Strawberry.
Plant removed from soil and washed the root to get rid of all traces of soil, this way I could see if there are any bad or rotten parts that need to be removed.
Decide to redo most of it and got twelve pot altogether, only seven shown below.
Each growbed takes six pot to ensure they have ample space to produce runners. This first year, I will not allow these plant to fruit, it is more for producing runners to replace all the original plants from Cameron Highland.
Made a shade to ensure they are not damaged by midday sun, this next few weeks is critical to monitor so that they survive the transplanting shock.
One or two runners did't make it and need to be removed, their root has not formed. This above I use soil pot but it's not as good as the one I place directly on LECA.
At this stage I use individual pot so that it is easier to manage if need to move it to another location and having it within the Aquaponics growbed will ensure it has water and nutrient to grow. This style we will not require to constantly monitor water since it is readily available.
I will try both way, and some plants will be in soil to compare. Strawberry in the lowland Equator is something unheard of, so it is a trial and error. I hope it can be done. Few people has done this but all reported disappointing result.
These are all that is left in this Ornamental set, don't want to transplant remaining plants. Its runners are still not rooting and if I disturb them, more than likely it will die. So leave it as it is and let it grow in this set. I'll add more plants here once I have more runner produce.

Its Kuchai Harvest Time Again

Garlic Chives, its time to cut and let it grow, if not it will just dry up and waste. This tub full is more than enough for a family to use. On average a family of five will need the most is 1 square feet of Chives. This growbed is 6 square feet.
Easiest plant to grow and it is useful in Asian dishes, it do well in Aquaponics, too well actually. So the above were cut to this below and let it grow again. In 2 weeks time will be ready to cut again. On average we need only 2 cluster for cooking and usually once a week, so this is more than enough.
All gone, and do some quick cleaning and removal of old dead grass blade. This can be easily grown and actually make money even on a small scale. Returns use to pay electricity bill and fish feed on the Aquaponics system.
Cheers.

Tilapia Updates

Nothing special, these already few months old it was purchase on 20th April. It is slow growth I intent to do it that way. It is not for commercial so I ensure they are not overfed otherwise it will be more blubber or fat than flesh.
Started with 150 in each of the return tank, not sure how many are left.
The feeder tank has remnant from last season fish and from this tank is what I use for table fish or give away to others.

Gandarusa Trimmed

Trimmed all the Gandarusa plant and let it regrow, this plant is grown in pots with hydroton and stand in the growbed water.
It was from this bushy greens below and reduce to above.
All plants trimmed, and it should be good for it, new growth is stronger. Another thing is that if plants are too close together, it will be easy prey for pest like those white flies since it will be difficult to see between those bushy leaves.

Equatorial Lowland Strawberry Project - Journal 10th August 2014

Giving these few runners a head start, prepare few small pots with potting mix to let runner take root. Prepare few small pots as it easier to place in my Ornamental set.
Lightly mixed in basic organic fertilizer to get it going and sprayed with water to moisten.
Thses runner will do better in soil at the moment, I will transfer these to bigger pot filled with cocopeat and place them in my Aquaponics set. It will be not 100% aquaponics, some what of an hybrid system, easy does it not to over do since these plants is still not use to lowland heat.
Once I can detach the runner from it umbilical I'll put these in another growbed. It is a slow process propagating this plant and to get it use to the lowland heat at the same time.