Spearmint, what can you do with it ?

By accident I obtained a pot of spearmint and I don't think I have any usage for it. Done a trial planting in aquaponics and its do grow well.



I use mint in either tea or eat raw, but that is peppermint and this spearmint not that good for tea or eaten raw.



This plant don't creep like its cousin the peppermint and it grow to a bushy shrub. Trim the excess and let it regrow.



Very easy to be grown in aquaponics, too bad I don't have much usage for it.

Aquaponics Tips - Magnesium Sulphate

Magnesium Sulphate (MgSO4) or commonly known as Epsom Salt are use in agriculture to promote chlorophyll production. Certain plants like Tomatoes and Chili require magnesium for their better growth.



Epsom Salt is non organic, so if your aquaponics setup is on an organic track, you have to think twice before applying this to your set.



Looks like sugar and it is highly water soluble, application as a foliar spray is common. In aquaponics, adding to growbed near the water inlet is recommended.



You don't have to add much, one table spoon is enough for a medium size growbed. Monitor for changes in the vegetable or plants leaves and only add if you suspect that the plants "green" is not as green as you might expect.

Epsom Salt is also good as a relaxant, where you can add it to warm water and soak your feed. This is what most people use it for. In a bath and foot soak, they are suppose to have a relaxing effect on the body.

So if you use Epsom Salt as a foot soak, don't throw that water away. Put it it the aquaponics set, so nothing is wasted.

Where to buy

Food Grade (Recommended)
Most Reputable Pharmacy, like Guardian, Boots and Watson

Non Food Grade
Agriculture Shop, they sell in bulk.

Aquaponics Tips - Getting Rid of Creepy Crawlies

Slugs, millipede, centipede, ants and other crawlies can start to be comfortable in the growbed. 

How do we get rid of them ?


On flood and drain media base aquaponics, I recommend to flood the growbed. Most crawlies can't survive underwater for long period.


To flood the growbed first stop the siphon action by removing the enclosure bell as photo below.




or remove the siphon cap on the #strainerbell siphon as below,




Once the cap or bell has been remove, the siphon action will stop. This depends on the height of standpipe will cause the growbed to be flooded. If the standpipe is lower than the media height, it is advisable to remove some of the media or change the standpipe extender to a longer extender causing a flooding.




Downpipe photo of the siphon as below with replaced extender.




Once the growbed flooded, wait a while and you can now see many creepy crawlies start to make their way to the top of the growbed. This is a good time to get your slug picking chopstick ready and start picking.




Slugs




more slugs




and more slugs




Well have fun picking those slugs.. :)


How to get rid of ants ?


For ants, I recommend that the high water extender are left there for a few days, and let the siphon operated as normal. Then replace it back to the ones that have water 1" below media height.


I recommend doing this flooding monthly, to ensure slugs etc don't have time to multiply. It is such an easy thing to do anyway.

Fixing A Leaky Gutter Growbed

Just noticed this morning water droplet from one of the #guttergrowbed, it's about five drops per minute.



Thro the leak is small, it's enough to wet the floor and over time if not checked moss or algae will grow.



Bottom view of leak, marked so that it can be located during repair.



First, all plants from #guttergrowbed need to be removed and place somewhere safe and not dry out.



A car boot tray is good for holding the plants and fill it with water about an inch, this is a precautionary measures just in case the repair took longer that I anticipated.



After the last flush, switch OFF the pump and lift up the ends that needs repair. It advisable if the adjacent growbed share the same pump, ensure it is full of water before stopping the pump.



I have tubes in the gutter to support those pots, clear them out and the #guttergrowbed will be dirty just like above photo.



Give it a good cleaning, it should not be difficult since the area is always underwater and the sludge did not have time to hardened.



Use a hair dryer to accelerate drying, heat from dryer will make the originally applied glue tacky, sometimes this itself can cure the problem.



Dry it from underneath too. Then once completely dry, apply hot glue to the affected area. This is the easiest glue to use and it is very good for quick fixes.



No matter how I do, it will always looks messy. Once all area covered with glue wait for it to cool for about five to ten minutes, then we can restore the growbed.



Start water inflow to check for leaks


Having satisfied that the repair is good, I can put the plants back in its place.



Prior to that don't forget the bottom part which need to be check for leaks too.



Plants in, everything back to normal.



Minor disturbance to the plants, as if nothing happen. The potted #guttergrowbed system makes it easy to do repair if needed.



If it's happen to be the inner growbed, same can be done as long as there is access to the container ends. #Guttergrowbed leaks are mostly from the endcaps area which may be tricky to seal. But out of four growbed only this one leak.


So that is 1 out of 8 endcaps.

Gandarusa Has To Go

This Gandarusa plant was requested by a friend for me to try out in aquaponics, I done flood and drain media base growbed and gutter growbed style and it do very well in both trial.



It is time to say goodbye to this plant in my aquaponics set, I'll grow it on dirt to keep as specimen, who knows I may need it one day.



So Gandarusa grow very well in aquaponics.

Lemon Grass Reposition

Earlier planted lemon grass in the gutter growbed, then I move it to the backyard set. Now it's time to put it back to the gutter set.


I only have two pots of lemon grass and will need to plant another two, since I want a set of four of each type of plants that I grow in this set.


Above are two lemon grass the fragile looking plant in the center is Leeks, Leeks needs cooler temperature to do well, it is just a trial.


Few more plant variety then the gutter growbed set will be complete.

Aquaponics Tips - Too High Water In Growbed

What will happen if you have too high water level in the growbed?

Initially high water level will cause higher evaporation and water will be use more due to this. To ensure this don't happen it is recommended that the water level is at least 1 inch below the hydroton or media level.



Above photo the water level is about 1 inch below the hydroton and it is just nice for most setup.

What else could happen?

Algae and some time moss will grow, moss could turn into fern in some cases. Algae and mosses will compete with plants for nutrient and it also will make the growbed looks dirty as below.



As a general rule 1 inch water below the media is acceptable, this is the DryZone of an aquaponics growbed. This DryZone can be thicker depending on type of plants grown.

A siphon with adjustable standpipe height is helpful in ensuring this water level is easily achieved.

Aquaponics Tips - Chelated Iron

Chelated Iron like Fe 13% EDTA are use in agriculture as a supplement to ensure yellowing leaves don't occur and enhance production of chlorophyll in leaves. They can be use as a foliar spray either on its own or mixed with common pesticide. It can also be administered through fertigation solution.



Fe EDTA in aquaponics we add to growbed either to the growbed or the fish tank. I would recommend the earlier since it will not be directly available to the fish in it undissolved form that those hungry fishes think it's fish food.



How much to add? As home setup I must say, I add only as much as it's required. They are extensive post in forums about how much to add with volume of water in your system etc but I don't bothered about it.



In aquaponics, water is constantly circulating so like ammonia in the fish tank iron will be continuously circulated in the system and the plants will uses as it needs. It is not like the foliar or fertigation method that may be excessive hence wastage upon application.



I have four growbeds in this CRAFTS setup, I put one tablespoon into each growbed at the water inlet. Usually it will be enough, nothing is wasted since it will be circulating in the system.

This particular Fe EDTA works from ph range of 2 to 8. Most of my aquaponics set the ph is about 6.7 to 7.3, so it should work.

Ok.. that the small tips.

Where to buy;

Nine Top Trading
Drive there using Waze: http://waze.to/lr/hw284z42xf

GPS : 3.309613,101.558401

Aquaponics Tips - Insecticide Application

Insect and caterpillar are a common threat in aquaponics setup just as in any garden. When you do aquaponics, most of the time people automatically thought it is organic. To be honest Aquaponics and Organic are two different things.

A setup can be aquaponics and organic at the same time if its follow the strict organic farming or gardening guidelines. However it will be difficult if you are just starting out on aquaponics and at the same time trying to follow the organic requirements due to too steep a learning curve. Those that has practice either aquaponics or organics for a long period of time then it will be an easier process, especially if they are already practising Organic gardening.

I had tried various organic spray to control bugs, caterpillars etc, none seems to work therefore I use non-organic insecticide to get those under control. Some aquaponics purist may not agree with this, but it's okay. Everyone are entitle to their own way of doing things.

I had use non-organic insecticide as a direct spray onto the plants in my growbed, and so far I do not have any fish killed. I follow strictly to the instruction on the label, observe all precaution and most of the time I will use a more diluted mix.


A safe way to apply non-organic insecticide is to apply them away from the growbed, this is easy if you have plants grown in pots where they are easily move to a safer environment for spraying.


Even through I practice direct spraying onto growbed plants, those plants that in pots I'll spray them away from growbed and the fish tank.

Disclaimer

This is how I practice using non organic insecticide, I'm not in any way recommending or endorsing any particular chemical, poison or manufactured product for use in the Aquaponics practice. Any usage of any poison or chemical is solely at your own risk.

Chilli Plants - Updates

Chillies plant in the gutter growbed are producing chillies. Monitoring them closely for fungal infection.

Chillies plants are prone to fungal wilt, I had lost many chilli plants due to this. At the moment I do not use any spray to combat this problem, looks like I had to start now.

Aquaponics Tips - Sowing Seeds

Many people has been asking me how do I sow seeds for Aquaponics, whether I sow them in soil or directly to growbed. Well it all depends on type of seeds, if it extremely small like Lettuce seeds I'll probably sow them in soil first.

If Cili, Tomatoes, Kailan, Okra etc I'll sow directly to the growbed. Those cheap seeds I'll sow direct regardless of size, because sometimes it just not worth the extra trouble of preparing a seed tray. It is your choice whichever is convenient to you.

Now it's time for me to sow few seeds, since I have one vacant growbed to use. These seeds has been kept for quite a while, so I had to use most of it rather quickly before it expires.


All the seeds I sprinkle directly to growbed for these sowing, I have too many to use so, just sow more than I need. Cili, Kailan, Okra and few other vegetable seeds directly to growbed.


Few will grow, that's all that I wanted.


After all seeds has been sprinkle onto the hydroton I'll use my fingers to "rake" them over to get them down to water level. It is also best to stop siphon action by maintaining water level at top of standpipe.


If your growbed water level is low, meaning your growbed dry zone is deep, it is important that you water the seeds daily until they germinate. If this dry zone is shallow the seeds can reach water then it's not required to water.

Sometimes when I sow in potted hydroton, I'll remove a layer of hydroton until I can see water reaching surface then I will sow the seeds at that level after which I'll cover the seeds with the earlier removed hydroton.

So that's how I do it, will update this post once seeds germinate and at transplanting.

Doing Few More Rosemary

My first trial of Rosemary fail, since its roots got water damage and I was at the time using pebbles as the media for planting. Recently manage to get encouraging result and this prompt me to try more. I am using hydroton and in pots this time round.

It grow slowly, but enough to give hope that it may just work. I'll repeat the same style of growing from cutting in hydroton and place them in the gutter growbed.

Fresh cutting taken from the base plant and prepared for planting.

Cuttings needs to be stripped of their leaves on the lower part rooting hormone used prior to sticking them in the pot.

Cluster of three cuttings in a pot and hopefully all will survive, from last trial all made it.

Temporarily potted cuttings are placed in the CRAFTS set growbed, once I have space in the gutter growbed they will be reposition there.

I use Rosemary mainly for roast chicken.. they smell delicious.

Cuttings are sheltered with pots as in my Aquaponics Tips.