I’m visual and remembering physical conditions of plants is easier if you can see examples of it. Here are some good pictures for identifying nutrient deficiencies and critter attacks on plants.
Click on images for to view them enlarged.
Photo credit: Aquaponics Survival Communities
Spring brings out the bees and wasps, and other stinging insects. Most of us call any insects that fly and sting, a”bee”.
The insects that sting most often are not bees. It turns out that bees don’t sting unless they fell threatened, as they die in the process.
In case you get a bee sting here is a link to a good article about bee sting remedies. The author actually paid a bee keeper to be stung several times so he could test the remedies.
15 Bee Sting Home Remedies & Tips
The easiest and best remedy is
If you want to buy or create a remedy
For a good introduction to Rafts reference see Rafts Troughs Liner and Rocks
For information on constructing rafts see Raft Building and Liner Installation
Photo credit www.drenergysaver.com
The best material to use to make rafts for you Aquaponics system is Extruded Polystyrene (XPS). Extruded polystyrene (XPS) comes in pink or blue, is closed cell, square edge, has a smooth plastic surface, and panels typically aren’t faced with other material, like foil or brown paper like some other foams are.
The R-value is about R5 per inch of thickness. This type of rigid foam won’t absorb water like polyiso and is stronger and more durable than expanded polystyrene (EPS). XPS won’t water log and is resistant to damage from destructive marine growth.
The Dow STYROFOAM blueboard comes scored or not scored.
STYROFOAM Square Edge is an extruded polystyrene foam insulation board with square edges on four sides. Offers superior water resistance, long-term thermal performance and high compressive strength.
“Scoreboard” is scored longitudinally on 16″ and 24″ centers, making it easy to snap into convenient widths for construction.
You want to use the versions that are not scored (for easily breaking), and have no chemical additives like mold preventative, etc. The easier to use and better insulator for the water in your raft way is the 2″ thick version of the XPS foam.
Here is and example of the cost for STYROFOAM 2″ Square Edge – 4′ x 8′ $37.76
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the least-expensive type of rigid foam and has the lowest R-value (around R-3.8 per in.). It’s also more easily damaged than the other types of rigid foam. A brand name for EPS is Styrofoam .
Also referred to as PIR, polyiso, or ISO, Polyisocyanurate foam has the highest R-value per inch (R-6.5 to R-6.8) and often comes with a reflective foil facing on both sides, so it can also serve as a radiant barrier in some applications. Polyiso board is more expensive than other types of rigid foam.
It is made with Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate which is an allergen and sensitize. Polyiso is believed to be toxic, even after the manufacturing process, with reports of fish mortality when used as rafts in Aquaponic systems.
Fully reacted polyurethane, itself, is chemically inert. The problem is that the stuff you can buy at the hardware store is typically “improved” to increase the insulation properties (R value). This “improvement” is achieved by adding isocyanurates, which are hazardous chemicals. The list of potential human hazards from exposure to isocyanurates is long and scary – and I wouldn’t want my fish exposed to this stuff (or have the roots of my plants bathing in a weak isocyanurate solution). Folks on the web will often equate pink foam with polyisocyanurate, but that is not necessarily the case. Check the chemical composition of the foam you intend to buy and just make sure you’re getting XPS and not PIR or ISO (Credit for Paragraph)
Watch for “additives” to the foam sheets. It is rumored that some manufactures add chemicals to discourage bugs or flame retardants to the foam sheet or to its paper or foil covering. Avoid these products.
We had a lot of Kale plants early and Julia found a recipe for making Kale chips.
Kale chips are crispy, salty, totally addictive snack that you can bake in the oven or make in the microwave.
Check it out.
Click on the picture to see it larger
This time of year there are more people starting up Aquaponic systems. During our basic Aquaponic classes the discussion often comes around to
“How do I track my system start up data?” or
“What does it look like when you start up a typical system”
Well, to that end I have uploaded my spreadsheet that I use when tracking the readings from starting up a system. You may remember it from this post for June 2011.
Feel free to download, use, and share. Give me credit if you like it or share it. If you make it better, send me a copy so we can share the improvements!
You may find this info helpful also. Aquaponic Video Ammonia
Picture by Raa_Sz 429592_37159311
Chad Stewart shared this link with me. Hope you enjoy
Bright Agrotech teaches us about Ammonia and Ammonium relating to the Nitrogen cycle.
They have several more “technical” type videos that I find valuable.
Notes: Ammonium NH24+ has a charge, fish can use or exclude as waste, slightly harmful to fish
Ammonia NH3 and no charge, more harmful to fish, cells in fish, plant, and other life can not regulate its movement
pH values 6-8 (6.4) on an established system
What is a good way to get started in Aquaponics?
This is the question I am asked the most when I talk with people or groups. I have several answers to that, but here is my pragmatic answer.
A: Learn from someone else that has done it successfully and copy their first system.
Q2: So who should I learn from?
A2: Copy me because it seems like I made ALL the mistakes possible my first year. 🙂 I put up a website just for this reason, to journal my mistakes to make learning easier for others. Check out http://aquaponicfun.com.
A2b: Read Sylvia Bernstein’s book. It is a very good source of info.
Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together
Q3: Who’s system should I copy to get a successful start?
A: The best system I have seen to start with is a one IBC / Tote system that has a large fish tank and one grow bed on top, all made from the one IBC container. Dave Pennington first introduced me to this system and he has a unique low priced way to build it. You might contact him as I think he stills builds these. I build them as well, from time to time, for friends.
You can buy one from these people already assembled The Aquaponic Store .
A2: I ve posted the parts list so you can build this type system it yourself. Be aware that with my “DIY” approach you don’t get access to the training videos, but I have included in the estimate price, some good video training DVDs and book. (i.e. Aquaponic Gardening Education Set ).
Also you will need some media like 1/2″-3/4″ clean gravel or clean expanded shell without limestone or Plant !T (Hydroton), etc.
My Flood and drain rock based Aquaponics system has operated flawlessly for over a year.
Recently I noticed that one grow bed was full of water and another draining slow.
When I investigated the drains in the sump I discovered that the roots from the tomato and zucchini plants had clogged the siphon drain pipes.
I was amazed. The roots had to grow through the rock, 1/4″ holes in the siphon filter / protector 4″ PVC pipe, up over and down through the siphon and through the 18″ long 1&1/2″ drain pipes. The roots were hanging out the end of the drain pipes.
Just goes to show you what a good design this siphon is. It was still working even though it was full of roots!