Happy Friday! Time to check in on the garden. It seems like so much has happened since the last update. When we last left off, we had just finished building the greenhouse and had started to put together the aquaponic system. Now we have finished installing the aquaponic system, started cycling the water, and have even gotten a bunch of things planted.
Here’s what the whole system looks like. From left to right: grow bed, fish tank, grow bed (behind the fish tank), raft bed, raft bed. As I mentioned before, the raft beds are great for greens and herbs, and the grow beds are better for fruiting plants (tomatoes, peppers, etc) and roots (carrots, radishes, etc).
We currently have plants in a few different stages in the beds. Some of them we sprouted and then transplanted, some we pulled from the garden, washed off the roots, and re-homed in the system, and some we simply sowed directly into the beds.
A transplanted kale is doing well.
And a couple red leaf lettuces.
To start some of the seeds, we use the trays you see below on top of the fish tank. They have little sponge-type things inside in them instead of dirt. This keeps dirt out of the system when they are transplanted. See that red Solo cup? That’s a sweet potato in there. We are sprouting him, too!
Some of the seeds we sowed directly into the grow beds. We did this with micro greens, radishes, and two types of carrots. I’ll be honest: I was kind of skeptical this would actually work. We literally just sprinkled the seeds into the pebbles, gave the pebbles a little tap, and walked away. I figured the seeds would either sink to the bottom of the bed and be lost forever, or just sit on top, too dry to do anything. I really didn’t think anything would sprout. But boy was I wrong! We’ve got lots of little sprouts! Micro greens and radishes… no carrots yet, but those take longer to germinate, so hopefully they will pop up soon.
So what about the fish?
Well, we aren’t quite ready for the fish yet. Our water here is toxic (seriously, it smells like rotten eggs mixed with bleach, is brown when you fill the bathtub, and fails testing every year…. yummm… cup of arsenic, anyone?) so it’s been a bit of a pain getting all the levels (pH, ammonia, nitrates) where they need to be. We’re almost there! Actually, we were there… until I accidentally added a bit too much extra ammonia. Whoops. Things should hopefully even out in the next couple days and we can add the fish.
We are planning to start with goldfish to make sure we have everything running correctly. Once we know we can keep the goldfish alive, we’ll switch to tilapia so that we can eventually eat them too.
As for recent harvests, there’s been lots of kale and lettuces. And 4 more cauliflower heads!
One day, I picked a cauliflower head, which was simply steamed, along with some broccoli leaves and a few sprouts which were all sauteed in a little bacon grease and topped with a splash of apple cider vinegar and crumbled bacon. This is one of my favorite ways to make any kind of leafy greens (beet, chard, collard).
On another day, another head of cauliflower and a whole bunch of sugar snap peas.
That lovely cauli became a batch of Cheddar Bacon Cauliflower Chowder. So, so delicious.
In other garden news, our brussels sprouts finally sprouted… well… sprouts! I’m not sure how they are going to fare though. The plants started flowering, and Google tells me that means the sprouts may not mature fully. Which is so sad since brussels are one of our favorite veggies. I think this winter was just not long or cool enough for the sprouts. I haven’t completely given up hope though, so I’ll wait a little longer before pulling up the plants. (Plus, the quails are totally digging the leaves as snacks.)
Hopefully two weeks from now, we’ll have fishies to tell you all about. I’m going to start a whole bunch more seeds to plant in the greenhouse, and we’re also going to work on planting a ton of potatoes in our traditional dirt garden beds! For those of you who live in colder climates, get ready because spring is just around the corner. 🙂