The Wicking Bed is Off to an early lead …
Which is a bit misleading, I admit. When I made my plant starter purchases, I had a 9 pack of Romaine lettuce that wasn’t quite ready to be planted. In other words, the Raft System I had designed, wasn’t quite ready. SO, into the wicking bed went all my romaine lettuce plants. Once the raft was ready, the roots were gently washed of the soil in which they were sprouted, and since many of these had two seedlings per starter pack, I was able to split them, resulting in 12 lettuce seedlings in the raft system alone ! And since they didn’t all have 2 seedlings, the remaining 3 singles went into the wicking bed, giving them a one week head start on the raft plants. All totaled, the 9 pack yielded 15 plants! The same was true for most of my purchases.
Now, 2 weeks into the trial, I have already cut some leaves off the wicking bed lettuce plants for my nightly salad, (though these were stolen by the terrible ‘I like fresh salad too’ wife monster) and the plants are healthy and strong.
It took about a week for the plants to get acclimated to the Raft System, and a couple of days for me to figure out what was causing the plants to wilt by day, but perk up by night. I should mention that it has been unseasonably warm this past week, with temperatures in the upper 70’s, and two days in the lower 80’s !! I had opened the two ends of the hoop house to allow for air-flow, but I soon noticed, the plants were still wilting in the day. This led me to roll back the plastic to allow for even more air flow, and less trapped heat. They perked up nicely.
The beauty of having a hoop house, or a greenhouse, is when the temperatures changes, it is relatively easy to cover or uncover the house as needed. (more info on the design later) For instance, while we have had these nice warm temperatures, this coming weekend will see the temps plunge back into the mid to upper 30’s !! Yikes !!
Now that the RS has had a chance to catch up, and adjustments made, The lettuce is doing quite nicely, and even allowed me to remove a few of them from their net pots and be planted directly into the raft. That is how much the roots have developed in such a short period of time.
My last post ended with me needing to refresh my knowledge on suitable plants for my aquaponics system. I pulled out my notes (ok, e-book) on that very subject and found all kinds of goodies. Sugar peas are supposed to do well, as are peppers and this one site said tomatoes can do well, though I have also heard they are heavy feeders and don’t do well. I am curious to see just how well they fare in my system. It also suggested Broccoli, which I didn’t think would grow, so I picked up a 6 pack of baby broccoli also. Essentially, you cut off the baby heads, and the plant produces more, giving you a ‘cut and come again’ broccoli producer. We’ll see.
I intentionally purchased more than what would fit into the RS (Raft System), so the extras went into the various other beds. The cinder garden received another 5 tomato plants, effectively turning this into one giant tomato bed, which was my initial plan. I added 5-6 cucumbers and the same amount of Sugar Peas in proximity to the tomato cages, giving them plenty of room to run as needed.
The Stone Garden received 3 pots of Hot peppers, with 2 plants per pot, giving me a total of 6 plants. These were placed on the end with the bunch onions from last year. Finally, I took a few of the new onions I had planted around the perimeter in the stone garden, and put them into the RS to see how they fare.
One nice thing about having fish in the system, is they like to eat greens. So if I see a lettuce leaf turning yellow (like I did from the transplant), I just drop them into the fish tank, and they eat it up !!
I can see from re-reading this and the previous post, that some of you may be wondering, just what is an Aquaponics System and How does it work? Maybe you want a breakdown on the hoop house, green house and the water collection system I use. I will attempt to work these in over the next week or 2. Make sure you check in often to get the latest dirt. Pun intended. (:-)