In this edition of the Garden Match-Up, where I am comparing a soil garden, a raised bed garden, a wicking bed and an Aquaponics system, the Aquaponics system seems to be catching up nicely! Now, I know that I have more lettuce plants in the raft than I do in the wicking bed, but the harvest time seems to be much faster in the Aquaponics system. Nearly TWICE as fast.
In one of my next posts, I will compare exact harvest times and amounts. I had the Romaine in the wicking bed as a holding place initially, and so they had a one week start on the Romain and Bibb lettuces in the Aquaponics (AP) system. Here, is a picture of the first harvest from the AP system. Look at all of that nice fluffy lettuce!! And I assure you I got my fair share of the bounty this time! And let me just say, it was de-lic-ious!
Since my last comparison posting, I ran the plumbing for the 2nd AP grow bed, and began planting. From the flower bed up front, I plucked a sprig of monkey grass, and popped it in the 2nd bed. I also ripped up a blueberry baby and stuck it in there too. A few bean vines (right) were getting decimated in the rock garden, so I yanked them up, shook the dirt off the roots, and plunked them in the new system. I even grabbed an iris bulb, and 4 wild shoots of onion grass and several young spearmint plants, just to see what they might do.
My favorite, however, has to be the free volunteers I poached from the compost pile. We have a bin turner, and toss all of our used organic matter into the compost pile, and turn it throughout the summer. We add some dried leaves throughout the winter, and grass clippings during the warmer months to keep everything cooking nicely. Well, every spring, as the weather begins to warm, seedlings will appear in the compost pile. Always a vining gourd of some sorts, as we eat plenty of squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peas, watermelons, pumpkins … well, you get the idea. We never know what they are when they sprout, but that makes growing them half the fun!!
I planted the 1st 4 in the raised garden bed, the next 4 in the rock garden and the last 6 in the AP system. (I have a hunch the AP system will be best) A week to 10 days later now, the 4 in the rock garden have withered and died, 2 of the 4 seedlings are surviving in the raised bed, and 5 of the 6 in the grow bed are standing tall and looking good. Furthermore, the bean vines that I planted in the various gardens, seem to be doing the best in the AP system, with the cinder (raised) garden a close 2nd.
Finally, the bean plants and the Romaine lettuces in the wicking bed are growing quite nicely also, and I believe I have some carrots growing from seed. The wicking bed overall seems to be coming right along, and with some space available, I planted the 3 remaining broccoli plants in here. The AP system had a 1 week head start on these guys, but I suspect the broccoli will do better in soil. We shall see.
Oh, one last thing before I go. A very special thanks to my daughter, who helped me cover up my grow beds when the rain was upon us. Not so much for that (she’s very helpful that way), but for what she had to endure. Upon picking up the plastic and lifting up the ends, me on one side, she on the other, she noticed something dark. As we continued lifting the plastic up further, she noticed it was a snake! Apparently he likes the warmth of the plastic while molting! Looks to be about a 4 foot long King snake, or rat snake as we used to call them. Either way, it was an unwelcome surprise. I tossed him back into the woods, but something tells me, he will be back. E-Gad!!