Insects come in all forms from the creepy crawly to the stunningly beautiful. I have found as we've built our soil and increased the plant life, the insect population has grown as well. Learning to live peacefully with some insects can certainly be challenging but many provide valuable inputs into the system we are creating when we build sustainable landscapes. Our goal here is to highlight some of the challenges and some of those insects than can contribute to the life in our yards in a beneficial way.
Forums and email lists
If you are interested in adding an aquaponics system, I'd recommend spending some time on this forum. The people on the list are extremely helpful and have a great sense of humor. Be prepared to disappear into the site for long periods of time. The site is based out of Australia but there are members from all over the world.
I can feel the energy of spring pushing through the surface of my mind. Like the first leaves unfurling from the dormant plant, my being seems to be awakening. It's been a long winter, lasting several seasons for me but I feel this excitement about life that hasn't been there for a long time.
Over the last several months we have been making a number of changes in how we use water in our home. We just received our bi-monthly water bill and for the last period compared to last year at the same time, we reduced our water usage by 47%! I was amazed. So what did we do?
Building and running an aquaponics system is an adventure. We've had a lot of successes, a few mis-steps and lot of learning along the way.
55 gallon blue barrels buckle
They seem to be an inexpensive way to build a system, however, they have challenges. The buckling means you need to build a good structure to hold them.
I spent the afternoon in the greenhouse making some changes to our aquaponics system. When we initially setup the system, we put two beds above the others. These beds were dedicated to raising duckweed and are setup to be a constant height of water with no other media in the bed. We have had to clean the beds several times since water comes in directly from the fish tank and then settles out in the bed leaving a lot of fish waste in the bottom of the tank. We also have a fingerling tank that is fed directly from the main fish tank and has similar issues.
- When you are attempting to build a new garden bed area, decide where the paths will be and where the planting areas will be. Only walk on the paths and avoid walking on the planting areas. This protects the soil structure, allowing the worms and other microbes to build tunnels and connections easily destroyed by walking on them.
Think about feeding the soil. Some techniques such as lasagna gardening and sheet composting work on the idea of feeding the soil microbes. Rather than building a compost pile on the side of the garden, the items are composted in place.
Last year we built an outdoor bin for composting by worms and black soldier flies. Both can be fed to fish and chickens and, in our case, would be fed to the tilapia in our aquaponics system as well as our chickens.
The water in our aquaponics system has been warming over the last few weeks as spring finally set in. Every few days I look into the water to see if there is any sign of tilapia fry in the tank and this morning, there were. I madly scrambled around and created a home for them. I made a square out of PVC tubing and elbows so it would float and then put that around a pond plant pot to secure the fry from the big bad adults in the system. So far, I've only found three little ones, but I'll keep watching and adding any more I find into the containment area.
I spent this past weekend visiting my Mother and daughter. The last morning the three of us enjoyed a walk through my Mother's garden. She has almost a half an acre of yard, part in a small orchard and the rest in lush gardens.
Last spring, my Mother decided she could no longer maintain her small garden pond. With the help of friends and some family members, they emptied the pond and pulled out the liner and other associated parts. They then filled the hole with a combination of compost and soil scraped off the orchard area in an effort to level it some.