The test set up from a few weeks back. It’s…. not changed much, unfortunately. 
 
The Aquapocalypse Garden is Not Dead Yet. I’m also learning a lot, which is good. This learning requires mistakes and mishaps, so there’s definitely been frustration, loss, broken bits. Hard won, is the term. But learning this way means I understand WHY things do or don’t work the way they do, which helps with everything going forward.
 
Steve& I used 8″ net pots in 5 gallon buckets for our first trial run, and they present their own kinds of challenges (takes longer for the roots to reach the water reservoir at the bottom, slows growth without additional nutrient input due to our system being way low on fish) but also some significant perks (room for multiple plants per bucket without multiple baskets, roots, sturdier baskets and secure seal, more grow media for bacterial culture development, efficient use of space.) I have a couple of ideas for how to work with/around the challenges, but with growing things, it takes time to figure out if an idea worked or not. Some of those ideas require my 3D printer to work, and… it’s not. (That’s being resolved as fast as anything can. Anycubic’s customer service is damn stellar, let me tell you. I am actively avoiding looking at their resin printers, because 1, I want one, 2, my current does’t work & I miss Making.)
 
Chicken Shit Compost Tea is my friend right now, and I’m sharing that on the chance that the absurdity of saying “Chicken Shit Compost Tea” makes you chuckle as much as it does me.
 
The pond however, is green. REALLY green. (Algae, yay.) Freshwater mussels are on the way to help with that long term, but short term, well, in short, it happens. We’re managing it as organically and with as little intervention as possible. I get WHY it is green thankfully, and so I’m able to tweak the system to bring it back in balance and prevent it in the future better, without jeopardizing the long term goals of the whole system needing minimal intervention and only basic maintenance – and without killing my plants. In other words: I’m aiming for genuine Sustainability, as much as this kind of aquaponics system can have.
 
This kind of gardening/agriculture is technically challenging. We jumped in the deep end armed with YouTube swimming lessons, and a lot of practice at adjusting what we do based on the feedback from our actions. Our professional farm neighbors came over to look at it out of curiosity (they’re friends) and gave me raised eyebrows and offered fertilizer – which is kind and generous and supportive and awesome, even if I can’t use it, because fish. But bless them, I am so thankful to have neighbors and friends like them. (Also, go visit Center Hill U-Pick Farm in Bowling Green, FL the next time they’re open, and tell them The Tabula Rasa Farm says hi!)
 
Because it’s too damn hot for any leafy vegetables in Florida (other than collard greens and mustard, seeds of which are on the way here), we’re testing with squash of all kinds, beans, okra, tomatoes, and my personal favorite, hot peppers. REALLY hot peppers. Because the more variables in the experiment the better, right? 😉 (That was a joke, by the way.) Still, I’m looking forward to getting the hot peppers back up and growing – we’re running out of hot sauce!
 
I keep telling myself that if we can get this working, it’d be worth considering offering surplus to locals willing to come pick up, though I haven’t done market research on it, or even asked on Facebook yet, heh. If nothing else and no on is interested, I can dehydrate the extra hot peppers, and we can freeze everything else. 
 

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