The ‘Ponics Situation

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On the aquaponics front…that is, the fish tank…with four little mollies happily living and swimming, even if they are not sure what to think yet of the styrofoam cover…only one little girl will swoop up into one of the holes (we keep one empty so I can feed the fish) and grab the food—the rest just wait until the food filters down into the water.

And the plants? The first round of plants from the hardware store…died…the second round using cucumber seedlings…died…the third round of mint plants…died…but considering these seedlings came from the one mint that I planted in soil and that thing died as well…we are chalking that one up to poor genetics. So my partner is working to root out some of our own spearmint plants from the front yard to use them.

So, right now, we have seeds growing…catnip…and they are teeny tiny slow-growing little things…I think we need more natural light…but it’s an uphill battle at this point.

The fish are healthy…

Hydroponics…we lost more sage from the aerogarden, but I think that was more my fault than anything—I waited too long to plant them after we bought them, even though I kept them watered, with plenty of light, and yada yada. The basil is amazing…in the soil and in the aerogarden. The rosemary is still happy in the aerogarden.

I did learn not to listen to the aerogarden with all its lights that say refill water, refill nutrients…because the other day the refill water light came on…and there was almost no water…and I had noticed the basil and the rosemary drooping…so thankfully I added a bit of watered down fertilizer…the water in that treatment probably saved them…so now I automatically top off the aerogarden when the mood hits me…sometimes it needs more water than other times.

The ginger…not a sign from the pot yet. The one planted in perlite and water…still working its way up, slowly slowly.

The mesclun (mixed salad greens) in the hydroponic pots outside…doing well. We had to thwart the squirrels—or let them dye eating the seed starting medium…because those beasts were snacking on everything…but cayenne and chili flakes = no more bother … if we remember to reapply it after heavy rains and around here lately heavy winds…

We did learn to make sure there was enough air between the lid of these pots and the water for the plants to have some air…after that the mesclun did a lot better. The mesclun my partner sort of put in every open soil pot is doing well too. The squirrels, to date, are not interested in that stuff—only the stuff in our hydroponic pots (which used to be kitty litter containers and dishwasher pod containers)…

We have more planned…it’s just getting the time…with so many other things going on.

Our milkweed is finally really taking off…it’s about four to five feet tall. The flowers smell so incredible. We are still trying to keep track of bees and pollinators…and so far, I am thinking it’s not long now until the USA has to do what China does and employ humans to pollinate crops and trees and whatever by hand. I have not yet seen an actual honey bee. Two or three fuzzy bumble bees a few weeks ago…but during a chat the other day…it dawned on me…when we go outside, there are a few of the virulent mosquitoes the when they bite they are so full of toxins and whatnot that we here swell and get huge red tender bumps, not the usual small itchy raised bump—and even these are few and far between…but there are very few insects at all. We have a few crickets because they never shut up once it gets darker. We have a few lightning bugs, until the small boy chases them all away. Butterflies…we have seen three or four all season. I saw a gorgeous pale yellow butterfly chase off –seriously – a grackle…it dove at the birds head repeatedly until the bird said, ok, and moved away…We have seen three cabbage moths…

The only good thing I can say is something is munching the bejeebers out of the milkweed…we have seen a single monarch. We have seen no cocoons, no caterpillars, nothing else. But, we at least know something is eating.

The spearmint…we thought it was a weird…I am forever tossing seeds out into beds and letting them go because usually the squirrels destroy everything…these plants are taking off this year now that we have recognized them…they are as tall as the milkweed and thriving…

So, you know, pluses and minuses.

Until next time…

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The Ginger Experiment

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I love ginger.

I use a lot of ginger.

I cook with it.  I drink ginger tea.  I bake with it.

I was so thrilled to learn about stem ginger…so thrilled, I actually made my own.

I made biscotti using pine nuts and crystallized ginger the other day and everyone here who ate it loved it and couldn’t get enough of it.

I was absolutely over the moon when my father sent me four lovely pieces of ginger that be bought on etsy, ready to plant or to eat…and I wanted them to plant.

I planted two in a huge pot I have outside–where the ginger root I had bought from the store failed to do anything…I did prep them with rooting solution and water them thoroughly with a weakly fertilized water.

I dropped one into a large mason jar with clean water, weak fertilizer and rooting solution.  That I set on the windowsill here in the kitchen.

And since we are playing around here with the experimentation, I filled one of our containers with perlite (because I happen to have it on hand), water, the rooting solution and the weak fertilizer…and popped the final ginger root into that, a bit on the top.  I covered that with plastic wrap, as we hadn’t made the lid from styrofoam for this container, and put it out on the front porch.  The plastic wrap isn’t just to keep the water in; it is mostly to keep the birds and other animals out of it.

I will let you know how things go…as they go along…

 

Vegetative Experimentation

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So, we have an experiment running in our house at the moment.

 

We are just starting to try this out.  We know we have a long way to go.  But, we are learning, and that is the important part to us.

 

We are venturing into the hydroponics and aquaponics realms.

 

The first thing we did was: find an old aerogarden set-up at the thrift store.  Then, we found a five-gallon aquarium with no lid at a different thrift store.

 

Months and months later…we set up the aquarium and we set up the aerogarden.  We ordered baskets and medium.  We found styrofoam to cut up (for the aquarium, to support the plants on top of the water).

 

We went to our favorite local hardware store and found out they have a truly sucky selection of garden veg and herb, but we bought what they had: tri-color sage, peppermint, rosemary, and large leaf basil.

 

We bought two pots of each, thinking to divide each pot into smaller plantings.

 

We planted some of each type of plant in baskets and set them in the aquarium.

 

We planted some of each type of plant in baskets and set them in the aerogarden.

 

We planted some of each type of plant in potting soil and set them up close to the aerogarden so they could reap the benefit of the extra light.

 

After one week, we learned…large leaf basil is a picky little thing.  Most of them, except in the potting soil, were either dead, dying or considering it.

 

Mint grows anywhere, under any darn condition.  The roots of the mint took off in the aquarium (where we can look ever single day without messing with anything) the day after we settled them into their new place.  In the aerogarden, within that first five days, lots of brand new baby leaves appeared.

 

In the soil…the mint proved to be the strongest, fastest and healthiest as well.

 

The tri-color sage looks a little sad and droopy in the aquarium but is nowhere near death at all.

 

Now, as we are planning to put fish (green and yellow and purple, according to my youngest) into the aquarium, the only fertilizer I am putting in there is a 100% kelp mix.  In the areogarden, I am not hampered by such restrictions.  I put in a weak solution of fertilizer and of rooting solution.

The plants in the soil got weak solutions of fertilizer.  That’s it.

 

We did lose one basil, but someone kept messing with it.  Not that I think that it would have been totally ok if no one had messed with it.  The messing just hastened on the inevitable, but still…I feel we need to give everyone a bit to adjust and to find their legs (so to speak) for a bit before we start pushing things.

 

I will let you know how things progress … once they begin to progress…