Starting Seeds for Aquaponics

There are many methods of starting seeds for aquaponics. I use several but you have to understand I like things orderly and I don’t like to waste seeds.

One method is to sow the seeds directly into the grow bed. Just sprinkle the seeds on the medium and some will find the right conditions, germinate and sprout and some will not. When they get their second set of leaves thin them and you are good to go.

dsc_0522I like to sow my seeds in individual net cups so I can put the plants where I want them or easily move them if I need to. I have used rock wool but I found this product Rapid Root and I have great success with it.

What I am looking for is a base to put my seed so it can germinate. It doesn’t have to be to deep, so I cut the plug in half dsc_0524

Make sure there is a slit in the top about 1/4 to 1/2″ deep depending on the seed requirements. Some seed even require light to germinate and I just lay the seeds on top of the plug. The seed packets don’t always tell the best method to sprout your seeds I rely on a book I got from Park’s Seeds called ‘Success With Seed’ by Karen Park Jennings. It will really help you with your seed starting endeavors. dsc_0525

dsc_0530I take this 1/2 plug and put it in a 3″ net pot surrounded by medium.

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So here I have some of the seed I am planting. Swiss Chard, Purple Cauliflower, Cheddar Cauliflower, and Ironman Broccoli are some of my favorites. I plant things you can’t get so easily in a store.
Here is the plug in the net pot with medium surrounding it and I am planting Swiss Chard. It seed is a little bigger and irregular. It likes to be 4 times in depth the size of the seed so I will plant it 1/2″ deep. I usually poke 2 seeds into each plug in case one does not germinate (Most seeds want to be planted 4 time in depth the size of the seed. So if you have a 1/16″ size seed it would be 1/4″ deep).

dsc_0533Here I have some net pots ready with medium and plug. You can see I have plastic name tags for each cup. I put a name and date on each one.

dsc_0544Here is the completed tray of planted seeds. Fill water just so the plug is moist and check every day to make sure they never dry out. You can place the seed trays under lights or if it is the right temperature, put them outside in the sun. You should see sprouts in 3 to 7 days depending on the seeds. However some seeds can take as long as a month to germinate. I find using this method it takes 1/2 the time it take for in potting mix. When the sprouts have 2 sets of leaves thin to one per pot and plant them in your grow beds.

After 3 weeks

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Transplanted into beds

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Plants after 1 month
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Fish Care

This time of year with the heat and the sun, you have to pay a little more attention to your fish. The sun peeking into you tank will start the algae growing on the sides of the tank. Keep an eye on it and clean it as needed with a brush. Check your water quality with an aquarium test kit weekly. The plants are drinkTilapia in the tanking more water and the sun is evaporating some so check your water levels often.

Leaffooted Bug

I went out to the garden this morning to check on the bugs that I might need to take care of and of course I was hit in the head by a leaffooted bug.  It’s a type of beetle that makes me so mad.  They are hard to control organically.  I’ll give you some Ideas and if anyone out there wants to share other methods to control these little beasts please help out.

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DSC_0495The picture on the left is the adult and the one on the right are the nymphs.
Some Facts:

  • Leaffooted bugs are a member of the stink bug family
  • They are about 3/4″ long and there are several kinds depending on which part of the country you are in.  They range from almost black to light brown.
  • They feed on fruit (including tomatoes), seed and nut crops
  • They have needle like mouth parts they use to poke a hole then they suck the sap or juice out of the plant opening it up to other insects and disease.
  • They are known to carry fungus from plant to plant.
  • They are challenging to control.
  • Birds and spiders are important predators of leaffooted and stink bugs.
  • Controlling weeds around your garden helps to reduce their populations.
  • They are attracted to sunflowers so you can lure them away from your garden and smash or drop in soapy water.
  • There are also beneficial insects that feed on them.  These include wheel bugs, assassin bugs and predatory stink bugs.

Organic pesticides include, wood ash and Surround WP (Kaolin clay).  Both these products coat the plants with a fine white dust which discourages the bugs from feeding.

Conventional insecticides containing synthectic pyrethroids can be sprayed every 14 days (includes products containing permethrin, bifenthin, or cyfluthrin).  Make sure you read and follow the labels on all pesticides and never use more than is recommended.  It can harm your plants and the environment.

Since I try to stay on the organic side, I smash them or collect and drop the adults in soapy water.  The nymphs I just smash.