Goddard Aquaponic Garden – Mid-July Report

It’s time again to report on the Goddard garden projects. What’s happened since last time:

  • the tomatoes have filled out and some have maturely fruited
  • the green beans have been fruiting in the aquaponic tubs
  • the terrestrial green beans have grown out and are blossoming
  • the okra has now become critical mass where we have enough same young-aged fruit to eat in a meal
  • the corn has matured to blossom
  • the huge corn stalk turns out to be a different plant than expected

I have not taken photos of all of these topics but instead just the more notable ones. For instance, the tomatoes fare as follows:

  • the heat resistant tomato have immature fruit that are not growing
  • the rotted-out center brach we restarted has filled out nicely with flowers but no fruit
  • the original producer has about fruited out with a couple left to mature

Then on 18 July 2013, a caterpillar ate throughout the young fruit on our heat resistant plant, photo below.

Tomato Fruit Caterpillar Damage

We have not been successful ripening any of the fruit on the vine from the original tomato plant. Perhaps it’s the container being too small and/or the amount of rain we’ve had this year. A person told us yesterday that it has been 30 days since central florida has seen a whole dry day. It’s a blessing and hassle but I appreciate it more than fires and constant watering the yards plants.

As for the aquaponic green beans:

  • the original “volunteer” plant has about fruited out, as well, and leaves are browning
  • the second batch of plants has small fruit and we’re going to seed these
  • the third batch has small fruit that are maturing and we’ll seed these too
  • the final batch, the seeds from the volunteer, have just exposed secondary leaves

The terrestrial green beans have filled out nicely. We have some caterpillar that cuts and curls the leaf over itself to create a shield around it, which I uncurl and throw the worm into the water for the mosquito fish to snatch. The caterpillars love the plant and the fish love the caterpillars. You can see some of the damage in the picture below. In the center left leave, on its left side (facing it), that’s where the caterpillars have cut and curled the leaf.

Green Beans Terrestrial

Okra Fruit

The okra fruit have matured beyond edible on this specimen because it was the first to fruit. Now the others are blossoming and we’ll have enough to eat in a single meal, soon.

The corn plants grew no taller than a meter/yard and the fruit were as small as a lighter: Munchkin plants.

Corn Patch

Corn Cob

And the huge, never touched by bugs, corn plant? It turned out to be a millet seed plant. You can see in the picture below how similar the leaves look to a corn plant leaf. Not sure where that seed came from. Could have been in bird poop or mixed in with our seeds when we planted the corn. I wish the corn had been so successful.

Millet Seed Plant

Goddard Aquaponic Gardens – Summer 2013

Aside

26 May 2013 – This blog is an attempt to document the 4525 Goddard pond conversion to Aquaponic farming. The picture below is a bird’s eye view of the whole pond with blue gill, tilapia, flag fish, gold fish, and mosquito fish. The tarp at the top is covering the deep end to reduce the amount of sun that might encourage algae blooms. There are a total of 5 tubs in two sizes:  100 Gallon and 300 Gallon.

Goddard Pond Bird's Eye View

Goddard Pond Bird’s Eye View

The shallow end was fenced off to prevent fish from entering the shallow end but that didn’t work. The tilapia babies were able to invade along with the blue gill and have grown up on that side. Unfortunately, the tilapia have eaten the water lilies that were planted to offer more shade. They’re trying to grow back and so far haven’t been affected by the tilapia this year. At least they eat the Cuban tree frog tadpoles in the shallow end so we’re not propagating invasive species. Also in the shallow end, the tub functions a dual purpose of filtering detritus from water through gravel as well as creating a current to prevent stagnation. In the picture above you can see the 300 Gallon tub at the top of the picture (south side) and below is a full shot of the tub. The banana plant is a miniature variety, the alocasia (right) is a metallic variety, and nestled below that is another alocasia of the velvet variety.

300 Gallon Tub with Banana and Alacasia

300 Gallon Tub with Banana and Alocasia

The 3 tubs below line the north side of the pond and contain 2 types of substrate:  hydroton (bottom) and river gravel (top 2). The top 2 use the same pump to fill the tubs. The hydroton tub disperses water from the pond across the bed in the ladder tube hydration system.  To see how a bell siphon flush system works, watch the video below.

Once the bell flush system exceeds capacity, the water begins to flush out of the tub and back into the pond, as illustrated below.

North Tubs Blaring

North Tubs Blaring Return Water

The day I shot most of these photos, a native lily bloomed in the shallow end amongst the lily pads in the picture above.

Water Lily Flower

The tub below contains the green beans and basil spice. The plant to the far right is a green bean that volunteered itself from last year and sprouted around January 2013. The other green beans from this year’s crop, planted in early April, appear towards the center and right front of the picture. The tall plants in the back are basil.

100 Gallon hydroton substrate with green beans and spices.

West 100 Gallon hydroton substrate with green beans and spices.

Focusing in on the more mature green bean plant, this volunteer has grown compact and tight, as illustrated in the picture below.

Volunteered Green Bean from 2012

Volunteered Green Bean from 2012

Focusing even closer on the volunteer green bean plant, the picture below shows the beans and flowers maturing under the leaves.

Aquaponic Green Beans Closeup

Aquaponic Green Beans and Flowers

The picture below shows the summer yellow squash, also planted in early April. This is the middle tub that also contains okra.

Aquaponic Summer Squash

Middle 100 Gallon Tub with Gravel Substrate – Aquaponic Summer Squash

The picture below is the eastern tub with an okra plant, a row of corn, and an eggplant.

Corn Rows

East 100 Gallon Tub with Gravel Substrate – Aquaponic Corn Rows

Corn Start

2 Week Old Aquaponic Corn Start

In the picture left you can see a closer view of the 4 week old seedling. Due to the amount of nutrients and substrate contents, these aquaponic plants grow slower. In addition, this year has been cooler than normal and we’ve even had to endure a hailstorm in May. And finally, the eggplant. This specimen, pictured below, is about 3 years old and has never produced any fruit. It has bloomed constantly during the summer months but never became fertile. Normal life cycle is typically 1 year, so this is the end of this one and will be removed soon.

Aquaponic Eggplant - Non-producer

Aquaponic Eggplant – Non-producer

The main point of this blog is to log our experiments and learn to grow larger crops for better sustainability and reduced grocery expenses. We are also experimenting with 5 gallon buckets using soil, as pictured below of our tomato plant.

Terrestrial Tomato Plant

Terrestrial Tomato Plant

In the picture above, the first tomato appears just below the middle right side of the plant. There are about 5 more smaller fruit in various places throughout this specimen. Although the tomato is not aquaponic, it is an experiment to expand our backyard to a sustainable farm opportunity. Stay tuned for more