It’s August and at the peak of hot here in Florida. For us that means slow production time on the farm and slow production time on the farm means lots of time for projects. Its the cycle of traditional farmers here in the south too. Summer is the time to till under crops and get ready for fall planting. Although we aquaponic farmers don’t have soil to till, summer sure is a great time to clean coconut coir, vermiculite and other organic matter out of the DWC grow troughs. If you too have farmed with net pots and a loose media made of coconut coir with or with out vermiculite and perhaps worm castings, odds are you too have a lot of media residue in your troughs.
If these large amounts of organic matter are then left unchecked and allowed to remain in the system too long, system health and balance can easily be compromised. This organic matter will eventually create adverse conditions where oxygen consuming heterotrophic bacteria begin to dominate the system. However emptying the troughs and removing the brown sludge at least once a year generally is frequent enough to maintain system health. Water can be easily pumped over to holding tanks and the decaying coir and plant matter can be removed. Just a couple of weeks ago group of volunteers helped clean out our 1200sqft of DWC in the two small hoop houses.
This same 1200sqft of DWC is also being converted over to its own independent system and is our second project of the summer season. These troughs used to be connected to the same fish tanks and filtration system as the other systems inside the main greenhouse. Now they are being separated into their own loop or system with a fish tank, radial flow filter, clarifier and degassing tank and is nearly complete!
Our third and final project for the summer was our nursery conversion. We have renovated our simple hoop style house into a design that is somewhat similar to a passive solar structure with insulated north and end walls and reduced glazing and we have also added thermostatically controlled vents and an evaporative cooler. Check out our recent article in the Aquaponics Survival Communities August 10th magazine edition about the conversion and see next month’s September edition for a follow-up. The last of the construction is finally wrapped up and seedlings are in their new cooled home and cooling action is definitely taking place and we are gaining about 10-12 degrees cooler then the structure used to be.
Fall crops are started and just as soon as system 2 or the outside system is finished up, they are going in. Summertime blues are over!