Off and Running!!
Well, the system is finally fully planted. More or less. Might add another pepper plant or two. :-)
We had a bunch of seeds that we received free a few years ago, and figure they're a good risk for this system. If they don't sprout, we're not really out much. In order to improve the chances that they would sprout, I soaked them in warm water for 24 hours before putting them in the system.
Then staple the bag the seeds came in to the ziplock. Those seeds tend to start looking alike after the 5th or 6th bag, and that was the only way I think of to keep them labeled.
Then I put them all in a gallon ziplock, and let them sit on the table till I was ready to plant them.
The weather outlook finally looked warm enough to do the final planting on Friday, May 22. Here's the flat of transplants. Notice how wilted a lot of them look.
And here's the system fully planted:
It's normal for plants to experience something called "transplant shock" when removed from one growing spot and placed in another. I was expecting some major shock and wilting when I changed all the plants over, since I had to not only remove them from their containers, but rinse as much of the soil from their roots as possible. I found it easiest to do this by dunking the root system into a large bowl of water and swishing the dirt off. This sounds easy. Don't be fooled. It was a mess, and took much longer than I expected. Having to handle, squish, and irritate the roots that much had me convinced it would take a while for the plants to rebound, if at all. The following are pics taken right after transplanting side by side with pics taken of the same plants 3 days later.
Full system (notice the tomato plants on the second row!)
Right after transplant:
Bell Pepper (2 hours after the first pic was taken, the plant was almost completely sideways and limp)
Butternut squash. (I think they're even grown!)
Everything seems to be pretty happy. As I figured would happen, some of the seeds got displaced by the water flow and caught by the screening at the end of the channels. What I didn't expect was for them to seem to thrive there. I *think* these are swiss chard seedlings (they could also be spinach). It will be interesting to see if they are able to actually grow successfully there.
And I found our very first bean sprouting today!
The broccoli seeds and swiss chard seem to be sprouting nicely.
And the fish seem to have settled in as well. We did lose one large lionhead to some sort of fungus. I was worried until I discovered that, at the store, the fish from the same batch had the same fungus. This is why you should only purchase your fish from a reputable place with a good return policy.
(In case you don't know, I actually work for Petco, and all the fish came from there. Every other fish, beside that lionhead, is doing fantastic and growing. The lionhead was replaced per their guarantee.)
This shot shows the black moor, two large lionheads (from a different batch than the one we lost), two pearlscales, a fantail, and some of the extraordinarily nice comets. Yes, I broke my rule of not combining single tails with broadtails. But these comets have unusually long fins, which slow them down considerably. Plus, since I actually WANT some excess waste, I can overfeed quite a bit to make certain everyone gets fed. I'm still on the lookout for one or two really nice orandas, preferably blues or calicos, and maybe a really nice calico fantail or two. We'll see.
I've been testing the water pretty consistently, and am amazed at the steady results. This many small and med goldfish (many of them are 4-6" long) in this size system will usually overwhelm everything with ammonia very quickly. My ammonia has never gone above a slight risk, and nitrites and nitrates remain at zero. The plants seem to be doing their job, and enjoying it. Even with water temps in the low 60's, the fish are eating well and being active.
I'm hoping to take weekly pics to chronicle the growth and development of the system. I imagine we will need to add something to support the tomato and possibly the broccoli plants once they start to fruit. Here's a full listing of what we've planted:
Oregano - transplant and seeds
Basil - transplants and seeds
Lettuces - seeds
Tomatoes - 4 different varieties - transplants
Parsley - seeds
Spinach - seeds
Swiss Chard - seeds
Peppermint - transplant
Spearmint - transplant
Butternut Squash - transplants
Chives - seeds
Pepper - transplant
Broccoli - seeds and transplants
Beets - seeds
Carrots - seeds
Thyme - transplant
Cucumbers - 2 varieties - transplants
Beans - 6 or more varieties - seeds
Summer squash - 4 varieties - seeds
Watermelon - 2 varieties - seeds
And that's where we sit. 19 feet of growing space. Will all of these survive and actually produce? Only time will tell! Stay tuned!