Construction of the aquaponic garden is complete, at last. We (and by we, I mean my husband with moral support and fetching from me) designed, built and installed the tank covers today. After a couple of days of running the system without them, it was pretty clear that covering the tanks would reduce evaporation, humidity in the basement and some of the water sounds. We bought a few of those clear polystyrene lighting panels that go in suspended ceilings under strip fluorescents. They’re very brittle, but not very expensive, and Luc was able to cut them to size without breaking any. They are very light so they are easy to remove to get access to the tanks.
A few days ago, I planted a bunch of things in the grow beds. The plants that are visible in this picture, taken shortly after, are what I call the produce-section garden. I bought a couple of potted herbs, some green onions and a bunch of celery. I rinsed the soil off the herb plants and stuck them in the media. They were in pathetic condition at the time – suffering from not enough light or water, and in shock from the brutally cold temperature between the store and car, and car and house. They do seem to be enjoying the nice warm water bath they receive every ten minutes, and I think they’ll make it. The onions and celery were rather unceremoniously jammed in the media after I cut their tops off, and they are both sprouting new tops like gangbusters. I sprinkled some seeds around the beds, and today I noticed that the brassicas, lettuce and swiss chard had germinated already. This is very easy compared to dirt gardening, not least because everything is at waist level, but also, well, the lack of dirt. And this is from someone who has a rather overdeveloped respect for soil and all its inhabitants.
The most recent additions to the aquaponic garden are these four beauties. These are actually the first four of a dozen or so goldfish that will eventually occupy the fish tank. My daughter Madeleine is acting as the fish consultant for this project because she is a fish nerd and also works at an aquarium store, so I trust her judgement and advice. She has been quite stern with me that we are not to stock the tank too heavily at first, in order to ensure the welfare of our piscine friends. Which brings us to cycling, which deserves a post on its own and is for next time.