Depending on where your water is sourced from, it may not necessarily be your media that's giving you grief. Where are you getting your water from a well system or municipal water supply?
I don't know anything about Nicaragua, especially when it comes to sourcing fishtank products, but if you can source a KH test kit (API is a popular one and usually sell for less than $10 here in the States), it may clear up a few things. KH (carbonate hardness) is a measure of carbonates and bicarbonates in your water. Carbonates act as a sort of pH buffer, and if there happen to be any in your source water, than they can cause the same symptoms you've been describing, where the acid temporarily drops the water pH, only to be then neutralized by carbonates, causing the pH to swing back up to where it was originally.
In my own personal experience, well water can be notoriously high in carbonates. For example, the well water we have at my place tests at a 8pH and 18dKH and takes 4-5 cups of muriatic acid to bring one 275 gallon IBC tote to a pH of 6.5.
Carbonates aren't super difficult to deal with, but it helps to know about them as a factor so you aren't pulling your hair out
Here are a couple tips:
1) Buy that KH test kit if it's available and reasonably priced. It's a lot less stressful when you can see those levels slowly climbing down, plus you'll know when to ease up on the acid so you don't crash your pH once the carbonates run out
2) Use cheap muriatic acid for bulk adjusting. Ever try eliminating carbonates with phosphoric acid? Don't. Your wallet will thank you.
3) Buy a separate container to treat water in. You're going to need to replace water in your system due to evaporation and such, and it's a lot less stressful to adjust water that doesn't have fish in it.
Hopefully some of that was helpful. I'm sleepy and I tend to ramble
What's the the most accurate way to inexpensively test soil pH? I need to survey the soil around my house for the best place to plant some blueberries. Any tips on keeping the soil acidic for blueberries from year to year would also be appreciated Thanks!
Personally, I would consider running a seasonal system if you are planning to do it completely outdoors, but if you do so, you may need to purchase commercial feed if you want your fish to reach plate size before the cold sets in. Then again, you do live in Texas, so you should have a good bit of wiggle room when it comes to temperatures
For a year round system, catfish might be a good choice for you. Tilapia grow quickly and should do great in the high temps of Texas. Being naturally tropical fish, they thrive in warm water (70F+) and can handle the low levels of dissolved oxygen that come with it. Plus they're just all round tough-as-nails bastards that can put up with a good bit of abuse.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Alex, fishing is a multi faceted sport, which method (s) are you most interested in, that will determine which books I head you towards.
Thanks! For a while, it was mostly just trying to figure out where to start. Luckily I was able to find myself a intermediately skilled fishing companion that helped me get started. My overall goal is to catch and eat some bluegill this year, so my interest is mostly catching fish to supplement my diet. I'm thinking bluegill, catfish, and maybe carp if I can get a good recipe. Anything that's in abundance and easy to catch.
I've been fishing a few times as a kid, but never really on my own and we never really caught to eat. I've been wanting to get some fishing knowledge under my belt; does anybody have any favorite books or resources for fishing?
I take it you are outdoors? I would say root temperature is the more important factor rather than the ambient air temperature when it comes to growing plants, so using a water heating element will help you keep plants with warmer temperature requirements if that's what you're looking for. It all depends on what Asheville's winter temps are like and what plants you are looking to grow.
From what I remember, aquatic creatures that are cold blooded don't often harbor pathogens and diseases that affect warm blooded mammals. Usually contaminations such as e.coli or salmonella occur when the food has come into contact with infected material post-harvest.
Something that I think is important to keep in mind is that square footage is a just a number.. I've been in non-"tiny" houses that feel cramped and crowded (narrow hallways, fractured room layout, plus a lot of junk laying around) and "tiny" houses that feel twice as large as their sq. footage would lead to you think they would feel. It's all in the design.
By the way, there's a magical tiny house design that allows you to maximize your space while still getting some privacy...it's called earplugs
Erica Wisner wrote:I use sea chanteys and railroad songs - "Eddystone Light" at least has a "roll" in the chorus, and one good use of cob-stomping songs is to get people to stop stomping on the chorus, and flip the batch already.
I demonstrated for a musician one time to see if he thought of anything with the right pace, and "Mustang Sally" is what he came up with.
Still hoping for delivery of a special cob-stomping song commissioned from Sharla and Evan the ants.
Also a huge fan of the sea shanties...I used to drive my family crazy trying to get them to sing with me.
There's a great Johnny Collins collection cd called "Shanties and Songs of the Sea" that's nearly impossible to find now....there's only a few on Amazon, and they're sold by people trying to make $100 off of it. I got lucky and found a decently priced copy. If you want, I can email you a OneDrive link so you can give the album a listen
Just a quick note about indoor grows: the mycelium could outpace the mold, but it won't destroy it. The mold spores will still be around, and floating in the air. If you or any housemates start to notice respiratory problems, you may want to toss it outside ASAP. Trichoderma is a common contaminate and fairly harmless, but black mold (Stachybotrys) can cause some lasting health damage.
I don't mean to scare you, just want to give you a heads up! Let me know how it turns out!
If he's having respiratory problems, I'd sooner point to the sheer amount of spores those oyster mushrooms can produce Those mushroom are ridiculously good at their job!
Alan Clashman wrote:Thanks. I am thinking of cleaning everything off the flow table. Washing and setting the rafts outside for a couple of days to freeze. Then use an organic soap on the plants in dirt
Thanks for the idea will look into that
Always great tiger advise from others
That should help. Spinosad is also USDA Organic, in case you weren't already aware of that.
Lauren Magnolia wrote:Forgive my npk slip. Thanks for correction. I should have thought about the hydroxide pH affect. I can understand the iron and mag salt but aren't there dangerous levels of the other things for the fish we don't want to poison ourselves..
I'm looking for something to add to the system as an element of the ecosystem. I like A,ponics for the fact it works togethe as a guild... But that's why other plants aren't doing well for others I presume.
I used washed lake gravel, crushed limestone, and lava rock in my system grew outstanding bush beans maters and rooted all sorts of berries and a rose. Chamomile did fine. Basil fantastic. Etc.... So I then wonder did I get .k. From my lava rock ? Is that rock phosphate? Also... My fish ere guppies. I fed them tropical fish food. Maybe we could look at food input for fish more for nutrient output?
I'm under the impression that if you're using potassium hydroxide to maintain your pH (which will be naturally declining over time due to the acid from the nitrification process, assuming your water's kH levels aren't too high) and feeding your fish on the regular, then you should pretty much be getting all the potassium you need.
All I'm saying is that if your plants are showing signs that they are not getting enough potassium, then don't dose extra potassium hydroxide since it will drive your pH up. Save potassium emergency measures for potassium silicate, or something similar to that.
It can be difficult to knock out larger infestations of thrips with predatory insects. As far as dealing with anything more significant than the occasional pre-established pest that wanders into your greenhouse, ladybugs are mostly useless in that regard. I recommend removing any heavily infesteed plans, getting yourself a bottle of Amblyseius cucumeris, and perhaps topping it off with some slow-release packets as a preventative measure.
Lauren Magnolia wrote:Wondering how one might boost the'P' factor on the fishwater. ... Woodash for the Potassium hydroxide? How much?? What about micro nutrients? Are Ever they needed in aquaponics?
I think you mean the "K" factor, right?
Potassium hydroxide works great, but you'll likely find yourself using it for general maintenance, as using enough to dose for a potassium deficiency would skyrocket your pH levels. Most aquaponic growers find that starting with groundwater, and then keeping your pH up with calcium carbonate (or hydroxide) and potassium bicarbonate (or hydroxide) does the job.
If I'm finding that the above general maintenance method isn't providing enough potassium, I like to supplement my K levels with potassium silicate, as it adds potassium and also soluble silicone to your system, which helps strengthen your plant's cell structure and guard against powdery mildew.
Alex, I wonder if you had a small ceiling fan, if that would help remove the the
pool of heat at ceiling level? With your loft sleeping arrangement, I can imagine
not wanting to crank the heat up too much since heat rises, so having a mass
down where the heater is located would be smart.
An idea would be to have a exterior insulating barrier for your bottom side of
your tiny house. A fairly cheap idea is strawbales, stacked two high. I also
saw this radiant barrier that might be added to the bottom side of your tiny
house. Radiant Barrier
I've been thinking about putting in a ceiling fan. We've thought about using straw bales, but it's really too much of a fire hazard. We skirted with 1" foamboard insulation over the summer in preparation for winter.
Our space heater is the sole source of winter heat for our tiny house (besides the oven, warm water, and body heat). I'd like to improve it's efficiency by adding in some thermal mass above the heater. What materials and shapes would be great to use?
If you find yourself in need of nutrients, I've found water soluble kelp powder to be a great amendment. I've also used actively aerated compost tea to supplement nutrients and introduce new microbes to my system.
Eggshells are fine for aquaponics, although I've found they keep the pH a little too high for my taste. I'm starting to prefer running my system at 6.0-6.4. Seems the lower I swing my pH, the better everything does
Before we figure out what supplements work best, I'd like to ask about your source water. Are you using city, well, or rainwater? Well water, for example, is usually quite hard, and won't usually need added calcium or potassium (you'll find yourself going through more acid instead). Rainwater will need to have calcium and potassium supplemented regularly in some form.
I also would mention that lime juice is a "no-no" when it comes to aquaponics. We're building a system that thrives on bacteria and lime juice is anti-bacterial and therefore counter-productive.
I would say no to the snails, I've heard they can become a tad invasive and clog plumbing. Crayfish do fine in aquaponics systems (I'm not sure how they behave in the same tank as the fish), they'll eat up some of the extra solids.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining a growbed to fishtank ratio (amount of fish and how much they're being fed, how many plants you have, what kind of plants, etc.), but I'd say you could get at least two extra growbeds to run off of your current fish tank.
If I'm remembering correctly, a radial flow filter helps to remove solids from your system, not break them down. It fully depends on what kind of system you want to run. I like to default to keeping my solids contained in my system (why waste extra nutrients?). If you're looking for something to help break down fish solids, have you looked into introducing composting redworms (Eisenia fetida) to your media beds?
I've been adapting my personal gardens to be more permaculture-y for a few years now. I'm familiar with most of the core concepts. I've been allotted a 10'x10' lot for a small community project. The lot is all grass that was part of a lawn. To my knowledge it hasn't been fertilized or sprayed for at least a year, just mowed. I haven't had a chance to check out the soil, but I assume I'm working with mostly clay, probably very little topsoil.
This is the first time I've had a mostly clean slate to work with in a while, so I thought I'd get some opinions and ideas on preparing the soil for a vegetable garden from scratch. I'm planning on sheet composting this fall and over the winter and beginning planting in the spring.
What methods and steps do you guys like to use for converting grassy lawn into a beautiful garden?
One thing that comes to mind is that the worm's digestive tract multiplies bacteria, but not fungi, so vermicompost tends to be rather bacteria based and contains few fungi (at least, when comparing it to other compost).
My two cents: I disagree with the idea that money inherently brings trouble. Money is power and power exaggerates the condition of the heart, so I would say that the hearts of the people are the problem, not the cash.
I think that in order to replace consumerism with sustainability, you need wealth. And you need to know how to use it properly.
How are we supposed to take over the world if we don't have any money?
David Goodman wrote:Since a lot of the traditional sources of scavenge-able material (hay, straw, manure) are now contaminated with long-term herbicides and other toxins, I definitely agree that growing high-biomass plants is a wise choice. I've planted trees I can coppice (various nitrogen fixers, Paulownia, mulberry, sweet gum) as well as fast-growing perennials such as Tithonia diversifolia.
That wouldn't work in your area; however, their cousin Jerusalem artichokes make a lot of biomass and compost readily. As a bonus, they're edible. Chapter 10 of my book is titled "Grow Your Own Compost." You've got the right idea.
And I agree on nettles. Very nutritious for you and the soil.
Jerusalem artichokes are a great idea. I've been thinking about growing some zone 5 bamboo varieties for mulching as well. Thanks!
Google dictionary defines "fertilizer" as "a chemical or natural substance added to soil or land to increase its fertility". It also defines organic as "of, relating to, or derived from living matter". Sticking by those two definitions, organic fertilizers don't necessarily have to contribute to the problem of runoff; you can simply rely on organic inputs that aren't water soluble and limit the use of ones that are. But since these non-water-soluble, organic inputs to your garden (read: plants, manure, compost, etc.) typically attract beneficial microbes to your soil, then it sort of becomes apparent that instead of "organic" vs "non-organic", or "good soil" vs. "bad", the real contrast seems to be farming with a reliance on "water-soluble" vs "non-water soluble" inputs.
So what are the differences between water-soluble, organic fertilizers and water-soluble, chemical fertilizers? I believe the main difference is that water-soluble, organic fertilizers release their nutrients at a slower rate than chemical fertilizers, which makes for a less dramatic impact on the environment they're introduced to. Water-soluble, organic fertilizers also have less of a negative impact on soil microorganisms. I would say the long term effects of using water-soluble, orgnaic fertilizers in the same way we use chemical fertilizers would be pretty much the same in terms of runoff, disrupting balance, and causing algae blooms. It may leave a few living soil microorganisms in our fields though.
Question for David (but everybody feel free to chip in):
I feel like I never have access to a level of organic material that would match the level of my composting enthusiasm. Do you have any favored sources for bringing in some extra materials in bulk? Do you ever grow materials for composting?
There are two types of bamboo: running and clumping. Running bamboo is difficult to contain without burying shields in the ground to head off the runners. Clumping bamboo grows in a patch and is less invasive.
I'm also curious about using bamboo for cleaning gray water. Also, does anybody know of any cold tolerant varieties (zone 5a) that grow larger than 1/2" in diameter?