Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aquaponics in November in a Hoophouse in the PNW

I'm sure everyone is dying to know what's happening in an aquaponic hoophouse in November. You have questions like, "are the fish freezing?" "Are the tomatoes freezing?" "Did you take care of the moisture problem?" Things like that. So here I am to answer all your burning questions.

The fish are happy as clams. As you will recall, they were born shortly before July 18, 2012, so they are now almost exactly 4 months old. According to what we have been told, they should be ready to eat in 5 more months. They'd make a pretty small meal right now; most are about 4 inches long or so. They also could start making babies, even at a young age, but we haven't seen any yet. Though I'm not sure we would without a magnifying glass anyway.

They will not freeze as long as Jeff keeps stoking the fire that heats their water. He keeps their water temperature around 70 degrees, but they have had water temperatures as low as 60! They survive lower temperatures, but will stop eating, and, obviously, not grow as fast. And not poop, I might add, thus not feed the plants.

Everything in the greenhouse is growing very quickly and greenly - obviously there's a lot of nitrogen access to those roots! If you ever wondered what a tomato would look like if it could keep growing through the winter, well, I can say that they are a weed! They are winding everywhere. Exploding would be a good word. However, their fruit is ripening very slowly now, and there are fewer of them. I am guessing this is due to the reduced temperatures and reduced hours of daylight.

Today I was trying to trim them and string them and control them somehow - they are so unruly. My hair got caught in one of the fans and I fell into a White Currant tomato vine. So I took it out. White Currants aren't my favorite anyway. They're ok, and kind of interesting looking in a bowl of mixed small tomatoes (we have Chocolate, Sungold, White Currant, Jolly Elf Grape, and Sweet One Millions), but though they're sweet, they get soft quickly.
November 13, 2012  On the ground is the removed tomato plant with root system sitting on top

June 26, 2012 - these are the same tomatoes  on planting day. They were almost dead from waiting to  be planted.
We still have the moisture problem, but the moisture doesn't seem to be settling on the plants like it was.  Jeff put in more fans and covered the fish tanks. We still get "rained" on every time we bump the roof or close the door firmly, but the basil isn't rotting anymore. In fact, every plant looks very happy, like it's not even November!

So now you know everything you always wanted to know about an aquaponic hoophouse in November. :)