A Fish Called Wanda

It always starts out easily enough. I’ll say “You know, it would be nice if….” ….and then he takes it from there. “A deck,” I say….a deck he builds. “A bigger bathtub,” I muse….he remodels the bathroom. “A closet for my bedroom” I opine…..and double wide closets are installed.

This time, it was “Perhaps we need to think about a aquaponics garden.” Aquaponics is the system of using fish ponds to fertilize plants which are grown in PVC tubes through which the fishwater is pumped. The roots of the plants take up the nutrients, thus cleaning the water, which is then pumped back to the fishpond.

There was an old greenhouse on the property when we bought it. There is a large fenced garden area. Neither has been of much use. We have been entirely unsuccessful in growing any vegetables. The dirt is alkaline, often nematode infested, and when the rains fall (which they usually do daily) the drops knock off any blossoms, or drown the plants. We tried growing in the greenhouse, which proved to be too hot, and there was no easy water supply for watering.

Well. (Picture Jack Benny here with hand slapping cheek…..) DH took my “perhaps we should….” and ran with it.  He built a 300 gallon fish tank outside the greenhouse, ran the pipes into the greenhouse and plumbed PVC tubes for lettuce, herbs and spinach,  added drains, pumps, valves, bubblers, airstones, connected them to a second 80 gallon tank for growing larger veggies (beans, tomatoes, peppers), tied it all to a third 80 gallon tank for overflow, then more tubes and pumps to run the water back outside to the fishtank. He trenched a conduit from the greenhouse up the hill to the pump house, thus providing a ready water supply.

Our neighbor up the street has a commercial aquaponic system, and she sold us a few fish (tilapia) in order to get us started. Of the six we started with, 2 died within a day, and DH spent the next week worrying about the others.  The dark tank with darker water made it difficult to see if the fish were alive.

Last week I caught DH standing on a ladder, staring into the fishtank.  He had the same silly grin on his face that he had the first time he held our newborn son. He was watching his babies swim contentedly in the pool.  He watched them eat voraciously  (a good sign of fish health!)

And yesterday we returned from a mainland trip. The first place we went on arriving home (um, after the bathroom, that is…) was to the greenhouse.

WOOT!!!!!!!! :

I got flowers on my ‘maters! And beans!  And cukes!  And almost eatable lettuce!