My hydroponics systems are producing at a satisfying level but, it’s time to ramp things up a bit, so I’ve invested in a Bluelab Truncheon…and a pH tester. 

The Truncheon measures nutrient strength…and the pH tester (not surprisingly) measures the pH of the nutrient solution…and it’s the pH that determines nutrient availability to the plants.  

The Truncheon got its first workout earlier this week. It showed that the nutrient level in the seedling propagator was inside the recommended range but that the level for the NFT and gravel systems were on the lower limit. Based on this information, I added more nutrient to the reservoir.  I love this device already.

Food production got off to a slow start this year but I resolved to make it the main priority – and we’re at full throttle currently.  We’ve got 72 NFT holes filled with pak choi, silverbeet and a few strawberry runners.  Another 4m2 of hydroponic grow beds is full of kangkong and silverbeet – and another 30m2 of wicking beds are growing pak choi, silverbeet, Russian comfrey, pinto peanut and a mix of edible herbs.

I receive frequent questions about iAVs’ performance around things like annual fish production, plant spacings, water use efficiency and the relationship between fish feed and plant production.  While I can recall most of the key numbers, I’m always a bit hesitant to quote them off the top of my head – so I’m inclined to want to check them for accuracy before committing myself.  The problem with this is that the metrics are spread throughout several documents – and finding them can burn up some time.

To make the task easier, I’ve put them all together in a single document.  There are others that are still awaiting discovery among Mark’s responses to various blog comments and they’ll be added as they come to hand.

One of the things, about which I’ve wondered, is why people are so attracted to aquaponics.  I don’t mean the often quoted benefits – like reduced water use, faster plant growth and the non-use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.  They’re frequently cited by newcomers to the discipline, but they’re generally a rationale rather than the key attraction.  Anyway, I wrote a very brief article on what I think attracts people to aquaponics.

I’ve just discovered ‘food swap meets’…local gatherings where people who grow food swap their surplus with other growers for food items that they don’t have.  Great idea!