Today didn’t work out exactly as I expected.
What was supposed to be a quick trim of the Carrot Herbs (Aethionema cordifolium)
in bed 4 of the aquaponics turned into a complete clean out for that bed and number 5.
What could the problem be? Over Winter, the lush growth of the Carrot Herbs hid a nasty secret.
Below the surface, deep in the media, roots and rhizomes had been multiplying and spreading throughout the scoria and clay balls.
As I pulled out one plant, a kilo or so of roots and media came out with it. I probed and poked and found a dense mat underlying it all. Ouch!
Rhizomes and shoots had spread through the Water Parsley and set down their own roots.
These plants are also called ‘Lebanese Cress’ and are a plant that never stops growing. Maybe that should have been a warning.
So I dug and pulled and removed and rinsed until every bit of plant and root that I could see were out. Of course, there’s a stack of tiny bits in the bed still. I just hope they don’t produce new plants.
The Bell Siphon was clogged but, luckily, the roots hadn’t spread onto the drain pipe. That could have been a disaster but fortunately, water was still flowing.
I took advantage of this change of plans and the disturbance I had made in the bed and disconnected the drain and ran a couple of flood and drain cycles, flushing out a lot of sediment and organic material.
One unexpected bonus of this unplanned clean out was that I found a whole bunch of baby Slugs in the shelter of the plants and media. I don’t need to tell you what happened to them!
This was so successful that I did the same to bed 5 where the Kangkong was and will go again soon.
I’d let the Kangkong overwinter just in case it could grow back but no luck. So I did the same as bed 4 and cleaned out root material and flushed the bed a couple of times into a bucket.
Not to be wasteful – that drain water is chock full of nutrients from two seasons of growth so that went onto the potted trees near the aquaponics system.
Then something else caught my eye. In the filter that strained the water from the pipe above the beds were lots of little snail shells. Oh no!
Snails are generally not good for an aquaponics system as they breed fast and clog pipes, filters and, worst of all, pumps.
So I drained that and checked. Sure enough, lots of snails and eggs. Bugger! That pipe came down and was flushed. Now it’s sitting on the roof waiting for a couple of days of full Sun and heat to kill them off.
I checked other pipes at random but they were clean. I must have caught the potential snail plague early.
By the end of the day, I was pretty tired and cooked by the Sun. I figured it was time to give the plants a little relief and removed the mirrors that sit behind the beds over Winter. Now the horizontal pipe bed had been removed, these were easy to take down.
I’m ready for a shower!