Hard yakka today! (and probably tomorrow).
I replaced the floating rafts bed in the bioponics garden with media. Why? Some of my favourite veggies like Kale and Spinach don’t like the watery environment and don’t thrive when their feet are too wet all of the time. Those in the media bed next to this are rocking and get the same water and nutrients, roughly the same light and are on the same cycle of water but the bed drains periodically, allowing a relatively dry spell a couple of times a day. This seems to do the trick.
Now that I’ve gone vegetarian for a while, I need more leafy greens and the raft bed, while doing OK wasn’t as productive as the media bed next door for the same amount of space.The plants that grew best there were Pak Choy and Celery. The season for Pak Choy is nearly over and We have heaps of celery growing elsewhere.
There is another problem too that this change resolves. Last year, the tomatoes in our main system got blight rather badly. This means that I can’t plant Tommies into those beds for a couple of years. In fact I can’t plant them anywhere in that system because the spores world have circulated through the whole thing.
With the new media in today’s bed, I can grow tomatoes and then plant out the other system with greens. This one is deep enough to hold the larger root systems of things like Tomatoes and Capsicum. Win Win!
I usually like a mix of 50/50 expanded clay balls and scoria (all well washed, of course). But today when I went to by the balls, they have shot up in price by 50%!
This bed is quite deep anyway and there was no way that I could afford to fill it completely at that price so I thought of a solution – I have plenty of ice cream containers from Boost Juice Gawler, so I made a kind of false floor with them after making a few holes in the tubs to prevent big bubbles of air becoming trapped in them.
I didn’t want to trim the bed itself to make it any shallower because the wooden frame and supports and the plumbing were already in place and it would have been a big job to rejig it. Substituting extra scoria instead of clay balls to make up the difference allowed me to get it up to scratch.
The biggest part of this changeover is the washing of the clay balls and scoria. Both of these things are covered in fine, red/brown dust. You never get rid of all of it as it is as much a product of the pieces crumbling as it is dust picked up during the packaging. It can clog filters and pumps if not removed before adding it to the beds. Eventually it will be filtered out or settle into nooks and crannies in the system. You’ve just got to do the best that you can.
I added about 30% new rain water let it cycle through for a day to get the microbes from the old water throughout the bed and its away we go. There was a be a big shift in pH too, which affects plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. It went as low as 4.9 ,which is quite acidic and way below what the plants like. I’ll raise it over the next couple of days with some bicarb soda.
Now I’m off to soak my tired muscles in a hot bath (with radox of course)!