a glob of nerd­ish­ness

Something(s) to do while we are waiting

published by natevw on Subscribe

The greenhouse aquaponics project has been going well.

Greenhouse from the outside

Not without a few hiccups (my first water pump slowed to a trickle and needed exchanging, and a GFCI breaker has cut off power to the pumps twice^Wthrice over the month) but as of this morning all 14 fish were still swimming happily enough in the tank. As is typical, the water ammonia levels rose (over 1ppm) until the first set of nitrifying bacteria blossomed and are well caught up converting it all to nitrites (2–5ppm).

Colored water samples in test tubes

My nitrates had started going up (from 10–20ppm on day one to the 40–80ppm range now) but are now lagging a bit — I'm a little nervous that a relatively small top-off with water straight from the spigot set the next stage of bacteria back a bit, but OTOH it could just be that the grow bed is keeping up with the nourishment as soon as it's ready and the ecosystem might just need another week before the nitrites finish moving over into the next test tube, just as the ammonia suddenly did.

Time takes time

Basically, at a certain point the system stopped needing daily research and setup and tweaking, and just needed time. At said point my ADHD brain went into a state of near-panic. What do you mean everything's "going well"?! There's nothing to stay up late reading about if everything's "going well"!!


A little duckweed in a little leftover tub Testing the temperature of another duckweed growing attempt

So I bought some duckweed off eBay.


Larvae squirming in their tub

And some Black Soldier Fly Larva. (Pupae really.)

Learned all about the pond scum and the creepy crawlies — essentially both species are great for turning leftover yuckies into delicious chicken/fish food — for a week or so. Why is the duckweed sitting there turning white instead of multiplying exponentially? What environment do the motile pupae prefer for their presto change-o thing?

Then realized that I was back to waiting.

Wicking beds

So…wicking beds.

Wicking bed in progress, perforated drainage and pea gravel providing structure in builder's plastic water reservoir Wicking bed ready for dirt, fabric over gravel

I'd happened across this idea while researching aquaponics growing techniques. Growing up in Midwest humidity, it was still baffling me just how quickly water disappears and plants dry up here in eastern Washington. Our original garden beds had succumbed to grass and needed refreshing anyway. Three of the four dug out and installed so far.

Meanwhile my wife has been busy sprouting…


Greenhouse plants, not pictured: six tomatoes also added in recently

A growbed and a whole package of paper cups full of little plants. We've got a backyard map, sketching out the master plan. Did I say "plan"? What I mean is, if we sprout it we'll have to let it grow somewhere right?

In summary, by "going well" I mean we may have gotten a little carried away with this whole suburban agriculture thing.

Other news? I've been working to get PeerPouch (PouchDB-over-WebRTC) to demo so that I can get back to my wireless sensor/yogurt maker network plans.

And just signed a contract to write a book about D3.js.

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