The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Aquaponic nitrogen consumption

Water testing

My aquaponics experiment is a slippery slope. I started out with easy herbs transplanted out of the garden (plus a few daffodils for color), and all they needed was the tiniest of fluorescent lights overhead. But as the ammonia got converted to nitrite and the nitrite to nitrate, I realize the error of my ways --- herbs aren't hungry enough to use up all of the nitrogen in my tank.

Seed-sprouting in an aquaponics grow bed

So I've added some greedier plants, starting these from seed because I don't have any heavy feeders in the garden at the moment. Cucumbers and summer squash, plus some basil and parsley to round out my herbs.

But the writing is already on the wall. These summer beauties will be glad to suck up the excess nitrogen...but they're gonna need more light. And so the cycle continues....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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The nitrite level suggests the tank is not yet completely cycled. There was a huge up front dose of urea which hasn't been completely converted to nitrate yet. Ongoing your nitrogen input will be much lower. A nice bushy bunch of herbs should be enough to keep the nitrates in check once they've had a chance to consume the initial nitrogen load. A moderately planted 10gallon of aquatic plants can consume the typical nitrate input pretty effectively. Terrestrial plants that are not being limited by carbon the way aquatic plants are, will likely consume even more nitrogen.
Comment by ScottS Sat Jan 21 14:15:23 2017

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