Some Flourish One Survived Others Die

squash-cayenneSadly, the squash plants on the right had mostly died off except one that is still surviving. The leaves were never really showing the potential, but I thought by transplanting into the aquaponic boxes they might grow better. Instead they died. I pulled the dead plants up and observed that the roots had not grown and the root system was not large enough to get enough nutrient from the environment. Well, one lesson learned – check the roots before any more transplant in future.

koi fish after 2 weeks
koi fish after 2 weeks

On the other hand the Koi fish have taken to the new environment with delight. Perhaps it’s the number of times we, me my partner and my son, fed them in the last two weeks – over feeding – they have obvious growth in size since their arrival. They have taken to understand that if sight of human appears in the surface they should swim to the surface to wait for abundant food. Usually their feeding habit is that they will snatch 3-4 large chunk of feed and then swim below to digest before coming back to the surface to finish off the rest of the floating feed.

The water in the system is all clear now. The muddy silt has sunk to the bottom of the sump tank. The PH has decreased to about 7.35 (from 7.8) as it supposed to. The ammonia level also reduced from the initial introduction of the fish of 1 ppm back down to 0.25 ppm.     I have replaced the dead squash plants with more cayenne and aubergine. so I am seeing a lot of pepper in my future.

“Move Earth” Says the Chinese Almanac

The Chinese Almanac, which our agricultural ancestors had use throughout the last two thousand years to give advice about planting, has indicated the last two days would be auspicious days for “moving earth” and “start trading”. It’s so happened that these are the wettest days of the month, up to 95% humidity, and you can almost swim in the air. The plants are surviving the dampness, but they do need the sun to expose itself otherwise they will suffocate and die. This is the time I really believe an indoor garden is better for the growing then the outdoor ones. With my portable growing boxes, this is exactly what I will do and taking some of the plants indoor to the warmer and dryer atmosphere to let them have some air.

Endiveplants grown in different media.

The endive that I have transplanted about 4 weeks ago from seedlings are doing fine. The ones that are growing in perlite (珍珠岩) are growing at least 30% biggest than the ones I have planted in compost alone or half compost and half perlite. For this batch of plants I am growing them in a HypoNex high-grade solution that is diluted 1,000 times. I use the measuring cap supplied and used only half of the small cap and dissolve the nutrient in a 2 litre bottle that was recycled from used orange juice container. The nutrient is changes every week or so and the boxes that contain the nutrient are scrubbed and washed with dishwashing liquid.

Living outside the urban area is actually more challenging with the growing environment as there are more insects and pests to deal with on a day-to-day basis. This morning I’ve found a couple of fat green caterpillars munching on my Choi Sum leaves. They are promptly deported to our neighbour’s plot. Well, they don’t really grow anything there so it’s no harm for the green friends to have some dust for breakfast.

So, to follow the suggestion of the almanac, I thought I should plant some seeds to mark the wettest days of the month, or the year, who knows?

Zucchini Flower Opens Today

The seed for this plant was sewn on 3 December last year in a propagator. Each pod was filled by perlit in the base about 1 cm high and then filled up with scientific compose I bought from the Flower Market.

The seedling popped up about 1 week later and by early January it was strong enough so I transplanted the seedling into a pot and raised it in a hydroponic unit.

Last night when I come home, I saw the flower about to open and was hoping that it will this morning. I am not disappointed. Too bad though, dispite it’s about 19C outside it’s raining and so the bees are not working today. I would need more flowers opening anyway to pollinate this plant.

Quickly, I must work, to get the hydroponic bench built and automatic drip pump working.

Actually, since my last report, there’s more salad and flower seedlings coming online to be transplanted. It’s going to be a bountiful season if we continue this pace.

Jocelyn and Ewout on their rooftop garden

On a different note, I went to visit Jocelyn and Ewout last week and had an interesting tour of their rooftop garden. They are participants of the Slow Food Hong Kong movement.

Ewout uses an organic compost bought from the market and grow from seeds sprinkled on the compost. With the richness of the compost and the perfect sunny position on the roof the seedlings are having a wild party out there. Without a doubt, I shall be paying a return visit to their home in a couple of months to sample the deliciously grown products. 

I am particularly impressed that after our conversation, when I told Ewout that I do regularly visit the refuse center near home to savage material to build growing boxes, he actually went out with me to shop at the “bargain basement”. Low and behold, he’s found two discarded plastic shelf units in the waste collection center.

With a couple of holes in the bottom of each drawer for drainage, I said, you can grow even more goodies. Oh, I forgot to add, perhaps a coat of paint too to make each box more interesting. It is truly, “One person’s garbage can be another’s treasure.”