Saturday, October 1, 2016

Walipini with Aquaponics Growing Season

I'm sure most of you wonder "How long is the growing season in a Walipini?" Well, that depends on a number of things. For example: the winter conditions you had that season, the cover you have on the top, the depth of the walipini are just to name a few. I can grow all year round in mine, HOWEVER....I do have to make some modifications to do so. We live in Northern Colorado so our climate is cold here in the winter. If I chose not to make the modifications then my growing season would be around 9 to 10 months. Still not bad. I thought I would post some photos of what I have growing as of today right now Oct. 1st. It has been chilly here at nights and my outside plants have all died and most of the trees have lost their leaves.
Beautiful Cantaloupe and yes this is in my aquaponics system!

Flowering Jalapeno
Early this year I had an unplanned back surgery and wasn't able to really get in and get a good start like normal to my growing season. That being said, I was able to go down and just throw seeds at will and said what grows will grow. Normally this is not how I start my plants. It is harder to get them to start for sure. The way this system is set up the water just doesn't reach the top of the media to reach the smaller seeds to germinate them (unless you hand water the media). To my surprise, I actually had quite a few plants grow and the little seeded ones too. Yes!!! I normally start them in dirt just like everyone else. Just when they have a root system about an 1" to 2" I will take them out of the dirt and move them to the system. I will then put a clear plastic party cup over each plant to help insulate the plant and give it a little more warmth and humidity. They usually have no problem and take off from there. This way its nice because I'm able to put my plants where I want them. As far as this year was a jungle down there at times!
We currently are still producing tomatoes. Even have some red ones that were just picked. However, these tomato plants are starting to get the winter blues. It won't be long and I will start to pluck these plants and turn the media. Since I have 15 grow beds I usually shut down 10 of them for the winter and keep 5 of them running. This helps with the heating bill. I do have to heat that area. Its too cold...and not to mention if you are trying to keep the optimum nitrification levels in  your water, then you will need to keep your water above 55 degrees F as well. Otherwise you will be starting the whole start up process over of cycling your tank and system. Fun, Fun! Over the 5 grow beds I usually just make a simple little makeshift room out of Styrofoam, add some grow lights over the beds (these provide enough heat for the plants) and your done. I also put a layer of  Styrofoam over the pond (from edge to edge) with a fish tank heater inside the pond. The reason I cover the pond is the condensation. (I will cover this in another blog post) Plus this also helps hold in the heat to the pond and not the Walipini. 

With all the stuff I have gone through with mine its so nice still and I still love it. During the weather its really been a blessing to have had such a stable thing to protect my plants. We had a huge hail storm in early august here and lots of people lost a lot of crops. My walipini weathered the storm like a champ and the top of my walipini had no damage. I have also been enjoying all the people contacting me about their New Walipini's and Aquaponics Systems that they are setting up. It's so cool to see that everyone has something to offer. I look forward to hearing from all of you! Thanks for reading! 

New Seedlings started
The Start of the Walipini back in the day!