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 goes....well.....it 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! http://undergroundaquaponics.blogspot.com/2014/03/into-new-territory.html

7 comments:

  1. Ooooo! I'm going to try the plastic cup thingy! I like that idea to get the plants off to a strong start.

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    1. I put a tank heater in the water and cover the pond with 2" styrofoam. Then over just the 5 grow beds I make a room out of styrofoam with growlights. That's all I need to keep the whole system running. I do shut down the other side for about 4 months.

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  3. That sounds awesome! I can't wait to get started with mine. What kind of ventilation do you have for summer? I am thinking of installing a solar attic fan along with a solar fan on each end for summertime. I live in an area with alot of copperheads and am hoping i don't have them sneaking in and surprising me 😳

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    1. We have rattlesnakes here so I know about not wanting extra critters in there. I actually put a swamp cooler in ours for the summer. It turns on at a certain temp an off at another. Also, I would recommend adding some roof vents to let the heat escape. This thing does collect the heat in the summer. Adding a shade cloth also helps. However, the swamp cooler was by far the best thing all around that made everything better and happy.

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  4. We are just drawing up our plans for our Walipini and will hopefully be digging in the next few weeks. One question I have....how do you pollinate in the walipini? Our friends with greenhouses simply open their doors to the bees but I don't see this as being effective in the walipini. I enjoy reading about your journey, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Actually in the spring and summer I do leave the doors open and the bees LOVE to come in and do their job! I also will help out with an extra small paint brush to be sure, however they do make their way in there. I will forewarn you though...by leaving the doors open with nothing in front such as a screen you will get other critters other than bees. Some are okay! I've had butterflies & little birds. Other things not so much like cats, big birds (which will eat your fish if they are smaller, and so will the cats), flies, wasps, spiders and so on. I will say though if you have a screen over the door it makes it hotter in the Walipini. I just left my doors open and dealt with the extra critters. I put up fly traps, wasp catchers AND I will tell you there is 2 things that you can do that can help you if you start early in the spring to cut down on the "other" bugs and pest. 1 is right as the grass and weeds are starting to come up make sure that there is NO grass or weeds in or around your Walipini. That included right under the tarp and the contact of the ground. That is a breading ground magnetic and if you have a weed up there is a beautiful home for them. 2 about once a week I make a solution of a peppermint oil water in a small weed sprayer and spay away. Fill the sprayer with water to the fill line and add maybe 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil to it and go. Spray Everything! Doors, Windows, Under the tarp area where the bug magic happens, the sides of your grow beds, you can spray it on the outside as well and even your house. If you get it on your plants no worries. It won't harm them. This is proven helper to help fight off spider mites among other things that could possibility show up in there. Best of luck and thank you so much for asking such a great question!

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