I figured a general update of how our garden is growing would be nice (and no, we aren't using silver bells and cockle shells).
The peas have all sprouted and are about 2 inches tall. We'll be putting in a trellis soon so that they can start climbing. The salad greens are all sprouted, but they've been having a hard time (the neighborhood cats have taken to digging in the bed of greens). To solve the problem we've put down a remay cover. We've found that with works two-fold, stopping the cats as well as our chickens from scratching up our tender greens.
Overall, we've had amazing success with seed germination rates! Every thing we've planted from seed has sprouted (which means we've had to do a lot of thinning and separating already).
The starts we have indoors are getting quite large too! The tomato plants have a couple sets of real leaves each, as do the cucumbers. The watermelon starts seem to be having some trouble, although we think it may just be that they needed more soil to sink their roots into. We've moved them to larger pots (out of the starter tray) and hopefully they should rebound nicely. We separated all the basils and parsley and chervil. It looks like we'll have an overabundance of these this summer!
In other news:
We were gifted some new shoots of raspberry. The owner doesn't know what variety they are aside from being an old vine raspberry. She reports that they yield lots of good sized berries that are very red and sweet.
I'm also planning a potted olive guild. I decided to plant an olive tree in the middle with tomato and basil around it and nasturtium and pole bean trailing over the side of the pot.
I'm also interested in an article I read today in the "Aprovecho" fall/winter 2009 newsletter. It was on a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) as part of their aquaponics greenhouse they've built. I've included a diagram and picture of their set-up here (taken from their newsletter).
They have it set up so that there are 2 tanks with a 1220 gallon total capacity. They plan to raise 1200 tilapia in it (tilapia needs about 1 gallon of water each to grow in). The water is pumped out and completely exchanged every hour with the water being piped to the top tray of their filtration system. It runs the length of the tray, or 68', through gravel before dropping into the second set of trays where it runs back through and other 68' of gravel and then into the tanks again. The gravel trays are used to grow duckweed and water hyacinth to remove the nutrients (fish poop and nitrates) from the water so that what gets put back into the tanks is clean water. They plan on using the duckweed to feed the tilapia. The entire system loses a minimal amount of water to evaporation and is otherwise a closed system. As an added use, they have put in another water tray that they will use to grow produce for themselves in.