Rafts, Net Pots, Air, and Flowers

Yesterday, we started some flowers and more veggies in the aquaponic grow bed.  What a beautiful sight.

To prepare for all of these new additions, we drilled 2″ and 3″ holes in three more rafts.  The new raft with 3″ holes has a slightly different pattern and fewer holes (32 vs 53) than the first one we made.  You can see the difference in the photo above.  The first raft is on the far right side and the latest one is the second from the left.  This change makes the raft much stronger and less likely to break when we lift it out of the grow bed.

We added net pots that were filled with flower seeds and many of the veggies we listed in another post.  Now we have a total of five planted rafts in the grow bed…only four more to go.

So far we have experimented with the following media:

Hydroton only
Sure To Grow (STG) in the bottom and Hydroton on top

This time we filled the net pots with Hydroton in the bottom and Sure to Grow on top.

Empty 3" Net Pot

3" Net Pot with Hydroton

Then seeds were placed on top of the STG and more STG was placed on top of the seeds.

Net Pot with Hydroton, Sure To Grow,
and Florence Fennel Seeds

...and a little more Sure To Grow on top of the seeds

This combination was very easy to use.  When small seeds were placed on the STG they didn’t fall out of the Hydroton like they did when they were place directly on the Hydroton.  After the STG was placed over the seeds, we sprinkled the entire net pot with fish water.  This protects them from birds and sun, holds them in place so the seeds don’t fall out of the pot when it’s handled, and maintains a moist environment so the seeds will germinate quickly.

The photos above also show the latest change to the germination table.  We placed some nursery trays on the germination-table liner and then covered the trays with a plastic screen.  Our local garden store was throwing the trays away, so we got them for a great price . . . FREE!

We have also added a Tetra Whisper AP300 air pump for the grow bed.

This pump has two outlets for air lines, which allows us to place an air stone in the beginning and middle of the grow bed.  This should keep the water well oxygenated, which will help prevent root rot.  They will also maintain a high level of dissolved oxygen in the water for the plants and the fish, especially the mosquito fish and rosy-red minnows that we will soon add to the grow bed.

Here’s a list of the flower seeds we planted yesterday.  All of these were purchased from VictorySeeds.com:

African Marigolds, Crackerjack Mix
Bachelor Buttons, Dwarf Cornflower
Coreopsis, Plains
Daisies – Garland, Gloriosa
Godetias, Dwarf
Nasturtiums, Dwarf ‘Alaska Mix’
Rocky Mountain Bee Plants
Yarrow, Gold

Pollinator Insect Wildflower Mix

Bachelor Button
Purple Coneflower
Lacy Phacelia
Crimson Clover
Red Clover
Mexican Hat
Plains Coreopsis
White Clover

Southeastern Wildflower Mix

White Yarrow
Siberian Wallflower
Shasta Daisy
Lance-leafed Coreopsis
Plains Coreopsis
Bright Lights
Larkspur Giant Imperial
Purple Coneflower
Annual Gaillardia
Annual Baby’s Breath
Dame’s Rocket
Tree Mallow
Scarlet Flax
Sweet Alyssum
Perennial Lupine
Lemon Mint
Dwarf Evening Pimrose
Corn Poppy
Annual Phlox Red
Clasping Coneflower
Black-eyed Susan

These flowers should attract beneficial insects such as honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and many others.  Hopefully a little extra pollination will result in plenty of plump vegetables and fewer nasty pests.

Wow!  It’s been a busy past few days.  Many thanks to everyone who helped!  We owe you some delicious Tilapia tacos and a giant bag of fresh veggies…and so much more.

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9 Responses to Rafts, Net Pots, Air, and Flowers

  1. I love wildflowers! I’ve started a few indoors (the traditional way). Eager to see how yours turn out!

  2. Looking good! Your spacing looks very close together – are you raising seedlings or raising plants to full size in the grow bed?

    • Spacing was an issue for me as well. I didn’t know how close to make the holes, so I decided to make the rafts dual purpose. When the plants get too close together, we’ll take some out and fill in the holes with the ‘doughnut holes’ that we saved. That way we can raise seedlings and plants without having to buy more DOW blue board. It may not work, but it’s worth a try. I would love to know what spacing and patterns you are using.

  3. Nicole Brait says:

    First, thanks for checking out my blog. Second, I think what you are doing is fantastic. I don’t know a ton about Aquaponics but from what I do know it seems like a great, sustainable, environmentally sound system. Not to mention a superb way to feed your family, and, like you said on your About Me page, to provide financially for your family and eventually teach others how to do the same.
    I am very impressed!

  4. kcwritermom says:

    I love your ideas! I have no clue as to what Auqaponic gardening is, but I want to learn more now. I am so enthralled with your blog. Thank you for visiting mine so I could follow you!!

  5. Jackie says:

    Where do you purchase the rafts from!? I am scouring the internet to no avail!

    • They aren’t easy to find. They weren’t available at the big-box stores, so we started calling companies that build or sell products for large refrigeration and freezers for restaurants. We eventually found them at Woolley & Company in Norcross, Georgia. Their number is 770-448-8473.

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