Beauty and the Beasts

The world is filled with opposites…good and bad…life and death…plants and bugs.

We do our best to embrace nature, love it for what it is, enjoy its beauty, and accept what we can’t change.  But when it comes to our auquaponic system, we try to control every aspect of our small ecosystem as much as possible.  If the pH of the water is not within a certain range, we add crushed coral to raise the pH or remove some of the water and replace it with fresh water to lower the pH.  If the solid wastes begin to build up too much, we add Gammarus to clean it up.  If the water temperature gets too low, we heat it up.

This has given us healthy plants, rapid growth, beautiful flowers, and delicious vegetables.

Unfortunately, when you have a lot of healthy plants, the bugs always seem to find them.  Our aquaponic system is no different.  At first we noticed that some leaves were getting holes in them, and then we discovered that there were some worms, beetles, and snails invading our system like it was an All-You-Can buffet.  BEASTS!!!

We tried to pick them off the leaves, squash them, and cover them in food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (aka, DE, diatomite, kieselguhr), but there were so many bugs infesting the greens that we felt it was better to pull out the most damaged plants and feed them to the fish and chickens…along with all of those bugs.

Are these flea beetles?

The Tilapia are hiding, as usual, but they ate all of this within a day.

“Hey, whatchya got there?”

“It’s mine!”   “No, it’s mine!”

Live and let live, unless you’re an evil bug.

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26 Responses to Beauty and the Beasts

  1. Bibliopharm says:

    Oh no! Your beautiful plants! At least the chickens and fish are happy.

  2. oldfangled says:

    We’re planning to do our aquaponics inside a greenhouse; I wonder if that will reduce the risk of getting bugs.

  3. Nicole Brait says:

    Even though you lost some plants it looks like you are still going to have a bountiful harvest.
    The chickens are so cute. And fresh eggs. Yum!

  4. grammomsblog says:

    It happens in every garden……welcome to the club!

  5. narf77 says:

    I guess you should take that as flattery? The bugs etc. must all think that your garden is the latest “Must eat here” joint in town! Looks like you started your own bug bistro pub! You will find that they all raced here because it’s new. After a while they will even out and the bug preditors will move in and deal with them making this a nice balanced ecosystem. Make a couple of pretty bug houses to put in your garden and encourage them in to stay and deal with your problems. For goodness sake IGNORE everyone that says “get ducks to deal with your snail and slug problems”. We have 2 ninja ducks that I must admit “will” eat snails and slugs if we hand pick them off the plants for them, but prefer the plants to the slugs and snails. Your silkies look hilarious. We were walking the dogs out in the countryside about a month or two back and noticed some hens in a field. One of them was a silky and you couldn’t see her eyes let alone most of her head. I don’t know how she didn’t end up banging into things! Your garden looks quite delicious and if I was a bug I dare say I would be hightailing it to your swingin’ hot spot right about now!

    • I guess we won’t need to put up a neon sign inviting all of the neighborhood bugs to our garden, because they’re already here. We just found an army of aphids on our pea plants, and a ladybug looked like she was sleeping right next to them. Maybe she was full already and needed time to digest the 500 aphids she ate today.

      Don’t worry, we won’t be getting ducks anytime soon. There are enough animals around here that want to eat all of our leaves. We don’t need any more.

  6. I have been thinking on this, now I am just new to the concept of Aquaponics and Permaculture, so let me relay the thoughts from Sepp Holzer. Well let me do my best to relay his thoughts outlined in his book and videos.

    Perhaps you need scent and visual confusion for the bugs. Companion planting to offer a plethora of scents and visuals so the bugs will be drawn to the other smelly flowers and such and hopefully a large amount will leave your veggies untouched? Maybe plant some in the water itself, or in some pots around the beds?

    • We’re growing a variety of flowers in the system to attract pollinators, and the marigolds and nasturtiums are already blooming. Adding more around the system is a good idea. It’ll confuse them and add some color for us. Thanks!

  7. For the snails, how about some crushed egg shells around the beds and ponds as well?

    • I was thinking about pouring diatomaceous earth around the grow bed to stop the ants and other bugs from getting in. Crushed eggshells and cups of beer for the slugs and snails sounds like a good idea too. I wonder if the chickens will get drunk if they eat slugs and snails that get caught in the beer. This might be a fun experiment 🙂

  8. babso2you says:

    Little bast**d bugs! At least you put them to good use!

  9. Love it!!! The green makes me so happy.

  10. Jewels says:

    You still “embraced nature”… recycling at it’s finest! Take that you pests… “say hello to my little friend” ~ the fish and the chicken. 😉 Very sorry about the loss of your plants though. 😦

  11. Jennifer says:

    Ain’t life’s balancing act grand? We are all food for something! Here’s hoping you thwart the bugs long enough to get your healthy share.

    • That’s why I don’t go swimming in the ocean or train wild animals. I don’t want to intentionally offer myself up as lunch for anything that would want to eat me…at least not until I become worm food.

  12. Seasonsgirl says:

    I hate the bugs when they eat at your plants, it is hard to keep them off. I had to pull our collards due to it, but they seem gone for th most part now. someone told me ash from the fire place will keep them off if you sprinkly it over and arund the plants. We tried it and it seemed to help.

  13. Jackie says:

    Those are the cutest chickens I’ve ever seen! Silkies are they?

  14. magdave says:

    Awesome post! But such a heart-break to discover the work of those destructive invaders. And very cool that the fish and chickens found a way to pitch in on the clean-up. But what appalling damage those pest caused!

  15. They sure can strip a plant of its leaves awfully quick. Today I saw a Cabbage Butterfly land on our last Kohlrabi plant…to lay more eggs no doubt. I chased her away with a broom right after I took a picture of her. My neighbors probably thought I lost my mind 😆

  16. Beautiful chicks!! BAD BUGS!! your gardens look amazing already!!

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