Gardeners who start plants from seed know the best way to do it is to pre-germinate the seeds in some type of container such as a bowl, glass dish or test tube. Sometimes finding an elegant way to display those seed starting containers, especially if you have limited space, can be tricky.
Using test tubes placed inside a cloche is a great way to keep the water the seeds are soaking in warmer, germinate a lot of seeds in a limited space and turn a necessary process into an elegant endeavor.
Here is how the process works:
Begin with clean test tubes. Sometimes you can find these in the Halloween section of stores.
Place clean, dry seeds in the bottom of the test tubes.
Fill the tubes 3/4 of the way up with hot water.
The idea behind aquaponics has intrigued me for quite sometime. I held off because I felt like getting large food-grade plastic tanks to contain the fish was beyond my ability, since I had no idea where to find them used. Then I read a post in a magazine that said you could use a 10-gallon fish tank. That got my wheels spinning. After all, when you are as avid of a gardener as I am, everyone wants to give you their used fish tanks. They all suggest you can turn them into terrariums, which is a great idea, but let’s face it, aquariums take up a lot of room.
Of course, I usually accept my friends discarded aquariums, just in case I find a good use for them. I knew I had several empty aquariums sitting around outside in the greenhouse and garage, but had no idea how big they were. As it turned out, I had one twenty-gallon tank and several ten gallon tanks that were not in use. I decided to clean up the twenty-gallon tank that used to hold carnivorous plants. This seemed like a good size to start with, not too small and not too large.
Once the aquarium was clean, I asked Jerry to clean off one of the metal book shelves so I could have a sturdy stand with two shelves on it. We put the aquarium on the bottom shelf. The plants are going on the top shelf so I can hang a grow light over the top of them. The grow light is essential to the operation since we are doing this in a corner of the living room – for now.All I could think of as I was cleaning the tank and getting it set-up was catfish since this is our favorite type of fish. Unfortunately there were none to be had locally, so I had to move on to plan b since I was determined to start my little experiment immediately.
I know, come spring, the traveling fish men will set-up at Tractor Supply. At that point, I intend to get some catfish, but in the meantime, a nice couple sold me a dozen tilapia. This made my Christmas wish come true – after all, the only thing I wanted this year was “two catfish and one aquaponics set-up.” LOL!
We went out and met the couple last night. I was thrilled with their set-up – but it did remind me of how much I missed my greenhouse, which has not been in use since it was damaged last fall by that horrible hail storm. I hope, come spring, we can repair it. I’m not sure I can stand another year without it!
We spent quite a while visiting and talking. We tasted some of the tomatoes they were growing, which were divine! We left with a dozen fingerling fish in a five-gallon bucket.
Now that the fish are settled into their new home, it is time to get a jump-start on seed starting for the aquaponic system. The plants I decided to grow in this system are pole beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I have heard these plants are harder to grow in an aquaponic system, but since I grow lettuce and other cool weather crops outside all year long, I don’t see the point of growing them indoors.
I had just received the Complete Vegetable Garden Kit from the Dollar Seed. It was sent to me free of charge. The pole bean, tomato and cucumber seeds I selected were from those packets, so I know they are fresh seed. There was even enough seed left over to start another batch of plants with if I choose to do so.