Category Archives: Vegetable Planting Diary


Our aquaponics system has been up and running for about 9 months now and it continues to improve. The fish are getting bigger so the manure output is enlarging, which then makes the vegetables grow better and quicker.

Our broccoli seedlings are booming ahead and the picture below shows them in early June.

Below is a picture of them now so you can see how they have grown and there are heaps of them.
DSC_1846We actually have one head forming already.DSC_1871The cauliflower seedlings haven’t been as prolific in germination or growth, but they do take longer to get to harvest than broccoli seedlings. These are still going well though.DSC_1847The silverbeet seedlings continue to produce and I pick the leaves off these at least weekly and they continue to thrive.

The pat choi seedlings are growing well, although there is some yellowing of the leaves. This maybe shows they are getting quite enough nutrients at the moment.DSC_1851Our tomato seedling is still growing and is now flowering, although some of the bottom leaves are dying off.  Hopefully it will continue to thrive as the fish grow bigger and we can harvest some lovely ripe tomatoes. This coming season we will grow our bulk tomatoes in a hot house in the dirt but we hope to grow our heirloom ones in the aquaponic system.DSC_1875Our english spinach continues to grow although it is very slow. I suppose this is better than it not growing at all. These seedlings look really healthy too. DSC_1852I grew some celery from the bottom of one in a bowl of water until it had some shoots on top and then I planted it in the gravel. It has really taken off and I have another one on my window sill that I will plant this coming weekend. I usually just pick off the stalks I want to use and I never harvest a whole plant, this keeps the whole system working better.DSC_1849I sprinkled some carrot seed over half a bed and it is coming up well, it will be interesting to see how this goes.
DSC_1874If you look closely you can see the fish at the bottom of the tank.DSC_1855The sweet potatoes didn’t work and I did a bit more reading up about them and it says that they don’t like a lot of water, so that is probably why they aren’t growing properly. We will put some in straw beds either in this hothouse or the other one in a month or so.

Okay that’s it for our update now, I will keep you posted.

Blessings to you all.


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Just a quick update to keep you all informed because I am sure that you are just hanging out to know what is happening :-).

Everything is growing really well, I think we have seen a transition from struggling to succeeding. This means that the fish are growing and their output is increasing.

Below are the broccoli seedlings.


The tomato seedlings that were surviving are now booming ahead and there are three of them.


We continue to pick off the green spinach and it just keeps coming back.  The picking seems to be doing it good.DSC_1567The Patchoi seedlings are really starting to take shape and it won’t be long and we will be picking and enjoying them also.

We picked our first beetroot from the system and it looks just great.


Friends of ours bought a banana plant and when we saw it we thought it was such a great idea. We didn’t think bananas grew this far south. Our friends ordered us a couple and we have put them into pots in the hothouse next to the aquaponics system.


DSC_1521So hopefully they will grow nice big juicy bananas.

I will keep you updated.



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We are fast approaching winter and the weather has been damp and cold, but it is nice in the hot house where we have the aquaponics.

The sweet potatoes are going okay with the first ones better than the last ones.  We did have some die off so I have planted some more shoots and I also planted a whole sweet potato with shoots on it. I am looking forward to seeing how they go.  The potato I planted with the shoots hasn’t died back at all.

DSC_1378This is English spinach I think (I didn’t keep the packet – slack I know) and I pick off this about twice a week and it keeps coming back. It is very tasty sauteed with garlic and butter.DSC_1380We have planted some broccoli and cauliflower seeds and below is the broccoli. I planted over half a bed and the good thing about broccoli is that it grows side shoots, so once you’ve picked the main head you get the benefit of those extra bits.  That is why I planted more of these than the cauliflower.
DSC_1379With aquaponics you can’t harvest everything at the same time, you need to stagger harvesting and planting, otherwise it mucks the system up.

The tomato seeds that I planted weeks ago are still coming up.  Some came up and died off but there are about 3 decent looking plants. Here is one below.

I have also planted some more spinach seeds and pat choi seeds in the same bed.

Below are the original capsicum plants that we put in last November. The leaves all drop off and then new shoots appear and then they flower. We haven’t actually gotten any fruit off them but we are still holding out.  The original tomatoes have finally died off and we might actually close this bed until we can get some more fish.
DSC_1384We still have fish in this milk vat and they are growing well, I still can’t get a decent photo, but this shows the water flowing and the air hose making bubbles  Air into the fish tanks is so important, without this air the fish die.DSC_1383No 2 daughter picked the last of our tomatoes and we have laid them on newspaper on top of the sump tank. I have left some red ones amongst them in the hope that they ripen. I go out each day or so and pick out the majority of the red ones and bring them inside to eat.
DSC_1385Well that is the latest on our aquaponics, we now have power installed properly and have decent lights so we can work in there at night.

We are working on getting some more fish, we need at least 100 more and at the moment my husband is thinking of sourcing trout.



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The plastic is finally on the hothouse and it is getting to be a nice warm environment in there, which should be good for the fish.


When our son-in-law was down over the Easter period they got into it and put it on. It took the three of them to do it, and the help was much appreciated.
DSC_1196Can you see the rectangle behind my husband? This will eventually be a window that we can open in the summer so that it won’t get too hot and I will be able to step into it without my glasses fogging up all the time :-).

Below is the entry to the hothouse. We have butted it against the back wall of our workshop which has a verandah on it. This has given us a nice dry entry and a beautiful yellow rose on the edge.


We have had some pump issues and are trying to get a replacement on the more dearer one that we bought, so hopefully that will be sorted.

We have moved the little fish into a bigger tank and if we counted right we hadn’t lost too many.

Now onto some of the vegetables.

Below are the sweet potato shoots that we grew off our sweet potatoes. I think there is about 13 or 14 or them. If you want to see how we did that go here.


Here they are planted. They look really good.


The lettuces are still going well but growing slowly. They haven’t died off at all and look good.


The beetroot is going great guns and I hope that the growth beneath looks as good as the growth on top.


The silverbeet is going well too and I am going to thin them out shortly.


Our tomatoes that we planted have come and gone and come again. One has a tomato on it and the other is dying off.  They have been doing this often, so hopefully it will come back again.

Overall it is going well. It will be good to see how it goes now with the plastic on and the fish growing bigger – and producing more manure. They say it can take 12 months to really get the system working properly.

There is a lot of trial and error involved in this operation and we are learning quite a lot as we go.

Another update shortly….


Well it’s time for another Aquaponics Update and I have been busy taking photos.

The system seems to be working better now and our little fish are growing well, although it is hard to get photos of them (sorry).






If you look really closely you can see the babies, there were some in the bottom of their tank but they are so small.  If you are interested in more information about yabbies click here.

Below is a photo of some of the lettuces and they are growing and staying healthy.  The drum with the small fish in them is feeding directly into this bed which might explain why they look so good.


Here is a beetroot plant, you can just see the new green leaf just beginning to grow at the bottom.


We already have about 10 larger fish that friends caught for us and you can see their outlines below. I am sorry the photo isn’t really great as it’s hard to see them.


In our sump tank we have some yabbies and an eel.  The eel normally lives in the pipe but you can see his tail sticking out near the brick. DSC_0838

Here is a close up of the yabbies in with the eel.

We planted some larger tomato plants when we first started and they have just been hanging on.  Now the tops have died off but we noticed a new shoot on this one.


This is the Seasol product that we add to the beds, it is a seaweed based mineral and is meant to help until the fish manure output increases.  My husband isn’t sure whether it works or not.


Here is my eggplant bravely stuggling on, it is flowering now, but it hasn’t grown much.

DSC_0829[1]The latest addition has been to sow seeds straight into the beds. Below are some squash seeds that have come up and they seem to be growing well.

Here is another one, I think this is a cucumber.  It is fascinating to watch the seeds come up and I find this quite amazing and very exciting.

DSC_0827[1]I have just finished sewing two beds with more seeds.  I put in a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, rocket, dwarf beans, coriander, silverbeet and capsicum.  I am looking forward to seeing how many actually come up and then how many keep growing.

Well that’s about it for this post and I will do another update when the seedlings start coming up.



This post is linked up at Old-Fashioned Friday


After seeing a youtube video about sprouting sweet potatoes we have had four of them sitting on our window sill.

It isn’t warm enough where we live to grow sweet potatoes outside, but we have decided to give them a go in the aquaponics system because it will be under hot house plastic in a month or so and hence being grown in a warmer environment.

Below is a photo of them in my preserving jars on our kitchen window sill.  They have been there since before Christmas and are now sprouting really well.  They have 3 toothpicks in each one which suspends them in the jar.

DSC_0822[1]Gentle Joy Homemaker did hers a bit differently but when we did them like this they went rotten, but I am going to try them again this way. Pop over and have a look here at how she does it.

Here is the most productive sweet potato on the window sill (my favourite). The shoots that have come from under the water level have already grown roots and I am going to break them off and plant them in the aquaponic beds.


You can see the roots in the photo below. IMG_0927

I broke them off and kept the roots intact.

They are now planted in the grow beds and I planted them quite deeply.
DSC_0826[1]I am going to break off the shoots that aren’t below water and place them in a jar of water to develop roots and then plant them out.

I don’t have enough words to explain how excited we are with this. It has been a great, successful experiment.

I have become quite attached to my little potatoes too.


This post is linked up with Old-Fashioned Friday


It’s time for another Vegetable Planting Update and I have taken a heap of photos so you can get a good idea of how everything is going.

The weather the past couple of weeks has been absolutely wonderfully cool.  This is great for us who don’t like the hot weather, but it is not great for growing tomatoes and other certain vegetables.

The tomatoes are really slow this year and there is some fruit but not much.  The zucchinis are slow too and we are starting to pick some every few days but I am still waiting for the glut to can with my tomatoes or just by themselves for our winter pantry.  Zucchinis are a great filler for soups and stews.  By the time we are in winter and I am bombarding you with soup and stew recipes you in the Northern Hemisphere will be celebrating summer and BBQs and salads.  Sigh, I will probably still bombard you anyway.

My husband has just finished mounding up on either side of our raised beds and you can see by the picture below that the potatoes are going great.  We are so excited about them, as we haven’t been able to grow them with much success before, so to see how they are going is wonderful.  We have started digging some as we need them and there are some really big ones.


The mounds are getting quite high now which is great for weeding and watering.

The zucchini bushes should really be twice their size but as long as they produce it doesn’t really matter.  We have been picking them quite small and they are lovely cooked on the BBQ, and are my husbands favourite.



The Roma tomatoes seem to be doing better than the Grosse Lisse ones, as you can see there is some fruit below, but it is still quite small and green, but I think summer is coming, albeit late.  We are going to have a week in the low 30’s starting on Friday (91F) so this continual warmth will really help.


My husband has done a great job with the corn and it is looking good.  He has been trying to get on top of the weeds and is almost there.  Unfortunately the weeds keep growing, possibly better and quicker than the vegetables.  There is some difference in height but you can just see the corn at the back coming into flower.


The first year we moved here (4 years ago) we planted some fruit trees, but it was very wet where we planted them and only a few survived.  Below is one of our pear trees with fruit.  We should have really waited to see what the lay of the land was before planting them but at least some have survived.


I took these pictures on Sunday afternoon and you can see how dark the sky is and it did drizzle a bit and was quite cold and windy.


Below are some of the fruits of our labour, potatoes and zucchinis.DSC_0754Well that’s another update, I hope when I do the next one I can show you boxes of tomatoes and corn.

What’s growing in your vegetable patch at the moment or what are you thinking of planting once winter has passed???




Our aquaponics system has been up and running for about 2 months now and things are going good, and not so good.

The fish are going really well and the new ones arrived with no problems and are settling in well and seem to be growing.  We have placed them into a smaller drum so as to not loose them in the big system.  We lost a couple after they went up the outlet pipes and came out onto the garden beds, but that problem has been rectified and they are going well.

You can see the shadow of the fish in the bottom of the drum. There are a couple of yabbies in their as well.
Here is one of the Silver Perch fish in the net.

Below is a picture of one of our tomato plants that is going well.  It has one tomato on it and it is growing but the plant doesn’t seem to have grown too much in the last month.  It seems to be putting all of its energy into the growth of the fruit.

IMG_0619[1]The capsicum plants have capsicums on them but the plants are struggling at the moment.   We have had a couple of 40 degrees celcius days here and it has been very windy.  They seem to be dropping their bottom leaves but the actual fruit is still growing.


We have been told that the system takes about 4 months to really get up and running.  The fish have to get bigger so their manure out put is bigger and this will help the vegetables grow better.

Our strawberry plants are struggling also, a lot of the green growth has died off but there are still green shoots so we are hoping that they continue to struggle on and then start growing some more.


We planted a heap of cucumbers but all but one of them has died. This is somewhat disappointing but we have to remind ourselves that it is early days yet and the system is still getting going.


We have some yabbies in the tanks as well and we enjoyed a feed of them at Christmas time.  Our neighbour generously let us catch yabbies from his dam to put in our system.  We still have quite a few yabbies in the tanks and they are growing well.

My husband just found some with eggs, so they are breeding and this is exciting.  He has moved the yabbies with eggs to a separate container so we can keep an eye on how it goes.

Here are the eggs under the tail of the yabby.
 We also found a local eel farmer and he gave us some eels to put in as well.  We have one left and also enjoyed a meal of smoked eel over New Years.  My husband smoked them for 10 hours in his hot smoker.

When we plant vegetable seedlings in the system we need to wash any dirt off the roots and then plant them.  We can’t have dirt going through the system.

Some lettuce plants planted over a week ago.

We hope to go to our local nursery and get some more overgrown vegetables that they can’t sell.  These seem to do well in the system because they are bigger and have a few more reserves.

We will cover the area and turn it into a hot house in a month or so when the summer heat is over and Autumn kicks in.

Stay tuned for the next update where I will hopefully be able to show you how everything is starting to grow better.




I started this Vegetable Planting Update a few weeks ago before Christmas and I got caught up with other stuff and didn’t finish it so I thought I would just post it and then do another one in a week or so and show you how much everything has grown.

I think I should change the title of these posts now to “Vegetable Growing” instead of “Planting” but I think you get my drift.

The vegetable garden out the front is growing daily, it is so exciting to go out there and see the changes.  We are now busy just trying to maintain all the weeds and making sure everything has enough water.

It has been rather cool this week but there are warms days coming by the end of the week and next week and although I don’t like the heat, we need it to to make our vegetables grow.

We have a great water supply here with a bore which is drinking quality and very abundant, it is such a blessing.  Water is so important.

The children and I finished strawing the tomatoes and the first ones we put in are flowering.  The potatoes are going great and the photo below shows my husband using the tractor to bring dirt from the trench up onto the sides of the potato beds, using a bed former which is like a double sided mulbourd plough. He actually did this with all the beds as well.

Below are the potato beds after they have had the dirt from the trench brought up.


Here are the zucchini plants, they are coming away nicely. I can’t wait to have fresh zucchinis, I really miss them during the winter. This year I am going to grate the excess and can them for soups, stews and cakes.


Below is the second lot of tomatoes we put in and they are looking really healthy. Yum fresh home grown tomatoes are the best.

DSC_0647The next update will follow soon – after I have done some weeding (lol).



Well it’s finally happening, the aquaponics system is up and running. My husband and father-in-law have been working hard this week, to get it ready as the fish will be here by the end of next week.

We already have a few fish in the tank and we have started planting a few vegetables and strawberries to see how everything goes.

Now is the trouble shooting stage, waiting to see what goes wrong so it can be fixed before we really get going with it.

We have had a few problems, like the stainless steel vat we had for fish had cracks in it. We had to replace it with a plastic pod.

This is the good vat that we have left, the other one had cracks in it.

We had a couple of these vats but now only have the one left, with some fish in it, and the pods below (covered with builders wall insulation paper) is for the fish coming next week.


Here is the layout of the system.  The tanks on the right are for the fish with the grow beds on the left.  The lower pod on the left is the sump tank that catches all the water that is cycling through the beds. That is where the pump is situated and the pump then pumps the water back into the fish tanks.  This water has then been filtered through the gravel as well as the roots of the plants and is getting returned back to the fish tanks with the manures taken out.  The fish tanks also have bubblers in them to oxygenate the water.


Here is the grow bed where we placed 3 mature tomato plants, 4 capsicums and 1 eggplant.


Here is the strawberry bed.  You can see in the photo that the grow beds are filled with 25 mm screened scoria sourced from our local quarry.  The area in which we live is very volcanic and the local mountains are extinct volcanoes and are surrounded by massive lava flows and the local quarry is on the side of these extinct volcanoes.

IMG_0461You can also see in the photo the pipe running across the top of the bed.  In this pipe is a tap which allows you to vary the flow of water into the bed. This water comes from the base of the fish tank where the waste from the fish collects, this waste then feeds the plant roots.


At the end of this area against the wall we will eventually have strawberry beds built.  Not sure yet whether they will be vertical or horizontal or a bit of both.

In the photo you can just see the frames that hoop over the top of the area.  As summer ends we will put hot house plastic film over these hoops and turn the area into a hot house.

If you are interested in aquaponics just go to you tube to find out heaps more information.

I am looking forward to sharing more of this with you as it gets bigger and better.

The writer of this post (me) would like to thank her husband for his technical contribution.