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A Snack Break Point between Development and Operations.

Every Spring and Summer I've tried to grow vegetables it has not gone well. It would be more accurate to say I sow, sprout, and then systematically murder plants every year as a hobby than to call me a gardener.

Trying to get a good harvest has been frustrating. The advice I found usually involved a lot of chemicals in the form of fertilizers and pesticides or sounded more like superstition than science. Plants can flourish without human intervention but how does that work naturally?

I soon found myself studying the nitrogen cycle, watershed, and planting techniques from thousands of years ago that leveraged flood plains and river deltas. Eventually I stumbled across aquaponics, where fish and plants are grown in a symbiotic system, and was instantly hooked.

After a proof of concept using a ten gallon aquarium and a few feeder minnows where I grew romaine lettuce in a window I started planning a larger outdoor system. This year I finally pulled the trigger and set up a 110 gallon tank with two grow beds and over a dozen tilapia fry.

Fish Garden

So what does this have to do with devOps? I see the beds as infrastructure for the bacteria that convert the fish waste into plant food and each cycle of the bell siphons as a provision and deployment that removes waste, adds oxygen, and allows the plants to take as much water as they like while still getting plenty of air circulation. This is a solid example of storm drain automation. The system seems to tolerate gradual change admirably. It is not rigid or fragile but adaptive, which is leading me to believe I don't have to monitor it as closely as I thought I would. So far I'm impressed with how resilient the system is.

My plans involve expanding this with IoT technology so I can get some real time dashboards online. I've also had a couple of requests for a streaming fish cam, which I think would be neat. I've had to go out of town a couple of times since I set this up and I'm always worried while I'm gone, but so far the system has been running like clockwork every time I come back. It would still be nice to be able to check on it when I'm not at home, and the more I can automate the day to day operation of the system the less I'll worry about it.

I've put some pictures on imagur and a couple of videos on youtube. There are a lot of aquaponics videos on youtube so be sure to search a bit if this is something you find interesting. I've seen a lot of neat wildlife and I'm surprised how much my plants have grown in a month's time. Most of the plants in the beds are tomatoes, but I also have bell pepper, thyme, basil, Italian parsley, asparagus, and a celery plant that we rooted from kitchen scraps.

I'll add photos and videos each month and more often if I see anything interesting. Hopefully my hobby hasn't expanded to systematically murdering fish along with the plants this year, but only time will tell.