David has a love of big exotic and spiky plants. Our front garden at home is full of them, all shapes and sizes, and the garden is full!
So when Dave found a baby Washingtonia robusta palm at B & Q in the reduced section it just slipped into the trolley. Needing tender loving care to get this tiny palm that had not been watered or cared for back to health would be a challenge we thought. But as we were just starting out on our journey of aquaponic farming, we had a secret weapon. We had all the quarantine systems left over from our ornamental fish shop, we had added plenty of plant trays and were seeing what would grow and what wouldn’t inside our huge greenhouse.
The poor little palm was plonked into one of the plant trays and left to get on with absorbing as many nutrients and as much water as it could. Would a palm tree grow in an aquaponic set up, would it be too much water, would it cope if it got really cold? All of these things we would find out over the next few years.
After the first year we were confident it was going to do well, in fact it seemed to be doing really well. It was in one of the raised plant trays, fed by our main system, stocked with sturgeon, grass carp and koi, all really heavy feeders. By the third year it was beginning to touch the ceiling and was going to need to be moved down to floor level.
Now that sounds easy – just lift it down. But being grown aquaponically meant if we took it out of the system, we would have to replace it with the same amount of plants able to use the nutrients up to keep the water healthy for the fish. It was also really interesting to see just how big we could grow the palm.
Work started to change the plumbing to allow the palm to be on the floor and still be in the main system.
Dave spent some time making sure he had got everything ready, a cut down IBC as a pot, and all the plumbing to make sure the water flows correctly round the system.
Whilst he was getting all of this ready the metal stand the plant tray was on collapsed!
Our older son Robbie and Dave had to get it moved. If you have ever handled a big palm you will know just how dense and so how heavy they are to move. This palm has 3 stems which at this point had grown into a mighty 6 ft at the crown of the tallest stem. You can see how hard it was to move from the video – we have edited out the swearing…..
Fast forward to 2021 and we have a couple of issues. The palm has done so well and grown so fast, proving how well trees do in aquaponics, that it is now touching the top of the greenhouse.
We are worried it will damage the greenhouse glass.
The second issue is that New forest aquaponics CIC is going to have to find a new home for our aquaponic farm and we cannot guarantee we will find anywhere with the space to house the palm, or have the finance to take it with us. It will need a hiab to move it, which is not cheap to hire.
So we have decided to see if anyone would like to buy our little palm! At this size they adapt well to being moved and as long as it is well watered will be able to be planted in the ground.
We will be very sorry to see the palm go, it has been a good friend and a great talking point with visitors.
We have managed to find a little one, the same size as when we got this one, so it will be interesting to see how quickly it grows this time.
We have put together a short video of the palm, it is old footage we took when we moved it to floor level. It is now so big it is impossible to get a good picture to show how big it has got as the greenhouse is so very full of fish and other plants!
If you would like to make a sensible offer for the palm – remembering that the money goes towards supporting our regenerative non profit please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.