Update aquaponics

I’m heading off for a work trip for 3 weeks so thought I’d do a quick update.  

The vegetables are coming up nicely.  It seems clear that I’ve found some balance with the ecosystem.  

Having said that, I find myself wishing I has more real-estate for the plants.  I can tell by the nitrates levels that there is a lot of room for more plants. 

I may investigate expanding the beds before the end of summer. 

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Garden overview 

Wanted to provide a little overview of the outdoor experiments that are taking place. 

The raised bed below is a hugel culture experiment.  I laid some rotting wood, then layered in some hay, some leaves,  some compost, some soil, then topped with hay.  

In this raised bed I have planted 3 types of tomatoes, 3 types of radish, and some romaine lettuce. 

The second bed is an in ground bed that I had to get ready in a rush.  I loosened the soil with a pitch fork, but did not turn it.  I then threw on a tarp for 2 weeks to kill the weeds with light deprivation.  I then added some compost and some potting soil. Layered on some hay and started planting. 

In this bed we have radishes, and some lettuces. 

Above, are the potato experiments.  3 containers with a bunch of potato seed spuds.  We just added a new layer of soil, but seems like we’ll have to add more shortly.  Interested to see how high we can go. 

Lastly, we have the chickens.  We tried to build the coop on the cheap, leveraging a second hand bed, some shutters, and a couple of palettes.  In total it cost us about 60 euros for the wire, and some of the longer wood, bolts, and hinges etc.. 

Overall fairly happy with the set up. 

Amateur mistake

In a rush to get my first wave of plants in to the garden before I fly for 3 weeks of work, I forgot/didn’t think to harden my plants.  They’ve been sitting in the greenhouse for most of spring and I put them straight out under the harsh sun. 

As you can tell from the photos, they took a bit of a hammering and I now have several burnt leaves.  Fortunately, I’ve been monitoring them, and the fresh leaves are coming through.  So should be OK.  

Need to remember to harden. 

Chicken coup

It’s the school holidays, so as a family project we have decided to get chickens.  We’ve been researching it for a few weeks, but today we decided to launch our upcycling project to build the house part of the project. 

More photos to come.  But at this stage we’ve got the core framework stood up.  It’s made out of a twin bed frame that I found ditched, 1 pallete, and 3 shutters we got donated by friends. 

Good fun family project. 

Rigged filter

In response the the fact that the roots of my plants were getting a bit mucky as I discussed in this post, I decided I had to change food and rig a temporary filter system. 

To fit the immediate need i simply added plastic pvc pipe stuffed with a fine grain netting material that I found around the house. 

Not a permanent solution but it worked. Immediately, I found the clarity of the water was improved.. 

I even feel like the roots were clearing up after just 1 day… But that’s probably psychosomatic. 

I remember seeing a Murray Hallam video about filters where he compared media filters with gravity filters… His point being that neither is better it’s more the implementation.  Need to check that out before I make my final filter fix. 

Side Experiments

After just pontificating on the importance of focus and production in this post…. I do still want to run some side experiments with the limited goal of increasing my base subject matter expertise, and giving me the ability to go broader with my goals next season.  Off the top of my head those will include:

  • Testing potatoes
  • testing different types of radish, tomatoe, and salad
  • breeding tilapia for sustainability
  • microgreens to supplement salads

In addition to this, My wife and son will be experimenting with a variety of other things.