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aquaponic

We’re still super busy around the farm. Anne has been photographing quite a few weddings lately. Which has left me to fill my time with odd jobs around the house. Sewing custom sand bags and light stand bags, lots of cooking, pickling peppers, and of course more gardening.

Preserving vegetables has become pretty important. It will allow us to become more sustainable by extending our harvests. At the last post, I had managed to make Kimchi. It was really tasty. This time I experimented with  pickling peppers. It’s very simple with vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, carrots, garlic and peppers. One jar will be pushed to the back of the fridge to test the canning process. The other won’t last very long since we like our foods spicy.

Spicy pickled peppers with carrots and garlic.

More aquaponic growing is going to happen in the greenhouse. These trays will be filled with gravel once the siphons are installed. They’ll be used to grow lettuce, greens and herbs. We’ve found that fruiting vegetables grow much better in the ground as we can control the nutrients that the plants get. Higher nitrogen and lower phosphorous and potassium in the aquaponics grows great, green veggies.

new aquaponics for lettuce

We’ve found a variety of watermelons that are hardy enough for the area. Our gardens get full, blazing sun in the afternoons and it has roasted other varieties.

Watermelons!!

With all of Anne’s wedding photography going on this summer, she needed some new gear. Sand bags usually come in plain back and sell for around $25 each. Getting out the old Elna SU, I managed to make 4 custom sandbags and 2 custom light stand bags for a total $60. Now Anne has some cool, custom gear and we saved a bunch of money. My Etsy store is coming soon.

Sandbags and lightstands

While the kiddo was out of town, I pulled out the old RC truck for repairs. Managed to get the engine running and tuned only to find the differentials are trashed. Trying to drive and steer with one wheel locked up was no fun. Parts have been ordered. While waiting, the entire truck will be cleaned and oiled. Then it’s up for sale. Yeah, selling the truck to get a helicopter… too bad I can’t do that with my real truck.

My truck exploded.

I’ve managed to post a few videos of our aquaponic ecosystem. Everything has settled down, the water is crystal clear and the plants are flourishing. Technical details will be coming soon with drawings and notes.

The high pressure sodium grow lights were turned off for the video. They produced bad scan lines on the video. The veggies are currently under a 430 watt High Pressure Sodium lamp. If you are playing around with flourescent or led grow lights, that’s all you are doing. The plants need a high power light source and flourescents can not produce the same lumens in the proper light spectrum for strong growth.

Soon the eco system will be out back with a small lean-to roof for shade. The delicate lettuces are no match for the Texas sun.

Keep checking back for more updates on our aquaponics system.

So far the aquaponics system has worked out nicely. Once we added the fish, the water clouded a bit and a good few of the fish died. We monitored the water temperature and ph only. Feeding the fish the proper amounts while waiting for the plants to begin to grow was a tough balance. Now that the Arugula, Buttercrunch Lettuce and a few Beets are growing, the water has cleared up perfectly.

Our aquaponics system has 3 stages of passive biofiltration. The video posted below shows the startup of the system without fish or plants. The water was a little cloudy due to residue left in the gravel, even after hours of rinsing. The overflow system change to a venturi overflow system which will be shown in the next video. I will also post sketches of the biofilters I made.

We’ve realized that is truly the way towards a sustainable food supply for our home. Once the system is moved, we will use Tilapia for fish in the system and the beds will be expanded to grow more veggies. Want to know how our chickens and vermicomposter tie into our aquaponics system too? Don’t be afraid to know where your food comes from.