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aquaponics

The greenhouse has been getting a few upgrades. There are now three 100 gallon ponds. The aquaponics has been a great success for herbs, lettuces and other green veggies. I experimented with peppers but the peppers we grew in the ground far outproduced the aquaponic plants; easily 10 to 1. Yes, it is a lot easier to grow in the aquaponics system but the harder work has been well worth it.

Genovese Basil in the Aquaponics

We purchased a gallon of habaƱero peppers from Two Happy Children Farm. This was a variety we didn’t grow. Next season we will have these as well as Poblanos that we missed out on growing.

Two Happy Children Peppers

The peppers were turned into an amazingly hot but delicious Fire Sauce. I came up with a few inappropriate names for it but decided to keep it clean.

Round Rock Funny Farm Fire Sauce

Our quail have hatched. We have 12 baby Seven Bobwhite Quail running around the brooding box. They don’t seem to eat as much as baby chickens but they sure run a lot faster. Our plan is to breed them and keep 25-30 around to be used as food for the dog and kiddo. The eggs should be yummy combined with sushi too.

The first hatchlings

So tiny!

The pressure cooker is getting to see some serious use this year. This week, we’re canning 95 lbs of tomatoes. Our tomatoes didn’t fare too well this season, so these tomatoes were purchased from various farmers at the Round Rock Farmer’s Market. We bought 40 lbs from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, 25 lbs from Two Happy Children Farm and 30 lbs from Bush Farms.

The pressure cooker getting a workout.

Most of the tomatoes will be quartered and canned with a small amount of lemon juice and salt. A few of the San Marzanos will be pureed into a plain tomato sauce. The select few, combined with tomatoes from our gardens, will be made into more yummy Yard Salsa.

Part of the process.

I’ve given my hand at baking a few different breads that we enjoy. Today, Pita Bread were made. The recipe was found on the web and quite easy to make. It’s nice to see a yummy product that has 5 ingredients opposed to the 20 in store-bought Pitas.

Homemade Pita Breads

Outside, the gardens are still cranking. A new aquaponics bed was assembled in the greenhouse. This system is developing into a kit of sorts. In the future, a parts list and instructions will be posted. It can be made with parts from your local hardware store.

The basil sprouts have already started. We’re not too concerned with raising the fish for food, so only a few will live in the pond. To stock the pond, we caught a few bream and a catfish in the local creek.

The upcoming aquaponics kit.

Aquaponics Basil Sprouts

Unfortunately, I had been putting too much food in one of the tanks. That combined with the venturi uptake clogging, caused a few fish to die. The best thing I could do was buy a large stock tank and move the fish to clean everything. One of the grow beds has cracked as well. We’re making some major changes this week but they’ll allow for better filtering and more growing space.

100 Gallon Stock Tank with autofill valve and a temporary circulation pump.

The new filter is based on “Jim’s Crazy Bio Filter”. It will allow for easy emptying of fish waste to be dumped in the compost pile or other garden spaces.  The missing piece will be a homemade venturi to aerate the dirty water being pumped to the bottom. I combined cornstarch and silicone to make a sort of rubber concrete and filled a 3/4″ piece of pvc. It’s nearly set and I will use 2 different step drill bits to make create the venturi effect. I will also be adding a skimmer to remove protein waste and further oxygenate the water.

We really didn’t have enough growing and filtration space available to support this many fish and make up for small mistakes. Tilapia grow fast and poop a lot.

The new bio-filter setup near completion.

We love the Spring here on the Funny Farm. This mornings bounty consisted of eggs, strawberries, arugula, red lettuce, chard, snow peas,  pak choy and a turnip! The arugula was harvested from the aquaponics system in the garage. It’s some of the spiciest I’ve tasted.

I think the Chard and Eggs will be breakfast tomorrow. Arugula will become pesto along with some local garlic and onions. We can’t stop eating the snow peas raw, so that’s easy to prepare. Turnip au gratin? And of course, strawberries and vanilla ice cream for a late night treat. Yumm.