Friday, August 7, 2009

Aquaponics -- cutting barrels

After reading the entire barrel-ponics manual and printing off the lists of pvc parts, taking inventory of tools, etc... I couldn't stand not making at least what progress we were able to today. I don't have the right size holesaws for the drill, so those will have to wait till payday, but saw and ruler and a colored pencil (no sharpie was to be found) we could find.

I know we own a T-square, but it was not to be found, so this yardstick ruler did the trick.

We still have to clean up the edges and cut off the lips of the grow bed barrels, but I'm happy with our progress for the day. I finished the additional cuts in the flood tank section after the photo was taken, in case anyone notices only one hole is cut out. Don't know who made this adjustment from the original floodtank design, but after seeing it in the photos, it seemed 'cuter' and more lumber saving. Used that for a simple real work math example for the kids of how to use those equations: circumference = 2pir, so if we need 8 sections (drawing topview of bottom portion of floodtank yields 4 sections up and 4 'windows' how wide does each section need to be?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aquaponics - great project to kickoff the new school year!

Everytime I think about academics, look at textbooks, I'm reminded anew of why I do so many difficult, time consuming, and widely different things. I want my children to know how to Think, have wisdom, and have practical skills, and that just doesn't come without hands-on projects, living creatures and plants, real raw materials and real tools.

Years ago I heard of aquaponics, but had too many other projects going at the time, though I did have the hoophouses up, one had french angora rabbits in it and the other just a few in ground veggies. Since moving several years ago to a larger property and house, we've added sheep, gotten out of milk goats for a season (I want superior genetics and Saanens since that's what my chief milkmaid is interested in), added bees, and studied applied aromatherapy. The large hoophouse has sat behind the barn unassembled, we got out of the rabbits due to high feed costs and time required for chores/grooming, and the small hoophouse is setup for the chickens.

So, after reading quite a few posts and looking at some system setups from the Backyard Aquaponics forums, the kids and I started assembling these things to turn them into our very own fish and food farm in the backyard. I chose this location because there was an old concrete pad with a flat area of sand and an electric pole from the previous owners. I've been praying about that old permaculture adage of doing what you can with what you have where you are. Now just need to pray in the remaining supplies, pump,tubing, right growing medium, new greenhouse film, and get to work!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dehydrating - chives today

Fall gardening, sprouting, and green smoothies have all been on my mind lately. The dehydrator's going with a tray of chopped chives and I gathered some chive seeds and seeds from a yellow onion that went to seed today.

These chives came from the garden of a wonderful garden in Inola owned by some people who can grow and cook up some of the best eats I've had. I was gifted a small pot of them and that 4inch pot has now become about a 12 inch circle at the bottom and I must dig it up soon and divide it, perhaps bringing one inside later this fall. It's a bit too close to a rose, making clipping chives risky business these days and for the rose, it's not allowing enough breezeway. They'll both be happier once I move and divide the chives.

I read in The Secret Life of Plants that dried veggies or herbs emit the same living frequency when once again fully hydrated, while canned emit no life force at all, though picked and consumed as soon as picked emit the highest frequencies.

I've got adzuki bean spouts ready to start eating or throwing into green smoothies and mung beans soaking. The mission is to get more greens and more enzymes into my family's daily diet and sprouts just give you a lot of mileage for your money.

My okra sprouts just went into the garden and into some pots and a seedflat this morning. I sprouted them first to make sure the seeds from 2004 were still good, and most of them were just fine.

Fall planted onion space is next on my to-do list. Once weeded, there are several spaces on my southfacing slope that I can plug in a few onion seedlings, but I'll be starting them first in a pot in my cold frame with wire fencing to keep the chickens or dogs from un-planting long enough for them to get growing!

Chickens ate the 2 lucsious looking almost ripe orange heirloom tomatoes that I was longing to share with my family and I thought surely they were up too high and in a spot they couldn't could be wild birds dug into them, since I didn't actually catch the chickens in the act this time...I really need to just fix my chicken coop roof and confine them long enough to enjoy my own tomatoes!