Friday, April 6, 2012

progress report

Well, I wasn't going to blog again til we were up and running, but we are pioneering here, and there's always some problem or other to solve. For those of you who plan on copying us and starting your own backyard or commercial aquaponic system, I'm including a list of what not to do. Oh, first, my daughter pointed out to me that I spelled aquaponics without an "i" in my link. No wonder I can't find it when I do a search! Aquaponcs! Good grief! I have new glasses now.

Progress made since last post:

  • Hoop house up! Problem encountered: after battling with the giant kite of film, puffs of wind trying to sail it off over the trees, we discovered it was 9 inches short! How on earth? So we ordered a 5 foot strip of film which just arrived, and we'll wiggle wire it between the last two hoops.  
  • IBC's purchased, cleaned, and cut for grow beds. Problems encountered: IBC's were too dirty, it took us days to scrub them inside and out - we ended up selling half the first batch and buying cleaner ones! This is all organic dirt, mind you. The tough stuff was some sort of glycerine, very tacky, with dirt stuck to the tacky. Then we found some that had contained organic fish fertilizer from an organic blueberry farmer - perfect! 

  • Tables built for growbeds - each bed will be 900 pounds when full of gravel and water, so the tables have to be tough!
  • 8+ whole IBC's all full of rainwater for the fish, thanks to the third rainiest March in Seattle's history! See above picture of downspout in IBC.
  • Seeds started - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zuchinni, and cukes started in rockwool. Lettuces and Basil, I'll start right in vermiculite and transplant them into the grow medium as soon as they sprout. So I'm waiting on those. The seeds you see in the dirt are Kale, broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts for the dirt garden outside. This is a makeshift seed starting set-up with the tomatoes, peppers and cukes on the heated kitchen floor, and the others on the cold floor. Grow lights on both to prevent the leggies!

Still to do before we can plant - PLUMB! Get plumbing, Jeff! Next we'll fill grow beds with gravel. We might have to hire help for that - heavy work and we're pretty old. Then we'll start the cycling process. I'll add the plants during this stage and keep them fed with liquid seaweed until cycling is done and we're ready to add fish. 

And lastly, here's the list of to-do's and not-to-do's for other beginners: 
  • Don't buy IBC's that are too dirty - Cleaner ones are worth the extra money! Time is money.
  • Find IBC's that have smooth sides!! Just trust us on this one.
  • Contact us for cutting and measuring instructions so you don't have to do it twice.
  • OR: For a small backyard operation, order the instructional video DIY Aquaponics by Murray Hallam.
Next post I'm sure we'll have more not-to-do's for you. And I'll update you on plumbing and cycling! 

P.S. We're trying to pick a name - do you like "Piscine Produce"? Any other ideas for us??

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