Friday, May 18, 2012

Tomatoes, Tilapia, Bees, and CAKE!

What a great day!

Reason #1: WATER - The grow beds and fish tanks are now in orderly rows. We bought two "badass" pumps from a guy on Craigslist who had tattoos all over him. Jeff has little sketches laying about that look like squares with sticks between them, in many varying configurations; he's been painting things with purple primer and blue monster and twisting them together to look like the pictures, and has been regularly sending me to the plumbing store for this and that. And we (well, more Jeff than me) have been digging little ditches, laying pipe in them and covering them up. And Jeff dug a huge hole to put a tank with a sump pump for the lower beds. So today we are rejoicing to see water pouring into the beds, the siphons working perfectly to drain the beds, the sump sending the water back to the fish tanks - it's a beautiful sight!

Tattooed-guy pump - rigged for trial
Water flowing into beds
siphon - water raises to 1 inch below surface, then siphon breaks and water drains

Sump, working beautifully - rigged for trial only, Jeff wants me to  tell you

Water splashes into fish tank, aerating the tank. The gravel was dirty so we're flushing all the beds pre-fish.

Some stuff to do before we buy fish though, like plumb the remaining grow beds, do the electrical (pumps, fans) and "cycle" the system. Good news on the cycling - we can now buy bacteria from, which should really speed things up. And while we're waiting for the bacteria to change from nitrate to nitrite (or is it the other way around, very confusing!) we'll build strawberry towers!  I also started a lot of new seeds, because my previously planted seeds grew weary of waiting. I'll still use them, but they do look prematurely aged!

Reason #2: BEES - You might be interested to know (after last post) that we now have 6 buzzing, honey-making hives. Only one bee sting so far! (Alister made them mad while trying to feed them!) They are eating a lot of sugar water right now. If I'd read my bee manual, I'd know why. Okay, bees are fascinating but scary, so I mostly avoid them.

Reason #3: CAKE! This is a monumentous breakthrough for me and my daughter Anje! Here is an excerpt from today's "Seattle Times", which Anje emailed to me this morning.

 "... the Cottage Food Act of Washington, an economic blessing from the Legislature on small, home-based entrepreneurs looking to sell cakes, cookies, jams, jellies and other so-called "low-risk" foods.

A few years ago, Anje and I started to start a cake business, but couldn't find a commercial kitchen to rent. We did a lot of cakes anyway, which can be viewed on our lovely website,,  created by my lovely daughter-in-law, Christine, who is a web designer. But soon we can legally bake cakes at HOME! WOW! We can sell cake along with our fish and veggies! Or jam made from our excess produce (tomato jam?), or pie, or...the possibilities are endless! We make a really mean chocolate cake, and a chocolate peanut butter cake, and a coconut cake, and a white velvet cake with berries and cream, a browned butter pumpkin cake, etc etc. 

So there you have it - I better tidy my kitchen so I can invite the health inspector over for cake. Maybe honey cake. Or fish cakes. Or, -  no, tomato cake just wouldn't be good!