Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aquaponics Update - 12/29/10

I never would have believed it if I hadn't taken before and after shots. The picture on the left was taken on Nov. 27, 2010 and the one on the right was taken today, Dec. 29, 2010, just one month later.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas story of kindness

I believe how we treat the planet is just a symptom of how we treat the people and things around us. I hope you'll find inspiration in this story like I have and vow to treat everything on this planet with respect and gratitude. Click link below.

Help Compassion in Action at a Nursing Home -- A Kindness Story

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Long beans

I also have some crops growing around the house, including this long bean, setup next to my compost bed. The soil around the heap is really rich and full of fat earthworms so I knew it would be good for beans. I started the beans from a pod from a bunch of long beans that I got at the farmer's market but had gone to seed before I could eat it! It's nice to know the 4 seeds have turned into large vines that have produced enough beans for several meals already. I saute the beans in garlic, oyster sauce, and hot peppers and is a delish combo with a hot bowl of rice.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Aquaponics Update - 12/18/10

It has been 7 days since my last update and O-M-G! I am thinking the claims that veggies grow much faster in aquaponics systems than in soil medium are possibly true. I only wish I had my raised garden bed prepared to test this hypothesis. Maybe next time.
I shoulda known the ants were up to no good! Where there are ants, there are aphids. I found the source ... hidden amongst my mint leaves was a healthy colony of fat aphids that eventually invaded my fennel. One nice thing about the floating rafts is I can pull the plant out, spray with soapy water, wash it off, and return it to its spot. :) Aphids are HISTORY!
I had some problems with what I think is iron deficiency so treated with some foliar Fe/Zn spray and added some Maxicrop with iron for insurance a couple days ago. I'm still waiting to see the results but chucked one struggling chlorotic mizuna. No space for the weak in this system! LOL
I've started a new rotation of lettuce in the hopes this system will provide lettuce year round.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nature happens

The pleasure of gardening is finding signs of renewal like this ... :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rabbit cage using storage cubes

I found these indoor cages really easy to make, especially in a pinch. I used 5/8" plywood with 12" square tiles and pretty much zip tied the thing together and put 5 casters on the bottom so I can wheel it around. It doesn't keep "debris" from *rolling* out (if you're a rabbit owner, you know what I mean) but a quick sweep usually does the job. It's nice cuz the rabbits have 3 levels to explore and get some exercise in. Oh, I should mention I'm not quite done and in true form, I would like to expand it a bit.

If you're interested in owning angora rabbits so you too can spin their wool and have hours of entertainment, check out this video that describes how to build a spiffy rabbit condo.

Okay, it's not very "green" but it is excellent in a pinch. I am finding that going green requires a lot of storage space to keep things you might need at a future date (get what you can when you can) and time to search for the things you need. In this day and age, we often have neither. Hmmm ... what to do ... what to do ... Any ideas?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Joan's aquaponic setup

33 golden tilapia, 12 cayenne peppers, 11 kinds of veggies, 5 colorful koi, 4 grow beds, 3 collard seedlings, 2 electric pumps, 1 timer, and a flower in my eggplant treeeeee! Happy holidays everyone!

More requested info: pump in 100-gal tank runs @ 500 g/hr (runs intermittently, every 2 hrs for 30 min but only twice after sunset for 5 min), pump in 40-gal sump runs @ 250 g/hr runs continuously. Since I live in Hawaii, the system runs year round. Cost of system (plus fish and plants) is in the $1000 range. I'll post more accurate totals once I figure it out. (Updated, 8/18/11)

Aquaponics fish tank - golden tilapia

Dinner, Lunch, and Jack (the one-eyed tilapia) are doing well amongst the minion. I'm sure they get the best morsels too.

If you're an aquaponics nerd, you might find this info interesting ... pH is 6.8, ammonia is negligible, nitrites 0.25 mg/L, and nitrates 15 mg/L. I dunno the dissolved oxygen but I use an airpump and airstone. Oh, and the PVC pipe with holes that is running along the bottom of the tank is part of the pump, drawing off fish solids (i.e., poop). It's been really effective so far!
My fish tank is 100 gallons and receives the overflow from the sump. The pipe to the left is the overflow drain so I don't flood my downstairs when it rains hard.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Aquaponics update - 12/11/10

The aquaponics system is finally equalizing and the little buggers have the nitrates and other nutrients they need. The veggies are doing well and the little sprouts are about as big as the ones I started separately and transplanted 2 weeks before! Seeding the beds directly saved me tons of time and the seeds seem to have set at the right depth, which means the mizuna and collards won't fall over like the others! Check here to see the beds two weeks ago.Whoa, is there enough space to fit everything? Prolly not but I'l cull as we go. However, I think the system should be able to handle the close proximity. With the roots bathing in nutrients, there would be less competition, right? It's all theoretical now so I'll be interested to see how things go. I'm so stoked about the mizuna. Just the idea of having it available year-round is worth the effort of putting together this system!
The deep water culture beds are doing well too! The watercress is finally picking up speed and so are the ong choi and mint. Click here to see the beds two weeks ago.
I'm so glad that my lettuce are doing what lettuce is supposed to do!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Starfruit season returns!

Happy, happy, joy, joy :D!!!

Silly Murk in his bowl

Murk, do you like your new cage?

`Nuff said.

My little English angora rabbit is now about 7 weeks old and he is so much fun! He's already a ball of fur and his fur keeps getting longer by the day. His wool has a wonderful crimp so he will no doubt be a great wooler. But I love his personality most of all ... inquisitive and such a wonderful lap bunny!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jamming to the beat

Surinam cherry/strawberry jam! Fruit picked at a friend's house in Ookala, prepared with strawberries and love, and on their way to friends and family in their Christmas baskets! Best eaten with vanilla ice cream!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Aquaponics update - 11/27/10, part duex

In case you're wondering about the floating rafts (deep water culture), this is what it looked like this morning. I've got lettuce (2 kinds), watercress, spearmint (2 kinds), ong choi, marigold, basil, kale, Swiss chard, and fennel. The nitrate levels are slowly creeping up and thankfully, nitrite levels are lowering so I am hopeful that this batch of starts will do well. The one before this failed miserably ... no nutrients means sudden death for little seedlings! Lesson learned.

Aquaponics update - 11/27/10

11/27/10 - 6 days later ... The sprouts have come up! (I added the eggplant to the cinder bin about 5 days ago, on 11/22/10). Check out how big the cayenne chili and kale got!

cinder - 11/27/10 hydroton - 11/27/10

I transplanted some starts six days before, on 11/21/10. The plants are from KTA (curly parsley, purple kale, fennel); vegetables I started myself (Swiss chard, mizuna); and a couple basil starts that the guy at Ohana Greenhouse gave me. I planted the chili and larger purple kale a few days earlier. I also sowed some mesclun, mizuna, and Swiss chard seeds in the hopes they'll start and sustain themselves on their own. But really, it's jus' cuz I'm really lazy. Check out the pics above to see what the bins look like 6 days later!
cinder - 11/21/10 hydroton - 11/21/10

Friday, November 19, 2010

My first beanie!

Yipee :D! I finished knitting my first beanie! The wool roving was in the bag of supplies that came with my spinning wheel so I spun the wool and plied two lengths into yarn and knitted this little beanie. Well, it's not so little. It's huge actually and thankfully, I have a big head. So, I guess I'll have to keep this one and start working on my next, being careful to measure next time.

Spinning and knitting is so addicting! And everyone, be nice to me or you'll be gifted beanies and scarves for every occasion for the rest of your life! LOL

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Green School in Bali

A new day

Chickies are fed and watered, pup let out, koi and tilapia fed, ... and now coffee for Joan. It's a good morning. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn ball!

It's Zen. All Zen. It's easy to get lost in spinning.

Here's my first yarn ball that is destined to be my first knitted beanie. :) Wow, it's incredibly satisfying to know that I can transform tufts of wool into something that will keep someone warm this winter! It's about as sustainable as it gets.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A bobbin's worth

My new spinning wheel arrived this week! I bought it on Ebay from a wonderful woman in NM who included a bag of wool, instruction book, and a pair of carders. I L-O-V-E my "new" Ashford Traditional wheel! My engineer brain thinks it's a fascinating piece of machinery and my artist brain considers it a work of art!

Can you tell I've been practicing? I tried using the white wool first, then the beige. What a difference practice makes! After spinning another bobbin's worth, I'll ply them together and then I'll be ready to knit! Oh, I am getting an angora rabbit next month ... but that's another story.

Golden tilapia

I just added 16 more fingerlings to the mix. 34 in all. The 2 largest ones are Lunch and Dinner (sick, I know) and one without an eye is Jack, the one-eyed tilapia. And I put 5 pretty koi in the sump. They all seem to like their new digs.

Oh my ... folks, please remind me to stop naming animals I will be eating!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aquaponics setup - 75% done!

I probably have just one more weekend of fiddling before my aquaponics setup is fully functional. The continuous flow half is up and running and I started my lettuce yesterday. I also inoculated the flood and drain grow beds with some vermicastings and worms in the hopes I've introduced necessary nitrifying bacteria. The pipe fittings are not glued yet as I'm still tweaking the system. I've yet to connect the fish tank pump and of course, I still need to get some fish! Almost there!

Edited: Cement mixing tubs, while not obviously made for other purposes, should be vetted for fish and food safety before using. The brand I purchased is fish safe and materials it is made of suggests it is food safe as well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rules of Daily Conduct

Words I *try* to live by:
  1. Be grateful to all beings in the whole universe.
  2. Always be your natural self.
  3. Be sincere in all things.
  4. Have deep consideration for all people and all things.
  5. Look on the bright side of people and things and not their dark side.
  6. Destroy your selfish attitude.
  7. Believe your life to be God life and move forward with faith in certain victory.
  8. Practice prayerful meditation at least once a day to enlighten yourself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aquaponics! Getting there!

I'm so excited to get the media into the bins today! The two black tubs are my biofilters, which will accept the water directly from the fish tank. One is filled with 3 bags of black cinder and the other is filled with a 50-liter bag of hydroton. It could probably use another 10 liters tho'. Before filling the tubs, I sifted the black cinder with a screen of 0.25 inch hardware cloth and washed it. I just washed the hydroton.

So, generally, my setup operates in two integrated parts, in theory:

Part I, Ebb and Flow: Water runs from fish tank via 500 GPH water pump => 2 biofilter grow beds => through bell siphon (CTAHR-style) => sump => overflow returns to fish tank.

Part II: Continuous Flow: Water runs from sump via 250 GPH water pump => 2 white floating rafts grow beds => overflow from grow beds returns to sump => overflow from sump returns to fish tank. Note: the fish tank is not shown. It's located in the slightly sunken basement, behind the brown laths of the house.

Goodness, I really hope this works.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Afternoon harvest, 10/14/10

Walking around the house after work and gathering fruits and veggies from my garden and coop is such a relaxing afternoon treat. BTW, the tangerines are the Okinawan variety. Each of the section of the fruit is more like a packet of sweet juice than a typical tangerine wedge. If you come to visit, you'll have to try some!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Good Day

I believe that gratefulness is the basis for appreciating the beauty of our planet and all of its occupants. I am thankful ...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

"A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help." ~ Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little Tulip

Tulip is a bantam silkie pullet and already 5.5 months old! She's gotten quite a bit fluffier in the past couple months.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Backyard aquaponics ... the adventure

On to my new project ... AQUAPONICS! Aquaponics is the cross between hydroponics (growing plants in a water medium) and aquaculture (growing fish for food). It's a rather ingenious idea, actually, and is really catching on by those who want to grow their own food and to remain sustainable. Basically, one grows vegetables using fish poo, which is high in nitrogen. The fish water is piped to vegetable growing beds where bacteria break down the ammonia to nitrites and then nitrates, which is a form plants can take up. In doing so, the plants clean the water, which is then circulated back to the fish!

I've started building my three grow bed benches and have already finished the table for my 100-gallon fish tank. Thanks to Donna and Tracy, the Vierra's, and donations from church, I have enough recycled wood for my construction projects. And bless you Dennis for cutting the 2x4s to length for 2 tables! It helped tremendously!

Oh, did I tell you that I am running all of this on solar power? The generator is purchased and ready to install! I'm so excited! More pics soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home grown

I love the recruits from my worm bin! This papaya started sprouting in my flower bed after applying my worm compost to the soil. Just like my other crops that have come before, they were from kitchen scraps that I had thrown into my worm bin. After a year of doing nothing but watching the tree grow, I finally got to enjoy the "fruits" of its labor for breakfast this morning! :D Yum ... strawberry papayas are the best!

I'm really enjoying being able to eat the things I've grown myself. I know for a fact that I have not used any pesticides, are picked at the peak of ripeness, and well, I know I can share them to feed the people I love. There's a lot of satisfaction in that. :)