Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Much Needed Vacation

This past weekend we took a much needed break as a family.  Sometimes you get so busy and preoccupied with keeping up with all the "TO DOS" That you loose track of stopping and breathing.  That's what we found we needed as we took a break this past weekend at "The Chalet's on Tablerock Lake"  Here are a few things we enjoyed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014



An Aquaponics Adventure

Aquaponics /ˈækwəˈpɒnɨks/, is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponics systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponics system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline.

So we have been thinking of this aquaponics system for sometime now but never had a good place for it.  Now we have a small aquaponics system up and running and hopes of a larger system that could feed many people if we needed to.   So from start up to today this is our trial run of aquaponics.

 We started with an ibc tote to use as a fish tank

Then G-pa came to help us set up the barrel system he made for his system  

The garden looked like a construction zone.

 All the lettuce that my girls and I had started from seed went into the first aquaponics grow bed. 

 Another growing pain.  We had a very windy night and for some odd reason the door on the green house had blown off and I couldn't get it back on.  So the broom held it in there until hubby got home.  LOL

 This photo above is an example of our growing pains.  LOL  came out one morning and we had lost a ton of water through the night and thank goodness it wasn't very cold or these guys would have been belly up.  I bet they started getting worried as the water level kept going down.  :)

We started with 35 larger fish in the ibc tote and 110 smaller fish in the shop in little tanks.  

I'll update more later.  But for now I have to get busy with the daily tasks. 

2014's Garden So far.

2014's Garden Started and Continuing to Grow and Beautify

Did you just think to yourself who in the world starts a garden in Missouri in January???  LOL  Well some things are just meant to be started early.  LIKE ONION SEEDs   Yes I started onions from seed this year and guess what?  They are very easy to grow.  I started seed under grow lights this year instead of my daughter's bedroom (it has the most light)  And they were very grateful for the change.  ;)  
The lights I chose to use are regular shop lights but instead of using one type of bulb you use two different kinds.  One "Cool Tone" and one "Warm Tone"  from everything I've read this balances the heat and light out perfectly and doesn't cost as much as the "REAL" grow lights.  Many people swear this method of lighting beats the "real" grow lights in the growing process as well as expense.  So a $15 dollar shop light from walmart and 2 pkg of bulbs I was set to start onion seeds.  

By February  We had kale and lettuce and onions growing like crazy so for the first time we were able to use the greenhouse.   I was able to get my girls involved and have them set some goals with their Personal Progress for their Faith Value project and we all were able to complete it.  What a good feeling to work together on something like this and associate it with your faith and how with love and care your faith grows like a garden does. 


Now I must tell you March is when we really started growing plants and fish in our Aquaponics system.  I will create a page just for Aquaponics because even though they are closely related and sometimes overlap each other they are way different as well. And the Aquaponics is something we are experimenting with so we are learning as we go.  In March my plants were looking really good and some of them were transplanted in the aquaponics system as you can see in the pix. 

My husband (with my boys assistance) created a sprinkler system that will water the plants at their roots.  :)  Last year he sweetly installed one to surprise me and I was very surprised but all the sprinkler heads were on the top of the fence and so when I wasn't extremely thrilled he asked me if I didn't like it and I had to tell him that you are suppose to water the base of the plant not the leaves.  His reply was logical...."God waters things from the top...?"  But this year he once again came through as my super hero and installed each bed with it's own shut off and watering system that gets mainly the roots.  :)  I am so blessed and somewhat spoiled.  I'm grateful for his willingness to do all these things and all his amazing talents.  Not to mention his hard work ethics and CAN DO attitude.  

We are currently in May so these are the pix I've gathered so far.  

 Look at those raspberry blooms!!!  BEAUTIFUL
 My pepers once again look so small and like they are struggling.  I'm not giving up though.  Next year I will start them earlier and hope for better growth. and strength. 

 My tomatoes don't look as healthy as last year but I didn't plant them in a large enough starter pots.  So it's my fault.
 I planted asparagus last year and it didn't come back.  This year I bought (yep I bought instead of planting from seed frown if you must)  a 2 year old asparagus plant.  Right now it is waiting for a new bed to be built so It can have a proper home. 
 There he is saving my garden my Superhero hard at work.  He is not a redhead just a trick of the setting sun light.  :)
 Missouri weather strikes again.  Last week it dropped down to 39 degrees,  I paniced but hubby stepped up to the challenge and with his idea we placed buckets in the beds with a peice of pvc pipe sitting on the center and then stapled plastic over the beds.  It worked great. 

 My new flower as you approach the entrance to my garden.  My husband once again saved the day I had made a mess of this path trying to make it look better and he swooped in with my boys and created a masterpeice.  I have about 20 lavendar plants that will border the inside of the path.  I am excited to see the growth.  Sometimes feel like I can't wait but then when I look back at last years garden I'm so thrilled about all the change and growth.  I know I can wait it's half the fun. 

 Sugar snap peas and lettuce

 Look baby grapes!!!  We planted these last year and I really didn't know how they would do we lost so many of them.  But look one plant has baby grapes already. 
 I happened across free black raspberry plants on Craigslist and some of them have blooms already.  Super Excited about this. 
 Can't wait for these blackberries to reach their full potential.
 Hubby added a tier of tires for a few strawberries and to disguise a sprinker just a little bit.
 The everbearing strawberries are looking a little thin this year I was expecting the bed to look a bit fuller. 
 My Potatoes are looking healthy