I can feel the energy of spring pushing through the surface of my mind. Like the first leaves unfurling from the dormant plant, my being seems to be awakening. It's been a long winter, lasting several seasons for me but I feel this excitement about life that hasn't been there for a long time.
Over the last several months we have been making a number of changes in how we use water in our home. We just received our bi-monthly water bill and for the last period compared to last year at the same time, we reduced our water usage by 47%! I was amazed. So what did we do?
Building and running an aquaponics system is an adventure. We've had a lot of successes, a few mis-steps and lot of learning along the way.
55 gallon blue barrels buckle
They seem to be an inexpensive way to build a system, however, they have challenges. The buckling means you need to build a good structure to hold them.
I spent the afternoon in the greenhouse making some changes to our aquaponics system. When we initially setup the system, we put two beds above the others. These beds were dedicated to raising duckweed and are setup to be a constant height of water with no other media in the bed. We have had to clean the beds several times since water comes in directly from the fish tank and then settles out in the bed leaving a lot of fish waste in the bottom of the tank. We also have a fingerling tank that is fed directly from the main fish tank and has similar issues.
- When you are attempting to build a new garden bed area, decide where the paths will be and where the planting areas will be. Only walk on the paths and avoid walking on the planting areas. This protects the soil structure, allowing the worms and other microbes to build tunnels and connections easily destroyed by walking on them.
Think about feeding the soil. Some techniques such as lasagna gardening and sheet composting work on the idea of feeding the soil microbes. Rather than building a compost pile on the side of the garden, the items are composted in place.
Last year we built an outdoor bin for composting by worms and black soldier flies. Both can be fed to fish and chickens and, in our case, would be fed to the tilapia in our aquaponics system as well as our chickens.