More tweaks to the temporary aquaponics system and why my wife is so awesome

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More tweaks to the temporary aquaponics system and why my wife is so awesome
6/16/2013 5:11:55 AM

Wilting plants spring to life

The pump died yesterday.  I wanted to give the pump and chance by taking it apart, cleaning it, etc. to see if I could get it running again.  Last night while the system was down I drained the grow beds so that the plants wouldn’t sit in hot stagnant water.  No water is almost as bad as hot water in this heat.  This morning we got up to find some of our squash plants looking VERY sad!  They were literally drooping nearly flat against the rock and looking dead.  Argh.  We quickly filled the grow beds with fresh cool water from the hose and then went off to run some errands.  Upon returning a couple of hours later we found our plants standing tall and looking proud towards the sun.  Amazing how much life plants have!

Replacing the burned out pump

Well one of the many bad things that can happen to an aquaponics system happened to us.  The pump finally gave up the ghost.  We had been using it for various farm chores over the last couple of years.  And now with the continued use in the aquaponics system it finally died on us.  I attempted to restore the pump by taking it apart, cleaning it up a bit, moving the parts around, etc. but it was pretty dead.  It made a sound as though it wanted to spin…but couldn’t.  Off to Tractor Supply!  Thank god that I chose to add a quick connect between my pipes and the pump.  It took a minute or so to unscrew the old pump and connect the new pump.  Werrrr…we are back up and running. Now to address the triple digit heat that we are experiencing!

Getting out of hot water

One of the tasks for this weekend was to add a larger fish tank to the ever expanding “temporary” system.  We did this by adding the 300 gallon tank we were using for our horses (don’t worry they have a pond and several smaller water troughs).  We chose to put the large tank inside the house in the converted garage which sits right behind our current sump tank.  This room is currently being used as a media room/guest room/my office (where I sit now as I type this).  It is a perfect room to have a pond in (if there is such a thing) as it still has texas style cement floors and sits lower than the rest of the house (just in case).  And it is air conditioned!  Hopefully this will help us with the triple digit weather we are starting to get.

Part of this new addition gave me the chance to use some PEX that my friend left at the house.  If you haven’t used it before you should know that PEX is a sort of more flexible way to run plumbing.  It uses quick connectors instead of glue and is a flexible hose rather than the rigid PVC that most people use.  The connectors are quite a bit more expensive but way easier to work with.  And given that the “pipe” is so flexible you can actually use less connectors than normal as you weave the pipe to its destination.  Also with this flexibility you can be far less accurate in what you build.  Perfect for adding the big tank to the existing system.

The down side to the addition is that I had planned on extending the existing drainage system from where they sat before (and still sit) to the new fish tank.  This adds about 4 feet to the lines mostly parallel to the ground.  This cut my pressure significantly and totally messed up my flood and drain cycle.  The siphon no longer worked!  Oh well.  After tinkering on it for  awhile I finally decided that tomorrow morning I will put the drains back to the way they were (which worked flawlessly).  And instead I will connect the back flow pipe from the pump over to the fish tank (also using PEX).  As it is always on and fully pressurized at all times it makes the perfect water input source …for now.

I will have pictures of all this new stuff tomorrow.

Why my wife is awesome

If you hadn’t guessed by now from this very blog post – my wife is a pretty awesome companion for me, my family, and this farm.  Not only did she not have an issue with adding 300 gallons to the “temporary” aquaponics system she let me put it INSIDE the house so that we could keep the water temperature under control through the coming hot months.

But in addition to that she has seen just how awesome aquaponics can be.  We have only had this system running for about two weeks.  And in that time she has seen the next to death seedlings that I brought home sprout into action.  I am pretty sure that we would have lost at least half of them in a dirt farming scenario (at least here in the hot texas weather).  But in aquaponics they are booming.  She also got to experience first hand how responsive plants are in their aquaponics environment.  And she was able to harvest some bits from the “garden” today in order to make some homemade pizza with homemade pizza sauce.  She was able to use some of the basil and peppers.  We also got to taste our first tomato which was awesome.

Personal fact - I HATE TOMATOES!

If you are a family member or friend that has known me for any length of time you are probably aware that I hate tomatoes.  I can eat them in sauce.  I can eat them as ketchup.  I can eat salsa.  But I can’t eat raw tomatoes.  Too many textures and flavors in my mind.  Probably some child hood trauma too.

But the little yellow tomatoes that we are currently growing are freaking amazing.  Jess ate half of one.  I ate the other half. I can’t wait till all the rest are ready for picking!

AND – we used some fresh green onions in our food yesterday. Someone remembered that you could plant the root base of green onions and possibly sprout up a new plant.  We looked this up to confirm it and then ran out to plant them.  What could it hurt right?  Man oh man – plant your green onion root base and watch them take off.  We planted them yesterday afternoon.  Only 24 hours had passed and we noticed that we had a full 1/2” of growth on all of the onions we planted.  A 1/2” in one day.  AWESOME.

With all of this happening in the last few of days I can now tell you that I had previously mentioned to the wife, in my normal chatter box manner, that this system was designed to handle 8 grow beds.  That we were only using 4 and that I had only every planned on using 4.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I was just filling the air with my thoughts.  And had you asked I would have probably told you that she most likely didn’t listen or care.  After all it is probably just another expensive farm project that doesn’t produce! 

Well today she asked me to add the additional 4 grow beds to our ever expanding “temporary” system.  She is really getting into this grow our own project and wants the additional space to see what else she can get to grow.

I love my wife!

We will have to build a fodder system and seedling rack next for more magic she will love.

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