Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aqua....what?

Aqua....what? Yes Aquaponics. Funny word = amazing results! I'm not really sure when I found this amazing idea online but once I did it was full steam ahead! Of course, I did my research and daydreamed about how this would all come together. Now that my walipini was under construction I was positive that I did not want to plant in the dirt. I need something bigger, better and of course ORGANIC!

Aquaponics is aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. More info for Aquaponics

During my online searches I was surprised that there was not a lot of information on the what and how to build these systems or even buy them for that matter.  Sure there is a company here and there that want your arm and leg as payment for these systems but that's not my style. I wanted a larger system so that I could provide not only for my family but also sell fresh organic produce to my friends. 

I finally ran upon a site that made an aquaponics system out of 55 gal barrels! This system is know better as a Barrel-Ponics system. I thought what a cool idea! Not only can I get these for a little expense but I'm also recycling. After MORE research I finally located my Food-Grade 55 gal plastic barrels in Longmont, CO.

Cut them in 1/2 with a jig saw.
Now on the Barrel-Ponics site you can download a copy of this guys instructions on how to make a 2 bed system out of barrels. This was a great start for me but later found that I just had to improvise and use some solutions from my problem solver brain. We cut the barrels in 1/2 and really scrubbed them out well. Next added a frame to the barrels and finally all the plumbing. (Thanks to the horse barn my plumbing skills are above average)

10 grow beds with pea gravel


After I got the system up and running and all the fine tuning was done I was ready to plant.  In the barrel-ponics manual he said you could use pea gravel as a planting media. BIG mistake! The plants did start to grow in the gravel. However, I tried everything under the sun to lower my constant PH problem. After about 2 months my plants started to suffer from the effects of high PH. I first though this was my well water and finally determined that it was the pea gravel its self that what the issue.
Barrel-Ponics in a walipini

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Into new territory

After meeting a good friend for lunch today and telling her all about my latest and greatest events in my life she has insisted that I start a blog and log my journey with everyone else on the planet as a witness. What she seems so interested in was our new greenhouse and growing system that we put in.
What I have come up with was a combination of a Walipini (underground greenhouse) and an Aquaponic system. The walipini was a no brainier for us as we live out on the prairie. Wind and hail are a norm for us. All the normal greenhouses that you can buy from box stores and such are just no match for what mother nature has in store for us out here. Sure I could buy one, but a day later someone in Kansas would be happy with my new purchase! Therefore after lots of searching and research we decided that a walipini was right for us.


Our Walipini has an inner dimention of 20'x36' and is 6' deep. We also added a ramp big enough for a bobcat in case we ever needed to get something big down there. Yes, we live on acreage in case you were wondering. :)
Post holes down the middle
Set the 12' 4x4 posts. 3' in the ground 9' above