Back in the swing of things

The Morchat Farm was put to the back burner as the 32+ days of over 100 degrees weather lingered on in the B/CS. School started and I just couldn’t keep up with teaching the next generation fractions and maintaining a soil garden and aquaponics  garden.  The aquaponics system is pretty self managing right now, but the soil garden needed too much water to keep the one pumpkin alive… so I opted to just water my trees and pray for rain.  I also found some fun in an iphone game called “Farm Story”  here is a picture of my small farm.  Everything is free and you get paid to grow veggies… what else could you ask for?!

I started getting the Aquaponics system ready for cooler weather by cleaning out one of my beds.  The root system of the spearmint was crazy!  It literately took the entire bed.  I shut it down for now until I can get it cleaned out and ready for Fall veggies!

The clean out

My Blue Gill are doing great and growing quite well!

Even my Chilli Peppers can make it in this heat!

We spent the weekend in Wimberly, TX with some great friends.  The Pletchers drove down with us and we were pumped to get to spend time with friends over the Labor Day weekend!

Summer Heat!

In the Brazos Valley it has been over 100 degrees for the past 18 days straight… and we have planned for 10 more!!!  With this heat our soil garden is done.  My front and backyard grass is done.  I cut down three dead trees a week and a half ago because… they were done.  Right now I’m watering my trees every other day for about 30min.  The key to watering trees is you have to water at the drip line.  Here is a picture of the drip line –

The Aquaponics system has been getting by fine, but I’m loosing water due to evaporation which I have planned to happen.  I have been adding about 5 gal of water a day to the system and the blue gill are loving this hot weather.  My plants are getting by, but compared to my soil garden they are thriving!!!  I plan to add some Fall vegetables in mid September like broccoli and kale.  Here are a few pictures –

We also hosted a Composting Class taught by Thomas Supercinski (his blog).  He was and is a great teacher and got my composting system up and running.  Everything used to make this bin was found in Bryan, TX for FREE!!!

Black Solider Fly Larva and a cooling tower!

This week I’ve had some time to finish two projects on the farm.

1. Build a black solider fly larva harvester

2. Build an evaporative cooling tower for the fish tank.

 

The black solider fly harvester will allow the fly to lay eggs and give the larva a place to go… until I use them for chicken or fish feed!

Here is a quick article on the benefits of these little flies! 

and here is the blog I educated myself with

www.blacksoldierflyblog.com

I also built an evaportive cooling tower to cool the water temp of my fish tank.  It has been 100 degrees here in Bryan the past two weeks and my fish are getting stressed.  I picked blue gill and catfish for their tolerance to hot Texas water, but I needed to lower the temp to below 90F.

I did some research and talk with my friend Ian and used stuff I already had around the house to build my cooling tower.

As the water falls the “hotter” water molecules evaporate… leaving the cooler ones to fall back into the water, thus cooling the water!  Lots of science here… but that is for another time!  It is working and my water temp now gets down to 85 degrees F at night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change

I’ve been away at school conferences that have been very encouraging  and give me hope for the state of public education in Texas.  That hope is that we are on our way to the bottom.  It may seem strange that I want public education to hit rock bottom, but in that moment when all previous methods have failed…. it forces society and educators to look for and try something new.

Many have to hit rock bottom before they want to make any changes. We show them they’re not alone, and we offer them the chance to realize they can make those changes.

~ Susan Hicks

Society is on the edge of a change.  I feel it in my heart and in the hearts of those the Lord has places around me in my community.  Change is not bad… it is necessary to grow.  I’ve been reading a wonderful book titled, Look to the Land, by Lord Northbourne.

Written in 1939, the book is about the interrelationship of God, humanity, and the soil as a unity presupposing a way of life in stark contrast to that of the myopic, mechanististic world that Lord Northbourne saw encroaching on all sides.  It is a much needed breath of fresh air and it has started to give me a vision our how Jordan and I can use aquaponics and our land (706 Inwood, Bryan, TX) to teach a younger generation and our peers how to care for and live as a part of Mother Earth.  It is a great book and I encourage you to buy it or borrow it.

22 days

 

Well, it has been 22 days since I added plants and officially kick started the Morchats into the land of aquaponics.  Fish have been in the system for about two weeks and everything seems to be working how it should be.

I can’t ask for anything more.  Mother Earth is working and the system has started its long cycling process.  The cycling process will take anywhere from 6-10 weeks.  Then, I will have an adolescent system and can watch the plant and fish growth explode!  The system will be considered a mature system in about a year.  At that point I hope to have more grow beds and more fish!!!!

I had to add more plants to process the nitrates in the system.  Here are 8 heirloom tomatoes

Here is the pepper grow bed

Don’t know if you can really see it but the bluegill are waiting to feed!

We have fish and… problems

This weekend I went to Bait Barn Fisheries here in Bryan and got 25 catfish and 25 hybrid bluegill for the system.  It has been about 2 weeks since I put plants in the grow media and so I should have some bacteria forming.  The bacteria will take the ammonia (fish waste) and transform it into nitrites.  Another bacteria will take the nitrites and convert them into nitrates which is amazing Garden of Eden type plant food!

The Bucks (Oregon) are also producing amazing Garden of Eden type plant food via worms!  Their company is called Oregon Happy Worm… or it was last I heard… it is in the building phase!

Right now my main concern is the ammonia levels of my tank.  The fish are loving the water, but I’m not for sure if I have enough plants for the fish that I have.  Only time will tell… thats the thing with Aquaponics… you have to wait and wait until Mother Nature takes over and does what she does best… fix what humans mess up!

Here is my grow beds after two weeks.

Here are the fish coming home from Bait Barn Fisheries.

This is a catfish fingerling.  It is about 6 in. long and loving the tank!

Here is a catfish and a bluegill.  Hey have a great friendship!

I’ll be away for the next two weeks, so pray for good growth and good bacteria!

peace

We have Plants!

School is out for summer and that means I have some free time to invest into our small farm.  Jordan and I have been sitting out for coffee in the morning and enjoying the start of summer.

Today I finished Morchat Aquaponics MOD 2  and added plants.  I have also been adding lemon juice to bring down the pH of my water.  I need a pH of 6.3 – 6.7 in order for good bacteria to thrive. Once we have good levels of nitrate and nitrite I will add the fish.


I added wood pallets to help distribute the weight of the rock and water.  Everything feels very sturdy and looks level.

Here are some shots of our strawberries, all types of peppers and in the third bed I have heirloom tomatoes.

Here is the SUMP. It is used as a solids filter and a way to keep my fish tank at a constant 300 gallons.  The SUMP is also used as a general mixing tank for when I add lemon juice or liquid seaweed.

SOIL GARDEN PICTURES