Godney Aquaponics

Godney Aquaponics
In the village of Godney, with the beautiful back drop of the Glastonbury Tor, Melv and Sal are embarking on a new venture. Fed up with the poor quality of veg in the shops, they have the ambition to set up an aquaponics system to provide fresh vegetables and salad crops for the village, and with a little help from their hens a supply of fresh free range eggs too.

What is Aquaponics??

What is Aquaponics??
Aquaponics is a sustainable method of producing quality food with minimal external inputs. It is a system that combines conventional aquaculture (e.g. fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Water from the aquaculture system is fed to the hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down and are utilised by the plants as nutrients, and the water is then re-circulated back to the aquaculture system.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Room for the perfect pond

For Melv and Sal life is just not complete without a pond and with all the room at Myrtle Barn there was the opportunity for a big one! This together with being known for not doing anything by halves they hired the kit ready to shift several tonnes of material. Having completed some of the excavations already, the first job was to pump out the water ready to dig out more material and with a little help from the chickens this didn't take long.

Associating the mini digger as a feeding opportunity, the hens make it impossible to excavate material without putting them in danger, so much to their disgust they had to be penned up for the afternoon.

With all the girls safely out of harms way the new excavations were started, and it didn't take long before it started to take shape - it was going to be a big one.

Having the dumper meant that it was easy to move the excavated material, it was amazing how much we generated in a short space of time, but with Sal on the dumper it was shifted in no time.

With the main part of the digging complete we let the hens out while we had a cuppa and reviewed progress. Next step was to smooth off any uneven bits, ready for the liner. The hens couldn't get to the digger fast enough - there were worms to be had!!
Next it was the part we weren't looking forward to, the installation of the liner 18m x 18m. 

Then as if by magic - a stroke of luck - two more pairs of hands arrived - friends Geoff and Heather - what perfect timing!! The liner was unrolled and there was no going back now - thank goodness it wasn't windy or we might have had a Mary Poppins moment!!

Four pairs of hands, meant we could have a pair on each corner and drape the liner perfectly over the excavated area - it fitted - magic - my word it certainly is big and going to be amazing when full of water - no time to waste - little 2" pump put to action.

It soon started to fill the deep section and we excitedly waited for it to start spilling out in the shallow bits

Good job it was a warm afternoon - air had collected underneath and it needed to be forced out before the water got to high - any excuse for Melv to take his shoes and socks off and have a paddle - he just couldn't resist it. Sal was on hand with the camera just in case he slipped!! :o)

As the water rose, there was a bits more work to do on the margins, the make shallow areas for emergent - thank goodness for the digger, it would have taken an age by hand.

Once we had used as much of the liner as possible it was time to backfill the margins, lining the edges with hessian. This would hold the soil back and allow the water to penetrate in - perfect conditions for wetland plants to establish and an excellent way to finish off the edges.

It soon really started to take shape and the reflection of the trees in the water in the late evening sun looked magical.

We are continued our way all round the perimeter

And before long the edges complete the water was coming up and the hens were spuddling

The water up and the liner trimmed it started to look like the perfect pond - just imagine all those wetland flowering plants lining the edges, the water lilies floating on the surface, the dragonflies emerging and dashing about, the swallows swooping down to drink and catching flies - magical - our perfect pond.

Friday 6 October 2017

The next polytunnel installment - the hoops...

My word it is not until you start wrestling with the hoops that you realise how massive our new polytunnel is going to be. Each hoop came in 4 pieces and with a little help from the hens and Melv's mate Matt, we assembled them on the ground ready to lift them into place.

With a bit of wrestling and gentle persuasion the first hoop was in place, but it made us wonder how on earth were we going to get them straight and stable???
However with 4 hoops in place we had something to straighten them up to and before long we were on a roll.
With 11 more to go we needed to get a wriggle on as we only had help from Matt for the day and there was no way Sal was going to be able to lift these whoppers!
By 6pm somehow by hook or by crook we'd done it and yes it is massive
Just think how many veggies we can get in here - we can feed the world - let alone Godney!!
The next job was to install the all the wood work, the door frames, doors and the side rails - then it really did start to take shape - our polytunnel started to grow - much like the food that it is going to help us grow.
With the doors and ridge on the structure was getting sturdier all the time and our concerns about being able to get it straight and it being stable disappeared.
Finally we are ready....
Next is the plastic - but for that we really do need the experts - we can't even lift the roll of plastic, never mind get it over the hoops. Fortunately there is a nursery just down the road who needs a polytunnel covering - and they have the contact for folk who specialize in such things - now we just need a calm, sunny day.

Sunday 1 October 2017

A big metal work jigsaw puzzle...

With the hens now in residence and settled in, our next big challenge - in more ways than one, was the assembly of a major piece of food growing equipment - a massive polytunnel!!

The two of us have always dreamt of being proud polytunnel owners, having cut our teeth on one 8ft x 12ft previously, we were now ready for a much larger challenge, with the new one at 30ft x 84ft!!

As you would expect it arrived in bits - but not sure we were expecting so many bits!!!

It took us most of the day to move it all in side - and it wasn't light!! Good job the barn is the size it is...

The next job was getting the footings in these had to be measured accurately - there was plenty of opportunity for error over an 84ft length - but Melv had it all in hand. With 15 each side a line was essential to keep us on the straight and narrow!

With the size of the structure and the resistance offered by the polythene, these needed to be concreted in - after all we didn't want to be collecting it from the bottom of Glastonbury Tor.

Once hard, with a bit of help from the digger and Matthew the holes were backfilled. We were all set our foundations were in place. But as we looked at the size of the hoops, we couldn't help but think that that was the easy bit.

Home grown

Now normally with our horticultural hats on when we talk about home grown we are refering to vegetables. But for the first time since we hav...