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 26 November 2017

Tea break - living with hens

There is no getting away from it living with hens, provides endless entertainment. The Lohmans particularly love to be with us and around us, people would say this is all about food - but we would disagree as an example they take any opportunity to sit on our laps and have a snooze.

They are into everything, if we are cladding they are on the cladding.

If we are using the digger then the hens are on the digger!

And if we are having a tea break then ...

That made me laugh out loud   :o)

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Head for heights - turning the lights on

The barn at over 500m2 in size has got a large and complicated roof area to match, some of which is in desperate need of repair, particularly the roof lights which are in the form of corrugated Perspex sheets.

The view from inside, showing the tires being used to hold the sheets down, with all the recent gales we have had that can't be the best approach!!

The view from the roof was not much better, with very brittle sheets curled up at the edges and full of holes.

We were also keen to replace the sheets, not only because they leaked, but also because their were in really poor condition which meant that they were not acting as roof lights as they should. This soon became very obvious as the first was removed and replaced, it was just like someone had turned the lights on!

Not having a head for heights, Melv called on the help and expertise of best mate Matt and together they were soon onto the long run of tired covered sheets. With the help from a grinder and hammer the old sheets hit the deck and the new ones were slid into place.

From underneath it was starring to look amazing as the light transformed the area of the barn below.

Last but not least there was one remaining pair of sheets left, which were in very poor condition, with the technique now perfected these were soon completed.

How smart is that!!

But wait for it - someone has turned the light on in the barn - the result is incredible!!

and of course there is the bonus that the roof doesn't leak any more!!

Sunday 19 November 2017

Beautiful mornings

Recently we have had amazing sunsets:

A misty sunrise on a frosty morning...

 The sky on fire...

Monday 13 November 2017

Chickens' paradise

They talk about happy as a pig in s__t, but what about chickens???

With the polythene on the tunnel and thoughts turning to the installation of growing beds, we were now thinking of our growing material. We have been collecting all the top soil from the excavation of the pond and have several of the hay bales produced this year, to produce compost, but we also wanted some well rotted manure.

Part of the arrangement with the local farmer when he took our grass in the summer for free, was that in exchange we could have some trailer loads of cow muck, much to the hen's delight the delivery was today.

Straight through the barn, 3 large steaming trailer loads were backed into the field.

As each of the loads arrived, we needed to pen the hens up, so they didn't get entangled with the tractor and trailer. Watching the enticing muck be tipped the other side of the fence, they weren't too happy about this and they waited eagerly by the gate for the big release.

The third and final load arrived just after lunch and the hens were let out for the final time - they were ecstatic...

and they swarmed over the pile of s__t, it was a chickens' paradise..

They were in heaven - extra large eggs for the next couple of days!!!

Thursday 9 November 2017

The finishing touches

What a whopper, but with the plastic now on, there were still a few finishing touches that needed to be done.

Trimming and battening, ensuring the plastic was finished off at the ends all needed completing, especially to make sure that the wind can't catch any loose bits.

Securing the pleats at both ends, to stop them rattling in the wind - Melv was on to it.

Next was the job of sorting the side ventilation, first the plastic needed to be finished off and then the green mesh battened down. Melv prepared the battens in the comfort of 25'C.

Then we set to securing the top and bottom, the green mesh far easier than the plastic, a lot more durable and will be excellent for ventilation on those really hot summer days.

336ft of battens and many, many nails later we were all finished and my didn't it look smart and very professional - we were really pleased at the outcome - really pleased.

An incredible amount of work, from taking delivery of the tunnel in kit form back on the 12th September to now a huge covered place, which will play a very significant part in our new venture.

Next we move inside - that is when the fun begins...

Monday 6 November 2017

A work of art

I need to go away more often - a trip to Scotland for work, not only brought a calm day - but it brought the big day - polythene day!!!

With experienced help recruited from a nearby nursery and extra pairs of hands from the village, as if by magic - the deed was done.

7am and icy hoops, no wind - absolutely perfect conditions - the massive cover slid into place, and my word doesn't it look smart. With Sal in Scotland (with the camera), we haven't got any photos of during the event - but the end result speaks for itself - it is amazing!!!

Plastic as tight as a drum - look at those pleats - a work of art

Its like the preparation for Chelsea Flower Show and smells just like it. Its an amazing space and massive - is that Sal down the other end - just think how may vegies we can grow in here.
There is just so much room - Sal drives the agapanthus in ready for the winter - what luxury, can't wait to get the growing beds in.
A job well done and a huge step forward in our new venture!!

Sunday 5 November 2017

Getting ready for the big day...

There's no getting away from it putting up a polytunnel 84ft x 30ft is a big job and a lot of work, with so many different tasks that need to be completed in a prescribed order. Its a little bit like building a house, building the walls and getting the roof timbers on is only just the start, getting the hoops of the tunnel up was major progress, but there is still heaps to do and of course the tricky bit - that big piece of polythene... But our first task was getting ready for it.

The next job was to cover the sections of the hoops that were to have contact with the polythene, with hot spot tape.

Hot spot tape is a very sticky foam tape which provides a cushion between the hoop and the polythene , but also stops the hoops burning the plastic, making it brittle when they heat up in the sun. 15 hoops and each over 13 feet tall meant several hours work on a very high step ladder - but a very necessary job - which extends the life of the plastic significantly.

Our tunnel has got side ventilation and this needed to be fitted before the main plastic, in theory quite straight forward - but over an 84ft length definitely needed two pairs of hands. First we needed to fit a length of polythene attached to a winder that can be adjusted up and down to regulate the ventilation

Next it was a length of green netting on top, this was a little more fiddly.

Doors on, hot spot tape completed and side ventilation panels and netting all in place - we were ready for the main event - the covering - but we needed a calm day and they seem to be few and far between at the moment what with the stormy winds of Ophelia and Brian recently, a day without wind feels like a rare event.

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...