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.

Friday 30 March 2018

Aquaponics antics

With the conventional beds now completed and seed sowing underway the next step in the polytunnel was for Melv to construct the frames for the flow beds. With plans for four in the future, we set our initial sights on two.

To hold a substantial amount of water constantly, Melv commenced building what turned out to be significant structures, with a substantial framework to form beds 1.2m wide by 12m long.

These were then to be clad with thick plywood, to provide the bed that can then be lined with a waterproof material.
Not one but two...

The second soon started to take shape - now Melv had worked out the construction technique.

Despite their size - looking back down the polytunnel their linear structures seemed to make it look even bigger and it already felt massive!!
One last bit to go and you can start to visualize an abundance of veggies growing

All finished and ready for the liner
The polytunnel starting to take on the appearance of a tunnel ready to produce, all we need now is a bit of warm weather and for spring to take off to see our hard work  begin to come to fruition.

Friday 23 March 2018

Polytunnel progress

With lots to do, we work to keep all the plates spinning and work in the polytunnel continues to progress. The plan is that the tunnel will kind of be split into two - the conventional growing and the aquaponics growing.

Melv finishes constructing the three conventional beds at one end of the tunnel and he uses the muck truck to move a combination of soil, sand and manure in to create a range of different growing substrates for our conventional crops.

The hand-held Mantis rotavator comes into its own  as it gently mixes up the different combinations of materials and two of the beds are soon ready for sowing and planting. These will be perfect for crops such as asparagus, carrots, beetroot, radish and garlic.

Melv soon finishes the third bed too, which will be covered in black plastic and will be for crops such as beans and potatoes. 
Next we sort out our watering device, which is an IBC which we will paint black and install a pump in to, attached to a hose and a sprinkler.
In the meantime, Sal gets ready for the aquaponics bit of the tunnel, that's Melv's next job...

Sunday 18 March 2018

The final piece of the concrete jigsaw

This weekend saw us lay the final piece of the concrete jigsaw on the barn floor, well at least for now.


Melv prepared the middle section of the floor ready, scrapping back any high bits and wetting down to keep the dust under control.

By 8am, the 1 tonne dumper was standing at the ready while the concrete lorry did its mixing.
Then as if by magic and several dumper loads later, Melv and Matt had it laid and it seemed to make the space look even bigger - it was great to know that it was going to mean the end to all the dust, giving us another excellent clean space to work in.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Three whoppers!!!

The arrival of three big 'uns!! 
Yes - our fish tanks have arrived 
I could pretend that Melv collected them in the truck - but the lorry was too big to get down the lane, so just a short trip in the back of the truck was needed - getting them off was a challenge - stand back and let them roll...
 A length of rope gave us some control and they were soon on the deck and with the help of a couple of planks we slid them into the barn.

At 2,800 litres in size they even looked big in the barn!!

Our insulated 'fish house' was already for their arrival

We opened the big door at the end of the building and with the help of Melv's mate Matt they were wrestled into place.

One, two, three they took up their places a long the back wall, ready to be able to flow water from one to another.
Next to be installed will be the filters - which we have arranged to collect from Bristol, then the pipe work and pumps, so a little it to do before we can introduce our finned friends.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Finishing for the fish

With the fish tanks on order, we turned our efforts to the building in side the barn, which houses the office and the large tanks.

A very well insulated area which will work to both keep us warm in the office and the fish cool in the building next door

With the plaster on the walls, Sal got the paint pot out - it soon started to look smart, very clean and sharp. With two big windows - a very light room and perfect for keeping an eye on the hens and the polytunnel.

At the same time Melv directed his efforts to finishing the fish tank room, with plywood on the walls and polystyrene tiles on the ceiling, the final touch was the paint on the floor - we were getting close...
The view from the other end - with the end panel removed - the way in which the tanks will be moved in
With the inside complete, Sal moved outside to finish the cladding, with the door and windows in place, it was the final piece of the jigsaw
Now we're ready for the big day - the installation of 3 massive fish tanks...

Tuesday 6 March 2018

The first step...

With progress going so well inside the barn we decided to give ourselves a couple of days off to work in the polytunnel - a real treat...

We couldn't wait to get started.

First Melv cut the grass - is that a chicken I can see getting in on the action! That must be Steve - who constantly escapes over the fence - 'The Great Escape'

Just over half the 84 foot long tunnel was going to be devoted to the aquaponics side of our growing, with the remainder for conventional growing.

The first job for the conventional growing area was to start to build the raised beds, leaving walkways in between for good and easy access.

We lined the timber with plastic to help preserve it and used Teram to keep the weeds down in the walkways.

Once we had finished half of the first bed, it was time to get some desperate asparagus plants in, that we have been growing on for the last 2 years and which made the move from Stawell with us - our first bit of planting!
With three planned, whilst Sal planted the asparagus, Melv cracked on with bed building
And before long they were taking shape and were soon to be ready to be filled with earth - that will be the next job when we take our next day off...

Monday 5 March 2018

From outside to in...

Next our attention was to be focused on the inside and after Melv and Matt had laid the next section of concrete floor we began building the office and the room for the aquaponics equipment that needed to be inside. This area that was going to be for the fish tanks and filters - how exciting is that!

To be of a timber construction - Melv started to get the walls in place and it soon started to take shape.

Sal then followed on with the installation of the insulation inside the timbers, fixed with squirty foam, this made the panels very strong and of course would make for a very well insulated inside environment. This will mean that it will be easier to control the temperature of the water, cool for trout or warm for tilapia, depending on which we decide to keep.

The ceiling timbers were to follow and our building inside a building was looking good.

The electrics going up on the walls made it feel real and I could begin to visualise a kitted out office, with a lovely view, from which we could keep an eye on both the hens and the bubbling tanks brimming with healthy fish.

Next Melv's attention went to the ceiling, which he insulated as he went along putting the plasterboard in place.

The ceiling was soon up and that certainly made it look big

With the internal wall up to define the office, Melv soon had plasterboard on the office walls

And the plaster followed on behind

The main room has been lined with plywood, which we may well clad with a waterproof material - but we plan to live with it for a while.

Leveling up the floor needed to be done before the fish tanks arrived and with help from Matt, this was soon achieved to the standard we wanted.

Sal looked to finish off the outside, with yet more cladding...

but it soon started to take shape.

It really does feel now as though we are edging closer to the big day when we get the aquaponics up and running and produce in the polytunnel - it won't be long now...

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...