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.

Monday 24 December 2018

Still enjoying our own tomatoes in December

Although we are still enjoying our own tomatoes , it was time this week to harvest all the remaining fruits and start to clear the poly tunnel to both maximize the space for production but also for learning and to experiment over the winter.

Removing the tomatoes and grow bags gave us the room to build new permanent beds which would be far better for growing the tomatoes and much more next year.
With minimum space between them - just enough to enable planting, harvesting and watering - we were able to squeeze the maximum number in.

Ahead of next spring, the new beds gave us the opportunity to experiment a little - with plants such as mangetout, turnips, beetroot and fennel - just to see if they will grow and how long they take to mature.

Even in the winter the light in the poly tunnel is fantastic, even the weakest rays of sun make everything look magical.

The structures of the new beds also provides us much needed additional room for housing the salads and watercress trays over the winter. The light and warmth of the poly tunnel significantly improves growing conditions compared to the shade tunnel used in the summer.

To utilise every bit of space we adjust the bed size to suit - this final smaller one will be for our Salsola soda - Agretti a type of saltwort a little like samphire.

Having all the new beds now in place is very exciting, as we start to look ahead to next year and begin to plan our 2019 growing season.

Sunday 16 December 2018

21 from 25 - aint bad!

Despite the short daylight hours our happy hens are certainly happy and laying like good 'uns!

The 'old' Lohmans

and the new Bluebells

are certainly laying well, the Lohmans a brown and slightly speckled egg, with the Bluebells laying an egg with a slightly rosy shell.

This week we did the big monthly clean of the coup, to accommodate all those lovely eggs.

Melv finished off with the Diatomaceous Earth to stop some of the nasties, such as red mites. The Bluebells have settled in brilliantly, they are both really smart looking birds and really smart birds.

and the Lohmans, well they are the Lohmans, and as ever they are lovely and attention seeking.

The result is happy hens means lots of eggs - even in December!!

Saturday 15 December 2018

Our completed winter fuel store

After several days of willow pollarding, moving of brash and logging we have been busy splitting and stacking the timber we need as fuel for the next few winters to keep us warm - and more!

With plenty of timber available to us we have also offered to provide a supply of dry logs to the local pub, so we have prepared and stacked separately - sized appropriately for our small wood burner and their large open fireplace.

An excellent job to have completed before Christmas and before the weather has turned wet making the ground conditions in the fields soggy and difficult - we are well pleased.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Growing winter greens

After trying to provide the greens for the Sunday roasts at the Sheppey Inn, Double Gate Tearooms and local people, for the last 6 months, the beginning of the Christmas Sheppey menu, saw our outside winter greens, namely Swiss chard and cavolo nero start to come to an end. However, in an attempt to try to keep continuity we have devoted some of the beds in the poly tunnel to grow them through the winter, but at a faster rate.

Unfortunately due to the demand on the space in the poly tunnel we haven't been able to avoid a hiatus - but that said the plants are now doing well and will be producing good leaves for the New Year.

The rainbow chard is displaying its vibrant colours, with the golden yellow variety undeniably of the most attractive.

 The cavolo nero plants are just starting to produce multiple leaves and should now really start to get away.

Followed closely behind by the scarlet kale - a new plant for us - but with beautiful scarlet veins and crinkly leaves.

 Then of course we have made plenty of room for one of our favourites and the star of the Sheppey slaw...

Purple Vienna - khol rabi

So despite it being the short dark days of December, the poly tunnel is still alive, vibrant and full of variety.

Sunday 9 December 2018

Salad leaves are still on the menu

Despite it being the time for Christmas fare, the demand for salad leaves is still great from our local businesses. As a result it is crucial that we maximise the sunshine and daylight hours at this time of year to facilitate our baby leaf production.

The growth rate of everything is slower at this time of year and for baby leaf salad it increases from 4 to 6 weeks, mind you at the other extreme, during the hot days of last summer they were growing in just 2 weeks!! During these days of short daylight hours to aid their growth once they have successfully germinated in the adjacent shade tunnel, we are now utilizing the grow beds in the poly tunnel to hold the trays and bring them on to their true leaves.

Finding a home for everything is a bit of a juggling act - but the trays of salad and watercress sit nicely alongside the Pak Choi and look amazing in the wonderful light generated by the polythene on the tunnel.

With the maximum number of trays ever, currently under production, every bit of space is being used and make shift supports have been made.

Inside the tunnel is an amazing environment and a brilliant space to work in. Even the weakest rays from the sun raises the temperature dramatically, which is brilliant and essential for growing in what can be the challenging winter months.

Saturday 1 December 2018

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...