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 25 February 2019

A flavour of an unusual February

The recent sunny and atypically warm February days have been a very welcome change from the dark, damp, short winter days of January and have produced brilliant growing conditions for our salad trays.

The light in the polytunnel has been just amazing...

The different shades of the baby leaves light up as they respond to the longer days and the intensity of the sun - a real treat to see.

It is great to see our stock for the busier months now building up as we seek for continuity of supply through the spring and as we head towards holiday time. This all kind of kicks off at Easter in April, which in growing terms is not that far away!!

Friday 22 February 2019

Getting ahead of the game

One of our biggest challenges is to extend the growing season and reduce the slower, winter months, so in order to get ahead of the game are aim is to get plants germinating a little earlier that typical. To do this and to guard against damaging frosts we have been building a bigger propagator.

Utilising the existing grow beds in the polytunnel  a simple batten frame and a roll of bubble wrap gave us the base for a very effective piece of kit.

Opening top and sides, the new propagator had maximum ventilation and provided excellent light levels. This also meant access was easy and we will be able to lift trays and pots in comfortably.

 Aluminum poles off an old fishing rod stand made excellent light weight stays to hold the top sections open.

 As the grow bed is already covered with a liner, this provided the waterproofing we needed to accommodate the heating cable and damp sand.

 The cable was placed on top of insulation board again to maximise the warmth, damp sand was then used to cover the two, to act as a material to transmit heat, protect the cable and provide a level surface for our trays and pots.

Once complete, our fresh sowings were at the ready and the propagator was filled instantly - pots galore, full of the traditional such as tomatoes and beetroot, together with the unusual like celtuce, agretti, just to name a few.

With Mark I complete and already full, Mark II was soon underway and positioned adjacent.

 An impressive structure, provides an excellent space to both stimulate germination and then provide frost protection.

And stimulate germination it certainly does, as for the frost protection - fortunately we haven't really had that test yet - but I do recall snow in March last year!!

Happy days!!

Monday 18 February 2019

New recruits

Last month we were approached by neighbours in the village about whether we would be able to accommodate 8 new chickens who needed a new home. At first we were a little concerned that such an introduction might upset the status quo, especially if they were older birds. However on hearing that they were point of lay and very used to being with people, we felt that they would probably fit in a treat with our girls, still young, easy to handle and after all we have the room - so...

The middle of last month the new recruits arrived, released out of their carry cages inside the pen which we had prepared for them. As recommended we planned to keep them separate from our girls, but in view, just for a few days until they settled down.

They were soon milling around and making themselves at home, the 8 included one of the biggest Bluebells we have ever seen, together with 3 new varieties.

Four Rhode Island Red crosses, this one particularly inquisitive - a lovely looking bird and already looking for attention.

A Light Sussex, what a stunning looking bird who lays chocolate brown eggs, a little nervy, but I am sure her confidence will build. 
Two Copper Marrans, Melv says hello to one of them, again stunning looking hens, very placid and content, with beautiful black feathers, which glint with a turquoise hint - the copper mane is the icing on the cake.

Before too long they were making themselves at home - corn and laying pellets on offer - they were soon tucking in.
The Light Sussex was the first to find a nest box, followed soon by the other newcomers - the resulting eggs were a very welcome addition to include in our egg boxes. 

After a couple of days we let the newbies run with the oldens and they settle right in straight away, before too long the Rhode Island Red crosses were dominating the perches, completely at home - well done girls!!

A very welcome addition - they are lovely new recruits.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

A touch of the white stuff

Unusually for us in the south west we were hit by a couple of inches of snow last week, this certainly changed the appearance of Godney Aquaponics! With a coating of the white stuff the polytunnel felt to be a very different place - eerily quiet and with subdued light as the snow formed a kind of blanket which engulfed the plastic.

Out in the fields the blanket stretched across...

The hens weren't too keen and they didn't venture out, not much chance of working outside - I was certainly very pleased I had my nice warm potting shed - the sowing of salads must go on - still very much on the menu amongst the roasts and soups at the Sheppey Inn!

The snowy conditions didn't last for long and after a day the thaw began with a sprinkling left on the fields and defining the lynchets on Glastonbury Tor.
As the grass started to appear the girls began to investigate this unusual white blanket, a first time for many of them.
And before too long it was life as normal and just a few puddles left, perfect for spuddling in.

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...