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.

Saturday 30 March 2019

New recruits have settled in

There is no danger of thinking that the new chicken recruits haven't settled in...

As Mrs Chatterly, who never stops chatting takes up a position on Melv's shoulder!

Bringing the new beds to life

As the season progresses, we begin the exciting job of bringing the new outside beds alive. The rhubarb, grown from seed, is now starting to come to life as the fronds start to push their heads up through the compost. 

Horseradish thongs are planted in the bed alongside, which we wait and watch expectantly for signs of them to pop their heads up through.

Next for the Jerusalem artichokes - a staple for some of our local businesses and a favourite of ours too!

Khol rabi seedlings brought up in the polytunnel, definitely ready to be planted out in the March sunshine.

Red orach seedlings, grown on from self seeded plants resulting from last years crop, with stunning, beautiful purple, soft leaves that shine in the spring light.

One of the staples - Cavolo nero, once again grown on in the polytunnel, good sized plants were in need of being planted out and we hope will enable us to achieve continuity of supply for those weekly Sunday roasts.

Rainbow chard - another favourite, with leaves almost ready for harvesting, once again hopefully to provide continuity, so that local people and businesses can rely on us.
Now we look forward to watching them grow as the daylight hours increase and the sun's rays get stronger - it's all so exciting!

Thursday 14 March 2019

Ticking off the jobs

As a fledgling business we are still building as we are going, or more accurately building as we are growing! As a result, in addition to sowing, planting and cultivating there are still loads of other jobs on the list. With little to know time in the peak of the growing season the winter months are really the only period when it is possible to devote more time to getting infrastructure work done and ticking those jobs off the list.

New doors for the polytunnel was high up the list, to improve ease of access and make the entrances more weather proof and able to cope with strong winds.

Melv made the doors with proper catches and handles which means that we are now able to open and close the doors with our hands full, as we are often juggling numerous pots and trays. He has also constructed inner doors, which will be covered with insect mesh, so no more chasing around with a fishing net trying to catch cabbage white butterflies as they target our greens for their egg laying!!

New doors have been made for both ends, so we can get into the tunnel easily whatever the wind direction and be confident that they will not be blown open by the strong winds that we seem to be having a lot of lately.

Moving outside, building deep grow beds free of wireworms, for root vegetables such as salsify and carrots, is an important job which will enable us to provide variety of produce.

Working on ground that has previously been down to grass, means that the soil is prone to being inhabited by wireworm, which are attracted to feed on roots and as a result can be devastating for root veg especially.

Wireworm in 'bait' potatoes we left for them.

Constructed out of galvanized sheeting and timber they provide an excellent growing space adjacent to the polytunnel and they also provide the opportunity for the recycling of salad trays, to which we add our own compost, providing an excellent wireworm free media.

Our homemade chiller was essential during the warmer months last year, providing the opportunity to hold on to salad trays for a short time, by halting their growth and so enabling continuity of supply. But to satisfy demand it was nowhere near big enough, so doubling the size was another essential job on the list.

Of a simple construction this was a relatively simple job to do. By moving the frame and door out the size of a 8ft x 4ft Celotex insulation sheet the chiller was doubled in size, which will not only meant that it can house more trays but also that we can actually move around in it - luxury.

With the chiller unit back in place, the new structure is ready to be used as soon as the warmer months arrive. All that was left to do was the clad the outside, smarten it up and add to its efficiency.

Heading outside once more, having constructed additional grow beds in the adjacent field for plants such as asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes and horseradish, fencing is also on the list and one on the next jobs and as usual the girls are keen to help!!

Tuesday 5 March 2019

A taste of summer

Although last year we only had a limited supply, our soft fruits were very popular, particularly the strawberries. We grew a number of different varieties which enabled us to compare the fruits for taste and longevity. We found that both Elsanta and Ostara were excellent, providing fruit early on and late into the season and we plan to grow these two again this year, together a couple of other new varieties we have sourced.

Due to limited preparation time, last year we grew the fruits in baskets and the outside beds, but neither situation provided the best conditions, so this year we are a bit more organized and have been getting ready to be a little more fit for purpose both inside and outside the poly tunnel.

For the Elsanta variety, the our early fruits, we plan to get a number away in the tunnel and will use the side of the flow beds to provide the structure from which to 'hang' the plants. By building a simple frame we can easily support a number of grow troughs.

The troughs from our seed tray suppliers are ideal, at nearly a metre long the side of one flow bed alone will support 12, providing enough growing area for 48 strawberry plants.

We have taken the same approach outside on the side of the polytunnel - at over 24m long this provided a perfect space for 27 troughs.

At 4 plants per trough, this section alone will accommodate over 100 plants.

Still with a few troughs to spare, the fence line was the next host and using the same technique we built accommodation for the remaining containers.

Strawberries galore - well certainly enough to provide a taste of summer for a good number of Godney villagers.

With no time to waste, Melv gets the plants established in the tunnel, watered and settled into their new home.

And sure enough the plants responded - and after just a few days we were already seeing new growth.

A taste of summer indeed - I can almost taste those sweet juicy fruits, it won't be long...

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...