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 22 April 2019

Our new grow lights

Now we have our small solar array installed, we are ready to take a major leap forward in growing both baby leaf salads and watercress through the winter, but also with the certainty that they will not be affected by insect damage over the summer months.

The secret to this is the use of grow lights, which provide the desired light needed to stimulate growth, with different coloured light for different plant types and growing requirements. We have been working with a British company, GNUK Ltd, who have supplied us with their LED TELOS 0008, ideal for baby leaf salads.

We have decided that due to the popularity of what we are currently producing and the demand for produce like salad and watercress, we are going to postpone the installation of the aquaponics side of the business, until we have more time to invest in it.

So this means that we are going to utilise the room that previously housed the fish tanks for our new grow lights.

Once the tanks were removed, Melv started to prepare the ceiling for hanging the new lights of which we had 12, to be positioned in two rows of 6.

Very easy to install, via the fittings supplied, we were soon ready for the first of the 12, and as they can be operated as individual components we couldn't resist a little trial!!

All measured out as per the plan, Melv soon gets the hang of it and motors on with the rest.

All in position we were ready for the big switch on - get the sunglasses ready...

An incredible light - very powerful, but next the tricky bit - lining the walls with a reflective material. In our case the most cost effective was going to be tin foil, but being thin and flimsy we knew this was going to be a challenge and a recipe for an argument!!

But as often the case the with tasks you don't look forward to, it was nowhere near as difficult and we made great progress quickly, sticking up with PVA glue and finishing with foil tape.

Then with the lights on you really do need sunglasses - amazing|

It feels a little like being inside a spaceship (not that I have ever experienced that!!), but very clean and clinical and the seeds like it too.

After just two days our baby leaf brassicas were already germinating, we now follow with interest just to see what growing under lights in an insect free environment is really like, and the icing on the cake is that it is just brilliant knowing that the sun is paying for all the energy.

Saturday 13 April 2019

Greening up

It is not only the hedgerows that are greening up as spring approaches, we are too, as we look to achieve something we have always wanted to do - have solar panels installed and generate our own electricity. Despite the lack of incentives now available even for business installations we are still very keen to get a small 4.48kW system in place that can cover our energy use.

Our plan was to have the installation ground mounted, just to the east of the potting shed. This is an area that the hens currently have access to, so the first task was to fence off the site to prevent the hens from using the panels as perches!

Once we had made the site hen free Melv set to making the wooden frame to hold the panels.

Although a substantial structure it soon started to take shape, he concreted in the main upright supports, to which then he could attach the main runners which would hold the aluminium frame that holds the panels.

A compass was employed to ensure that the frame was positioned and angled to maximise the sun's rays.

 With the main supports installed, the next job whilst access was still easy was to stone out the site, to keep it tidy and weed free.

 And as you would expect there was plenty of help on hand, to transport to the stone to the site as the hens were keen to get 'hands' on with the muck truck!!

Trench dug, cable installed, stone down and the frame completed we were ready for the installation - even the sun was out ready!!!

The rest was up to Mole Energy and before too long the panels were going on - so exciting - we could really start how smart our small array was going to look.

Three pairs of hands and the finishing touches we being made by lunch time.

Now it is over to the sun to do the rest - highest generation so far has been 3.8kW, not bad for April - we now have another reason to look forward to the summer. 

We also have another little project that this electricity generation will facilitate - but that is news for a future blog...

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...