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.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Its like working in a sweet shop!!

As I deliver produce to our local tea rooms, they all have a fine selection of cakes and goodies and I often think if I worked in a place like that, I just wouldn't be able to resist over indulging! 

However as the season progresses I am beginning to realise that working in the fruit and veg growing business means that everyday we can over indulge in a different way! 

At the moment we have an eclectic selection of treats on offer, the strawberries in the polytunnel are divine; sweet, juicy and so hard to resist as we go about nipping out the side shoots on the tomatoes.

 Then also in the tunnel are the mangetout pods which are delicious raw - sweet and crunchy, which of course need to be tried just to check that they have not gone stringy.

The adjacent agretti is delightful, if you fancy a bite on a succulent, slightly salty, mineral treat and a plant that thrives on being harvested - what more of an excuse do you need to grab a handful as you pass it by.

Harvesting watercress is always a pleasure, a peppery blast, with crunch and freshness.

Staying on the peppery theme, mustard leaves, volunteers from our salads, provide a real fiery hit, which just explode in your mouth.

Our rainbow carrots, provide a sweet bite and a lovely accompaniment to our lunchtime sandwich.

 And so too for the first time today did the mini munch cucumbers, deliciously fresh, crunchy and juicy, and knowing how prolific they are, it will be the first of many.

Just a few of the delicious treats that are currently residing in the polytunnel, with lots more to look forward to, such as over 20 different varieties of tomato. So there is plenty of over indulging still to come, however I can of course argue that it is an essential part of what we do to ensure quality control!! :o)

Thursday 23 May 2019

A touch of the unusual

This year as well as the traditional fayre we are looking to grow some unusual things: 
  • one just because we want to try to grow something new and exciting to eat
  • two to provide something a little different for our customers
One of the current stars of the show is Agretti:

This is the new Italian delicacy, known in English as 'Saltwort'. With a flavour described as a chivey samphire it has a mildly salty, mineral tang, similar to that of a succulent spinach. Its fleshy needle-shaped leaves are traditionally served with olive oil and lemon. It's also great to add an interesting crunch to salads, stir fries or as an addition to pasta dishes. It is delicious and one we have become a bit addicted too - and it is on the menu every night at the moment!


Grown for its roots, which look like large white carrots, salsify is often called the ‘Vegetable Oyster’ because its flavour is said to be not unlike oysters. The long tapered roots have a sweet tender flesh which are tasty in soups and stews - growing well, but on we will have to wait to try nearer to Christmas time.

Rainbow carrots:

A unique mixture of natural and vivid carrots, all with different root colours. They have a sweet flavour with a juicy and tender texture. Perfect to brighten up salads, soups and stir fries. Now at a perfect size for snacking on the thinnings, a lovely lunchtime crunch.


As the name suggests, this useful vegetable combines the uses of celery and lettuce. The young leaves, which contain four times as much vitamin C as lettuce, can be used in salads or boiled as greens, but its main value is the central stem or stalk which can be eaten raw or cooked like celery. A very unusual plant but very good in stir fries - with a nutty taste that has a hint of celery.

Just to name a few, with more to follow...

Time to gamble

Although we are not gambling kind of folk, this time of year is always about edging your bets with the weather!! 

Have we seen the last of the frosts??

After purchasing some horticultural fleece for frost protection earlier in the year we took a risk and planted out our sweetcorn at the beginning of the month, but unfortunately the late frosts had disastrous consequences for one of our crops and we lost the lot, however on the positive the other is showing signs of recovery - fingers crossed.

However now with the need to free up space in the polytunnel and of course the desire to get early produce, there comes a point in the month of May that you just have to go for planting tender plants outside. So to accompany our earlier plantings of:
  • Cavolo nero
  • Rainbow chard

  • Red orach
  • Celeriac

  • Khol rabi 

which are now all storming away, we are filling up the outside beds with some of the old traditionals:
  • Mixed coloured climbing beans, yellow, green and purple, together with assorted dwarf beans

  • Courgettes - again yellow, dark and light green


  • Squash, five different varieties, from the more traditional butternut to the unusual black futsu

Looking at the long-term forecast there are no signs of any more late frosts to catch us out, and in fact quite the opposite, a settled spell of warm beautiful growing weather - here's to the long summer days, fresh produce with loads of variety and colour to inspire our local chefs and customers.

Friday 17 May 2019

Denise and the bantams

We are both amazed and really pleased how well the new members of our hen flock, the Cream Legbar and Peking bantams have settled in. 

Definitely helped by having a 'minder' in the Cream Legbar, now called Denis, the miniatures aren't frightened to stand their ground with the other birds, some of which are as much as 10 times the size!! 

Its great to see them all together and there isn't a day go by that they don't make us laugh out loud - a real pleasure.

Thursday 16 May 2019

Out with the old and in with the new - Spring is here

Whilst the polytunnel continues to house many of our salad leaves, particularly the bright and spicy brassicas, as shown below:

together with the watercress -

It is also still home to our winter greens, rainbow chard and black cabbage (below) which are both favourites and very popular with the local people and businesses, but soon they will be making room...

As we look to turn it into a haven for delicious summer produce, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines, melons and peppers just to name a few. Aiming for early fruits we have already started planting with beds dedicated to tomatoes - 

early dwarf beans - 

early carrots

and of course courgettes, both yellow and green.

But in the next week we are planning for the BIG plant out in the tunnel - with so many plants now bulging out of their pots and the greens outside of a suitable size to prevent a hiatus in supply - the timing should be just perfect.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Working under the spotlights

Our experiments with the salads growing under the lights continue, but there is something that has become apparent, the effect on their germination is fantastic.

Both the brassicas and the watercress present what must be close to 100% take up, which is far more successful than germination in outside conditions.

However the vertical growth is not quite there yet, whilst the trays are shooting upwards, the seedlings could be considered as a bit too keen...

Compared to those grown in outside conditions, (below), they are a little leggy and irregular, (above), without the consistent, dome forming regularity of leaf cover.

This can be seen from both the side profile and also from above, the photo below demonstrates the cushion effect that is typically achieved in outside conditions, (top), compared to the irregular growth pattern, (below) currently achieved under the lights.

Our experiments continue and we are working with the light manufacturers GN UK Ltd to perfect the growing conditions. This includes altering the distance from the lights, changing the time for which we operate the lights and also the type of light used which includes the combination of different light colours, which affects different aspects of the growth. All exciting stuff and a very steep learning curve, but really looking forward to perfecting the approach so we can maximise the potential of our new facility.

Sunday 5 May 2019

A true delight

Yet more new recruits and yet again we were in for a real treat...

Four Peking bantams and a Cream Legbar were in need of a new home...

So small, they all arrived in the same carry cage together, four perfect little miniatures, with their minder - the Cream Legbar, keenly watched by our existing flock.

As soon as they left their carry cage they made straight for the dust bath and they settled in immediately. A real mix of varieties, they truly are adorable, with beautiful plumage and amazing temperaments - exquisite.

After just a few days although in a different coup at night, they were running with the main flock in the day and despite their small size their confidence was admirable and the pecking order seemed to be soon established.

Double trouble, these two beautiful little birds have certainly brought smiles to our faces, oozing with character and the desire for a cuddle, you simply can't help but adore them.

They were soon to have another minder, yet another village hen in need of a new home after the rest of the flock had been lost to Mr Fox - a Rhode Island Red cross, nicknamed 'Billy' joined in the fun.

As well as the pure enjoyment of having our new recruits, they have also brought a couple of additional bonuses...

A supply of bantam eggs, perfect for pickling..

And a beautiful blue egg from the Cream Legbar - an amazing addition to any box of free range eggs.

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...