BITs & PIECEs

BLACK SOLDIER FLY LARVAE HARVESTER

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016

Lot’s of ways to do BSF. Here’s a few that we do in the Philippines for year round grubs Find compatible diameters Combine upper big with lower little (your upper little can combine with another lower still smaller still) I’ve used 120 Liter/80 Liter, 80 liter/45 liter successfully but check for compatibility before you buy! Make sure your rack holds everything if you want self harvesting Use a filler that is available that you are comfortable with- cement with perlite, body filler, epoxy etc. Make sure your 35º evacuation ramp is sealed, drainage of lechate is adequately sloped Rack system with room for lechate collection Don’t forget the nursery! Females lay eggs in corrugated material on underside of lid. Leave holes for entrance of pregnant females. Let 1-2% hatch under ideal conditions to assure perpetual propagation. We use a small pupating chamber for the new generation to come on line Use a simple method to start if you can’t copy the above...

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DIY-SELFERS 101

OFF GRID & SOLAR POWERED…!

Posted by on May 1, 2016

I live in central Florida near the coast where we get plenty of sunshine.  After completing my Aquaponics system I wanted to have a backup for when the power goes out. So I figured that solar power is a good way to go here. We have been lucky for the past six years with no major hurricanes but that is unusual. We have been without power for seven days, five days, three days and so on. Most times it is at least one day so I designed for three days without power. A lot of the following information can apply to wind power as well.  Let me say that working with solar panels and batteries can be dangerous. I have a background in electronics and have certifications from two tech schools and a solar design and installation certification. I think that it is worth it to at least get a certification in solar installation so you know the basics. http://www.sunpirate.com/ If you are unable to do that then please do a thorough study on the subject.  We need to have a...

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Veggies Galore

BUTTER BEANS…YUM..YUM..!

Posted by on May 8, 2016

Eaten as a vegetable and commonly known as the lima bean or butter bean and also known as Haba bean, Pallar bean, Burma bean, Guffin bean, Hibbert bean, Sieva bean, Rangoon bean, Madagascar bean, Paiga, Paigya, prolific bean, civet bean, sugar bean, Etchells Bean,; it is a delicious vegetable by any name and enjoyed by people all over the world. Easy to Grow They are exceptionally easy to grow in an Aquaponics system and will produce the best tasting beans you ever put in your mouth. Just follow normal planting in the spring in rockwool or the media of your choice and as soon as the danger of frost has past and the seedlings show true leaves, transfer them to your grow bed media and stand back for the explosion of growth you will witness.  Pick fresh beans for your table all summer long, but don’t forget to leave some of the biggest beans on the vine and allow them to go to seed for use next year and to share with other AP’ers. Varieties Both bush and pole (vine) varieties...

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The Fish We Grow

KOI LOVE ~ THE BEGINNING..!

Posted by on Mar 23, 2016

Koi are among the longest-living vertebrates, with some living over 200 years. The most popular category of Koi is the Gosanke, which is made up of the Kohaku (Nishikigoi), Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku varieties. Is there anything in nature more diverse or beautiful..? History The carp is a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia. Asian carps were originally domesticated in East Asia, where they were used as food fish. The ability of carp to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations including Japan. Natural color mutations of these carp would have occurred across all populations. Carp were first bred for color mutations in China more than a thousand years ago, where selective breeding of the Prussian carp led to the development of the Goldfish. Carp are known as Koi in Japan. Of the various domesticated carp species, the common carp is one of the more commonly used in Aquaculture. The common carp was grown as a food fish at least as far...

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Recent Posts

THE LOWLY CUCUMBER…!

THE LOWLY CUCUMBER…!

Mar 27, 2016

The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant. The cucumber is originally from India, and there are 3 main varieties of cucumber from which hundreds of different cultivars have emerged on the global market. Flowering and pollination A few varieties of cucumber are parthenocarpic, the blossoms creating seedless fruit without pollination. Pollination for these varieties degrades the quality. In the US, these are usually grown in greenhouses, where bees are excluded. In Europe, they are grown outdoors in some regions, and bees are excluded from these areas. Most cucumber varieties, however, are seeded and require pollination. Thousands of hives of honey bees are annually carried to cucumber fields just before bloom for this purpose. Cucumbers may also be pollinated by bumblebees and several other bee species. Symptoms of inadequate pollination include fruit abortion and misshapen fruit. Partially pollinated flowers may develop fruit which are green and develop normally near the stem end, but pale yellow and withered at the blossom end. Traditional varieties produce male blossoms first, then female, in about equivalent numbers. New gynoecious hybrid cultivars produce almost all female blossoms. However, since these varieties do not provide pollen, they must have interplanted a pollenizer variety and the number of beehives per unit area is increased. Insecticide applications for insect pests must be done very carefully to avoid killing off the insect pollinators. Storage Cucumbers can best be stored sealed in shrink foil. Sealing a cucumber increases its shelf life considerably. Taste There appears to be variability in the human olfactory response to cucumbers, with the majority of people reporting a mild, almost watery flavor or a light melon taste, while a small but vocal minority report a highly repugnant taste, some say almost perfume-like. Various practices have arisen with regard to how bitterness may be removed from cucumbers. Among these a very common practice popular in India includes slicing off the ends of a cucumber, sprinkling some salt, and rubbing the now-exposed ends of said cucumber with the sliced-off ends until it appears to froth. Another such urban legend states that one ought to peel a cucumber away from the end that was once attached to a vine, otherwise one risked spreading the...

KOI LOVE ~ THE BEGINNING..!

KOI LOVE ~ THE BEGINNING..!

Mar 23, 2016

Koi are among the longest-living vertebrates, with some living over 200 years. The most popular category of Koi is the Gosanke, which is made up of the Kohaku (Nishikigoi), Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku varieties. Is there anything in nature more diverse or beautiful..? History The carp is a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia. Asian carps were originally domesticated in East Asia, where they were used as food fish. The ability of carp to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations including Japan. Natural color mutations of these carp would have occurred across all populations. Carp were first bred for color mutations in China more than a thousand years ago, where selective breeding of the Prussian carp led to the development of the Goldfish. Carp are known as Koi in Japan. Of the various domesticated carp species, the common carp is one of the more commonly used in Aquaculture. The common carp was grown as a food fish at least as far back as the 5th century in China. Common carp were first bred for color in Japan in the 1820s, initially in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata prefecture on the North Eastern coast of Honshu Island. By the 20th century, a number of color patterns had been established, most notably the red-and-white Kohaku. The outside world was not aware of the development of color variations in koi until 1914, when the Niigata Koi were exhibited in the annual exposition in Tokyo. At that point, interest in Koi exploded throughout Japan. The hobby of keeping Koi eventually spread worldwide. Koi are now commonly sold in most pet stores, with higher-quality fish available from specialist dealers. Extensive hybridization between different populations has muddled the historical zoo-geography of the common carp. However, scientific consensus is that there are at least two subspecies of the common carp, one from Western Eurasia and another from East Asia. One recent study on the mitochondrial DNA of various Common carp indicate that Koi are of the East Asian subspecies. However another recent study on the mitochondrial DNA of Koi...

BLOOD WORMS

BLOOD WORMS

Mar 16, 2016

Bloodworms are larvae of the mosquito-like midge family Chironomidae. Almost all chironomids have aquatic larval and pupal stages. They have a world-wide distribution and occur in a wide range of aquatic habitats from fast flowing to completely still and stagnant, and in waters that range from fresh to saline. There may be more than 5000 species but only a small number have been formally identified. There is little difficulty in recognizing the larvae; they are small, distinctly segmented worm-like animals. Although, they are not a true worm due to their exoskeleton and small clawed legs. Their color is variable; some common ones are white, green, yellow, or deep red. The latter is due to the presence of the red pigment, erythrocruorin in the blood of the larvae, the presence of which is of respiratory advantage in waters with low levels of dissolved oxygen (stagnant pools). Some are also transparent and are commonly known as glassworms. However, only those that contain erythrocruorin are red and hence the common name “bloodworm”. In some countries they are also known as red mosquito larvae. Food value to fish Chironomid larvae and pupae have a relatively high protein content with high digestibility, and constitute one of the staple food items of many fishes in their natural environment. Chemical analysis (% of dry weight) shows that bloodworms contain 71–93.6% moisture, 47.7–62.5% protein, 4.9–28.6% fat, 2.3–21% ash, and 4–23% carbohydrates. They are also a good source of iron for the fish since they contain hemoglobin. Bloodworms are a commonly used as a live or frozen food source for aquarium fish culture. Almost all fishes will greedily devour them when they are offered. Research has found that most fishes when provided with bloodworms as a supplementary food item have better growth and spawning rates. Frozen bloodworms could be used as a substitute for live tubificids as they have a comparable protein level. Life cycle Chironomidae go through a complete metamorphosis in their life cycle, egg, larva, pupa, and winged adult midge. Each stage having different characteristics. After mating in flight the female releases the eggs while skimming the water surface. The eggs sink to the bottom where, under tropical conditions, they hatch...

SELLING THE FISH YOU RAISE

SELLING THE FISH YOU RAISE

Mar 6, 2016

Small-Scale Marketing Marketing of Aquaculture Products is as important as production, financing, cash flow and other profit determining factors in aquaculture enterprises. Similar principles are applicable to small- or large-scale operations. Before beginning production, or selecting a specific marketing alternative, some general marketing principles should be considered, and a marketing strategy developed. Most fish producers are production oriented rather than market oriented. The producer who develops a sound marketing strategy, and considers marketing as important as production, will have a definite economic advantage over those who don’t. Developoing your market Developing a marketing strategy involves three elements: 1) determining present situation; 2) determining final marketing goals; and 3) developing a logical plan for getting from the present situation to the final goal. Determining the present situation This often involves the most work and time. Make assessments of the market, personal financial circumstances and available marketing alternatives. An understanding and assessment of a particular market is required, including the importance of supply and demand and maintaining a timely awareness of the current market situation and trends. Use enterprise budgets to help in assessing various marketing alternatives. The most profitable marketing alternative may be unacceptable because of time required, unacceptable cash flow, or incompatibility with other personal or business goals. Dtermining marketing goals This is based on assessments made during the determination of the present situation. If attainable marketing goals are not established, the producer may drift aimlessly through sales opportunities. Relate goals to operating costs. Know how much different levels of operation will cost and establish goals that will at least cover costs. The level that goals exceed operating costs will depend on the willingness to accept risks and other personal and business goals. Developing a logical plan Finally, consider all reasonable alternatives, and develop a marketing plan. Evaluate the operation, labor and financial requirements, and other advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. The selection of a specific or combination of marketing alternatives should be tailored to the market assessments, individual financial circumstances and the size of the operation. What next After a marketing strategy has been developed, write it down. Test the strategy through several hypothetical cases and modify as necessary. Think through all...

CELERY CRUNCH…!

CELERY CRUNCH…!

Feb 10, 2016

CELERY (Apium graveolens) is a plant species where only the stalks are eaten. Cultivation Apium graveolens grows to 1 m tall. The leaves are pinnate to bipinnate leaves with rhombic leaflets 3–6 cm long and 2–4 cm broad. The flowers are creamy-white, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in dense compound umbels. The seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5–2 mm long and wide. The plants are raised from seed, sown either in a hot bed or in the open garden according to the season of the year, and after one or two thinnings out and transplantings they are, on attaining a height of 15–20 cm, planted out in deep trenches for convenience of blanching, which is effected by earthing up to exclude light from the stems. Harvesting and storage Harvesting occurs when the average size of celery in a field is marketable; due to extremely uniform crop growth, fields are harvested only once. Petioles and leaves are removed and harvested celery are packed by size and quality (determined by color, shape, straightness and thickness of petiole, stalk and midrib length and absence of disease, cracks, splits, insect damage and rot). Under optimal conditions, celery can be stored for up to seven weeks. Freshly cut petioles of celery are prone to decay, which can be prevented or reduced through the use of sharp blades during processing, gentle handling, and proper sanitation. Cut pieces of celery last only a few hours before they turn brown, and few American restaurants include it in green salads because it cannot be prepared far enough ahead of time. In the past, restaurants used to store it in a container of water with powdered vegetable preservative; however, the sulfites in the preservative caused allergic reactions in some...

SMALL GREEN FOOD MACHINE..!

SMALL GREEN FOOD MACHINE..!

Jan 27, 2016

Fish are kept in a tank with grow beds elevated around them. Water from the fish is used to irrigate and fertilize the plants. The root systems of the plants and the growing medium remove nitrates from the water to use as food. The water is then returned by gravity to the fish tank, aerating the water as it falls into the tank. This is organic and saves water. There are many ways to practice aquaponics; from small home aquarium tanks with a few salad greens growing in the inverted lid to warehouse sized commercial operations. My family and I built a small system from all found and recycled materials. It is watered by hand (30 minutes labour per day) so it does not use electricity. It takes up about one and a half square meters of space. The idea for this system came to me after some repairs had been done on the highway near where we live. The road crews had left behind a broken piece of culvert and a small pile of pea gravel. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! I knew that the culvert could be used as a fish tank with a little cement work so we carted it and the gravel home. The first step was to create a base for the tank using chicken wire and cement left over from a previous project. The tank was placed on the base and sealed in place. Then the tank was then filled with water from our well. If you use chlorinated city water remember to wait a week or so before putting fish in the system, this will allow the chlorine time to dissipate. Tilapia fry from one of our aquaculture tanks were placed in the tank and began the process of fertilizing the water. The only input into this aquaponic system is food for the fish. If you use an omnivorous fish like tilapia all of their food can be grown for them. Duckweed is an excellent complete diet for tilapia. We collected used plastic containers from our village school and clinic. The tops were cut off and the containers washed very thoroughly three times. Then a hole was made...

BELL SIPHON vs CISTERN VALVE CONTROL (cvs)

BELL SIPHON vs CISTERN VALVE CONTROL (cvs)

Jan 24, 2016

Some time back I posted an article on using a cistern valve to flush your grow bed. The system has been running for around 12 months and I’ve had some interesting results with it. To explain the background to why I tried the cistern valve. There were only two options for me. The first was to use what I had available and the second was to manufacture my own bell siphon. At the time I had already tried auto siphons with some success but since the pipe I had available was either 1” HDPE or 2” PVC, I was stuck. There were already a few people who had the Cistern Valve Control (CVC) working without much great explanation so a quick trip to the loo to remove the cistern cover revealed all. The CVC has it’s original lid on and has only needed cleaning once in the year. I would have thought there would have been more algae build up in the clear 2L bottle but somehow it keeps ticking. It is the MK2 version and MK1 was build using a white 25L bucket. This now gives trouble almost every day. The white walls of the bucket encourage algae to grow in the bucket. This then blocks the hole in the cap of the 2L bottle. When this happens the system stays on permanent flush. After another trip to the electrical store I became one ¾” PVC pipe richer and I made my own bell siphon by flaring a 1” HDPE pipe to look like a 1” – 1 ¼” reducer. This was fitted onto the ¾” PVC pipe to make a stand pipe. The whole thing fits nicely into a bulk head fitting and is covered by a 75mm diameter Bell inside a 100mm sewer pipe with removable cap. I will openly admit I am far fonder of the CVC but will table the comparison below. Despite being fonder of them, I’m going to replace the CVC with Bell Siphons. Description Cistern Valve Control Bell Siphon Maintenance Regular Almost never Fault Finding Visual on outside Investigation Setting Level Control Set in seconds Trial and Error Minimum Flow Trickle Feed Depends on Stand Pipe...

THE SAGA OF THE MISSING FISH..!

THE SAGA OF THE MISSING FISH..!

Jan 20, 2016

“Daddy, is the basement floor supposed to covered with water?” Having just adjusted and modified the Tilapia’s filter system, I did not have to wonder whether the washing machine or the well system was leaking. Nope, I was confident that whatever water spill awaited me it was one caused by my DIY improvement. Sure enough, the hose routing water from the fish tank to the bio-filter had slipped out and was now directing water onto the floor. Yes, the basement is finished; however, we use carpet sparingly. My daughter and I contained the spill using every available towel in the house: bath towels, beach towels, face towels, tea towels all spread out to create a sponge quilt. The fish tank was nearly empty with perhaps ¼ inch of water gathered at one end. I expected to see fish laying on one side, dead or gasping for air but I could not find a single fish. I looked across the basement floor, under towels, under appliances, and in the bio-filter but I could not locate a Tilapia. I did not think it possible for the cats or dogs to eat all the fish but the fish were tiny. So much for the great Tilapia experiment, how embarrassing. Having contained the water and placed fans throughout the basement, I focused my efforts on packing up the fish accessories. Recall the 2.5 lb weight borrowed to anchor the fake air stone? I hope so because it played a vital role in the fish’s lives. The weight and air stone lash up elevated a portion of the weight above the tank’s bottom creating a gap approximately ½ inch high and four inches across. Water had pooled around the weight and hiding in that small crevice were all of the fish! So, fortune had smiled and pointed to one advantage of raising micro-Tilapia. I prepared for the worse thinking that I could not do much more to stress the fish except perhaps add a bass to their tank. Amazingly, the fish survived the basement flooding experience as well as the process to restore their environment. All went well for a couple of weeks until a few fish became lethargic....