Farm Update | All about the Strawberries | Festival | Florida Radiance | Camarosa | Fish Tank Heaters | Harvest Baskets

VertiGro installation is nearing the end as all the drip irrigation was added. Next come the misters for heating and the hoop house structure.

Vertigro Drip Installation

Vertigro Drip Installation

Drip Installation

Drip Installation

Vertigro Drip Install

Vertigro Drip Install

 

Radiance Strawberries

Florida Radiance Strawberries

Festival Strawberry

Festival Strawberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Strawberries are loving the cooler weather.

All 560 strawberry plants seem to have taken. Planted 3 varieties – Camarosa, Festival and Florida Radiance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The tilapia are happy again. We had to add fish tank heaters and heavy exterior tank insulation this week as the water temps started dropping after two nights in a row in the 40s and a day in between with little or no sunshine to warm ambient air up past 58F. They enjoyed the brief sunshine during the day once we hit the 70s again, but will be covered and wrapped each night below 50F.

Red Nile Tilapia with Heater

Red Nile Tilapia with Heater

IMG_5935

IMG_5936

 

 

 

 

 

 


 Farmer’s Market at Pelican Preserve was a bit chilly this week, but there were the faithful who braved the cold for their healthy produce.

IMG_5931

These are our two Organic Harvest Baskets for this week.  The one on the left is a $25 Organic Harvest Basket, which includes 2 lettuces, corn, green beans, rainbow carrots, apples, shallots, potatoes, radish and a choice of cranberries, pie pumpkin or roma tomatoes.  The one on the right is a $20 Organic Harvest Basket, which includes 2 lettuces, corn, green beans, rainbow carrots, apples, shallots, and potatoes. To sign up for the Buying Club, click here and to buy either one click here.

IMG_5928

 

Advertisements

Farm Update | Prepping Strawberries for Planting | Installing VertiGro Towers | DIY Compost Bin

Rolling Fish Tanks

Rolling Fish Tanks

Our quest for strawberries started with rolling the fish tanks through the greenhouse to the planned fish house area.

 

 

 

 

Those really are not crop circles, just where the fish tanks were previously stored.

Strawberry Field

Strawberry Field

Vertigro stakes

Vertigro stakes

 

Next was putting in the stakes for the posts

 

 

 

 

This is what happens when Farmer Tim is left alone too long - selfies :)

This is what happens when Farmer Tim is left alone too long – selfies 🙂 or maybe it was all the math from laying out the stakes and posts!!

Vertigro Posts

Vertigro Posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping Strawberries

Prepping Strawberries

Lots of Vertigro Pots

Vertigro Posts

Vertigro Posts

The strawberries arrived dormant and refrigerated

 

 

 

 

 

Vertigro in the Rain

Vertigro in the Rain

Strawberry Planting station

Strawberry Planting station

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vertigro Post install

Vertigro Post install

Strawberry Planting

Strawberry Planting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting progress

Planting progress


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planted 180 Camarosa strawberries and 143 Florida Radiance.


DIY Composting Bins made from ordinary pallets. We simply screwed three pallets together to make the sides and back. For the front we added a couple planks to the side of the pallets to create a stacking front wall that can be raised or lowered as you go to make adding materials (and later removing compost) easier. This is a hot compost bin and will be added to for an entire year, then allowed to sit for one year and used for plantings the year after that.

DIY Pallet Compost Bin

DIY Pallet Compost Bin

We also built a bin to hold hay and/or our brown matter to make our lives easier.

Hay Bin for Composting

Hay Bin for Composting

Composting

Composting

Farm Update | Farmers Market | VertiGro Class | Honey and the Bees

 

Farmers Market at Pelican Preserve

Farmers Market at Pelican Preserve

 


 Vertigro Class

Vertigro Class (Tim and Tim)

 

 Vertigro Class

Vertigro Class

Vertigro Class

 

 

 

Vertigro Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Honey and the Unhappy Bees

Our hives were getting honey bound, so we pulled a couple frames of honey today. Leaving the hives a bit unhappy and confused. Lucky for us, they gladly make more.

Full Frame of Honey

Full Frame of Honey

 

Unhappy Bees

Unhappy Bees

Unhappy Bees

Unhappy Bees

Farm Update | Fresh Eggs | Fish Tank Cleaning Day

Farm Fresh Eggs

GreenView Aquaponics  Farm Fresh Eggs               in green, blue and brown


 

African Nightcrawler Worms

African Nightcrawler Worms crawled up during transplanting the peppers.


 

Blue Tilapia Tank Cleaning Day

Blue Tilapia on Fish Tank Cleaning Day or as we affectionately call it Maintenance Monday

 

Red Tilapia

Red Tilapia on Fish Tank Cleaning Day

Farm Update | Day in the life of a farmer

Check on the honey bees. Rained the past three days. They are VERY happy it is sunny again.

Check on the honey bees. Rained the past three days. They are VERY happy it is sunny again as they try to dry out their hives.

Harvest celery and three kinds of basil

Harvest Celery and three kinds of Basil – genovese, citrus and dark opal – lots and lots! May have to dry some for the upcoming markets.

Plant more lettuce to start the fall rotations. Just waiting for the cooler weather!

Plant four kinds of lettuce and some other heirlooms to start the fall rotations. Just waiting for the cooler weather!

 


 

Feed and water the chickens, then collect the eggs. Beautiful!

Feed & water the chickens, then collect eggs.  What beautiful colors – brown, blue, and green eggs!

 


 

Feed the hungry blue nile tilapia

Feed the hungry blue nile tilapia and check the water by testing it’s parameters.

Feed the hungry red nile tilapia

Feed the red nile tilapia, check the water flow rate and time the auto siphon.

 


 

Watch the Black Soldier Fly lay her eggs for the next explosion of larvae in the biocomposter

Watch the Black Soldier Fly lay her eggs for the next explosion of larvae in the biocomposter

Aquaponics Association Conference | San Jose CA

It was a fabulous weekend in San Jose, CA, where all the great minds of aquaponics met for the Aquaponics Association’s 4th Annual Conference.  Never before have so many of the leaders and innovators been in one place!

Aquaponics Assoc Conference

Glenn Martinez of Olomana Gardens in Hawaii, Astrid, Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics in Australia (Left to Right)

Glenn Martinez is known for his innovations utilizing air lift pumps and alternative energy. He sets up systems worldwide.

Murray Hallam is a favorite on YouTube with his great beginner videos for aquaponic enthusiasts. Murray does projects all over the world.

Dr Nick Savidov  is a senior research scientist in aquaponics in Alberta Canada. Currently, with Alberta Agriculture & Rural Dev, he was instrumental in developing the Canada GAPs for aquaponics. Dr Savidov has also done significant research with biochar.

Charlie Shultz  is a world expert on aquaponics training and research currently at Lethbridge College and worked along side the father of aquaponics, Dr James Rakocy, for many years at UVI.

Max Meyers is a leading permaculture and aquaponic consultant in California.


 

Jon Parr of SchoolGrown in Half Moon Bay, CA

Jon Parr of SchoolGrown in Half Moon Bay, CA

Jon Parr recently designed and operated a commercial aquaponics farm that produced over 6,000 heads of lettuce a day. He left there to pursue his passion, SchoolGrown, a non-profit dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture through advocacy, education, research, and service by placing learning lab greenhouses in neighborhood schools.

Jon Parr of SchoolGrown in Half Moon Bay, CA

Jon Parr of SchoolGrown in Half Moon Bay, CA

The SchoolGrown L.E.A.F. greenhouse lab is constructed of a high-performance, sustainable, water-savvy greenhouse on school property that can provide healthy organic food to student families every day of the year! The spacious greenhouse is home to an aquaponic garden, complete with fish tanks, solar power, soilless planter beds, and climate control. Additionally, it provides 50-70 family-sized boxes of fruits and vegetables every week. The environment provides a project-based learning platform for teachers in many subjects, including: biology, chemistry, math, ecology, agriculture, business, and language arts. Lesson plans correlate to the new Common Core as well as the Next Generation Science standards, and STEM education. Additionally, SchoolGrown provides a vertical-market business plan that sells the produce grown in the greenhouse, thereby providing a revenue stream that could contribute to the school. This allows SchoolGrown to include a person with each L.E.A.F lab, and keep the program running.


Ken Armstrong and his team lead the way at Ourobouros Farm in live lettuce production. Thoroughly enjoyed their farm tour.

Ouroboros Aquaponics in Half Moon Bay, CA

Ouroboros Aquaponics                     in Half Moon Bay, CA

Ouroboros Aquaponics in Half Moon Bay, CA

Ouroboros Aquaponics                     in Half Moon Bay, CA

Farm Update | First Tilapia Fry and Chicken Antics

IMG_5585

The first blue nile tilapia fry and it’s really, really hard to see…basically all you can see even at full zoom is the eyes.

The holes in the basket are smaller than my little finger to give an idea of scale and the fry is in the middle of each pic at the bottom of the hole in the basket.IMG_5584

 


Chicken antics in the nest boxes.

IMG_5582

Look out here I come!

 

 

IMG_5576

Close the door, there’s a draft in here!

 

IMG_5591IMG_5573

Farm Update | Visitors from Oregon and BSF explosion in growth

  This week we had some visitors from Damascus, Oregon. Tried to make them farm hands, but they escaped after half a day!

Farmer Tim's sister, Peg, brother in-law Keene and great niece, Amira.

IMG_6115IMG_6113 Farmer Tim’s sister, Peg, brother in-law, Keene, and great niece,                              Amira, who did a fabulous job feeding the tilapia.

 


Eggs every day now…yet only half of the girls have started laying.The green/olive and blue ones are from the Americauna and the various shades of brown/pink are from theRhode Island Reds.IMG_7846


There’s been a massive hatching of black soldier fly larvae in the biocomposter…never seen so many at one time before. They are consuming more than 2 pounds of food scraps per day.

Chickens are happy…they love to eat these and get about 100+/day of them (2-3 oz)     along with the non-GMO feed.

IMG_5488IMG_5602

Farm update | NEW BioChar Stove | TLUD gasifier

Our dear friend, Christoph, from BioChar Central delivered a CharBot (BioChar stove) this weekend. We are soooo excited! Heat index was only 103F …smokin’ hot, but nothing stopped us from the test burn.

IMG_6104

Farmer Tim and Christoph from BioChar Central from Atlanta, GA

The DIY BioChar stove that we previously built is known as a retort style kiln. The new one is a TLUD (top lit up draft) gasifier. Both use pyrolysis to convert the biomass to char via the process of carbonization.

The retort process is anoxic (without oxygen) and essentially bakes the raw biomass to drive off the volatiles and tarry gasses. Due to this anoxic procedure, the biochar produced can vary significantly from batch to batch and even within the same batch due to temperature variations inside that cannot be controlled using the retort.

TLUD CharBot BioCharCentral.com

TLUD CharBot BioCharCentral

The TLUD is a gasifier in which the dry biomass is transformed into combustible gasses and charcoal in a zone that is distinctly and controllably separate from where the volatile gasses are combusted, which makes it a much more controlled burn and that’s important at 600C.

Yes, there’s a lot of technical minutia in the world of biochar. One last and most important thing to know is that when the material comes out of the stove, it is simply Char…this char must be charged with compost or other organic, microbe and nutrient rich materials for at least 30 days to become the beneficial biochar that’s raved about as a soil amendment.

IMG_6108

But wait there’s more – over 50 uses for biochar!  Now you know why we love this stuff!

BioChar Soil Benefits

Soil Functions of BioChar                                                                      Info courtesy of BioCharCentral

 

Creepy Crawlies | Black Soldier Flies and African Nightcrawlers | DIY Worm Composting Bin

So a while back, we had made a DIY Black Soldier Fly Biocomposter and posted the DIY part here.  We chose the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) because they are insatiable composters and we have more to compost than our small worm population can handle at the moment. We have weekly harvested microgreen flats, add to that the lower lettuce leaves, bolted lettuce or herbs, damaged plants from the wind or rain storms… meaning we have lots of vegetative compostables that we certainly don’t want to add to any landfill!  So, we have recruited more composters that are native to Florida. Who doesn’t like free? Just as a reminder, this is what the DIY BSF Biocomposter looked like.

BSF Biocomposter DIY

BSF Biocomposter DIY –

At the end of June, we finally layered in charcoal (up to the top of the horizontal part of the drain pipe) and chunky coco coir (a couple inches) and then some spoiled papaya and other food scraps. Afterwards it was set outside to do it’s thing.

IMG_4528 IMG_4529  IMG_4531

Farmer Tim with his new best friends, Black Soldier Fly Larvae

On July 20th, we had our first migration and collection of the pre-pupae from this small  biocomposter.  We did not buy any BSF larvae or eggs, just set the container outside in the shade near a bush with some fruit and food scraps where the adult Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) found it and layed eggs. 

Day 32

Day 31 the first two appeared in the collection bin. This is Day 32 – the next night’s harvest.

IMG_5331

This was 2 nights later – Day 34 – looks like full production! Chickens are loving it!

IMG_5411

The migrate at night right into the collection bin. So cool!

Success so far!  Looking to build 2 larger sized ones for outside the harvest end of the hoophouse and maybe even a hatchery and propagation station! This would allow some of the larvae to pupate into mature flies and keep that cycle going. Once our chickens and tilapia have had their fill, we may even try to sell them to other BSF enthusiasts that live in short season climates, as well as exotic pet or other livestock owners looking for a sustainable high protein feed (up to 42%).

Although the larvae are also edible for humans, we will not be producing any for human consumption 😉

IMG_5423

Adult BSF on the outside (and hopefully going in to lay some eggs) The chickens are hungry!

Some interesting tidbits:

  • The adults only live 5-9 days
  • The adults have no mouth
  • The adults can lay up to 900 eggs.
  • The BSF do not carry human pathogens.
  • The BSF larvae in the larger of the containers can eat up to 2 pounds a day!
  • The BSFs can eat almost anything, even meat, unlike composting worms (who get no dairy, fatty, meats, oils).  Truly nature’s best warm weather composters!

On to the next crawlies….though none are truly creepy!

GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm | Worm Release

Bedrun View in the Bag of ANCs

In mid-April, we picked up one pound of African Nightcrawlers (Eudrilus eugeniae) to start composting our harvested microgreen trays (now relegated to the BSFs, they are faster). These composting worms are being used to transform a waste product (our vegetative farm scraps) into a nutrient rich vermicompost to use again to amend of our soil-less soil.  The bag pictured above was bed run, so there were cocoons (worm eggs) and worms of all sizes in there (along with a few BSFs that snuck their way in). The BSFs are commonly found in the same environment as the ANC when they are raised outdoors in Florida.

IMG_7624

One feeding of paper and food scraps (about 4 weeks after transitioning them to the bin and feeding bi-weekly). This was covered by a damp papertowel to keep out any fruit flies that will also want those scraps. We usually put the food underneath the shredded paper   for the same reason.

These pictures are our DIY worm bins we are currently using. The worms migrate from the bottom to the top as you fill with peat and feed. These bins have 1/4″ holes drilled in the bottom to allow for drainage and migration of the worms. When the bin is full almost to the top, you add a new bin on top of the old and they keep migrating up to where the food is, while you harvest the compost and worm castings in the lower bin. This keeps repeating by stacking the bins. We have found that this a quick and simple system that is great for DIY at a home scale. However, we don’t feel it would be practical on a farm scale. So, as soon as we make a couple sifters and some special buckets, we will be repurposing this worm bin for staging worms for sale. We are switching to a bucket methodology to get a better handle on inventory and purposeful production, which is difficult to do with bedrun and the current stacking bins.

IMG_7627

The cardboard is to give them adequate airflow, darkness and prevent too much evaporation. We have the two containers sitting inside a large box to help contain any escapees. Lights on at night helps with that too.

 

Happy Composting!

 

Here’s some links for building your own worm bin: