Tag Archives: greenhouse

All the Preps…..Jonas

If you have been following our bathroom remodel, sorry to say that it was put on hold for the last week. Although I do have at least one post to do about it, this week has been spent preparing for the inevitable Jonas Storm hitting the east coast. I am not a doomsday prepper, but I do seriously believe in prepping for the eventuality-nay reality-of natural disasters; like winter storm Jonas.

It is not just about going to the local big box and buying up all the necessities: water, milk, bread, toilet paper, etc. Although these are good items to make sure you have on hand.  There are a lot of other preparing depending on the disaster that is going to hit. It our case in Baltimore-Blizzard Jonas.

Since our chicken coop is a mile from our house (due to local 0123 2440123 245regulations), I went and took the time to wrap the entire coop in a heavy mil plastic to keep the majority of the snow at least outside. But with 60-70 mph wind gusts, I hope it will hold up.

I did make it to the coop yesterday morning and it seemed to be fine, but the worst of the storm did not really hit until yesterday afternoon. I am stuck this morning-even 4-wheel drives are not moving for a while because of the 4-5ft snow drifts surrounding them.

0123 240Next I concerned myself with the rabbits. Although rabbits handle cold well, I really did not want to worry about trudging through the snow to take care of them. So we decided to move them into the greenhouse.

There is not really much room in the greenhouse, but I nestled them into the back corner, covering the rear entrance. We use this entrance very little and with snow piled outside, the likelihood of needing it was less.

Yeti 1200 w/ two solar panels (in case)
Yeti 1250 w/ two solar panels (in case)
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Yeti 1200 and 150
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Full charge on Yeti 1250

 

 

 

 

You can never have enough good batteries, especially if you get into a grid down situation. So on my stock up trip to Costco, I did buy extra batteries. I also made sure that my solar powered generators, batteries, and lights were fully charged. I love Goal Zero’s products, so I have most of their product line and solar panels. We do have a Honda gas fired generator, which I fueled and started just to make sure there were no issues.

So in comes Jonas! I did everything I could to be ready, but it seems, there could always be more. I forgot to dig out my heavy hat, gloves, boots and scarves. It was not too bad rounding them up, but I could have had them out and ready.

Spent most of yesterday transporting essential personnel. My wife is a nurse, so not going to work is not an option! I was hoping she would not get stuck there all weekend, but that all depended on transport picking up the personnel that could not drive in. They were able to get fully staffed so my wife was able to leave at the end of her regularly scheduled shift. But she did have to get a ride in this morning since my 4wd is plowed in!

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I did take a little time to dig out the greenhouse entrance so I could feed the rabbits and fish, as well as check on the aquaponics operation. Although it was nice and toasty in the greenhouse, I was a little concerned about the amount of snow laying on our windows. Since we used conservatory windows, they are not built to withstand holding that much weight. I thought starting a fire in the Rocket Mass Heater might help to melt it off a little quicker.

The rest of my day was spent, shoveling and snow-blowing to insure that emergency personnel could get on our street if need be. The majority of my neighbors are either elderly or disabled, so it falls on the few of us able bodied to keep the road and driveways open to essential personnel.

My neighbors son-in-law, my brother-in-law, and I dug out most houses on the street. We live on a short section of one-way street, so there are only 10 houses on the block. Out of the 10, we dug out 6 before the worst of the storm hit.  At this point we had already had about 15-18 inches, so I thought it would make it easier on us this morning.

Most of the work we did yesterday was gone! The winds, gusting up to 70mph, re-covered everything and pretty much buried any vehicle.  There are a few people out shoveling, blowing now and I will join them soon, even though I am still trying to recover from yesterday.

I do love snow but Baltimore ended in a new single snowfall record of 29.3 inches. Add the wind to the mix and this was definitely one of the worst storms to hit our area in my lifetime. We are looking at cloudy skies and sun for the next week, so we should be able to recover quickly and get Baltimore “open for business” again!

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Two Months….

It has been two months since I have shared anything. I thought it was only a few weeks, but regardless, not good for anyone blogging. These last two months have been so eventful and packed full of activities that it is hard to determine where to start.

Of course, trying to get ready for winter has been a priority. Cleaning the little homestead, pulling up the garden beds, pruning trees and arbor, laying new wood chips around the garden paths, mulching trees to protect roots from winter, cleaning out aquaponics tanks, setting up greenhouse, readying the animals (rabbits, chickens, bees) etc, etc, etc. I have pictures and will post more later….

Fortunately so far this year it has been very mild for us. We have stayed pretty consistently in the 50’s and 60’s-a good 15-20 degrees above normal for the Mid-Atlantic Region. They are even calling for 72 degrees on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Day in the 60’s! It has given me some extra time at least to get our gardens and yard together.

We have had a few health scares as well, both myself and my wife. My Melanoma keeps spreading, so keeping on top of it with my doctor has to be a priority. I was also diagnosed with C.O.P.D. not bad enough yet for oxygen, but fatigue and shortness of breath set in quickly.

My wife ended up with the hospital with what they determined a cardiac “episode” I guess they determine an episode when they cannot truly find anything, but all symptoms seemed like a heart attack to me. AT least enough to transport by ambulance instead of taking a chance driving her. She is back to normal, just have to be sure to see a heart specialist after Christmas to, if nothing else, get baseline readings.

We moved into our little homestead in 2005, with a plan to remodel the bathrooms and kitchen within a short time. We did do our guest bathroom about 4 years ago when my brother-in-law became disabled and moved in with us, but have not made progress on the other bath or kitchen. The beginning of November came and we made the determined decision to gut our primary bathroom. This is currently a work in progress, which was hoping to have done by Christmas, but things happen. We should be done early in the new year and I will do a post on the rehab as well as having a lot of pictures. Stay tuned…

Well, for now, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I will start posting more regularly again very soon!

Emergency Readiness in the Neighborhood

Emergency responseThe last few weeks I have been writing about the classes we undertook sponsored by the Maryland Department of Emergency Management(MEMA): Neighbors Helping Neighbors. (Previous posts:Sustainable & Resilient Communities, Disaster Readiness) Our final class was this past week and I am really thrilled that I took the time to be involved.

Since we moved to Maryland (August 2003) most of our natural disasters have only caused service interruptions of a week or less. If you remember the date, Hurricane Isabel hit us 2 weeks after we moved in to our nice little row home just across the street from waterfront. We quickly became educated in the need for preparing for these eventualities. Maybe it is 12 years later but the class was our next step in being ready and further educating us on areas where we may be weak.

The class information was well prepared and very well presented for anyone who is interested in not only being prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster, but those concerned about others within a community.

The overall takeaway from the class was getting oneself ready for eventual disasters or emergencies that may come along. Living on the east coast, our potential for hurricanes and flooding put us in a category of not if but when they will occur.

Although important to have a good mental attitude for any situation,Hurricane-Sandy but having a few supplies carefully crafted and stored is key to being in a position to survive AND to help others that are in need during a crisis.

FEMA & MEMA both recommend 3-7 days of necessary supplies, while our instructors think a 10 day supply is more adequate. I tend to lean in the more category, being somewhere between 10 and 30 days.

The basics of any emergency stock:

  • Water-The suggested amount of water is 1 gal per person per day. With only 3 people in our household now (I sure this number will triple in case of real emergency-kids and their families) That means for a 14 day supply, we would need at minimum 42 gallons of fresh water.  (# people X # days = absolute minimum gallons needed)
  • Food-This is a gray area as to the amount needed, but having a good stock of foods on hand will be important to any survival plan.  Be sure that it is shelf stable, long term storage. Don’t depend on fresh or frozen since during a heavy disaster there will most likely be no way to store these foods.  If storing up canned foods (store bought) be sure to pack a can opener! Enter the homesteader: someone who grows and maintains a constant stream of food through gardening, aquaponics, or small animal husbandry. (rabbits, chickens, etc) Although as a suburban homesteader, we have home canned and dehydrated foods, we also have the ability with our greenhouse and aquaponics to refresh our food supply.
  • Radio & flashlight-Needless to say these need to be battery operated and you will not be able to just plug and play in a grid down emergency. This could be supplemented with the use of portable solar power. Having a rechargeable battery pack through the use of solar panels makes life a little easier in the worst of disasters. I personally like Goal Zero products.
  • Basic first aid-Bandages, compresses, eye wash, topical creams, scissors, tweezers, etc. During a disaster there is always the potential for some minor medical needs. Along with first aid, do you have anyone in your care that takes prescription medications on a regular basis? Having at least an extra month of those meds on hand could make the difference in that person surviving.
  • Extra clothes, blankets, and compact emergency tools-I am talking an emergency supply bag, many may call it a bug-out bag, but no matter what you call it, it is a part of necessary preparedness.

If you are not able to maintain yourself and family, how are you going to be a benefit to those in need in your community?

For more in depth information I invite you to visit one of my favorite websites. A. H. Trimble , instructor, teacher, author in the art of being prepared for any emergency situation.

 

Preparing for winter-too much to do!

I am taking advantage of the nice-but cool weather today to start preparing the suburban homestead for winter. Bees, chickens, rabbits, fish, the greenhouse, the aquaponics systems the garden, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and I am sure there are a few other things that will need my attention over the coming weeks.

This morning started at 5:30, fixing breakfast for the little woman. Yes she still works outside the home, which is why I became here “Homestead Hero”, as she calls me. Hero I am not, but it is a full time job to take care of a homestead-even a small 1/5 acre suburban homestead.

After getting her off to work, its time to gather food scraps and greens (grow in the garden and greenhouse) to feed the chickens. Taking food and water to the chickens is not as easy as walking out the back door since we can not legally keep fowl on our property. (In Baltimore County-must have 1 acre for any chickens) So I have to take a short drive of about 1 1/2 miles to get to the chicken coop on our friends property. This isn’t so bad and I really do not have to go every day since we installed the solar electric door to let them in and lock them up at night. But it’s nice to feed them greens and scraps to keep our feed bill low.

Once back from the coop, I focused on getting the bees wrapped all warm and toasty. We have had a few nights now at 30 degrees, so why wait until the last minute.

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I start the wrap with a layer of 2″ foam board around three sides. This is held tight with a metal plumbing strap. Then I can surround the hive with straw bales. These serve as a great wind break and an insulator for the cold weather accompanied by high winds that we usually have here on the east coast.

In the third picture, many of the bees came out to see what was going on, almost looks as if they are getting ready to swarm, but they quickly settled back inside to their routine.  I was going to start feeding them today, but with the activity I will just wait until tomorrow before I disturb them again.

While I was outside, I just checked on the rabbits. We have a mating pair of Florida Whites, of which our female is currently pregnant. She is due on the 27th, so I just added some straw in the cage so she could build a nice comfy warm nest to deliver the litter. I have the plastic wrap put up but have not surrounded the hutches with it yet. That only takes a few minutes to unroll and attached to the outside of the hutch, so I can wait until later this month.

Our buck-Columbus
Our buck-Columbus
Our female-Sweet Pea, Just 7 more days to delivery!
Our female-Sweet Pea, Just 7 more days to delivery!
Plastic ready to wrap
Plastic ready to wrap

 

 

 

 

 

Chickens, bees, and rabbits-check, check, and check. So on to the greenhouse. I have not been real active in the greenhouse over the summer, since all of my attention has been devoted to the outside garden projects.

Of course the last few weeks have been filled with canning, freezing and dehydrating our spring and summer crops. “crops” that makes it sound like we have so many acres, but we have just enough for one little homestead hero to handle.  You would be amazed at how much can be grown on a 1/5 acre!

Anyway, back to the greenhouse. I wrote a couple of months ago about our cherry tomato plant in the aquaponic grow bed. I figured today was a good day to say goodbye to it-after 11 months of growing and fruiting. Yes it was still delivering cherry tomatoes, but the growth had taken over the greenhouse and the vines had rooted in several places throughout 2 grow beds.

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winter 008It took some time to clean out the remains of the tomato plant, along with some lettuce, spinach, and mint that the growth had been hiding from me. But now that the grow beds are empty, except for a thriving mint plant in one corner, I can start to plant for winter growth.

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Our outside Bean Tower during season

While working outside I found some bean plants that had sprouted around my outside grow tower. I guess when I let some stay on the vine to dry for use as seeds next year, they must have fallen off and germinated in the ground around the barrel.  There were six small plants that seemed to be thriving, even after the frost we encountered the last two nights.  I thought this would be a perfect time to try green beans in our aquaponics system.

I installed one of our larger tomato cages into the center of the grow bed. Then I dug up the 6 bean plants and cleaned the roots for transplanting. This will be a first for me trying green beans so I am excited to see how well they do.

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The other grow bed, with the mint in the corner is now planted with seed for lettuce, mescaline, spinach, and arugula. It is nice to be able in the winter to feed our chickens and rabbits fresh greens.

Part of preparing for winter is also thinking ahead to spring, so today I had a full load of wood chips delivered. I use these to spread on paths and walkways between the raised beds, as well as around fruit trees to keep roots warm in the winter.

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Anyone like pumpkins this time of year? I did not plant pumpkins this year because it absolutely took over our garden beds last year. But I guess God had other plans for the garden this year as I have a great amount of pumpkins that grew. I think it fascinating that they are hanging from my tomato cages and green bean tunnel.

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winter 003While working around the homestead today, I had an engineer here all morning checking, measuring, taking pictures and asking questions, readying our house for a solar panel installation. We are really looking forward to adding solar to our property, hopefully to help get our utility costs reduced and be more in line with our belief in sustainability and eco-friendly.

I think this is the first time I have ever written over 1000 words for one post. I hope I did not bore you, but there is always a lot going on at the little suburban homestead this time of year. This hero, although tired, really enjoys the activity.

 

Suburban Homesteading-A New Way of Life?

Urban and suburban homesteading have grown beyond belief in the last decade. Many living in the city or near a city have chosen to be more self-sustainable through gardening, beekeeping, aquaponics, permaculture, and raising/breeding meat animals (rabbits, chicken). Not all inclusive, this list is considered by many, a new way to be more self-sustainable, more “green” in today’s world.

Planted Garden
Ready and planted garden beds for 2014 growing season.

Being a part of suburban homesteading, doing all I can to make the best of our little 1/5 acre, has taught me many lessons. Among those is that this trend is not a new lifestyle- it is a reversion to the lifestyle of our ancestors. Our ancestors being self-sustainable out of necessity were really living a “green” lifestyle before green was cool!

Our trip into homesteading began with two major forces driving our decisions, beginning with the economy, on to the need to house and feed more people under our roof. Economic conditions over the last decade have not been all the best, of course coming to a head in 2007-8 with the collapse of the housing market. This is when we truly became serious about be more self-sustainable.

We have always gardened, but the amount of land dedicated to gardening grew substantially as more relatives (children and siblings) began to move back in with us due to lost jobs, lost homes, and health issues. As our population grew, the need to produce more of our own food grew. We quickly went from one main garden bed in our back yard to over 30 raised beds throughout the property.

Growing our own food became a necessity, but we found that we had some much more control over what was going into our bodies. We chose to never again use any type of pesticide or herbicide within our property limits, determining that using natural substances made better sense and in many cases was more effective. Enter the chickens!

Chicken manure is among the best “natural” fertilizers available, but having the actual chicken made so much more sense with the added value they bring to any yard and garden. The pecking, natural soil aeration, eliminating bugs and other pests, the eggs, and not to mention the shear joy of just watching them run and play in the yard made having them a no-brainer. Of course the County did not have the same opinion and took our chickens after a year because of local zoning regulations. More on this in other posts.

Bee package
First 3# Bee Package

So without chickens, we moved to rabbits. Choosing to raise meat rabbits at least gave us another great fertilizer source, but also another source of meat. There were no regulations on growing personal use rabbits, as well as we did not sell any, nor could we butcher any in public view. So at least we could still accomplish some of our goals without the County constantly in our business.

As our garden grew, we felt a need to expand our ability to insure a good crop each year by adding bees to our little homestead. Seemed like a natural jump and fortunately we live in a county that has no regulations concerning beekeeping. Bees are an interesting lot and require little effort on the part of humans. If we provide proper housing for them, they are very attentive to their own needs to survive. This was a great step into our expanding homestead.

First Aquaponics bed
First AP Tank/bed

Extending our growing season for some fresh vegetables became a project last year, opting to try indoor aquaponics. Although this process had a huge learning curve for me, since I had no knowledge of fish or gardening without soil, we ventured forward. This has been one of the most enjoyable ventures so far and one that I was able to actually help fill a need to others in perfecting a “portable” AP system for other local enthusiast’s.

Greenhouse
Completed Greenhouse side view

This year was a major project year, deciding to build a 10′ x 20′ greenhouse to expand our growing season to year round and move our aquaponics into a larger area outside our basement. Again comes the County! This fight through multiple hearings, petitions, emails and phone calls finally came to an end in our favor after about 8 months. So we have been able to move forward and complete the structure, we are still very much in the set up phase of the interior.

Of course how could I get through this post without thanking my parents and grand-parents for teaching me many of the skills I never thought I would use in  my life. Canning, freezing, and dehydrating have become commonplace to extend our ability to use our own fresh crops, which I learned from my mother and grand-mother. Planting, growing, and harvesting knowledge are an extension of my father’s passed down skills. My grand-father taught me about chickens, cows, and horses-although our land could never accommodate large animals, I understood the value of chickens on our property.

Every day is a joy to be able to get out of bed and do something I love that is a benefit to my family, my budget, and my community since we always have enough to spare to our elderly and disabled neighbors and our friends. Although my initial reasoning for our lifestyle had nothing to do with being more “green” I have found that many of the skills handed down to me are just that-a greener lifestyle. Self-sustainable and green can go hand in hand, but a” new” lifestyle it is not. Our ancestors understood a green lifestyle out of necessity, and passed down the knowledge and skills so future generations could enjoy the benefits of a self-sustaining lifestyle!

Go Green and Save in 2016-Part 2

SaveMoney

There were far too many ideas to put in the first post on saving in 2016, so here are a few more simple things you can do to save money while being eco-friendly. If you have a limited budget, start with the free ones and then try and add another step as you can afford them. In the long run, the savings will far outweigh the initial cost!  

Go Green to Save Green in 2016!

 
Money Saving Gardening Ideas

  • ·Plant a vegetable, herb, or container garden. This will save lots of green and is a very green thing to do!
  • ·        Plant deciduous trees on the east and west side of your house to keep sun out of house, thereby reducing AC bills. In the winter, the leaves will fall off the trees and allow the sun to come into the windows to provide warmth.
  • ·        A cheaper, quicker way to provide shade now is to grow an annual vine in front of windows to provide shade in summer months. Hyacinth beans grow quickly and are beautiful where I live. (And a bonus, the hummingbird visited the vines.)
  • ·        Shred paper (to protect against identity theft) and use it in the compost pile.
  • ·        Start a worm bin with your kitchen scraps (vermicomposting) for use around flowers, herbs and vegetables. Save money not spending money on expensive chemical fertilizers that are not environmentally friendly any way.
  • ·        Mulch, mulch, mulch. You can use things like leaves, grass clippings, straw and compost.
  • ·        Collect rain in rain barrels to water the gardens.
  • ·        Use the boiled egg water, water from the dehumidifier, or water that ran off your vegetables when cleaning them, to water plants.
  • ·        Plant native plants for your area, they may need to be watered less.
  • ·        Choose plants that can thrive with other plants with similar needs.
  • ·        Plant for wildlife. Planting the right plant can attract birds, butterflies and bees.
  • ·        Build healthy soil with the use of organic matter. Compost with things that you may have on hand such as grass clippings, leaves, and old kitchen scraps such as lettuce leaves, old banana peels, etc. (No meat or dairy)
  • ·        Check out what the neighbor is putting in his trash too but check to see if they use synthetic chemicals.
  • ·        Compost healthy garden wastes.
  • ·        Composting for fertilizer and increasing soil health is not expensive and very eco-friendly.
  • ·        Composting attracts earthworms, so let them aerate and fertilize your soil. No need for tilling, the earthworms will do it for you.
  • ·        Join a garden club for seed swapping or plant exchanging.
  • ·        Control disease and pests through natural cures first. Last year I used the Cornell recipe for powdery mildew on my roses and it worked!
  • ·        Water during the early morning to prevent diseases that spread when leaves are wet and to prevent evaporation during the heat of the day.
  • ·        Mulch to suppress weeds and hold in moisture.
  • ·        Use newspapers in your compost and also as mulch. Don’t use the shiny kind of papers just the dull paper.
  • ·        Use cardboard for composting and also can be used before laying down the mulch. (Make sure their isn’t any tape on the box it won’t break down.)
  • ·        Check with places like Craigslist or FreeCycle for things you need for the garden or other projects. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Remember to rethink, remake, reuse and recycle. Recently, I found things that I had been looking for the coming garden season. Of course my price had to be free and close to where I live. In the winter, people don’t want to get out because of the cold so the odds are greater that you can actually pick some of this unwanted stuff up. One neighbor saves coffee grounds and filters for my worm bin. The other neighbor redid her windows-so now I have old windows for some cold frames. On Craigslist.com I found bags of old leaves, old stakes and chicken wire for my peas, and 5 dozen Ball canning jars. Last year I picked up a bunch of old bricks for walkways for free. You can also find plants and flowers. I went and dug about 9 currant bushes for free. Also, picked up around the corner from where I live enough rocks to use around my new pond that I am building to encourage wildlife. All of these things were free, eco-friendly and will be reused or remade into something!!!!

Automobile (Transportation)

  • Bicycle or walk short distances instead of driving.  
  • Change your automobiles air filter every 10,000 miles can reduce gas mileage as much as 10%.  
  • Check your tire pressure once monthly.  
  • Drive the speed limit, the faster you drive the more gas your vehicle guzzles.  
  • Don’t accelerate and break swiftly, uses more gas.  
  • Remove luggage rack and bike racks.
  • Don’t need to use premium fuel unless automobile manual states to use it.
  • Turn off engine if you are idling for more than 30 minutes or more.
  • Get a tune up and oil change as manual states.
  • Change your fuel and air filter on your automobile as the manufacturer states for optimum efficiency.

Save on Groceries

  • Use coupons for items that you would normally use. Some stores offer double or triple coupons. Be sure that the item you would have bought wouldn’t have been cheaper.
  • Calculate savings using the price per smallest possible unit. Usually found below shelf item on tag-calculated ounce, pound, etc.
  • Read grocery circulars.
  • Write up menu for the entire week before shopping. Stick to the menu and what you need for each meal. You can use items that were on sale that week for some of the meals.
  • Don’t buy prepackaged foods, such as pre-cut lettuce. You will pay premium price for this.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. This can save you lots of money and give you the assurance of how the food was grown.
  • Plant fruit trees, and bushes.
  • If you plant a garden, an economical way to preserve produce for all year would be to can, freeze, or dehydrate your food for later usage.

 General Money Saving Tips

  • Don’t buy your coffee out every morning, make your java at home- serve in a coffee travel mug.
  • Pack your lunch for work.
  • Recycle your printer cartridges. Many places like Staples Office Supplies will give you credit when you recycle your printer cartridges through them.
  • Use the correct size pan on the stove for the cooking job, use lids when cooking.
  • Make your own safe cleaners using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. See our home section for some of these cleaning ideas.
  • Don’t buy bottled water, buy a reusable bottle and fill at home. If you are concerned with water contaminants purchase a water filtration system.

If you can think of ideas-feel free to add them in the comments!

Aquaponic Basics Classes September 12, 2015

Cover

 

It is time!

If you are thinking about joining the great world of aquaponics-Here is your chance!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Because of the uncertainty of getting IBC totes for class-at this time we are ONLY OFFERING THE AQUAPONICS BASICS CLASS ON THIS DATE! If I have the ability to get totes-I will open up the tank building class and those who have signed up for the basics class will be given first option for the class.

There will be three options for the class that day:

Aquaponics Basics, Aquaponics System Building, Full class which includes both options

Be prepared to get your hands dirty! The day will start with a tour and explanation of our suburban greenhouse. We will discuss:

  • Aquaponic Basics
    • What is aquaponics?
    • How does it differ from hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaculture?
    • Is it cost effective to grow this way?
  • Is aquaponics legal in residential areas
    • What about more commercial applications
    • Do you need permits for vegetable/fish sales?
  • What are your goals with aquaponics
    • What are you wanting to grow? flowers, vegetables, herbs
    • NOTE: for Washington, DC residents: since Marijuana is not legal in MD, I cannot teach to that specific plant, but will answer any questions as best I can.
    • Personal consumption only or larger scale
    • Outside system or in a garage, shed, or greenhouse.
  • Types of aquaponic systems
    • Fill & Drain, Constant Height, Vertical, Gutter
    • Pro’s and Con’s of  systems
    • Which system is best for you?
    • Types of plants best for your system
  • Different types of Grow Media or floating rafts
    • Pro’s & Con’s
    • Cost factor
  • Raising and breeding Tilapia fish (This is our fish of choice)
    • Pro’s and Con’s of Tilapia
    • What other fish lend well to an aquaponics system
      • Are you wanting to harvest fish for food, for sale,  or just have fish for the system
  • Receive tracking logs for maintenance and monitoring of your system

We will also be covering topics about: cycling your tanks, grow media, heating, lighting and covering any questions that you may have leading a good understanding of aquaponics and how to start.  After attending the basics class, you will have the knowledge to successfully start your aquaponics adventure.

Once completed in the greenhouse, you will roll your sleeves up to be  completing your own IBC tote tank system. Be sure to bring your truck or trailer. We sold almost 100 of these last year at $299 each and you will take yours home with you the day of class!

I will take you through step-by-step in building your tank and the importance of measurements, heights, and clearances to insure your tank will function properly. Although we will have the majority of the parts pre-cut, please have knowledge of basic hand tools and drills. If you have a battery operated drill, feel free to bring it.

With any system there is some basic maintenance. As we complete the tank systems, I will cover basic maintenance and common causes of malfunctions,  as well as the necessary steps to solve and prevent future issues.

If you bring pictures of the area where you want to install your tank and a simple drawing , I will help you determine the best setup for positioning lines and filters. We can also make small modifications on the spot that would make your system very user friendly for your location.

Simple drawing example. Can just hand draw layout as well.
Simple drawing example. Can just hand draw layout as well.

When you complete this class, you will walk away with the knowledge you need set-up and run your new aquaponics system successfully. Not to mention that you will have your tank system built and ready to set and function as soon as you get home!

All class participants will receive the book and DVD from the foremost expert in Aquaponics in the United States: Sylvia Bernstein.

Aquaponic Gardening: A step-by-step guide to raising vegetables and fish together. This book is the first and best book I have read in starting my aquaponics adventure: a $30 Value

Aquaponics Explained Video: full-length aquaponics course taught by Sylvia Bernstein in her warm, approachable style in June, 2012 at the Denver Botanic Gardens: a $30 Value

Just choose the option that best fits your needs. If you just need the knowledge right now and a better understanding of the aquaponic system, then the Aquaponic Basics Class is for you.

9:00 am Aquaponics Basics-This will include everything listed above in the “Greenhouse Tour” plus the book and video to take home.

$99 per person.                    Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

If you understand the basics of aquaponic gardening and are ready to get your system set up[ and going, with the knowledge of building and maintaining the system, then the AP Tank Class is for you.

11:30am Tank Only Class-This class will be spent hands-on in building your own tank system to take home right after class*. It will include all instruction on the mechanics and maintenance of the IBC tank system. You will be able to leave the class with the knowledge to build more tanks or variations to fit your needs in your own space. This class will include Sylvia Bernstein’s book & video to take home.

*Does not include Grow Media or fish

$349 per person                  Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

If you want to combine the knowledge of aquaponic gardening and starting your system, then come for the complete 1/2 day training!

 FULL CLASS-Best Value. Save $50 from the cost of both classes   for a packed 1/2 day of training and education about aquaponics; leaving with all the information and material you need to get started with your own aquaponics system when you get home!* Includes everything in both of the above classes at a $50 savings, but as an added bonus full paid tuition will include ONE guest FREE. So bring an interested friend, neighbor, or relative and they can participate with you.

$399 for 2 people**                 Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

*Does not include Grow Media or fish
**Includes only ONE book and DVD per paid tuition

Every class will have door prize drawings and giveaways throughout the class, so come prepared to make it a day of learning and fun!

Classes held in Southeast Baltimore County in Dundalk. Times and exact address of class will be sent on your payment confirmation page.

 

 

Cherry tomatoes all year long

When I was in the greenhouse today cleaning out the filters on the aquaponics tanks, I realized that my 1 cherry tomato plant has taken over both of the grow beds.

I planted 1(one) cherry tomato plant in January of 2015 and it is grown phenomenally. Not only has it grown, but it still flowers and produces great red cherry tomatoes. I am so happy that we decided to move forward with the greenhouse so I can extend my grow season and my aquaponics adventure!

Let me emphasize this is one plant that has taken over more than  a 4′ X 8′ section of the greenhouse-yet still producing after 8 months! I wonder if I can keep growing it as “permaculture”?

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Aquaponics: Sustainable and Planet Friendly

“Aquaponics blends the best of hydroponics (using 90% less water than soil-based agriculture) and aquaculture (relieves the fish harvesting pressure from the oceans), while solving the significant inherent problems of each system (chemical fertilizers and fish waste disposal). Aquaponics is quite possibly the most sustainable growing technique ever created.” Sylvia Bernstein founder Aquaponic Source and Author “Aquaponic Gardening: A step by step guide to raising fish and plants together”

When I started in aquaponics, I had no clue as to the benefits that I was about to reap over conventional soil based gardening. Of the largest, I believe for me personally, was the conservation of water.

My outdoor garden consists of 32 4 X 8 raised garden beds, full ofphone1216 002 compost, soil, and manure. Once planted, it is very necessary to watch weather forecasts as to the amount of coming rain. Natural rain water is good for the garden, but in recent years seems to have been lacking from previous years.

I must supplement from the lack of rainfall, so my irrigation is running far more than I would like it to. My water bill in summer months can be as high as 4 times my winter bills! That seems funny since on the east coast, I am completely surrounded by water: living in between tributaries off the Chesapeake Bay.

The world is mostly water, I believe about 70% of the surface is covered by water, yet useable, potable water is less than 2% without some form or filtration. Many land locked countries are screaming for a usable water source just to sustain their population.

  • According to the United Nations, 31 countries are now facing water scarcity and 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water.
  • Water consumption is doubling every 20 years and yet at the same time, water sources are rapidly being polluted, depleted, diverted and exploited by corporate interests ranging from industrial agriculture and manufacturing to electricity production and mining.
  • The World Bank predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will suffer from lack of clean and safe drinking water.
  • Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States.
  • It takes 1,000 tons of water to produce just one ton of grain.
Greenhouse AP tank set
Greenhouse AP tank setup-150 gallons of water per tank

Utilizing my aquaponics systems year round, I use 90% less water than I would for an equivalent sized raised bed. Since the Aquaponic System reuses and filters the water in a constant cycle, I lose very little water. Actually the only regular water loss is due to evaporation.

Evaporation causes me to replenish my tanks about 5% or less per two weeks. This is roughly 5-10 gallons per tank, a far cry less than leaving my irrigation system on to run full force for hours at a time each day of no rain.    Also utilizing a water catchment system, rainwater can be used to replenish the tanks, causing NO excess water usage.

I am trying to stay as sustainable as possible on our little 1/5 acre suburban homestead, It allows us to conserve vital planet resources like water, but in the long run keeps a little extra cash in my pocket as well.

Want to learn more about aquaponics sustainable gardening and live in the Chesapeake Bay area? Check out the upcoming classes on aquaponics?

 

 

Our first class went well….on to the next

We lived through our inaugural class on Aquaponic Gardening! I am so thrilled with the outcome and feedback we received for the 1/2 day session. With the fast growing aquaponics field and being the only person in Baltimore County to offer this type of education, we are gaining a lot a popularity.

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Starting with a quick tour of the greenhouse and gardens, a few questions and chit-chat, then on to our days fun.

Since the class size must be kept small, due to limited space, the atmosphere is one of true learning. The intimacy of the small group and small space allows for a lot of interaction among all those participating. We even through in a little about our bees, chickens, rabbits, and permaculture garden’s.

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The Aquaponic Basics Class was an information packed 2 1/2 hours, with lots of opportunities for questions, discussions, and a few fun door prize giveaways! No one left the class without some freebies above everything given as part of the class!

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Ending the basics course, we moved to the Aquaponic Tank Building session of the day. Although most of the parts are precut, we spent the afternoon finishing out and customizing the tanks to fit the needs of those involved.

I might add that we are building the ONLY SYSTEM that is easily convertible between a fill & drain or constant height system. So each individual being able to make small custom adjustments to feed their needs was a hit for the day.

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Along with a few snacks and drinks provided, this intimate setting again offered the opportunity for lots a Q & A. Everyone in attendance had a great opportunity to gain a full understanding of how the systems operate, along with maintenance and troubleshooting.

Everyone in attendance was thrilled with the amount of knowledge they gained while spending their Saturday in a fun atmosphere. I received feedback from everyone that they were extremely happy with the class overall and felt they received FAR MORE than the cost paid for the class.

With the feedback and some small glitches, I am looking forward to making out next class even better! Keeping the class small, I already have some overflow that could not attend the first class which will be attending the next. So I am sure this class will fill quickly!