Giant Silver Perch!

We had a good harvest of silver perch from the swimming pool, using an adapted prawn net. We netted 8 fish, all of which were over a kilo, but the biggest of all was this one- an amazing 2.7 kg! We assume it was one of the original perch we put in 5 years ago, to get to such a size……… either that or it is a real greedy guts!

A whopper!

The most delicious pineapple!

The waiting was worth it- the pineapple growing in the aquaponics system was finally ready- at the end of July in a Perth winter! Who would believe it? But, all who have tasted it agree it is the most delicious pineapple!

Magnificent pineapple!

Magnificent pineapple!

Juicy and sweet!

Juicy and sweet!

The other pineapple growing in a pot (see the May post), should be ready in a couple of months or so, it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in the taste (aquaponics vs dirt). When this one is finished, the top will be prepared and planted ready to grow another pineapple!

Pineapples!

We have been growing pineapples from the tops of bought pineapples, and finally have some fruit this year! The plants in the aquaponics system have grown much quicker than those in the garden, interestingly. This beauty is almost ready….

Aquaponics pineapple

Aquaponics pineapple

This is the one growing in a pot near the back of the house, not as big but growing!

Pineapple growing in a pot

Pineapple growing in a pot

Can’t wait for them to ripen!!

Silver perch…

Now the weather is warming up and the Silver Perch in the swimming pool are more actively eating (they slow down a fair bit over the colder months), they are easy to catch on a fishing line. They like prawns, but their favourite is worms! The tricky part is catching more than one- it seems that once the first good sized one is caught, the others know and avoid the bait. We have our great net system now though, which means we can hop in and catch a few-selecting the ones to harvest and releasing the others. These two beauties were caught for a lunch with guests- the biggest was 1.2kg!

Silver Perch

Silver Perch

Trout season begins!

As the water temperatures have gone down below 20C now, we took out the perch from the aquaponics fish tank and added them to the swimming pool with the other perch. It is great to be able to have a variety of sizes of fish living together and not eating each other!  We added trout fingerlings to the fish tank for winter, and already they are leaping out of the water to feed! They are so much more exciting than perch, but the perch are certainly tasty and easy to manage. Part of the change over involved a good tidy up of the grow beds, which were looking very sad. Pulling out plants that had finished providing (or were too massacred by caterpillars to keep!), adding some fresh expanded clay and seedlings, and they look so much better.

tidied up and ready to grow!

tidied up and ready to grow!

AP planting 2

It was also time to harvest some yabbies, and it reminded us of how much it hurt our backs to bend over the ibc tanks to clean them out…so, we purchased a grow bed to match the aquaponics system and replaced the ibc tanks with that. Now we have a great yabbie tank that doesn’t involve bending over to clean, and it looks good too as it matches the AP system! Of course, we had to harvest a dozen or so yabbies at the same time!

new yabbie tank

new yabbie tank

The hottest Perth day for 24 years!!

Well, most of Perth stayed indoors as much as possible today, with the temperature reaching 44.4C…….that is 112F for those overseas! We knew some heat was coming (plus it is summer after all and we do what we can to prepare for the heat…and bushfire season.  We had put up shade cloth over the aquaponics grow beds, and the duck pen, and thank goodness we did that before today.

Shade cloth covering the veggies in the aquaponics

Shade cloth covering the veggies in the aquaponics

Late yesterday we gave everything a good deep watering in anticipation of the 41C forecast for today. As the temperature soared we turned on some sprinklers to give the birds some relief, and freshened up the water baths (check out the handy hints page) we have around the place.

Splish splash I was takin' a bath.....on a 44 degree day!

Splish splash I was takin’ a bath…..on a 44 degree day!

We also put on the ‘overhead’ sprinklers. We have these on the house in case of a bushfire, but it also helps to cool down the house (we have a tin roof); and we also have them on the rabbit house, again for both reasons. The rabbits had their two litre bottles of ice (also mentioned in handy hints) this morning, and then a new one at 3.00 to help them out some more.

The poor turkeys are hot, as they recently had young and they are too small to let out along with the ducks, geese and poultry. We turned on the sprinkler for them too, and this helped cool them down.

Welcome visitors….

We have had such an abundance of birds lately- particularly the Splendid wrens. They are so comfortable with us being quite close- the only trouble with photographing them is they flit so quickly!!

They have become very regular visitors to the vegetable garden and aquaponics garden, and are very welcome indeed as they are eating the caterpillars!

Checking out the caterpillars in the veggie garden!

Checking out the caterpillars in the veggie garden!

 

Autumn?????

Well, most of us here in Perth are still waiting for the Autumn rains, and we are 2/3 of the way through already! Since the end of November, we have had only 18mm of rain!

The aquaponics system has grown well regardless of course, but the dirt gardens have struggled. Now there is a really good reason to get into aquaponics!

View across two of the growbeds

View across two of the growbeds

We harvested the perch from the AP fish tank, keeping 28 for the freezer and putting 10-12 into the swimming pool to continue to grow. The perch had a slowish start when we moved some from the pool to fish tank for the summer, but they made up for that with the largest being 912 grams and 39 cm long!

Silver perch ready to fillet and freeze

Silver perch ready to fillet and freeze

The trout fingerlings are now in the fish tank for the winter months, and the grow beds tidied, harvested and replanted. The dirt gardens have also had a tidy up and replant for the cooler and wetter (hopefully!) months.

The ups and downs of farming…..

Well, as we said, setbacks are as much a part of farming life, even the small scale we have, as all the wonderful births and growths!

We have had our worst lambing season ever….five sets of twins to five ewes should have been fabulous, but we have four surviving lambs, all for various reasons. It has been quite distressing- we are used to having the odd problem or death, but losing 6 lambs in two weeks was most unusual.

To add to that, we had an aquaponic disaster too, where we lost a lot of trout. Water quality can change very quickly, and so it did here. We flushed the tank as soon as the fish went off their food, but next morning there were lots of floaters…another very distressing sight! We have a few left so have done more flushing, added more salt and more calcium carbonate, so hope all will be well.

Despite the death and destruction of late, there is also good news…..the vegetables are growing well, we harvested our first luffa..

First successful luffa

First successful luffa

IMG_0089

Believe it or not there has also been time for more preserving as it is orange season once again. The produce room is stocked up with Orange Liqueur Brandy, Marmalade and Bottled Oranges! Ginger beer and Ginger Cordial are also new favourites.

Spaghetti Sauce, Ginger beer and oranges in juice..

Spaghetti Sauce, Ginger beer and oranges in juice..

Pumpkin Palace moved to its new location.

Pumpkin Palace moved to its new location.