Since moving to McCarthy Park 2, we have trying to find the best place for growing berries, as we had in McCarthy Park 1……. the chickens eat them, the ducks eat them, they frazzle in Perth’s hot summers……..

In our continuing attempts to reduce the amount of lawn, bit by bit, we came up with the idea of raised grow beds near the aquaponics. This area has a few benefits- the animals can’t eat them, they get morning sun but afternoon shade, they are contained (so they don’t get out of control), and they are close to the house (and the blueberries) for easy picking!

Unfortunately it is quite late in the season so we may have to wait until next year to get any berries!

We have several potted blueberries, which fruit at different times so providing us with plenty to eat and plenty to freeze for later in the year!

Beehives and aquaponics update!

After a huge effort to get the aquaponics up and running, it has been great to consolidate a bit this last month. The aquaponics has really got going and is loving its new position on the east side of the house. In summer we will need some protection from the easterly wind, but in this autumn weather it is really cranking!

System 1- the original system moved from the old house
System 2- newly established

Both systems are going very well with good plant growth and healthy fish.

Also going well are the beehives, which is surprising in a way as it is well recognised locally as being a very poor season. Where some have had to feed their bees all through summer, we have managed without that and even did a small harvest (12 litres) as we downsized for the winter months.

The newly established ‘bee room’ proved very successful, with plenty of room to extract and clean up.

Another finishing touch to the garden was the installation of a SubPod, a worm/composting system we are trying out as we decided not to bring our old worm farm (an old cast iron bath). So far it is great to be able to reuse those items the chooks won’t eat, such as tea bags, lint and tissues!

Edible garden, with herbs, bush tucker and the SubPod. Agapanthus line the garden beds around the house as they are considered fire retardant.

Fish and Aquaponics Reestablished!

In February we moved our yabbies and aquaponics system to the new house, but both to temporary areas until we had some paving completed.

We didn’t want to lose this 6 weeks of growth by emptying the grow beds!

After much thought, we decided to set up a second aquaponics system rather than run aquaculture as we had at our previous place. This will enable us to keep Silver Perch year round as we like to do, but also run Rainbow Trout over the winter months as usual. It also provides more space for growing edibles!

Over the Easter break, we finally set up our systems in the area that was planned for them. This was no mean feat! One system was new and easy to position and set up from scratch, however moving the existing system without emptying each of the three grow beds and their lush veggies was quite an accomplishment thanks to ingenuity, perseverance and sometimes brute force!

car wheel trolleys were perfect for relocating the yabby tank and the aquaponics grow beds!

Once the new system was set up and all the pipework complete, we used a spare tank to transfer the water and fish from the existing system.

Tractor buckets are very handy for that last bit of water!

With some planting out, we now had the new system up and running with over 60 Silver Perch. Now to tackle moving the established system……

A car jack was used to lift each leg of the grow bed enough to place the car wheel trolley underneath. Once all four were in situ, the whole grow bed was pushed into place on the other side of the house.

It was not without difficulties! But we succeeded!

The empty fish tank from the original system was dragged around and placed in position… and the pipework completed.

Next step was to return to our old place and get the Silver Perch from the swimming pool! The small tank borrowed from Cheidys Aquaponics was invaluable.

We ended up removing the pump and draining the swimming pool (using the pool water to transfer the fish over a few trips), and successfully transferred 120 or so fish from the pool to the aquaponics systems. Each tank has 90 or so fish in a variety of sizes from fingerlings to 40+cm long.

And we are now fully set up, with yabbies in the foreground and our two aquaponics systems on the right!

Spring update…..

Spring is such a lovely time of the year! Not too hot, enough rain not to need to water the garden, births, and overall growth…….

The aquaponics system is going very well, and we have eaten our first trout from it.

Smoked trout

With the warmer weather coming, we have been monitoring the water temperature as the trout are not happy if it is over 20C. to help extend the season, and reduce the algae that was growing in the fish tank, we put up a gazebo to shade the fish tank. This also provided a structure to attach a support for the tomatoes that are growing like crazy!

Aquaponics October 2012

The orchard is also going very well in this gorgeous weather, with the peaches, nectarines, mulberry and citrus all fruiting. We have high hopes for the olive trees too, after only two olives last year!

Olive tree flowering

We have even preserved some of the lemons, and made jam with mulberries for later….

Preserved lemons

In fact, we have been able to spend a bit more time preserving some produce, and decided to convert a room to store it in! We will be able to use this room for butchering as well, instead of outside where we usually have done it.

Produce room

We also have our very first bee hive, and have ordered our bees….so this room will also be where we can extract the honey safely (away from the bees!).

Naturally, being spring, there have been numerous births (and unfortunately some deaths). Two bantams successfully hatched chicks, though four were killed/taken by something, perhaps a crow. We also lost a duck, we think to an eagle, as there was nothing left but feathers and a beak. Two ducks are sitting on eggs, and three turkeys….so hopefully more births will follow!

Possums, lambs and lettuce!!!

The possum is becoming more and more comfortable around us and now resides in the workcoming emerging from its slumber at dusk to look for food!

You lookin' at me?

Our first lambs of this season were born  on 7th August, and are looking good so far!

The aquaponics system is certainly continuing to excell! The growth is greater than that in the soil garden, to the extent that we are having to do some thinning out. The trout are growing very well too!

Growth 3 months from planting/sowing.

Winter update….

The aquaponics system is growing….and growing! We are giving away greens, and using them to feed the ducks, turkeys and rabbits because we have so much!

Growth up to 30 June, things are starting to get crowded!

The other veggies are growing well too, but not quite at the same rate as the aquaponics.

Winter has also brought the rain, and is filling up our small ‘dam’, which the ducks are enjoying very much!

Ducks enjoying a swim