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!

Hello trout!

In not too long at all, we finished preparing for the aquaponic system…….

Spa moved, ground being prepared for the system

Once we had finished all the ground work- a retaining wall (two in fact), about 100 slabs, lifting and relaying pavers, moving the biofilter…..the system was set up by Backyard Aquaponics ….

All set up, ready for fish and veggies

Then we had a trip to buy some fish, deciding on 50 trout, which struggled a bit on the trip but revived once in the tank. Of course, most projects have setbacks– and this one did too!! We lost 20 fish overnight as they tend to leap high into the air…and clean out of the tank! This resulted in another trip for more fish, and a net to cover the fish tank, something we should have thought of in the first place!

Trout safely under their net

Planting the grow beds

Now for the perch…..

Well, with the trout out for this year, in go the perch. We put two sizes in- fingerlings that will take this and next summer to grow to eating size, and some larger (approximately 300 grams) that will be ready during this summer. This means we won’t have to wait a full 18 months before we have any fish ready to eat. The plan now is that each spring we add more perch fingerlings and this should enable us to maintain a steady supply of fish without the need to completely harvest every 6 months.

silver perch fingerlings November 2011

300 gram silver perch 12 November 2011

We are looking forward to the perch getting bigger and eating all the string algae so it is nicer for swimming!

Swimming Pool Trout 2011

Well, the trout season for this year is over as the water is warming up and soon the trout wouldn’t cope. We started with 50 trout (put in on May 6th as 15 gram fingerlings), and over the last month or so have been harvesting a few at a time. They ranged in weight from 450-800 grams. Our final harvest, 14 trout, weighed in between 800 grams and 1kg!!! We were very pleased with such a good result!

14 trout

The wine bottle shows the size of them, the longest being 40 cm.