Saturday, 28 March 2015


Tonight I am cooking. Roast pork knuckle with roast potatoes and cabbage.
We first had this dish in Prague. The Czech republic.
My version is modified a bit. I omit the caraway seeds, increase the garlic add a bay leaf. Later I add brown  sugar.
It was a wonderful Prague Sunday lunch. The sound of the OM PAH band could not be resisted.
The music drew us in. The black larger confirmed we were in the right place.
I am an English bitter drinker but the Czech people make a fantastic beer.
Even my wife, a wine drinker, enjoyed the beer.
It is the custom to tip the band by putting notes into the horn of the Tuba player.
I had never realized how deep a Tuba was.


My son texted me from Southern Spain, where he lives. 25*C on the beach. Cold beer, olives and fried squid.

My eldest  daughter from a coach somewhere in the UK. Away football game for my grandson. Sandwiches! Bless!

My youngest daughter from Lacock. A one table invitation only restaurant in a, “ nice private  house” “ Fantastic food” “great company”

However. Boil the knuckles for about an hour. Let cool.  Move to a roasting tin. Add some of the stock from the boiling. Add brown sugar. 
I cannot remember wether Mick was discussing Brown Sugar or Honky Tonk women, but say two table spoons.
I like my music loud when cooking.
This may have affected the amount of sugar I added.
Then roast for about  an hour and a half in a medium oven.
Baste a bit in between tracks.
Increase the heat for the last 30 minutes.
The addition of sugar will blacken the skin.
On a wet cold English Saturday night, Good grub!

PS Current medical advice is that with carefully controlled exposure to rock music I will eventually remember the sixties.


Samphire Update
I ordered the Samphire seeds from Planted them in rock wool cubes in a windowsill propagator about two weeks ago. Germination a bit slow but looks like some movement this morning.

This is Marsh Samphire or Salicornia europaea.

 Not to be confused with Rock Samphire or Crithmum Maritmum. which I understand from Dave has a slightly turpentine or bitter carrot flavour.

Friday, 20 March 2015


Just before I picked some spinach for tonights dinner I took this photo.
Early last November I picked up a variety of plant plugs in the reduced section at the local Garden Centre. Very cheap. I washed the roots and put them in.
The grow bed is outside with simple drop down plastic curtains.
Admittedly they didn’t do much over the winter. The last few weeks of warmer weather has seem them really grow.
This will be our first harvest of the year.

The other photo is of my seeds germinating. This was a cheap LED fixture. It works great for germination. Not sure if it has enough power for full growing.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


So we went to see this movie;
It gave me some ideas.
One of them  to use cable ties;

On the SLO at 50 mil intervals

Thursday, 12 March 2015

European Perch

I have been concerned for some time with the Perch. 
You may remember they were introduced to the system last November.
Following good practice with the introduction of new fish they were isolated from the main system. Their water was salted to 3PPT. They settled in well. Perch are tough fish. They will tolerate temperatures from 4*C to 31*C. This was my main reason for choosing them.
After two weeks I turned a couple of taps, switched off the dedicated pump, and they were connected to the main system.
Everything was fine. Perch are not aggressive feeders like Trout. I fed them sparingly.
I would occasionally  buy some ‘red worm’ from the local aquarium shop
Winter temperatures were cool and they were almost in hibernation.
Their tank is outside, well insulated and sheltered. When frost or ice was forecast I turned on the heaters to keep the FT temperature above 4*C. They seemed fine. But;
Really just marking time.
So now I am asking myself was November too early? Should I have waited until now? Feb/March?
Anyway. I decided yesterday to act.
I again isolated their tank. This is where the design allowing a tank to be isolated quickly and easily paid off. Turn two taps. Drop in the pump, push fit connector Happy days!
I also decide to heat. I am using a 300W aquarium heater set to minimum about 16*C
Change can stress fish. I added salt to their system to 1PPT. That is one part per thousand. Water tests were good: Both Am and Nitrite negligible. I am keeping the PH slightly high at 7.7. I think this aids bacteria in cool temperatures. I will adjust as things progress.
This morning when I checked them their were fine. Again this evening good. Some fish now not hugging the bottom. I added one teaspoon of trout food. Some feeding activity but slow.
There is not a lot of information about E Perch in AP. Evidence from Ireland suggests 23*C is the optimum temperature for commercial farming. Growth rates at 11*C are reduced by about 60% 
Now in my garden setting optimal growth rates are not my main objective.  Hardiness and ‘taste on the plate’ are my main deciding factors. 
I do believe that European Perch can and should be a major part of UK aquaponics.

Only by sharing knowledge and experience can we move on.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Air Lines

At last the new airline system is up and running. Sticking with my theme of using readily available piping. I opted to use 15mm household plastic pipe and push fit connections. I did use the super seals.
Larger pipe sizes give less friction loss. Like many things you have to compromise. Using 15mm pipe allowed me to bend the pipe and reduce connectors. “T” and “L” 
The only ‘specialist’ part was a brass half inch female to a 5mm hose tail. These I got from E bay. Nominally the inside diameter of silicone tube is 4mm but with a bit of warmth the 5mm fitted fine. The silicone tube was used for the last 50 cm or so and connected to air stones.

The 15mm pipe is not recommended for compressed air use. However with the relatively low air pressure I am using I decided to go ahead. My choice my responsibility.

I switched on the pump and it works great. Tomorrow I will check for leaks. Washing up liquid on the joints will bubble if air is leaking.

There is some noise with this type of air compressor. It’s out in the shed and I put an old mouse mat underneath. No problem.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Me Too!

The downside of an outside aquaponics system in the UK is that inevitably you are going to get cold and wet.
I need sunshine! I lipread from outside, on the cold and wet side of the double glazing! Hmm. Me too!
We fled south to Spain for a few days. A walk on the,’Sunny Side’
A ‘Chiringuito’ is a bar/restaurant on the beach.
 I will never tire of watching the Mediterranean. 
Combine this with grilled sardines and a cold white wine. Hmm Me too!

After lunch we found : ‘The Racing Club in Torrox Costa, Malaga, Andalusia, Spain.
On Saturday afternoons they have an open jam session: Mandolin Mick joined us that afternoon. Enjoy!