Sunday, 25 September 2016


As the September nights close in here in the UK and the temperature drops its time to look back and assess the year
It is just over two years since I first filled an IBC with water and bought my first fish.
This really has been the first year when I have began to control the system instead of reacting to events.
Fish wise its has been mixed. !4 plate sized trout in the freezer. After the cull in that tank I switched off the pumps and the air and left it for two days.
When I went to drain and clean it one trout was flapping at the bottom.
24*C plus No air he is some tough ********
He now swims in the main tank. The only fish I have at the moment.
The Carp came and went. I had an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Veg wise it has been a phenomenal year.
The early broad beans in the main IBC GB were brilliant.The Spinach alongside them has provide us with constant addition to salads etc.
I replaced the broad beans with Main crop Tomatoes. The crop is good but the perspex roof is about 1 mtre above the GB Not enough height. I could easily get these tomatoes to grow to two mtrs with double the crop. re think for next year.
My four 110mm tubes have been outstanding. More cherry tomatoes than we can eat. ( Tumbling Tom Yellow/Red) I planted marigolds to deter bugs. I probably planted too many. OK we were not troubled by bugs but too many holes for marigolds. Constant fresh flower! Happy wife!
The Courgettes were a disappointment. Loads of flowers but NO fruit. I tried hand pollination with no success.
I have a 60 Ltr pot filled with Clay media. I planted three runner bean plants in it. A great success. We have eaten fresh beans most weeks. When the crop was too prolific we trimmed and blanched and froze them. A real aquaponic success. I have watercress in a 90 ltr oblong pot. We had so much we couldn’t give it away.
The samphire has grown well but not sufficiently to crop. Not sure about this. Maybe as its a perennial needs time.
The main factor has been consistent leafy growth. I need to manipulate the Nitrate levels more for fruits.

Winter studying.

Sunday, 10 July 2016


All the frustrations of the last two years .All the setbacks are forgotten when I took this picture about five minutes ago.
Marigolds (calendula companion planting) Tumbling tom ( cherry tomatoes) and courgettes.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

6/7/2016 UPDATE

I took these photos this evening.
I picked two bowlfuls of watercress on Sunday. It is growing faster than we can eat.
The samphire has grown but no where near harvesting.
The broad beans have finally finished. Close to four carrier bags of shell on beans.
The runner beans are progressing well.

The tubes are a combination of calendula ( good companion planting for tomatoes) Tumbling tom (cherry toms) and Courgettes.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016


I have been having a bit of a rethink.
I am lucky in that I have three sources of water. Tap, rainwater and my well.
I did a full water test on the well water. All good
The problem was sheer laziness. Moving all the stuff in the kitchen
Getting out the sump pump running the hose etc. Was a PITA.
The little box allows me to manually pump the water I require.
I did have to renew the leather gaskets.
Don’t you just love U tube!

I chose to go with the box rather than a straight tube for a visual check on water quality/debris.

Monday, 23 May 2016


Main Grow Bed

Samphire bed

Beetroot bed

Runner Bean Pot

Post germination grow on bed

Grow tubes

grow tubes

seed germination

Watercress bed

View of the grow shelves

My Granddaughter made this

Thursday, 12 May 2016


This is a shot of my samphire bed.
As well as to direct planting with seeds I decided to try cuttings.
I chose the market instead of Waitrose because the market samphire was loose and the other was prepackaged in nitrogen.
Sponges,45* scalpel cut, cut rooting powder. About 50% success rate.
They are in a F/D media bed.
I have just returned from a weeks  holiday and the fungal growth is from slug pellets ( Fish safe, Iron based) I scattered before leaving.
Unsure. Any advice welcome.

I presoaked the sponges in 1PPT saline and my system at the moment is running at about the same level.


On holiday in Spain I saw a hydroponics shop.
Four inch net pots .22E
Much cheaper than in the UK.Very light so no big problem with weight in the plane.

Thursday, 14 April 2016


The Crucian Carp are like sheep. The sole remaining Perch reminds me of a faithful sheepdog. Standing guard or herding the flock.
I have read that Carp in the presence of predators such as Perch or Pike adapt to their presence  by getting a rounder shape. This change can become genetic and passed on to subsequent generations.
Fascinating that this tiny fish could have a generational effect.

Breeding would be fun but I would need to do a lot of reading and research.

Sunday, 10 April 2016


This is what has kept me busy for most of the winter.
I really tried with the 6cm square line down pipes but was unable to solve the leaks.
As you will understand with NFT, constant water flow, even one drip is a serious problem.
The 110mm pipes system presents it own challenges but end caps with a good waterproof seal are available.
I increased the hole size to 7cm.
The connecting pipes are all 21.5mm waste pipe. Including bulkhead fittings These are probably some of the cheapest fittings available in the UK.
I offset the hole I cut in the end cap allowing me to vary the depth in the tube.
The terra-cotta underground pipe system was slightly cheaper. In my opinion also more attractive but I was overruled. SWMBO.
I had intended to do a straight flow through system. That is tube one flows into tube two etc.
I had the 22mm manifold from last year and also the 10mm taps and pipe so in the end used them. More control.
There is probably a 4cm drop of the water into the tube. This adds oxygen.
The Up-flow filter was the original I made from the main system.
I replaced this with my new “U Tube” filter.
The Up-Flow filter is fed from 3500L pump in the sump. Really it is too powerful. Its what I had. Using a, ’T” I divert some of the flow via a tap back into the sump.
During the initial water integrity tests I pumped on a 15/45 timer.
This tended to overfill the bottom tube. Now I can control this via the individual taps. BUT this F&D allows me to use the bottom tube to encourage root growth from new plants.
I intend to grow cherry tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers in this system.
The copper strips you see are snail slug deterrents.
In addition I will also be planting companion plants. In this case marigolds.

Calendula. These I understand are edible. Now I can scatter petals across a salad but does anyone have a calendula recipe?


Continuing my interest in samphire I to day tried some cuttings.
In Marlborough we have a Saturday market. It includes probably one of the best Green grocers in the South West. Imported from Israel he told me. English production not commercially viable. I had considered buying from Waitrose but theirs, also from Israel is pre-packed. Also probably injected with Nitrogen to preserve,’freshness’
The market samphire was a bit dull but with a good salty taste.
Using a scalpel I made a diagonal cut just below a node.
Licked it and then dipped in rooting compound.
I was watching the football on TV at the time. It is possible I may have dipped then licked some of the cuttings.
I then put the cuttings into, ‘Rootit’  sponges. These I had previously soaked in warm water. Into which I had dissolved a tea spoon of sea salt.
I decided not to use my heated seed germinator.
They now sit across the kitchen from where I write this.
Under the 20Watt LED light I bought from E Bay.

Sufficient power to germinate seeds but not much else.


Cooking dinner tonight I glanced out of the patio doors. A  six inch trout stared back at me from the patio floor. Covered in dirt I picked him up and gently washed him in the trout tank. He moved in my hand. I let him go. He floated, upside down, slowly descending to the floor of the tank. I again held him.
He swam free of my hand.
Contrary to reports on family social media CPR was not required. At no time was mouth to mouth resuscitation performed.
Our patio door is about 4.5 meters from the trout tank. A look at my previous post will show the plastic netting I habitually use on trout tanks.

I have just checked,”Houdini “ All well. 

Friday, 8 April 2016


I have been so busy with various things and found little time to post.
The on going construction of the round NFT tubes has progressed and I have now done the water integrity tests.
 More on this later
The trout are feeding and growing well. I have noticed a marked difference in size. Some are now twice the size of their tank mates. What to do? I tried using two types of food. Larger floating food to attract the big guys The smaller sinking food for the small ones. This worked to a degree but in the end I decided to add a smaller grading tank.
Just to recap. The tank is a 250L UK cold water tank. A 1400L pump raises the water to a home made Pre-filter. A simple three stage plastic box with a combination of £1 shop plastic brushes and pan scourers. This feeds to a home made bio filter. Bottle tops/rawl plugs and K1. This then flows through a UV light Clarifier. ( This is turned off at the moment) I then diverted 40% of this water through a cheap 80L plastic box. A simple 40mm SLO and it exits into the main tank through a separate pipe. Therefore two pipes splashing into the main FT creating oxygen. The third inlet into this FT is fed from the main system on 15/45. Through a bottom drain detritus is swept out of the bottom drain into a GB.
I moved four of the smaller trout into the grading tank.
The imprint of the old “pecking order” stayed for a while but they are now hitting their food regularly. I feed them the smaller pellets and think that leftovers will be swept, downstream.
Trout are jumpers. Hence the plastic netting.

Grading Tank

Crucian Carp
The other main event was the addition of the new Crucian Carp. Again more later but I did want to share the photo

Friday, 25 March 2016


At last the first hints of spring. Although the winter has been mild not much happens. I have a small 30 watt heater in the sump tank. I aim to keep the water in the Fish tanks above 4*C so a juggling act between weather forecast and switching the heater on. Temperature variations above 2*C per day can stress the fish.
This year for the first time I planted winter Broad beans. My gardening friend said he planted one for him and one for the mice. As a comparison I planted some in the earth garden. About 80% casualties. So very hungry mice. The difference in the AP system is striking as you can see from the photos.
The main reason for the winter planting is to avoid black fly. This can be troublesome with later planting.
After talking to my gardening friend about broad beans I said I would go to the garden centre to buy some seeds. OH No he said. Go to Ron’s Stores in Rodbourne Swindon Wiltshire. They sell them loose. Ron’s Stores is an Aladdin's cave. A true old fashioned ironmonger. They do indeed sell them loose. A quarter pint or a half or a full pint. Imperial measures like these disappeared years ago in the UK. My quarter pint £0.6  were wrapped in a brown paper bag. The measures are older than I am and possibly valuable antiques.

Sometimes you encounter an old tradition that brightens up your whole day.

Thursday, 28 January 2016


I spend, a lot of time sat at my kitchen table. It is the centre of my universe.
Over endless cups of tea the fortunes and misfortunes of our family are discussed at length.It is the backdrop for the majority of photos I post on this and other sites.
The table is round.
Our chosen positions vary. This adds to its attraction. There is no head of table to lecture from or bottom of table to be banished to.
3 O clock has the best view of the TV, but  also the closest to the sink and the dishwasher.
 9 O clock is closest to the cooking side.
Once nine has served the dinner three better think about clearing the dishes.
Sat at nine I could see the comforting light of the UV filter.
Shining in these cold wet January nights. All is well. The pumps are running. Fish are fine.
I no longer needed the UV light and decided to switch it off.
The dark January nights somehow seemed to creep closer to the round table.
Your thoughts turn to comfort food. Let’s be honest things mum used to cook.
Long, long ago in a camp in a very cold land my wife’s family survived on Babka. Today we eat it because we like it.
The recipe varies. Tonight. Two slices of pork belly. Diced as finely as I can be bothered. A couple of rasher of smoked bacon. Low heat. Do not add oil let the fat render out of the pork. Fry till crispy. Add the bacon towards the end. Set aside
Meanwhile Peel and grate about seven medium potatoes. Also one large onion.
I then put these into a plastic carrier bag. Add two eggs seven tablespoons of flour. Salt and pepper. The now cooled meat and rendered fat. Mix.
Turn out into a suitable baking tin. Bake for about an hour.
Slice and enjoy with your favorite pickles.
Add a small red/blue LED light to the pump circuit.

Comfort food

Purple Babka

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


The ruler descended at the close of  each and every  final syllable.
Amamas, amatis amant. I can still feel the smarting in my right hand.
Learning Latin a long time ago came with real time physical feedback.
Never have a use for this dead language! 
How wrong I was.
A wet cold afternoon. The remains of some American storm. Jonas?
Why can’t we have our own storms?
Almost without thinking I pull into a garden centre.
I want some Mealey worms for the birds.
£1.99/100grms thats nearly twenty quid per kilo! I must be mad.
I wander round the plastic storage boxes.
That CD storage box at £4.99 could make a three stage filter.
Or an inclined plane fines filter.
I am deliberately delaying the final moment. To heighten the pleasure.
The seed display.
I love seeds. One look at a Tumbler Fi Hybrid package and I can really see them in my garden.
My eyes are drawn to the bargain bin.
all reduced to £0.7 
Many are Italian seeds. In Italian!

Mr Murphey. Forgive me and; Thank you!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Overnight air temperature was, -8*C. I have a 30w aquarium heater in the sump tank. This morning the main tank thermometer was 3.4*C.
No time to look before going to work! Truth is I could not deal with it at this time of the morning.
Home around four pm.
The main tank has carp. The secondary trout. Phew! All good.
In the grow beds. Think cold frame NOT greenhouse. I have winter cabbages, beetroot, watercress, spinach and winter broad beans. Watercress looking a bit sorry for it self but all else not too bad. The winter BB were planted before Christmas and are about 15 cms tall. First time for this crop. So far. OK.

Last year has been tough. I decide to add carp. I used an online supplier.
Delivery after delivery were infected. IMHO with an existing fungal/bacteria.
They had a guarantee. So in fairness when I complained they were replaced.
I lost four months with fish dying in quarantine. I added a UV light to my Q system. Helped a bit but again IMHO did not treat the already infected fish.
Once again I went To Bibury Trout Farm. I have to say Martin the Fishery manager is great. To attempt to catch up I have overstocked the Q tank with larger trout. To cope with this I am a running a second pump on continuos flow. This pumps FT> pre-filter>bio-filter>FT The main pump is on 15/45.
Until recently I had kept the UV light on. It’s only 9W. I have now switched it off.
To return again to the carp.
The initial delivery was common carp. 50% survival. I then decided to switch to Crucian Carp. It was these that I had all the trouble with.
The fishery suggested that it was just too warm for transportation in the summer. Ice packs were included in the boxes. The October delivery 95% fatalities. At this point I gave up.
I don’t know.
I do want to stock Crucian Carp. 

Sunday, 10 January 2016


Back to reality after the holidays. System and fish all good thanks to my Grandson. Winter broad beans doing well.