Steamy Kitchen Recipes | RSS Feed http://steamykitchen.com Steamy Kitchen Food Blog: fast recipes, simple recipes, with fresh ingredients to create delicious meals. Thu, 30 Apr 2015 14:38:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 New Aquaponics System http://steamykitchen.com/26491-why-aquaponics.html http://steamykitchen.com/26491-why-aquaponics.html#comments Sat, 30 Mar 2013 01:42:00 +0000 http://www.steamykitchen.com/?p=26491 The most asked question about aquaponics is “What is aquaponics?” But a close runner up and usually follows the answer to the first by about 2.362518 seconds is “Why aquaponics?” While the question does offer the opportunity for one to climb on the soap box and wax endlessly about the challenges and irresponsibilities of the modern agricultural industry complex, I ...

The post New Aquaponics System appeared first on Steamy Kitchen Recipes.

]]>
The most asked question about aquaponics is “What is aquaponics?” But a close runner up and usually follows the answer to the first by about 2.362518 seconds is “Why aquaponics?”

Scott's Aquaponics

While the question does offer the opportunity for one to climb on the soap box and wax endlessly about the challenges and irresponsibilities of the modern agricultural industry complex, I think I’ll approach it on more of a personal level. For me, it’s about solving problems and overcoming challenges.

Challenges like find a sustainable way of providing fresh, clean produce for our family without the nasty pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers that cover most produce found in your local supermarket. Things like celery which are covered with so many chemicals it has landed at number 2 on the dirty dozen food list. By the way 6 of the dirty dozen are easily grown in an aquaponics system. Fresh clean and naturally grown!

Or overcoming challenges of traditional agriculture like dependency on oil, and high water consumption. Currently the agriculture industry is the second highest consumer of oil in the United States. Everything on a farm depends on it from equipment, to fertilizers and pesticides to shipping and processing. Agricultural accounts for the single highest user of the worlds fresh water supply, yet traditional methods of watering fields are some of the least effective ways of delivering water to plants. Much of the water bypasses the plants and washes chemicals into the soil.

Sorry, let me get off the soap box.

Aquaponics in it’s modern form, is the result of a search for a solution to a problem in the aquaculture field. Dr.  James Rakocy, often referred to as the Father of US Aquaponics, did his doctoral thesis on the theory of using plants to remove nitrates from fish tanks. Fish farms were replacing 5-10% of their water daily. That’s a lot of water! He was responsible for the marriage of aquaculture (the raising of fish) and hydroponics (growing of plants in flowing water) that lead the way to massive reduction in water usage by his University of Virgin Islands aquaculture system and produced some amazing  growth in plants.

When I started doing my research into hydroponics, gardening and eventually aquaponics, I quickly realized aquaponics mimics a natural ecosystem the closest. It reduces water use by recirculating it in a closed loop. Eliminates the use of petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides as they are harmful, if not deadly, to the fish. And the energy required to run the system can easily be provided by a small solar panel, or a health club power generating treadmill for those of you inclined to get a good workout in while growing your food.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

So why haven’t more people taken the plunge? I theorize most people don’t know the “how” and think the startup cost  can be prohibitive. Over the next few articles I will provide you with the basic principles and “how to” of aquaponics. And show you some reasonable examples of cost effective materials. Soon you’ll be building your own kitchen system with a small used aquarium from a garage sale, a few goldfish, and an old plastic wash basin. How fun!

Our System Update:

See these guys?

Small Koi Fish

These are 125 Koi fish and they are the new engine of our system. We still have a few Tilapia in there too, but we found the Tilapia stopped eating when the water dropped to around 70 degrees. Fish not eating = very little nutrients for plants. Not good. Koi have a wider temperature range and therefore reduce the energy requirements of heating the water in the winter time here in Florida. 125 Full grown Koi will be more than required for our system, so we plan on using some to stock our pond, and will sell off some as they mature. Anyone need any Koi?

With so many tiny hungry mouths eating lots of fish food, I noticed we were getting a build up of fish solids (aka fish poop) in the sump tank. While a simple sweep with a broom would solve the problem by stirring up the solids and eventually they would find their way to the grow beds, I decided to build a simple radial flow filter to collect the large solids. Don’t worry, we plan on using them in our raised beds as they make excellent fertilizer.

Radial Flow Filter

 

Looks fancy don’t it?

In preparation for summer coming, I also installed our summer shade over the fish tank. It will help keep the fish water cooler. Cooler fish under shade makes happy fish!

Summer shade

It’s easily removed and will provide a place for shelter from the hot summer sun for us as well. I am planning on installing shade cloth over the grow beds to help prevent the plants from getting roasted.

That’s all for now….

PS – I think we should change the name of the site from Steamy Kitchen to Scott’s Aquaponics! What do you think?

 

The post New Aquaponics System appeared first on Steamy Kitchen Recipes.

]]>
http://steamykitchen.com/26491-why-aquaponics.html/feed 14
Aqua what? Aquaponics. http://steamykitchen.com/25730-aqua-what-aquaponics.html http://steamykitchen.com/25730-aqua-what-aquaponics.html#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2013 21:50:44 +0000 http://steamykitchen.com/?p=25730 “You want to build what? An Aquaponics system? Sure. Go ahead. What is an aquaponics system?” You see that’s what I love about Jaden. She is a totally supportive, massive action type of girl. Me on the other hand, I am more of the planning and research type. I will research, double check, learn as much as I can before ...

The post Aqua what? Aquaponics. appeared first on Steamy Kitchen Recipes.

]]>
“You want to build what? An Aquaponics system? Sure. Go ahead. What is an aquaponics system?”

You see that’s what I love about Jaden. She is a totally supportive, massive action type of girl. Me on the other hand, I am more of the planning and research type. I will research, double check, learn as much as I can before starting a venture. So when I asked Jaden about building a system here on the homestead, she must have figured I had done all the research and was comfortable with it. And thus the positive support.

Or perhaps it’s been our track record on things plant related.

First there was a desire for creating a garden for vegetables and herbs. Our previous community prevented us from roto-tilling our backyard into a 20 square foot garden, which led us to Earthbox gardening. It was and is so successful, that when we moved to our new home, it was one of the first request for yard improvement. Read about our Earthbox Garden.

earthbox garden

 

Followed shortly by our raised bed gardens.

Raised bed gardens

Here is a classic example of the difference between Jaden and I.

Her thoughts on raised beds: Get some wood, build a box and fill it with dirt. Done.

My thoughts: What size beds? Where will they go? How will we get water to them? What type of wood will last in wet Florida conditions? Where can I get this wood? Should we use treated wood or untreated? Make sure there’s room for wheelbarrows and carts to go between. Has anyone else already built these that I can look at their plans? It goes on, but I think you get the idea.

Her style leads to more things getting done, usually by putting them on my list of things to do.

And then somewhere along this path, we got some chickens.  So we’ll need a place to keep them.

Jaden’s thought:

cartoon_chicken_coop

 

 

My thoughts:

The Palace chicken coop

 

So when it came time for the next addition to our homestead, things went a little differently. They started the same, but ended very differently. She bought the hydroponics kit form kick starter and in usual fashion had assembled it to a somewhat completed state despite leaving the instructions in the box. At which point I heard “Honey, this thing doesn’t work! And I have to photograph for a post!” Which when run through the Steamy Kitchen Translator translates to “Scott, can you read the instructions and set this up for me correctly…pretty please! I’ll even make you dinner!”

After setting up the unit and getting it to function correctly, I became curious as to how it is supposed to work. Engineer in me takes over.

Hmmm… Hydroponics is the growing of plants in water. That sounds cool. I remember seeing a demonstration garden at Epcot in Walt Disney World in like 1983. Of course then it seemed so futuristic especially to a teenager. Now it just seems a little unnatural. Adding chemicals to feed the plants and having to deal with waste water just didn’t sit well with me.  So I researched more.

Eventually I came across aquaponics. Instantly I was hooked.

So what is aquaponics?

According to Google – Aquaponics is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating environment. Thanks Google for the flashback to high school biology class.

Sounds complicated doesn’t it?

Really it’s not. Think of it this way. Instead of using chemicals to feed plants in a hydroponic system, we are going to use fish to feed our plants. One of the by products of raising fish is ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to fish, if you let too much of it build up in the water, the fish die. Seems no one ever told me that when I had a fish tank when I was ten. Through a nitrification process aquaponic systems convert the ammonia into nitrates the plants can absorb. The plants also act as a filter to clean the water before returning it to the fish tank.

Really it’s about closing loops. The waste product from the fish become the nutrients for the plants. The plants clean the water for the fish. And the water goes round and round. Simple.

Some people have taken this idea of closing loops to the extreme. Here take a look.

 

Now all I have to do is convince Jaden we need a brewery…so we can feed the fish…that will feed the plants…that will clean the water and add oxygen to the air…that will help with the tea production….that will fill the biodigester…that will create methane…for power generation…so I can have a chilled beer while I sit in our steam heated jacuzzi.

 

 

The post Aqua what? Aquaponics. appeared first on Steamy Kitchen Recipes.

]]>
http://steamykitchen.com/25730-aqua-what-aquaponics.html/feed 10