We Will Grow On You!

Alberta Aquaponics - We Will Grow On You!

Spring Catch Up And Future Plans

To say that this has been a busy spring at Alberta Aquaponics would be an understatement.

In fact, I am not sure we are even at spring yet after looking outside this morning and seeing the snow covered everything that made me want to crawl back into bed.

Maybe there is our problem.

We have been sucked in by weather that has been highly unusual for Calgary that has egged us on to attempting to get everything going early and doubling our usual work load.

We have been doing a boat load of courses this year, both taking them and teaching them, which has been fantastic.

So far have already completed the Verge Permaculture course and the Permaculture tour that Ted Bahr from Prairie Sage Permaculture puts on for this spring as well as put on two of our own courses for the ABC’s of Aquaponics.

We also just completed the Alberta Government beekeeping course this weekend with our field day where we got some class time and had a chance to play with the bees.

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Over that, we have tilled and planted the grow beds in the front yard for our community gardens and have them in for an early start.

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We did add in some 1/2″ PVC and poly to act as a hoop house on all of the grow beds to ensure that we do not have any losses to things like the snow and frost we had last night and this morning.

We have been told by virtually everyone, that in the event it snows, it is all our fault for planting so early, so guess the white stuff out there this morning is all my fault for being sucked in by the weather.

For future things, I have started working on the change ups for Alberta Aquaponics for this spring.

We have a couple of ambitious projects and a bunch of smaller ones on the board for this summer and spring which include the upgraded installation of solar and the greenhouse rebuild.

We are going to upgrade our solar installation on our garage from 1 Kw to a 5Kw solar installation with a grid tie in using Microinverters.

We will be offering up a course on basic solar installation as we do the install. On the other side, everyone should have a basic understanding of the technology available, how to evaluate need, how to install the gear, how to maintain the gear and the permit process for making it all happen.

Stay tuned for dates within the next couple of weeks.

For the rebuild of the greenhouse, we are changing out our single car garage frame to a more efficient build based off of industrial pallet racking. The new build will be using S.I.P. technology for a better insulation factor, have the solar concentrator attached for water battery heating and include vermicomposting as a heating system.

As part of the new build and design we are planning to add in more grow bed space, a small seasonal N.F.T. system, a D.W.C. bed and a wicking grow bed.
This will be part of our Advanced Aquaponic Build Course for those interested.

This weekend  we are going to be hosting one of our yard tours. Saturday, May 16 from 1:00 – 4:00 we will be hosting a yard tour showing aquaponics, cunniculture (rabbit raising), vermicomposting, wicking grow beds, closed loop urban farming and much much more.

This is a free event for those who have taken our courses in 2015.

We will be following this up with our Face to Face meetup on Sunday, May 17, where we will get together for our monthly aquaponic meetup.

Come be a part of the community, bounce ideas, get information and have a few laughs with the aquaponic folks in the area! Always a great time and a lot of fun!

This is all just the start of what we have planned for 2015, so lets get busy, stay tuned and be involved!

Spring into action!

Welcome back to the beautiful growing season… Sort of. I managed to grow through the winter, in my living room. Many a salad and many a sandwich gleaned from my indoor aquaponics system. I even have some tomatoes just about to ripen. Yeah, new lesson learnt, don’t plant indeterminate tomatoes indoors.

I’ve gone on and built a demo turnkey aquaponocs system for Alberta Aquaponics and am currently building the full version, with hopes of making my indoor system less industrial/ water world looking, as well as possibly selling a few or helping other build the same.
I’ve taken lessons from building this AP system and am now implementing them with all my aquaponics system. Trying to make them all easier on the eyes as well as functional!

Here’s a brief video of my indoor system. So, to all those out there who say I’m terrible at speaking on camera, watch this and know that you were right. Lol.

Outside of this, I have dozens of projects on the go… Ok, several projects on the go, and I may be putting on my big boy pants and buying a real home! In which case I will have dozens of projects on the go. Including but not limited to, a greenhouse that I can grow in year round!

This year is going to be very exciting!!

The Spring Bug Is Back And Eradicated From Our Server!

Donna and I spent the weekend getting a bunch of spring stuff sorted out.

First off, we spent a bunch of time cleaning up the server and getting it back up and running (not a lot of fun on that project). After the melt down and issues we are taking a bit of a loss for the year that has just started and as a result may have to cut out some of the projects we wanted to make happen this year.

Our plans were lengthy for this year. We wanted to rebuild the greenhouse and make it more efficient, knock down the two pine trees in the front yard, replace them with another 6 wicking grow beds for our community garden, add in another 5KW of solar to the mix to take everything off grid and rebuild the flow through vermacomposter and bunny hutches all over and above everything else we normally do.

At this point I am not sure how much we are going to be able to make happen, but I am still hopeful and time will tell.

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One of the starter Aeroponic systems for the seedlings.

We now have just over 600 plants started for the greenhouse and community garden wicking beds, and I can honestly tell you that I am hyped to get growing!

I keep going into the greenhouse and looking at the plants in there with the intent of mass harvesting and replanting with the starters. I know it is still a little early for it and that our starters are still a bit young and unhardened for the move, but the urge is strong and the want is almost overpowering.

I can wait until we have a full lush greenhouse again filled with amazing plants and activity. The hardest part of winter is the wait for the big growing season again. The winter growing is ok, but it is just not the same as the lush look and feel of the summer. (Granted it may have a lot more to do with the light and the temperatures, but the feelings between the two seasons are immense).

For now, all I can do is sit and plan.

Its a good thing we have the face to face meet ups to at least help deal with the additions of  aquaponics and the long, hard seasons while we wait! Of which, our next Face to Face meeting is on April 19.

As for the short term action, we are getting ready for spring with another ABC’s of Aquaponics Course for May 2.

I am again hyped for meeting new eager people looking to get into aquaponics and help in getting them started!

We got to get to know a lot of very cool people from the last course, with many of them actively planning and creating aquaponics systems now.

A couple of them have already put in orders for fish and have received their licenses.

Sean Morish has created up a Turnkey Aquaponic system that we had the chance to debut at Seedy Saturday.

turnkey demo
Although the one we showed was a cut down version for a road show, making it easier to carry and set up, he is working hard on a full sized system that we should have up in the store soon.

The new Turnkey Aquaponic system is going to be based off of a 70 gallon aquarium with a 4′ x 2′ x 1′ grow bed. The unit is a three piece system with the grow bed being removable, the stand to support the grow bed and protect the fish tank and the tank stand which is a roll out tray allowing you access to the fish and pumps.

The high side of the unit is that it is large enough scale for success, home decor friendly and a turnkey system that you can just put together and start cycling.

In that this system is not the industrial look of most of the DIY aquaponics systems, we expect that this will be a lot more accepted as a piece of furniture in a living room or family room setting, making it a true showcase for aquaponics and what it has to offer.

Sean is working hard on putting together a few options for the unit including addons like a hanging light mounts and customization.

I can report that the demo turnkey system is now running in my living room as a replacement to the barrelponic system that was there. The unit has been running trouble free with both the fish and the plants very happy and healthy within it. I suggest that you have a good look at it when you are by next and evaluate it for yourself.

Stay tuned for more information and updates in the near future.

We are working on getting a bunch of new products for people shortly. We have been working with some new suppliers and sorting out some of the logistic issues at the moment, but many new and awesome products should be available shortly.

We have started adding in a few of the products in the shop and have hopes that we will have product in stock within the month.

Barring any more bugs and issues we should be back on track with lots of updates and information coming to you soon!

No More Spring Breaks!

I would like to apologize to everyone for having to cancel February’s Face to Face Meet Up.

We got ourselves a new puppy (Mastiff and Black Lab cross) named Dozer. Upon taking him our for a walk one night, Donna tripped over him and landed on her arm/wrist breaking it. This has caused a little bit of a slow down on some projects we had hoped to get going and bumped a few things like the February Face to Face Meetup. I apologies about the disruption and the lack of information we have put out over the last while as a result, things just got a little busy on the home front.

I am pleased to announce that Donna is back on the mend and doing well. Her arm is out of the splint and cast now and she is already trying to build the strength back up in her arm. This also means that we are able to get things back up and underway again.

We did manage to get the latest Alberta Aquaponics ABC’s of Aquaponics Course completed on February 28 and have a new batch of fantastic people from all over Alberta and B.C. who have taken part in the course, joining our community.

I hope that they will not be shy about getting involved, asking questions and getting out to some of the community events. Please help make them welcome and bring them into the fold!

Back to the spring breaks, we have had a bit of an issue with our server and our e-mail deciding to die off on us on the morning of the course. The problem is an intermittent issue that was a pain to track down and identify. The outage caused our entire server to be down for 4 days, but we believe we have the issues resolved out now and the problems put behind us.

If you sent an e-mail since the weekend and did not get a reply, I am very sorry and ask that you resend it and I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

As a result of the issue, we had a couple of events go by that we were unable to get the word out for.

One of these events was our involvement in hosting one of the discussion tables at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Local 301 Workshop: Advocating for a Good Food System on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 7:00 – 9:00.

This was an interactive workshop about engaging in the local food system. Learn how to work with your community to advocate for a good food system for all. Alla Guelber (Meaningful Work Project) and Eliese Watson (Apiaries and Bees for Communities) will be sharing their experience as community activists and advocates in working through the many ways that community can be used to engage in, change and strengthen the local food system. This was a fantastic event with some great discussions with some very awesome and cool people!

(I have word that the next 301 workshop is going to be mega awesome with a course on how to make cheese and sour dough bread. Stay tuned for more information and a sign up link.)

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Another meeting of the crazy people doing crazy stuff in the back yard! Hope to see you at the face to face meet up!

For events up and coming, Alberta Aquaponics will be hosting our next Face to Face Meetup for March 15.  Come on out and meet up with some of the other awesome folks doing aquaponics in the Calgary area! Always great conversation and a good time for all.

We will be going over the start up of the Aquaponics Association and steps in the membership drive as part of the meeting. We welcome your involvement in the association and input in getting this off the ground to make aquaponics easier for everyone involved in Alberta.

Please come out and be a part of the event and the association!

An event not to be missed is at the Hillhurst Sunny Side Community Centre on March 21, Calgary Seedy Saturday. This is an absolute must attend event for getting your seeds, starters and gardening supplies for the season. Everyone who is anyone will be there with massive amounts of knowledge to share and items to be had. Check out their link for the presenter list, exhibitors, special attractions and details! This one day event honestly brings in thousands of people, so come early for the best selection.  (Of course Alberta Aquaponics will be there with a demo aquaponics system, so please stop by and say “Hi” while you are there!)

We are not just putting on events, Donna and I are looking to add in bees to our back yard this year and are off to attend the Government of Alberta’s “Bee-ginners Bee Keeping course” this month. We have hopes of introducing bees to the back yard later this spring and adding in another item of conversation and education. We will keep everyone in the loop as we go.

I will attempt to grab some pictures of the upcoming events to get posted up on the site. I also welcome anyone who is attending any of the events to please submit your photos.

As you can tell, the spring break had is not the spring break we hoped for, but we are going to do our best not to let the break slow us down going forward!

Kicking Into High Gear For The New Year!

Happy 2015 everyone!

We are happy to announce our spring session of the Aquaponics Basics Course (ABC’s) for February 28, 2015

Learn the basics of growing the absolute best, safest and healthiest produce using fish!

Alberta Aquaponics is putting on an Aquaponics Basics Course (ABC’s) with a build component February 28, 2015.

The build component will work for small and large scale systems and will give you a full understanding of scaling for each.

If you have ever wanted to get into aquaponics or wanted to expand you knowledge, this is going to be the course to take. You will end up with a solid core knowledge of the base principals so that you can confidently put together and maintain long term an aquaponic garden.

This is a one day course with a lot to offer, and timing is set to give you a jump start on the knowledge you need for a spring build to take advantage of an awesome growing summer!

The trouble with carrots.

Sean Morrish Blog

Sean Morrish Blog

So i decided to try some carrots in my AP system not too long ago. This complex system of relearning how to grow each plant in this new medium, can sometimes be long and super annoying!

I’m going to take it in my stride, look at it as the learning curve that it was and develop a different way.

That different way, does not involve rock wool. Starting carrots in rock wool may seem like a good idea, and they did sat well, just like the other plants. However, root vegetables are always a challenge in an AP system. Potatoes are nay on impossible!

Carrots work. Rock wool and carrots… Its my belief, and feel free to disagree, but based on my experiences, the rock wool retains too much moisture for too long. The carrots start out great! Grow tall luxurious green leaves, and even set. After that, things start to go wrong. All of my carrots, bar two, have had there problems and died.
Some looked great via the greens, but as soon as you looked deeper, the root vegetable itself had completely rotted out and was just a gooey mess. Others, the greens slowly died off, the plant continued to sprout more greens, but seemed unable to keep them alive. Then mould at the roots became visible.

I’m not going to give up though! I’m sure they’re a vegetable i can master!
The last one to give out on me showed signs of mould, so i pulled it, sliced off the mould and had a delicious little carrot about an inch and a half diameter and two inches long. This convinces me that carrots are possible. For my next attempt, i’m going to sow directly into the media. Maybe use some tissue paper so stop the seeds from sinking to far down in the ebb and flow of water.

Another problem i noticed and should mention with the rock wool, the carrot grow through the rock wool, as you would expect, however the rock wool itself get stuck in the skin of the carrot and forces you too skin it. Not a major problem, but one i choose to avoid.

May the flow of fish poop, be forever in your favour!
Hahaha. (Yes,i think i’m way funnier that I may actually be.)

Peace good people.

Want to talk about the fish in the room?

Sean Morrish Blog

Sean Morrish Blog

Thought I’d check in as I haven’t written in some time.

A lot has been going on. I had a small malfunction and lost my largest fish. They knocked out my aeration and he suffocated. I managed to save the rest. I harvested my first tilapia, haven’t eaten him yet, but I will!

Had a large fruit fly infestation, it’s slowly coming under control, but man is it a pain in the rear end.
I also have a couple side projects on the go as well, if I can ever find a free minute to get them done!

Anyway that’s the quick catchup for now. I’ll get back to you all really soon!!

Alberta Fisheries Regulation Stakeholder Consultation

The ESRD is looking for change up the laws of the land in regards to licensing and restrictions. They have a survey up that I have just been given the green light in making public for everyone to take part in.

As a person who is a part of Alberta Aquaponics, I believe that we all have a vested interest in the outcome of the upcoming legislation changes, and I urge you to take the survey and make your opinions known.

The survey is  anonymous unless you wish to disclose information in your replies. and is running until January 15, 2015.

The survey can be found here: Alberta Fisheries Regulation Stakeholder Consultation Survey

Calgary Area Event!

Hillhurst, Sunnyside Community Centre is doing another one of their fantastic events that you need to go to!!

There is a Farmers Market before the event for you to shop at, a bunch of folks selling awesome local food, incredible and amazing people to meet and an event to go to as well!

Donna and I try very hard not to miss these events! There is always something to learn and see there.

Where: Hillhurst Sunny Side Community Centre 1320 5 Ave NW – Calgary
When:
Wednesday, Dec. 3 @7pm (after the Farmers’ Market)
What: Know Your Farmer -an opportunity to meet, mingle and discuss food systems with local urban and rural farmers

Cost: $10 or pay what you can at the door

Registration: http://hillhurstsunnyside.org/event-registration/?ee=16

Workshop description:
Join us for an evening of meeting the farmers that grow the food we eat. There will be an opportunity to hear from farmers, both urban and rural, on what they do and why they do it followed by discussions on bridging the gap between urban and rural farming and how they are both important in building a strong and sustainable local food system.
Special guests will include: Dennis Scanland (YYC Growers), Dana Penrice and Ted Chastko (C&E Meats), Blake and Ang Hall (Prairie Gold Meats), Mike Kozlowski and Jennie Greven (Steel Pony Farm), John Mills (Eagle Creek Farms), Daniel Chappell (Country Thyme) and Graham Waugh (Salad Spinners).

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