Alberta Aquaponics

We Will Grow On You!

Alberta Aquaponics - We Will Grow On You!

Beware the ides of March!

Early spring is always the worst time of year for me. The entire time is a hurry up and wait scenario that about drives me around the bend.

There is always so much to do to get going for the grow year but you are held back waiting on plants to grow, weather to warm up and prep work to be done.

Donna reconnecting pipes to get the beds cycling

This last year we didnt make it easier on ourselves, we shut everything down in the greenhouse for the winter.

We decided that to look at some new options this summer to cut down more costs of operation over the winter months as well as cut down on the power consumption we use. This took some planning and some saving up to make happen, and will also take some experimentation and engineering for implementation. This has also led us to a lot more start up work this spring than we usually have.

The greenhouse became a winter storage area for just about everything (yes, you can read junk storage area in that) and as a result took a few solid hours of clean up to get back under control and ready for this year.

The mess
More Mess
Yet More Mess
Lets not talk about this corner.

The storage of the bee hives for the winter in the greenhouse is not one I think we will do again. The humidity and temperature fluctuations made a perfect environment for mold to grow on a few of the hive boxes. Although not devastating, it is going to cause more work in cleaning everything up for the summer months.

The bees themselves wintered well and are loving the warmer weather. The bees have been out for cleansing flights over the winter months where you would see a few darting here and there, but now they are out in full force searching for food and checking out the world around them.

We have been putting out syrup for them and have the feeders going in the nuc (the small hive at the side of the big hive in the pictures) to make sure they have something to keep them going until the dandelions pop up (usually the first food source for the bees).

I am glad they wintered so well and am looking forward to attempting a hive split this year to double out colony count.

Bees Out And About!
Bees Getting The First Syrup Feed Of The Year

We have a bunch of our starters going already (no big surprise there) in the basement ready to be moved out to the greenhouse. (those actually got moved out today). We have the dirt starters for the community growbeds in the front yard and the aeroponic starters for the aquaponic systems in the greenhouse.

We have a few new things we are trying this year including aquaponics sugar pumpkins, dragon breath peppers and arabica coffee (the coffee will be growing in the living room for 3 – 5 years to get a crop from). We shall see how it all goes.

Aeroponic Starters
Dirt Starters
Coffee Plant In The Living Room Aquaponic System

We are going to attempt to change up some if not all of the aquaponic water delivery systems and go from direct feed pumps systems to air driven evacuation pumps.

We have looked at the air lift systems as well and have decided to attempt the evacuation pumps instead due to the higher flow rates and stability in pressure changes.

So far we have gotten our air pumps and I am just waiting on getting one more piece to connect the one way valve complete the first build for our inside basement growbeds.

I am pretty sure you will be seeing a lot more of this build as it goes along and info on how well it works out for us.

Air Driven Evacuation Pump

So, today I am filling in the wait with doing an update for the site, but now, I am back to the hurry up so I can go out and check on the solar cooked banana bread I have baking in the front yard.

Banana Bread In The Solar Oven

Words Of Starks And Gardeners…

To all the Game of Thrones fans, you will get the title. For those not Game of Thrones fans, simply the weather is changing and its time to prepare.

For us here it is our annual migration of some plants and fish into the house to the indoor aquaponic gardens.

Last night Donna and I prepped a couple of growbeds, added in another fish tank and got it plumbed to a third aquaponic growbed and pulled some of the already grown plants from the greenhouse to populate them.

The tank we set up is a 70 gallon and is hooked up to a Fluval canister filter that has nothing but the sponges in it, feeding out to the growbeds which are ebb flow going back to the tank bellow.

It seems that every time I set these up, I get the same questions as to why I am using an expensive canister filter over just an in tank pump going directly to the growbeds.

The answer is actually fairly simple and comes to the basics of aquaponics.

In aquaponics, it is the bacterial breakdown and conversion of the ammonia in the fish urine to nitrates and nitrites that is useable by the plants to sustain them and not the solid waste of the fish which actually clog up and choke out the aquaponic system.

By implementing in the canister filter I am able to block out a large majority of the solid waste mass and clean it easily, minimizing the issues that could be created by the solid build up in the growbeds. This process also leaves the liquid waste of the fish flowing through the filter uninterrupted to the media in the growbeds and the home of bacterial load for the for the aquaponic cycle to take place.

Yes, the filter is more expensive than that of a standard in tank filter, but the long term payback makes it worth while in my mind.

With the setup we put together last night, we brought in water from one of the aquaponic systems in the greenhouse to fill the tank and give things a bit of a jump start with the new media. The water already holds some of the bacterial load to speed up bacterial development to some capacity and the water is already “fish rich” with nutrient to get things going for both the bacteria and the plants.

We brought in a few herbs, some kale and some clippings of the Trinidad scorpion peppers for the down stairs and added in a bell pepper, kale and herbs in the living room system.

The plants are looking a little depressed from the move, which is normal. They should however pick up over the next couple of days and start looking a lot happier for the move.

I will likely bring in fish tomorrow afternoon to add to the tank, giving the tank and system a good full day of build up before adding in the stressors and destabilizing the water system. I expect that I will add in around 10 to 15 fish depending on their size.

For the other fish in the greenhouse, we will be consolidating the three tanks down to one tank for this season and doing a test run of a couple of beds to see how the new greenhouse holds up for a full winter of growing, but that is another subject for another post. 

(Sorry the pictures are a little messed up. I will shut down the LED lights next time before I start taking pics.)

Welcome to Solar Cooking!

Picture of a solar burner

Solar Burner – replacement of a stove element

I get asked a lot on why I bother with solar cooking when I have a perfectly good working stove in my home, and the answer is usually a lot longer than what people expect to hear.

There are many reasons I like solar cooking that I am sure I will eventually cover, but here is one of the big reasons for me.

During the summer months especially, solar cooking cuts down on the amounts of heat produced inside the house from cooking and thereby saves money.

I am one of those freaks of nature that is always hot, to the point I live in shorts pretty much year round and have a fan running to keep me cool. Bringing up the heat in the house makes me uncomfortable, and by cooking outside I can avoid the issue entirely. 

But there is more to it than that and here is where the cross overs of things we have going on at our house starts happening.

We have 5 Kw of Solar PV on our garage that provides power to our house, the greenhouse and our electric vehicle, so power use is something we are pretty cognitive of and try to keep under control.

Heating and cooling of an average house accounts for around 38% of electrical use and cooking accounts for another 4%. Every time we turn on the oven or stove, we change the heat levels of the house driving up the electrical use.

That big electrical receptacle that connects your stove to the power system pushes a whopping 220 volts at 50 amp allowing attached devices to gobble up the power at a fast rate.

By taking that cooking outside and doing it for free with the sun, we drop the power required for cooking and eliminate the heat issues all together. This has a huge impact on overall electrical bills.  

I guess in short my answer should be Why are you using your stove and spending money when a free version that works just as well is available to you year round?

2017 Alberta Climate Summit

I am happy to announce that I have just confirmed our involvement with the 2017 Pembina Climate Summit on Thursday September 28, 2017 and acting as a representative for the EVAA and for the

Image result for pembina climate summit 2017We will be not only attending the climate summit this year, but will also have our 2016 Nissan Leaf on display and answering questions on electric vehicles and electric vehicle ownership during the event breaks! If you are attending the event, please stop by and say “Hi”!

This year is the 3rd annual Alberta Climate Summit — the event for innovative thinking and knowledge sharing on energy and climate in Alberta. This year’s event will showcase the innovation and opportunities around clean energy that are already underway in Alberta.

The event will bring together 500+ thought leaders from industry, government, environmental NGOs, and community stakeholders to learn from success stories, identify opportunities and challenges, and explore solutions related to Alberta’s clean energy future.

This year, areas of focus will include energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean technology and innovation, methane control, climate finance, and Indigenous energy solutions. Read more about the sessions and focus areas here

Return Of Ramblings And Reasons

It has been just about a year since I last posted on the website.

I would like to say I am sorry for the absence, but that would be a lie. In fact, I think I needed to take that break and distance myself for a while, gather some head space and resolve some things out. 

Last year had a bunch of things happen on the aquaponic related side that left me somewhat gutted and had me questioning why I was doing anything.

This may sound a bit bemoaning, but I think after a year of being silent on the website I owe at least some kind of explanation. 

We attempted to grow Alberta Aqauaponics and possibly take a different tact that would create a sustaining income rather than funding everything out of pocket.

We wanted to keep the Ubuntu process and mentality as we went along and attempted to bring some others in to work together with us, sadly, we discovered there are some people out there that let greed and ego bleed into good intentions and for some reason believe the only means of success is the failure of someone else.

We lost a bit on the attempt and decided to go back to where we were prior, which was a bit disheartening, but a learning lesson.

The frustration we felt was then compounded shortly there after when YouTube killed all of our aquaponic videos. The history of everything we had done over the years, good and bad and the lessons learned being lost left me gutted. (We never did get an answer as to why it happened and could not get them restored.)

During this we were doing the greenhouse rebuild where I had some failures on the physical side where I let myself down with not being able to do the tasks that needed to be done. The inability to take on the project myself, lack of progress and looming winter deadlines took their toll.

My frustration in myself was definitely having an impact on both Donna and I, making the build even harder. What should have been a fun project and bonding for the two of us more often than not concluded with me being angry at myself, being in pain and sadly unfairly taking it out on Donna (Sorry for being a cranky jerk face <I can’t use the words I should use on here> I appreciate everything you have done in my life and cant begin to show you how much.).  

In short, our attempts to make Alberta Aquaponics bigger and better put me in a head space that I did not want to be in, so as a result, I just backed away from the website, the meets and even talking about what we were doing. 

That brings me to now.

A year out, and I am looking back at the break and believing it was a good thing. I have had some time to digest what happened, rethink where I want to go with Alberta Aquaponics and maybe start looking at the greenhouse as being my refuge again rather than my chore and failing.

So here is what I have decided.

I still have no means of making Alberta Aquaponics financially sustainable, so I am going to limit the investment in attempting to make it so.  I am going to do stuff that makes me happy and get rid of all the crap that is not.

That means a bit of a change up.

I have always said that aquaponics is but one piece of a very much larger of puzzle picture for overall sustainability, so as of today, Alberta Aquaponics may be a bit misleading for a name. I have taken flack on being off topic of aquaponics in past from a few people, so if you are only about aquaponics, you may want to just end viewing the site and Facebook group now.

You will be seeing a lot more of things like Solar PV energy creation, Solar cooking, electric vehicle adoption going along with aquaponics, urban farming and about 100 other things that I like.

Over this past year, I have still been involved in doing other things. I have created a Facebook group called the Alberta Canada Solar Cookers for solar cooking adoption and have started up an Electric Vehicle group with a website of along with a Facebook group for electric vehicle adoption. By all means, please come get involved in the other ventures.

You will be seeing a lot more blending from all of the sites and groups on the Alberta Aquaponics website and Facebook group from now on.

The site will be active again, just maybe in a different direction than what it has been.

I hope that you will continue to hang out with me and assist in the new tact, and thank you for still being here to read any of this after a year of assessment.



So That Year Was A Wasn’t That Was In A Big Way!

Alright, I admit it, this year has been a crap load of work and it took all year to get to where we are..

But where are we?

Well, lets go over some stuff.

The front yard has been completely redone. Grass out, Trees out, Rock in, Fruit Trees in and a new growbed ready for next years creation. Add to that the solar powered water capture aeration and watering system to round things off.

Yes, that took some time, effort and money. It also stalled us out on the back yard a little bit.

But now the back yard.

We have the new greenhouse up and wrapped.


For this year we are going to stick with the plastic wrap and look at the insulated panels and 3 ply poly-carbonate for the walls and roof for next year.

The new build, although only 30 inches larger on two sides offers up an incredible 4 times the growing space over the last greenhouse.

It did not take long to start putting in grow beds and start sorting out where everything is going to go for the next grow season.

We still need to do some rebuilding on the fish tank covers and redo a bunch of plumbing as well as create a couple of swirl filters, but everything is starting to come together in a big way.

For the immediate projects, I still have the door to complete (I ran out of material to complete the build) but I have hopes that will be done by tomorrow afternoon. At that point I will call the greenhouse build completed until spring when it will be the green house implementation that will take over!

Be prepared that will be a show and a half if I have anything to say about it!

So on to other new stuff.

Not aquaponics, but again lifestyle related, we have gotten ourselves a new vehicle. This is not just any vehicle however, we purchased an Electric Vehicle in the form of a 2016 Nissan Leaf SL.

2016 Nissan Leaf
The 170 KM range per charge means that Donna can go back and forth to work all week on a single charge and 100% emission free.

This car combined with the solar we have on the garage means we can run the vehicle for virtually nothing but even if we had no solar on the roof of the garage, the vehicle would cost us around $1.34 per 100 KM including tire wear.

We have said goodbye to gas stations, green house gas pollution, noise pollution (the thing is honestly silent), expensive gas, oil changes, tune ups and expensive mechanics all in one shot.

We were a little worried about the transition at first but are now 100% sold on the fact that electric vehicles are the wave of the future and work for 87% of all vehicle owners.

So, where are we?

The front yard is lower maintenance and more environmentally friendly and offering up more spaces for growing food.
The Greenhouse is very close to being completed and ready for implementation for next year with a lot more room for growing and teaching.
The new electric vehicle has us on a road of even greener futures and ties into our closed loop lifestyle.

Overall, I would say we are in a great place!

News and event updates!!
news flash

For those interested in electric vehicles, this week is National Drive Electric week. There are events being put on in both Calgary and Edmonton where you can check out electric vehicles, go for a ride and meet some very cool people.

Calgary’s is being held on Saturday September 17, 21016 at 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Ikea Parking lot in Deerfoot Meadows.

Facebook event link:

Edmonton has their event on Sunday September 18, 2016 at 12:00pm  – 4:00pm at the Rock-N-Wash 4803 55 Ave NW.

Facebook event link:


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 those wanting to talk Aquaponics, we have our Face to Face Meetup taking place this Sunday September 18, 2016 from 2:30 – 4:30 at the Clarion Hotel (2120 16 Ave NE, Calgary, AB)

Hope to see you folks at the events!


Face to Face Meet Up

A new version of WordPress came out and it killed the events calendar. (Yay). So, as a heads up and notice, there is a Face to Face Meet Up at the Clarion Hotel (2120 16 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 1L4) in the Fontanella restaurant from 2:30 – 4:30 Sunday August 21, 2016.

news flash

Come meet up and chat about Aquaponics and pretty much everything else under the sun.

Hope to see you there!

Greenhouse build update.

On the Greenhouse build, we still have a ways to go and a short time to get there.

We now have the foundation established with the timbers leveled and secured and the sidewalk blocks in place for the “dance floor”. The pallet racking walls are up and secured for the long runs waiting for the roof to be put on and the adjustments for the side walls for spacing before they get lagged into place.

We have already started our pre-plan for the grow layout, and it is amazing just how much more space and potential grow area we are getting out of the small design change and expansion of just 30 inches on two sides.






IMG_2402 IMG_2403


Over all it is starting to look like something and with luck we will get it all completed before the weather starts getting cold on us.

I cant wait to get this new greenhouse rocking and growing!