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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 15:30 
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Well there is always something new happening around the place here as Joel comes up with new ideas and this little project is no different. People often ask "can aquaponics solve the worlds food crisis"? This project has been the response to providing food in a relatively small area, with minimal resources and inputs providing maximum food production. This is just the beginning!
The space was under utilised and backs on to our existing chicken pens. The old nursery site was a blue metal or crushed granite base covered with weed mat to store and grow nursery plants. I will explain more as we go along. Bear with me as I have over a dozen photos to post.
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The area was used as a compost pile or dumping ground for weeds, old seedlings and mature plant that had gone to seed.
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The total area measures 10 x 15 metres and as you can see was a bit of a dumping ground out of the publics view. The first steps were to remove the weed mat and piles of diatomite that had spilled over and sort the pallets, good ones and bad ones. The broken ones can be used to make chook nest boxes and the damaged left over bits, well just wait and I will show you what we do with them :lol:
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The soil profile is extremely compacted however lupins still manage to grow and there does appear to be some moisture holding capabilities.
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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 15:44 
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In an area of about 7m x 12m I have a chook run, greenhouse, garden shed , tow fruit trees, a double m3 compost/worm bins, and asparagus patch, and three aquaponics systems. :)
The rest of the large backyard is wasted to roses and such :evil:

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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 15:50 
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Sounds like that is a good use of your space Mantis!
This project probably started back around August when the weather was much cooler and working in the garden was pleasant with the mild temperatures.
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Once the pallets were sorted and the dodgy ones were placed in a pile the next step was to dispose of them before the fire season ended. Of course the fire had to be watched and stoked, aaah there is something about watching the flames dancing around beneath the timbers. The good thing is that the goodness goes back in to the soil as wood ash.
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The design was set and the fencing began with posts to support the chicken wire.
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We managed to pick up a free shed from a neighbour around the corner and this is home to the chickens, there was placed in the centre of what would become four quadrants. the chooks can work one area and we would grow in the other thre quarters.
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The compost pile was the area that the chickens would first be able to forage, and with some winter rains still coming through we sprinkled bird seed and blood and bone over the whole area.
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Teamwork, what more can I say!

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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 16:01 
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Hay! A whole big mega bale, cheap and makes a great mulch to keep moisture in as well as suppressing the weeds.
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The boys look like they are having fun don't they. The hay was spread over the whole area.
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The composting area starts getting greener as it gets closer to the chooks moving in. This will provide lots of greens available to them to scratch amongst.

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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 16:39 
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They are gunna be some very happy chooks :headbang:

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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 16:48 
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Newly planted tomatoes settling in, planted with soil mix donated by Soil City next door and mulched with spoilt pea hay as well as the mega bale, which is still going to this day.
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The potatoes have germinated in some areas, great results from the far row and varying degrees of success with the others.
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This area has a variety of plants from beans, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins and eggplant, plus a few corn.
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The chicks that we raised have been introduced to their new home and have been scratching around the old compost pile which is home to seeds, bugs and they are also still given their chick feed and sprouted wheat. Spoilt little chicks.
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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 16:58 
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We have eaten the odd cucumber but this is the first harvest with many more coming on. Loads of tomatoes not far off starting to ripen, we have eaten a couple of the grape ones but then the chicks escaped. Mmmm


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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 17:28 
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I'm impressed......... great work !! :headbang:


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PostPosted: Dec 9th, '11, 18:48 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Why the tomatoes in the ground, when they work so excellently in AP? I would love a dirt vegie garden for root crops only.

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PostPosted: Dec 10th, '11, 04:38 
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Looks great! I was going to ask you about problems with weed seeds coming in with the Hay but that doesn't appear to be a problem.


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PostPosted: Dec 10th, '11, 04:52 
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@Outbackozzie I think the point was to find a solution that provided the max food for min inputs for developing countries. I think in many people's minds, this rules out a pump.

What a great experiment. I remember Joel posting a diagram and describing his idea. If I remember right, the chickens are rotated amongst the 4 quadrants, so they can eat the bugs, churn the soil a bit and fertilize. Is that right? How often are they rotated.


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PostPosted: Dec 10th, '11, 10:25 
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Exactly right kthignight. Aquaponics is not the answer for every situation. Rotational chicken gardening can provide eggs daily and lots of vegetables for fairly minimal inputs. With a bit of sprouted wheat and mainly scrap materials you can turn dead land into highly productive land using chickens to do almost all of the work..

Nesting box made from recycled materials, mainly old pallets.

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The weeds are coming through from the straw we bought in, but they aren;t ever going to be too much of a problem. We will keep mulching over the top of them so they are under control a bit, then when the chickens get into that area, they will turn them into fertilizer, scraping the ground bare.

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The cycling of the chickens will depend a bit on the crops in a particular zone as soon as the tomatoes start dropping off production we will shut the door of the shed they are using at the moment, then open the little doorway for the tomato section. Then plant up the area they have been in right now.. Then they will probably be into the potato plot after that, as soon as we have harvested the potatoes. Moving them from one spot to the next is simple, just move one sheet of mesh, close one door and open the next.

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PostPosted: Dec 10th, '11, 12:54 
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Before you mulch an area, you can lay down a stack of cardboard. Then put the hay over the top. Makes a good weed mat that ends up breaking down into the soil.

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PostPosted: Dec 10th, '11, 13:12 
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Yeah, I've done that a few times at home, unfortunately most of the seeds germinating are from the big straw roll...

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PostPosted: Dec 10th, '11, 13:21 
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Looks awesome guys! :headbang:

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