Tag Archives: planting barrel

Oct 26th is FULL and Bonuses for the Nov 23rd class

The class is full with Trade School Indy.

October 26th 2:00 PM

This is a short, but dense class on turning your back yard into a food production machine. Get some ideas and get ready for spring.

If you would like a similar class at your location Contact Us. Or if you want the Be Prepared Series.

There is a full day class, with bonus of making your own soaps, laundry soap and other topics including food preservation. Free samples of tooth paste and soaps. If you want laundry soap sample please bring a sealable 1 cup container for each soap type (currently 3). We will have sample containers for the toothpastes. Register through the link below.

November 23rd class

Prepay and register for the class and get a free entry to win a planting barrel. $340 value if purchased other places (will not name but sale online and in some local markets), $100 value from me. Discounts are available for couples or families. We now can take credit cards online or at the door using Square even though we personally despise them. Cash is much better. If the class fills completely (80 paid or bartered seats) each person in attendance will get a free gift. ($20 retail value worth much more in savings of time and energy)

Not 100% confirmed yet but we may have a local soap and lotion producer present who have goat milk soaps and lotions. Learn about the process, try, and buy products. I have personally been to their operation and was very impressed. More details once everything is confirmed and links to their site.

Update

Global Soaps will be at the class to discuss and sell natural soaps and lotions.

If there are some other local producers (that align with the topics covered) in the area let me know, we may have additional spaces available for booth or tables.

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Backyard Gardening for a Sustainable Lifestyle – Class Scheduled

Summer is dwindling down and fall will soon be upon us. Come find out why this is the perfect time to start planning and even starting your productive gardens. Landscaping and gardening doesn’t just have to be about pretty flower garden or doesn’t just have to be about vegetable gardens. You can combine them. Come learn about aquaponics, back yard chickens, medicinal herb gardens, edible landscapes, water harvesting, permaculture and much, much more. Recent graduate from Geoff Lawtons Permaculture design course and willing to help you turn your space into a productive one. Reduce your grocery bill, turn your hobby into an income generator, reduce your dependency on pharmaceuticals. Live in an apartment, or rent, you can garden too! Come learn how. This talk will be a broad coverage of many topics, and more in-depth class on topics will be scheduled for interested people.

Meeting at the Franklin Township Civic League
8822 Southeastern Ave. Indianapolis IN 46239

Meeting to start 7 pm

Alternative Gardening

Indiana Disaster and Survival Preparedness

Lessons learned in aquaponics

I don’t believe in failure. What others call a failure I call them lessons on what didn’t work, opportunities for improvement, and in some cases, the “failure” was an improvement. In each “failure” I learned something new or proved my hypothesis was wrong, and I needed to analyze what happened and why. Make it better then next time around.

I learned that you MUST make sure your system and all components are clean despite what people tell you. When I first started, I used 55 gal drums that previously contained vinegar. I bought them, and because the seller said they were cleaned, I started cycling my system. Well there was some residual in the containers and my pH was way off. Thus killing my first batch of fish and lesson two at the same time.

You must cycle your system for a while, and it depends on the size before adding plants and fish. I researched some and my first attempt was just to see if I could do it. Then learning from my mistakes I began to research more and understand the underlying fundamentals. There are three main components to aquaponics and each must work together effectively. If one of the three are out of balance then the other two get out of whack as well. Fish, plants, and bacteria. The bacteria break down the waste products of the fish, so the plants can take up the waste of the bacteria. The plants clean the water and grow off the bacteria waste, and then can feed the fish. At least in my case the duckweed feed the fish.

I say that your cycle time is dependant on the size because not two systems are alike and not one solution fits the situation. You could be using a 30 gallon indoor system, or a 55 gal outdoor system and the cycle time is different for each, as well as how you flow the system, and the media you use, the amount of light, what type of water you use. How you start your ammonia for the bacteria to begin digestion etc. All can vary your system requirements.

You can learn a lot more from doing than theory and reading. From my research several sites, and books said you should only grow leafy plants such as lettuce, herbs etc. and you couldn’t grow fruiting plants. Last year I grew melons, cucumbers tomatoes, beans, peas, chives and water chestnut. I try something and if it works great, if not, I note it, and try it again a few more times to confirm the results. My 1st few attempt at growing peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and beans failed. I was attempting to start them from seeds in the system. I learned you need to get the plants started in some sort of media then transfer. I used coconut coir. I am attempting strawberries in addition to celery, marshmallow root, leaks, and some of my other past accomplishments.

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Start with “disposable” fish. In my area tilapia are about $2 a fish for fingerlings. Catfish $1 for each 4 inch fish. When stocking a 2000 gallon system that is a big investment to have all of them die off. I used feeder goldfish from my local pet store. 100 for $12.49. My 1 inch fish I started with are not about 1-2lbs each. Goldfish are pretty hardy, they will survive through winter water temps below 40 degrees, they eat just about anything, and produce a lot of waste. Can you eat goldfish? Yup, it is of the carp family. But I doubt I would ever eat them. Because of their high waste output a larger bio filter is needed, but means a higher plant food source. We have added bluegill, read ear, and catfish as we catch them while fishing. Some fish are too small to eat, but they are great to add to the aquaponics and allow to grow to a bigger size.

Don’t believe you have to have a commercial system or parts. I wouldn’t ever but the thousand plus dollar kits they sell online. You can make an aquaponic system with just about anything. If it will hold water you can have a system. Rubbermaid plastic totes, 55 gal plastic drums, aquariums, in ground ponds. You also don’t need a commercial biofilter. I made mine out of plastic cat litter containers I found at my recycle center, landscaping lava rock, and seeded it with bacteria from a local pond. All free.

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I attempted to use pipe as my grow area. This would work if you harvested the entire plant. I wanted to be able to pick a few things, and let the plants continue to produce. The roots end up clogging the system. So now I have adopted grow beds.

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There are so many other things I know now that I would have done differently if I had to do it all over. I could have learned much of this from following someone else step and what they did. I could have bought a kit and paid for tech help and support. But I don’t think I would have learned as much about my own system. When something breaks I know how to fix it. I have learned to adapt other materials for my purpose, cat litter boxes, landscaping lava rocks etc. It would have definitely cost mre more. Experiment, learn what works for you and your system.

Want to start your own system? Let me help. I can discuss pitfalls and lessons learned. Help with sourcing materials that won’t break the bank. If you are in the Indianapolis area or are located in Indiana I can provide onsite help and consulting. Check out the consulting and contact us pages.

Planting Barrel V 2.0

So I took the time and redesigned what was a strawberry barrel and no came up with a planting barrel. You can put so much more than just strawberries in them. If you are limited on space, you just want to maximize space, or wanting a new way to display your flowering plants this could work. And bonus it has a built in composter/fertilizer in the center. In 2′ garden space there is not 60 different planting sites.

All of the steps are available for sale.

I started with a 55 gal white food grade barrel with the top cut off. These are available for $20

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Next I drilled drainage holes in the bottom. Also available for $20 and can be used for a potato barrel. You could probably get 3-4 layers of potatoes in one barrel, around 30-60 lbs of potatoes.

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Next pilot holes along the outside edge for cutting the holes.

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Using a jigsaw  I cut approximately 9″ lines between the holes but not connecting them.

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Using a blowtorch I softened the plastic and inserted empty wine bottles to hold the shape until the plastic cools. Do this in a well ventilated area, and make sure the caps are off the bottles. Learned that one hard way. If the bottles heat up and the cork/lids are still on they can explode from the pressure.

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You have to keep the row above filled with bottles while forming the second one down. As you heat the plastic the upper pockets will start to close.

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Here is the completed barrel with composted in the center and filled with compost/mulch mix ready to be planted. I plan on making this into a salad/herb garden, with varieties of lettuce, cooking herbs, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and radishes. I will publish and post once the plants start to develop.

These are available for $70 empty,

$80 full of compost/mix,

$90 with composter and prepopulated with worms.

$120 filled with strawberries and all of the above

$150 filled with salad and cooking herb mix.

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These are made to order and some plants may not be available. Allow 2-3 days from order to availability. There may be an increased price based on plants requested. Delivery is also available and there may be a fee based on distance from SR 135 and Stop 11.

To order or ask questions use the contact us page or the consulting page.