Monthly Archives: December 2012

Fanatic End Frames on the Aquaponics Greenhouse – The Build Continues!

Well, I’m glad to say that I’ve finally been able to get back to the ‘build’ portion on my Aquaponics Greenhouse!

Hard to believe its been nearly 3 months since I’ve had the opportunity to really get back towards the building portion of the green house.

The main reason with the delay has had to do with finances and usual things that life like’s to throw at you to put a kink in your productivity, but thankfully I’ve been given a respite, so now back to the build 🙂

As it is now December, most people in the northern hemisphere are experiencing winter. I am not among them. Living in Phoenix, snow is not an option, but we have been able to dip into the 30’s during the night at some times. During the day our temps have been holding steady in the 60’s, so we’ve been more fortunate then most with regards to harsh weather (that’ll be made up for during the summer). With that comes keeping the tanks water at a reasonable temperature for the fish. At this point it has been achieved using some large aquarium heaters and they’ve done a fine job at keeping the fish alive. Their appetites however are another issue,they have greatly decreased due to the waters drop in temperature. With that comes a decrease in growth.

Up till this point as the greenhouse goes, I’ve been using shade cloth (which was a necessity during the summer months). Ideally this should have been taken down in late October or early November and replaced with actual greenhouse film to help retain heat during the nights that can be collected during the day.

So now that I’m back on the build, that is now my intent, to get the greenhouse’s end frames built and the applying the greenhouse film so as to help keep the heat in and the cold out.

As with the whole of my build, I am not going by any set plans. I find ideas online (mainly from Google images) and then pull elements that I like along the way. So with the end frames I first determined the door width by measuring where the inner wall of the greenhouse meets the grow beds and then measuring that out to just where the grow beds inner wall ends. In the end it gave me a door width of roughly 3 1/2 feet, which is more than adequate to get in and out of. Door height is not bad either, I do have to dip my head a bit upon entry, but its acceptable. Once inside I have plenty of head clearance.

After looking at how others have put their end frames together, I decided to mount the outer frame of the door to the 2×6 Cedar base and use that as the bottom part of the frame for the door versus adding in another 2×4 piece along the bottom. Mounting the frame was done using some deck plates and screws. Attaching it to the top I used a metal tape which can be easily wrapped around the PVC piping, then screwed securely to the door frame itself. In this way I eliminate any sharp ends that might rip in to the greenhouse film.

To the sides of the door I also added in a couple of 2×4’s at roughly 45 degree angles to add additional support to the door. As you can see to one side, the pieces are not aesthetically the same, I had to shorten one sides support in order to provide clearance the PVC piping that enters/exits the greenhouse.

Next up will be to build the actual door itself. For this it is simple 2×4 construction. Build the rectangle with enough clearance for the hinges and latch, then add a 45 degree cross member inside the door to maintain the doors rigidity. Later I’ll add some seals to help keep the inside as sealed from the outside as I can to maintain internal temperature.

On the other side of the green house I had contemplated adding a second door so as to have access from both ends. Ultimately I decided against this as I want to make sure that side will be able to accommodate a small swamp cooler for the summer months.

All in all, some good progress. Like most things on this build, it just surprises me how much better it looks than what I think it will look, ultimately because I do not consider myself a big DIY’er, but this project just might prove me wrong 😉

Fanatically Clearing Out the Old in Order to Make Way for the New!

This weekend has been a plethora of activity. Rather that the typical building progress with my greenhouse build, this deals with demolition (in a sense). The yard has had a number of old dead bushes lining the back wall for more  than a year. I finally made the time to get cracking on that particular item for getting the backyard back into shape.

The first item was to get the branches knocked down or cut off and following that getting the root balls removed. All in all there are 13 of these pesky bushes that I’m contending with. Thankfully I was able to get the branches taken care of and will follow up on digging out the root balls next week. I also took it upon myself to prune the tree a bit as it was getting on my nerves.

Needless to say this section of the yard now looks 1000% better than before. Cleaned up, raked, it really opened up the area. The plan of course is to get this area ready for future updates. We have a number of ideas in mind… rain water harvesting, solar water heater, compost pile, black soldier fly incubator, and possibly an anaerobic digester. The other plans include the typical backyard upgrades. We’ve got ideas for a deck, an outdoor fireplace, dedicated BBQ area, jucuzzi, arbor, assorted potted plants, some xeriscaping ideas, etc. etc.

Updates will be posted per project as we’re able to work on knocking out each in succession. We’re planning on speaking with a landscape designer next weekend and will have to determine how best to proceed with updating the existing irrigation system, but it should make for a urban farm/yard when completed.

No, we are not made of money.. most of these items will be taken on piecemeal when funds permit and as much of the cost will be offset by doing the labor ourselves. But its exciting to know that following next weekend, we can get cracking on our ideas!

I’ll keep you updated! 🙂

Fanatic Idea! – The Downtown Urban Farming Initiative

The Downtown Urban Farming Initiative (or DUFi for short) is a project I came upon through a discussion I had with my mother-in-law whose company is helping to assist in making it a reality.

In essence, it brings in local agriculture to otherwise derelict plots of land and makes the area viable once more by providing the ability to grow healthy food choices, promote good health and spur economic growth through entrepreneurship and tourism.

The Dufi Team

The Dufi Team

What makes this initiative so unique is that unlike ones that have been implemented in large cities such as New York and Detroit with success… smaller towns, with fewer resources are often unable to start – let alone sustain – these programs due to lack of direction, limited financial resources and a shortage of dedicated human capital. Their approach is a distributed urban farm program aiming to resolve the weaknesses of other programs by engaging small businesses as key partners in the downtown farm.

The Volunteers

The Volunteers

Right now, their latest project is being modeled and implemented in Historic Downtown Bryan, Texas. Downtown Bryan is passionate about supporting and advancing commerce, culture, and community. They actively work towards these goals through economic development, support of local art and culture, and community engagement. This environment creates the perfect conditions for the incubation of the Distributive Urban Farming Initiative and the creation of living classrooms that will serve both the local community as well as others seeking to replicate the model.

Artists Rendering

Artists Rendering

Providing local produce to local restaurants is just one aspect of their approach to spurring economic activity around the gardens. The gardens enhance lots that are otherwise unused and create attractive spaces for special events, providing another source of revenue to support farm operations.

The project however does need to get the ball rolling and needs pledge support to make it happen. The expansion will only be funded if at least $15,000 is pledged by Dec. 9.

I’m asking for all in the blog space willing to make a great gesture, to give a little support this holiday season to make this idea a reality 🙂