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Archive for July, 2012

What a tasty supper. We had a roast turkey and bbq beef stew.  Sounds autumnal, I know, but it’s one of the advantages of growing your own food and having a freezer (or 3).

Last November we took Chuck, the bull to the processor.  Being a miniature cow, he was only 300 lbs hanging weight. That’s still a lot of food for two people.  We gave a bunch away and still have several roasts, plenty of burger and some steaks left. Oh, we also have the tongue, liver and shanks.  I suspect I’ll be eating the liver alone.  In my opinion, grass fed, pastured beef is best cooked low and slow.  Grilling is ok, but crock pots, braising pans and smokers are best.  Tonight it was slow cooked in the crock pot and doused in bbq sauce. Simple, yet outstanding.

About the same time we had Chuck butchered,  we processed our turkeys.  Several customers cancelled orders on us a the last minute so we had an abundance. No problem, that’s what freezers are for.  On a whim, B thawed one and roasted it so we could have sandwiches over the weekend.  I’ve been standing over the poor bird off and on all evening picking at her (it was a hen).  Its a real treat to have something as awesome as a roast turkey on a week night in July that’s usually reserved for Holidays and special occasions.  Again, it’s one of the pleasures of raising food.

If you could raise your own food, what would be your favorite thing to grow?  Or, if you do farm and/or garden, what are some of your personal favorite treats that are made possible by canning, drying or freezing?  I’d love to hear your story.

 

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I obviously don’t have photos, because I haven’t built the units yet, but I’m really excited about the next generation of Aquaponics units I plan to build this fall.

I’ve been playing at this for a year, with mixed results.  On the whole, my fish have done swimmingly (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Some plants have done well; my basil was phenomenal.  Some other starter plants have thrived.  Quite a few veggies have burned up, due to first, being too close to a grow lamp. A recent batch, including a tomato plant that was growing like it was on steroids, steamed in my garage during a heat wave.  I was pretty steamed, myself.

Using waste water from my aquariums to fertilize container plants has been an unparalleled success. Plants we had given up on have revived and new plants have grown like we’re putting something illegal in the water.  I couldn’t be happier.

Now it’s time to get down to some serious plant growing and fish rearing.

First, I’m going to build a greenhouse this autumn.  My goal is to build it 60′ by 30′ and 10′ tall.  I want to put 4 units in it; two raft systems and two flood and drain systems.  I will be using 250 gallon fish tanks, so I will be able to keep a good number of fish going.  Since I intend to stock fairly densely, I’m going to add a settling tank to each unit to catch solids.  I’ll make the tank from blue barrels to keep costs down.  I will also include a bio filter for each unit, though I can’t decide whether I’m going to use a submersible or an exterior one.

Here’s the exciting part (for me); I’m going to use 6′ diameter kiddie pools as sump tanks and use those to house my Giant Redclaw Crawfish.  Four units is the perfect number to keep a breeder tank, a nursery tank and a grow out tank for males and one for females.  Each system should only require a single pump.

Because I’m going to house both fish and crawfish in each unit, albeit separate tanks, I will add extra grow beds and extra filtration.  The solids tank will be drained regularly and the waste will be combined with rabbit manure to make what I believe will be the finest natural fertilizer on the planet. I’ll use that in my raised beds and container garden.

I almost forgot, but I plan to use my two large aquariums as breeding tanks for Tilapia and Coppernose bluegill.  I am going to put a single flood and drain growbed over each one of them to add extra grow space.

Making it work in real life will undoubtedly have more challenges than making it work on paper, but I am extremely confident. Our Edible Suburb is about to come of age.

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