Aquaponics Trellising

I have pulled out everything that was growing at the end of Autumn and have started to prepare all the new infrastructure to hopefully have it ready by the start of spring. I did start some seeds but it has been so cold that the only seedlings that have even taken have been the climbing beans and one of the varieties of tomato. I am not worried about this as there is so much that has to be completed by spring.

I will be starting on the moving all of the aquaponics equipment into one location over the next week and have just finished putting up all the trellising which will hold the tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins when the warm weather returns. Rick gave me a large amount of heavy wire netting to put on the frames and I just need to work out how I can transfer the larger sheets home to finish the project off.

The steel was all rescued on its way to the dump so it has really only cost the price of the paint and some fencing clamps to get it all together.

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Motorising the Grain Mill

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Judie has experimented a lot with bread making over the past year and now that Michael is helping to get the wood fired oven project done I wanted to get onto the grain grinder motorisation project that has been sitting on my to-do list for the past year.

The cast iron wheel on our Country Living Grain Mill has a V grove that can allow the mill to be belt driven. The company that makes the mills does produce a motor that can drive it but it is well out of our price range so we have decided to build our own system using a small drill press.

I got the idea when a hardware catalogue arrived in the mail advertising drill presses for $100. I paid less then $100 for my drill over 15 years ago and seemed like the perfect fit for the job.

The grain mill needs to be turned at around one revolution per second so that it doesn’t get hot which the manufactures say can destroy some of the nutrients in the grains. The gearing block in the drill reduces the drills motor speed part of the way with an engine belt that I got from Supercheap Auto dropping it the rest of the way as it wraps around the mills large cast iron wheel.

I started by stripping the drill press of everything that was not needed for the project. There was nothing complicated in this and all the parts came away easily. I removed the base plate and a pin at the top that held the drill column in place and then pushed the column through the mounting block and attached it with some 40mm fencing clamps to a frame made out of scrap steel pipes.

Be very careful with the drills wiring, it is high voltage and you need to make sure that the insulation covers don’t come off the connections. There were also two earthing wires screwed into the cast iron mounting block which I made sure I reconnected when fitting everything back together again.

You shouldn’t turn the mill wheel without grain in it as this will rub the plates together and damage them so I fully unwound the springs for testing. This meant that the wheel on the mill spun freely without resistance.

When all connected up the mill turned at two revolutions per second with no load. I believe that once the mill is tightened up again and has grain added that this will slow down to less then a rev a second.

I need to get a few more clamps to finish this so I will add more photos when it’s finished.

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Pauls June L2L meeting

Over twenty people showed up last weekend at Pauls place to check out his Aquaponics system and several other projects that he has got on the go. Paul is the first of our group to give Sleepy Cod a go and they are doing very well as are the Jade Perch that he is keeping in a second tank.

Paul has incorporated swirl filters and some very clever microprocessor control systems into both his aquaponics system and his home made solar hot water system that is saving him hundreds of dollars a year and cost only a fraction of what a commercial system would.

Thanks Paul for getting us all inspired and inviting us into your home and giving us all a few more project ideas to think about!

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Starting trials in Biochar

I have been interested in having a go at making Biochar to use as a soil amendment and also to include in the aquaculture system as a final filtration stage after all of the large solids have been removed by the swirl filters and filter mesh.

I picked up 3 steel drums for $5 from the recycle centre at the Livingstone Shire dump. They use to hold motor oil but seem really clean now. I have started packing them with wood as it becomes available and when they are full I plan to turn them upside down in the middle of the burning pile and build a bonfire around them to try and pyrolysis the wood.

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Greg

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