Sunday, July 10, 2011

Building the life aquatic: rainwater harvesting and aquaponics in Houston

Work continues in my attempt to turn the Last Organic Outpost into Bartertown...though if everything goes well we'll be growing fish and crabs instead of pigs. The raiwater catchment system is complete...at least until we earn enough money to buy more water tanks. The three we have right now give us a capacity of 4500 gallons, but that isn't nearly enough to keep the farm watered. It's a good start though and adding more tanks will be a simple plumbing job. All the hard work on that system is done.

Future site of rainwater catchment and aquaponics systems.
Beginning

Step 1: tear down the interfering structure.
Phase1

Step 2: screw doing it by hand, hit it with the tractor!
Phase2

Step 3: move tanks into position. Each holds 1500 gallons.
Phase3

Step 4: make gutters by cutting 6" diameter PVC pipe in half except at the ends.
Phase4

Step 5: hang gutters without anyone getting injured or killed.
Phase5

Step 6: actually, I'm not sure what we were doing here.
Phase6

Step 7: still hanging gutters.
Phase7

Step 8: remove invasive Chinese tallow tree from overhanging future aquaponics tank.
Phase8

Step 8: rainwater catchment system is finished, first flush diverter is in place, tanks are plumbed together. Now we just need rain.
Phase9-finished

So now on to our aquaponics system! The old loading dock is being turned into a 7000-gallon pond in which we hope to raise fish and also blue crabs. The water from this "pond" will be pumped through a bunch of hydroponic beds where growing vegetables will remove the nutrient rich (to plants) fish/crab poo and return the purified water back to the pond. Once this closed system is up and running properly we'll be able to produce hundreds of pounds of produce and protein each year. Fantastic!

Loading dock now cleaned up and ready to be turned into 7000-gallon fish tank.
Aquaponics-1

We have to build a wall to protect the pond liner from the shrp edges of the original loading dock equipment.
Aquaponcis-2

Once the wall is done this liner will be installed, then we'll need water.
Aquaponics-3

A whole lot of work is going on to build these things, and most of it is from junk we find and repurpose. It's really testing our creativity and pushing us past any skill limitations we had at the beginning. Miniwether and Mambowether are right there with me helping out and learning all sorts of useful skills...plus the occasional swear word (or combination of swear words!). This ties into my child-raising belief that we parents are supposed to teach our kids how to get by without us rather than protect them from every bump in the road of life.

Adventure! Excitement! Building Stuff!

Monday, July 04, 2011

(Grid) Independence Day

How does Merriwether celebrate independence when there's a complete ban on fireworks due to the drought? He builds a 3500-gallon rainwater harvesting system!


The temperature was over 100F every day with humidity above 90%. The fellow workers were awesome though and it was great bringing the Last Organic Outpost closer to being off the grid.

Adventure! Excitement! #@%&* Drought!