Monday, June 18, 2012

Mushrooms to the rescue

Someone over on the BYAP forums commented on Mycelium Running in my book box.

I love the idea of mushrooms, even though I'm not terribly fond of the taste of most of them. But what excites me the most is that, as the author (Paul Stamets) of this book has proven, mushrooms are really, really good at breaking down petroleum, and therefore may play a critical role in cleaning up our environment.

So, here in the United States (not sure how true this is in the rest of the world), we have a big problem with water polluted by drugs: caffeine, prozac, estrogen etc.  If mushrooms can break down petroleum, could we find (or engineer) one that would break down drug molecules?

For those of us trying to close our personal loops (with grey water systems, etc) drug-busting mushrooms could become a critical part of our home (or business) ecosystems.

Failing that, buy my friend Jeremy's Cherry Tree House Mushrooms at Seward Coop!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Channel Catfish added to the menagerie

Hello all;

I've been continuing on just fine after the SandKAP partnership dissolved. It's nice to be solely in charge again.

My first greenhouse is in full production (although the troughs aren't quite yet full of plants) but growth has been slow because of the lack of fish. I haven't yet had a harvest, but I expect one in the next couple of months!

The second greenhouse is getting close to being finished. Two troughs are complete (except uniseal plumbing and aeration stones, and the other two are well on their way. I still need to put in and plumb the fish tanks (IBCs for now, probably custom built later) and the gravel beds.

Willie (left) and Mike working hard, supervised by Jones.

This greenhouse should be done in a few weeks.
This pic is a bit old, I'll put a new one up soon-ish.

I got 1000 channel catfish today (from Osage Catfishery). I chose Osage because they sell to the Minnesota DNR. I piggybacked on the yearly DNR order, so my cats came up on the same trucks as the DNR fish. Saved a TON in shipping!

Just arrived! Master test kit for scale.
Sorry no scale. They're 2-3" long.
Acclimating the catfish to the new system.

I put the catfish in a trough right now because I don't have a tank ready. I have a screen I can use to corral them to make them easier to net back out.

With the addition of the cats, I now have (in the order of purchase): Yellow Perch (about 100), Tilapia (about 250), Mosquito fish (about 80) and channel catfish (about 1000).

This will probably be still too few fish for one greenhouse. While I love using the IBCs for fish tanks, I think I'm going to build my own tanks, so I can make them bigger so I can hold more fish for each GH. (The IBCs are plumbed so I can easily add more into the system, but there's limited physical space to put them).

Also, I like adding fish slowly, so I don't max out the system. I'd much rather have a slow startup than a massive fish kill.

I have also started bringing on interns (it's a non-paying gig for now).

For those interns, I'm taking all of my gardening/AP/Sustainable Ag-type books to the greenhouse to start a lending library.  Not a bad start! (All bought back when I had a paycheck! Click pic to embiggen, if you're into reading book spines...)

Lending Library