Aquaponics System updates

If you have been following our progress on this site or on Facebook then you know that we are building a large deep water culture aquaponics system in hoop greenhouse.  We have made a lot of progress over the last few months and have had a couple setbacks.

Most of our issues have dealt mainly with the uneven ground where the greenhouse is located and just how difficult it is to penetrate the red clay soil.  Leveling the site was not easy and we still have a slight grade issue that we are dealing with now.  Progress has been slow but I think we will have plants and fish in the system very soon.  Below are some pictures of the progress.

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Aquaponics System Updates

Finally finished installing the greenhouse plastic and it looks great! Need to tighten up a couple spots but overall we are satisfied. The wiggle wire made the entire process so much easier too. We also got started on the DWC’s. We will be finishing up the DWC’s over the next week and then on to the plumbing for the fish tanks and bio filters.

We also need to work on the roll up sides of the greenhouse over the next week. It was over 90 degrees F in there yesterday. The temp outside was just over 75 and sunny. The early Spring plants should love it. I didn’t check the temps this morning to see how much carried over.

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How To Dry Your Own Herbs

There’s a lot of talk in the summer about preserving or canning your fruit and vegetable harvest but little talk about how to save the herbs that seem to outproduce everything else.  Your herbs deserve preservation also so grab your scissors and some cotton twine.  It’s time to jump down that rabbit hole into the world of dried herbs.

Everyone knows how pricey herbs can be at the supermarket, but little did you know, you can have an almost endless supply of dried herbs for the price of just one single plant by the end of summer.  Most herbs are great for drying.  If you have put the extra time into planting your own herbs or even purchased those pricey bundles of fresh herbs from the farmer’s market, don’t let those bundles turn brown or mushy in the bottom of the crisper drawer.

fresh rosemary

Every summer I take cuttings from my herbs, tie them into little bundles with some cotton twine, and hang them in a dark, dry room until they are nice and crispy dry.  I then take the entire bundle and drop it into a mason jar that I have lined up on the counter.  Anytime I need some herbs for a soup or braise, I pull out the bundle and give it a good squeeze.  Little bundles of herbal yumminess drop into the pot on on that cut of meat and they add just the right touch of flavor.

fresh parsley

The easiest way to dry herbs is to hang them in a warm, dry place.  Certain herbs do better with this method than other herbs.  There are other options for those more finicky herbs though so keep reading.  Low moisture, sturdy herbs lend well to the warm, dry place method: sage, thyme, dill, savory, oregano, rosemary and bay leaves.  Others, like basil, tarragon, mint and lemon balm, don’t like the hanging method and will typically mold easily.  Use the microwave method for these herbs below.

Make sure your herbs are clean of dirt and bugs.  Shake them, rinse them with water, and pat them dry (very dry) with paper towels.  Remove any brown or discolored leaves.  Tie the herbs in little bundles with some cotton twine or cotton string and hang them up on another piece of string.  You can use two chairs that are back to back and tie some string between them to hang the herb bundles on.  Don’t crowd them and leave plenty of room for adequate air flow around them.

fresh dill

Leave the herb bundles alone for 1 to 3 weeks.  Woodier herbs like rosemary will take longer to dry than the more delicate herbs (like parsley).  When the leaves crumble easily between your fingers, your herbs are ready to store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Be sure to clean out those old jars of herbs in the cabinet now to make room for your new dried herbs.

As long as you take good care of your fresh herbs, you will always have a source of dried herbs.  This method is also great to use as gifts to friends and family when you have an over abundance of fresh herbs from your super productive herb garden!


I would like to continue the conversation with everyone and would ask that you follow me here AND on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.  I have posted the links to these accounts and hope to see more of you following me there in the future.

Changing times

This blog has not been updated lately and I apologize to my readers for that.  Most of my posts are quick hits on Facebook because I just don’t have a lot of time to write longer articles at this time.  I enjoy seeing new people following this blog every week but I feel bad that I haven’t provided more reading to these new followers.

I would like to continue the conversation with everyone and would ask that you follow me here AND on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.  I have posted the links to these accounts and hope to see more of you following me there in the future.


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Aquaponics System @ C&L Farms

I’m sorry for the long delay in getting a new post up about the progress of the Aquaponics system @ C&L Farms.  We have been busy planting and pulling weeds which has taken up most of our time.  🙂

The Aquaponics system has made some major progress since I last wrote about it.  The growbeds have been positioned, the bell siphons build & installed, and the gravel washed.  We found that the Quikrete All Purpose Gravel (50lb bags) that can be purchased at the Big Orange (you know the one) big box store doesn’t react to the vinegar test so hopefully no issues with PH buffering.  We tested the gravel by pouring some vinegar on the gravel and had zero bubbles.  That is a good sign so hopefully we will be PH neutral.


Both growbeds have been filled with washed gravel (the picture above was taken prior to the 2nd bed being filled with gravel btw).  Of course, there is absolutely no way to wash the gravel to remove ALL of the dirt so we did experience some fine dirt covering the fish tank and sump tank.  Once the water has cycled through the gravel for a few days and the suspended particles have dropped to the bottom of the tanks, we will vacuum it up.

I added some Maxicrop liquid seaweed fertilizer to the water to help the plants get started while the tank is cycling.  I threw in some leftover seeds from the herb garden as well as some lettuce just to see if they would grow.  After just 2 days, the lettuce has already sprouted and is growing.  Pictures to come.  We also have some thyme sprouts coming up after just 3 days.  I also had 6 tiny basil seedlings that were put into one of the growbeds and they appear to be getting established also!

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The next step is to order another fish tank as well as more growbeds in the coming months.  I don’t think we will have enough growbed filtration for the tank size so two more growbeds will be added before the 2nd fish tank is setup.

I just want to say that I am pleasantly surprised that the bell siphons were very easy to build and they worked the first time I filled the gravel free growbeds!  They both kick in within 10 seconds and burp once or twice once the bed has drained.  I’m getting about 6 fill/drain cycles per hour which I calculate as around 250 gallons per hour.  I think this is a little bit low since the pump has a head of about 380 gallons/hour.  I’m going to fiddle with the ball valves to see if I can get at least 300 gallons/hour which will match the fish tank size.

Working in the Garden is actually fun

This weekend saw a lot of changes to the garden so I’ll get started on the happenings for everyone.

If you didn’t see the tutorial on how to make tomato cages please be sure to check it out here.  We ended up making 28 cages from the galvanized wire mesh but we are 3 short for the 31 tomato plants that were planted in the last two weeks.  Oh well.  We also setup the drip irrigation for the tomatoes (and future peppers).  The squash and zucchini are looking a little yellow after they were planted but they are bouncing back now that they have their own drip irrigation.

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We also have about 25 pepper plants to get into the ground.  They are doing well in the greenhouse but I know they are itching to get into the ground so they can show me their potential.  🙂

The soil was loosened up a little with my trusty Troybilt tiller to get ready for planting the cucumbers, okra and silver queen corn.  We also setup something for the cucumbers to climb up as they grow.  This makes harvesting the cucumbers easier and prevents those extra huge cucumbers from forming that hide amongst the vines.  I’m sure the chickens enjoy these cukes as a snack but I would prefer to eat them myself.

We also tilled under the winter rye where the Rattlesnake Pole beans will be planted.  We setup some supports and twine supports for the pole beans to climb as they grow.

We will also be putting down some of the homemade compost to help with the soil structure.  Soil structure in a mostly red clay soil is very important but it takes time for everything to mesh together.  We will continue to work on the soil health for this new garden area in the coming years.

Unfortunately, the rain came in early before we could get the seeds planted.  It looks like there will be some strong storms until Wednesday of this week so planting will have to wait until this coming weekend.  We really enjoy farming and providing our fresh produce at the Dallas Farmer’s Market in Dallas, Georgia each Saturday.  Not much ready at this time because the carrots, lettuce, spinach and onions are taking their sweet time getting ready for harvesting.

As always, if you like this post please let us know by clicking the Like buttons on this post.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.  Thank you for reading our C & L Farms blog.

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Aquaponics System @ C & L Farms…

Hello again!

We ordered the fish tank and a couple growbeds from last Friday afternoon and the tanks were delivered YESTERDAY!  I was expecting them to take much longer but apparently we have a Grainger warehouse in Atlanta so it was convenient to receive the tanks early for everyone involved….hahaha.

Now the fun begins.  We are still working on the design for the fish tank/growbeds so it will be sometime this weekend before we can really get started on the setup.  We also need to get the electrical system installed in the storage building.

Rubbermaid Structural Foam Stock Tanks

Now, on to the weather, we are expecting some “freezing” temps tonight so we will be covering the tomatoes and squash/zucchini transplants tonight so we don’t lose them to the cold temps.  More to come soon on the Aquaponics system build.

As always, if you like this post please let us know by clicking the Like buttons on this post.  Stay tuned and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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Twitter:      Search for @CLFarmsGrows or



Tank, Growbeds, and Sump Liner

I just ordered a 300 gallon structural foam tank (by Rubbermaid) and 2 100 gallon structural foam tanks for the growbeds. I also ordered my pond liner for the sump tank. I’m looking at 2 different pumps to use for this really simple setup. Does anyone have any experience with either of these brands?

  • Rio Plus 2500 HP Aqua Pump, 782 GPH by Rio
  • Laguna Max-Flo 600 Waterfall and Filter Pump for Ponds Up to 1200-Gallon by Laguna

They are roughly the same GPH but the Rio is about $20 cheaper than the Laguna. I’ll have about a 3′ rise and the Rio has better flow at that height than the smaller GPH on the Laguna.

Any help is appreciated.