Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Year Message from Dr. Vandana Shiva for 2015

We Are All Seeds - A New Year Message from Dr. Vandana Shiva for 2015...

As 2015 has been declared the Year of Soil, let us recognize that in the seed and the soil we can find answers to every one of the crisis we are facing.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Backyard Farm garden update. Air Pruning, Compost & plans for the patch, 18th Dec 2014..

Time for a bit of an update on the veggie patch in our little Backyard Farm now that Summer has well & truly hit SE Queensland..  
Was working on a few clips but they unfortunately got lost when the hard drive crashed so I thought I'd give you a quick look at a few of them all in one clip.. 

Will have a follow up post on the wicking beds & how they fare during the high temperatures we had during Spring posted in the next day or so ;-)

If anyone in Australia is interested in purchasing the Root Pouches you can find a tab to our small store under our banner above..

Cheers all & have a great one.. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A wander around our Backyard Farm..

Hi there folks :-)
Has been a while since posting an update here so thought I might cheat & post our latest walk around clip ;-)
Decided to show a little bit of everything we have on the go this time round to give people a better idea of how our Backyard farm is set up.. 

Hope you enjoy the tour folks..

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Update on the Backyard Aquaponic system build 12th Aug 2014

Time for a bit of a look at where we're up to on the Aquaponic build.. This first clip was posted 20th July & covers a change in the plumbing that should make the system run a lot smoother..      


Since then not a lot of progress has been made on the build itself until last weekend, early this week when the filters & sump were fitted out then connected together..


I do like the slower pace of this build as it has given me time to consider other options..

Have also made a few clips on small parts of the build that might give folks a few helpful ideas..
The first is on using thin walled PVC pipe with Uniseals.. Due to the thin wall of the pipe it can be very difficult to use..


The second is just showing a few different ways to make up the drain fittings used in the base of tanks & filters..


Hope you like that quick round up of the system build & it gives folks a few ideas that may be helpful.. Should have enough time this weekend to glue it all together & give it a bit of a trial run if all goes well..

Cheers folks &  have a great one..

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coconut & Prawn Curry with home grown spice..

Have been teasing folks with pictures of our Coconut & Prawn/Shrimp Curry on Instagram & FaceBook so thought I would put a bit of a clip together as well ;-) While its great to be able to walk out the back & pick the spices fresh it can also be made with store bought ingredients as well.. 

Curry paste..

Chillies to taste (we use 2) + some for garnish if desired
Large thumb sized piece of ginger or about 2tsp of ginger paste
2 Large thumb sized  piece of galangal OR 3 heaped tsp powdered (not necessary but a favourite spice of mine)
2  Large thumbs of turmeric OR 3 heaped tsp of powdered
3 med cloves of garlic OR 2 heaped tsp garlic paste
¼ tsp salt
½ Tbsp oil

Chop spice into small pieces then pound all ingredients into a paste with a mortar & pestle OR you could cheat & use a food processor like me ;-)
A few tsp of water can be added if you are using powdered spice..

Coconut Prawn/Shrimp Curry..
Serves 2

oil for cooking
Curry paste from above or a good quality yellow curry paste..
¼ cup Shredded coconut 
1 med onion sliced into thinly
150-200g peeled prawn/shrimp  
10 water chestnuts, sliced or ½ small tin
½ med head of broccoli, cut into small florets & stem sliced thin
1 large handful of honey pod/sugar snap peas, sliced in half
½ capsicum/red pepper, sliced
200-250ml of coconut cream

- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in Wok/large fry pan. 
- Fry curry paste for 1 minute then add shredded coconut, cook for another minute.
- Add onions & cook for 1 minute.
- Add in prawns & mix well with curry paste/onions. Some extra oil can go in if needed as well.
- When Prawns look ½ cooked add in veggies & mix well for 1 minute.
- Pour in coconut cream, mix through well then cover top of wok/fry pan & let curry simmer for 3 minutes to heat veggies through & finish off the prawns..
- Serve garnished with more chilli..

Some optional extras to add would be a stalk of lemon grass added into the curry paste & a kaffir lime leaf added into the main dish with the onions

Hope you enjoy the dish as much as we do if you have a crack at it..
Cheers all :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Backyard Aquaponic system build vlog.. 15th July 2014

Thought we would post a few mini updates on the new Backyard Aquaponic System build.. This 2000L/350gal system will probably be built over the next month or so & hope to do at least 1 update a week.. Will do a proper walk through at the end once all the beds are made up..

Feel free to make suggestions as nothing is set in concrete at this point..
Here is an explanation of "Modern Man" & other styles of systems from Paul at Earthan Group..
The Earthan Group website as it has loads of useful articles & calculators that can help folks wanting to build their own backyard system..

You can also find Bits Out the Back on Facebook, Instagram & G+ if you would like more regular updates on how we're going on our backyard farm.. We post mini updates on the aquaponics/aquaculture, chooks, worms, wicking bed gardens & other small tidbits..

Have a great one everyone...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bathtub worm update & some worm filled compost

Missing worms..

The bathtub worm farms that we keep under the house have been slightly neglected for a few weeks.. We currently have an aquaponic system taking up a lot of space & blocking walkways under the house making it hard to check up on the squirmers..  Knowing that the farms were going to be cut off for a while they were both fed ½ a garbage bag of wet shredded paper, a litre of coffee grounds & some leafy greens scraps from the patch to see them through until we could get back to them.. I wasn't overly concerned as they also had their manure & compost based bedding to feast on if the other food ran out..  Was hoping to harvest a load of castings for a few projects but got a bit of a shock when I opened the farms up..

The first farm I looked into was the newer bathtub farm..  This farm is located underneath the "S" bend for the bathroom sink, which had unfortunately sprung a leak over the past few weeks without us knowing.. I have a feeling the worms weren't very partial to the mint toothpaste or soap flavoured water that had been trickling into the farm.. No bodies could be found in the farm so I think they decided to jump ship..  
½ of the castings in the farm were collected to be used around the patch..  I decided to leave the worms & cocoons in there so they would have a chance at a better soap free life elsewhere..  The rest of the "minty fresh" castings are being used to feed a few dead spots on the lawn.. 

The second, older farm had what looked like a mass exodus of worms from it & I found evidence for this in the leachate bucket where I found a few dried out, crispy worms.. We did have a bit of rain but have never had issues with damp weather causing worms to leave in large numbers before as I have seen occur in other farms..  The only thing I did differently in this farm was to use mushroom compost bedding in one end of the farm where as before I had just used it as a top dressing..  

About 90% of the compost had been processed & the castings  contained a good amount of cocoons so am not 100% sure as to what the problem was that caused the mass exodus..

The worms that were removed looked nice & fat which has puzzled me further.. We do have 2 rather fat skinks  that frequent the worm farm but don't think they would of consumed a few thousand worms over the past few weeks..
These red wrigglers have been added to a worm barrel under one of the lime trees down the back for the time being.. I have plans to add them to a much larger farm in a few months time ;)

With all the castings removed from the farm, I took the opportunity to make up some top notch castings tea from the castings that had collected in the drainage rock..

It was as easy as piling the rocks up one end & hitting it with the hose once we had collected as many worms as we could from it.. The tea drained straight into a few buckets & was used to water the beds in the garden down the back.. 

I haven't made the farms up again as of yet & am not sure I will straight away..  While the bathtubs have worked fabulously for us up until now, I'm not sure if I will use this style of farm again as our main worm farm.. I think I have stumbled upon a far better way to get the worms to work for us in the patch..

Last November I made up a compost pile inside an unused IBC cage using shade cloth to line it & help keep the compost contained.. It was filled with layers of mulched up weed trees (Chinese elm), horse manure, lucerne/alfalfa hay & scraps from cleaning out a few garden beds.. Has to be the best compost we have made to date but you can see that for yourself in the clip below ;) 


I have already started to harvest some of the worms & compost from this pile to add into a holding farm until the next compost pile has cooled down & is ready for them to move in.. 

Hope to have the next compost pile on the way by the weekend.. This time I will be using lucerne/alfalfa hay, horse manure, mulched pigeon pea, mango trimmings & corn stalks to build the pile up.. Hope to have that lot of compost ready to add to the patch by Summer if all goes well..

Cheers folks & have a great one,

Monday, May 5, 2014

Soft shell egg from the chickens..

One of the girls laid a soft shell egg the other day & it gave Koo a bit of a shock when she was collecting the eggs :D We have only ever had 3 or 4 of these over 16 years & 3 lots of chickens..

A soft shell egg can be a one off or in some cases caused by stress, a sign of nutrient deficiency or illness in the bird.. In our case I think it has to do with the age of our 2 older chooks, Greedy & Chicken Little.. If there is a continuing problem we will be off to the vet with the young lass in question..

I have come across a few great sites & forums that have been useful over the past few years.. Backyard Chickens is one forum that has some great posters & information like this page on Common Egg Quality problems..
The Chicken Vet from the UK has also got some great information on diseases on his site..
Cheers & hope the info helps some folks out there,
Rob :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Aquaponic Q&A session With Paul Van from Earthan Group..

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to have Mr Paul Van Der Werf from the Earthan Group hold an aquaponic webinar/Q&A session from our backyard..

It involved people from as far away as Saudi Arabia & Canada asking question on all things related to backyard aquaponics & aquaculture.. After the webinar was over it was time for us locals to pick Paul's grey bits & chat about all things fish/plant related.. Was a great day, met some nice folks & picked up a few useful tips that will definitely help me out with our systems..

Paul's "go-to guy", Sockaponic ;)

Would like to thank Paul once more for taking time out to hold this session for us local enthusiasts & for all the assistance he has given myself.. Thanks too for not cringing at the silly questions I have tossed your way ;)
Would like to wish him & his family all the best on their move to the United Arab Emirates where Paul is in the process of building a 4400m2 integrated aquaculture pilot farm in the desert..
You can find Paul posting articles on his Earthan Group website where he also offers up loads of useful information/DIY ideas for us backyard enthusiasts.. He also posts regular updates on the progress of the large commercial aquaponics pilot farm on the Earthan Group Face Book page..

Cheers folks,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aquaponic update, Think we have a change of plans.16th April 2013..

Picked up a commercial aquaponic system last week & now need to work out how to fit it into the yard :/ Am fairly sure that our existing system will be off to my parents & then we can get into setting up the new system here..

Am really looking forward to planing & building this system.. Am hoping to still include some Dutch buckets & DWC beds too :)

Decided to harvest the sweet potato from the aquaponics this week.. Also had a bit of a surprise when I was following the vine
that had grown over the side of the system :)

Cheers all & have a great one..
Rob :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Catching up with the chooks..

Has been quite a while since a post was made on our poor neglected blog. So though I would pop up a bit of an update on a few changes to the chicken's yard & water feeder..
To start with, the chickens water feeder has been modified to take another dripper station with both of them being connected to a float valve fed water barrel.. I think our daughters were more excited about this development than the chooks as it is one less job they have to do every day ;) 
The clip below is from a few months ago when the system was set up & will give you some idea on how it was made..

I have found that the barrel has started to grow a bit of algae after I neglected to add the apple cider vinegar.. You can see in the most recent update from the chook pen below..
Had a bit of rain over the past few days so thought I would show how we use dolomite lime to keep the odours down when the chicken pen gets a drenching.. It also doubles as a lice & mite treatment as well which is a bit of a bonus.. A new fence has been built down one side of the day yard as well which will help give them a bit of privacy from the neighbours dog..

Also thought I would include a look at how we are making up their nesting box filler using shredded paper.. Our shredded bills/scrap paper has been going into the worm farms for a while now & we have expanded our use of it due to Bianca collecting discarded "newspapers" on her daily train commute..  We are now using it  in the girl's nesting box thanks to our increased supply..  

Would also like to use shredded paper & cardboard as bedding in the night pen as well but will need to stock pile a few more papers before we can manage that methinks ;)

That's it for a quick little look at how the girls are going at the moment.. Hope to have a few more updates on the aquaculture systems as well as a run down on the soil patch posted in the next week or so, time permitting..

Cheers all & have a great one,
Rob :)