Monthly Archives: April 2010

Carp pond

Hmm after a bit more investigation, I think I might start off with a carp pond rather than a full on aquaponic system. If we use the pig pen area we can also use it as a resevoir to water the Market garden, and also build a pallet decking area so we can still use the seating and BBQ.



Next big experiment…At the moment I am just researching this. It is a system which uses fish and veg in a symbiotic relationship. Eg Feed the fish, pump the pooey water into the veg, they eat the nitrate, drain the clean water back to the fish. Advice is Tipia, but they need 10 degrees to 40 degree to survive. I am thinking about a system which could be moved into the poly tunnel in the winter…One guy suggests using maure to keep the tanks warm..kind of like a hot bed…INTERESTING

Really cool project in manchester, much bigger than I would attempt.

Muscovy Ducks Arrive

The ducks arrived yesterday on Becs birthday. They are a lovely Trio and we have named them Orlando, Virginia and Vita. Orlando is huge! He has already got to work fertalising the girls, so we hope to hatch some ducklings this spring. They seem very lazy, they seem to just sit about hardly eating anything. Getting them to go to bed was a challenge, Orlando barged straight through the chicken wire funnal we made to herd them into the duck house, we managed to get them in on the third attempt. Hopefully it will get easier tonight.


Yesterday we candled the Indian runner duck eggs. We have 5/6 with an embrio inside, which is great news. Fingers crossed for the next candling date which is in 7 days time when we should be able to see more.


The first bag a layer pellets is about to run out, so I recon that make it 2 weeks. The bag cost us £3.75, which by my calculations means that the 6 laying hens are costing us about £2 a week. Which means if we can sell 2 boxes of eggs a week we are keeping them for free. Free eggs for us. None of them have really started laying much, we have had a sporadic handful of eggs, but they are all still a bit young, I recon in a another couple of weeks we will have more. They are just so funny though, whenever I go into the paddock, they all rush over (especially ginger Carmen), and watch me doing what ever I have come in to do. Last night they watched me building a duck house, its so funny having a large feathered audience for my construction work. Tomorrow is beckys birthday and we are picking up 3 Muscovy ducks, this is going to cost us £75, but they are adults and should start breeding this season.  We are also going to candle our indian runner eggs to see if they are working….All very exciting.

Storage bins

Another £60 spent on storage bins and stuff.

Early Learning

Well we’ve been working on the plot for a couple of months now, and things are really starting to take shape. I thought I’d make some quick notes for anyone who is thinking of setting up a small holding, about the mistakes we have made early on.

1) Investing in a large electric netting is brilliant, touch wood, no fox problems as yet and we are able to sleep at night without worrying too much.

2) Don’t put as much mulch under it as we did a thin layer is enough, if possible, don’t bother with the mulch and just use weed supresent membrain, as any thing that gets damp can short the bottom wires.

3) Protect your asparagus crowns from slugs!!!! We found lots of slugs chomping away on the crowns this weekend, and have only just popped in a couple of slug traps (beer in jars) and put some card board collars in the tender stems.

4) Don’t expect to get too much produce in the first year. All of our energy has been ( and will be) put into settin gup the main infrastructure this year. Livestock and permenant veg don;t produce as much in their first years as they do once they are established, so you can expect to work twice as hard for half the yeald.

5) Buy an incubator with a humidity meter. We went for the cheapest one, and are hoping for the best (eggs still in), but I can see that investing another £50 or so may have been a better idea.

6) This is just my opinion, but don;t buy a massive tractor. We went for a small but tough little John Deere, and it has been great, it small and efficient, and much less noisy than a huge machine. We are always happy to get Deirdre out at the weekends to roller, or harrow. A larger machine would have been more costly and more hassle to drive around the plot.

7) Allow a  contingency pot of money. Set up costs more than you think. I will include a rough overall costing after a year. This will show the cost of turning an empty field into a smallholding.