Vertical aquaponic wall garden.

I am damn near finished. There are always small details to fix, but the major stuff is finished. I built a shelf for the fish tank, made a light, and put it all together. The light was my first time playing with electrical things. It felt good to see the light come on without me getting electrocuted. Thanks to TomorrowsGarden.net for showing me how to save $100 by making my own light. It was about $15 to make the light and another $20 for both light bulbs. Typically, these reflectors are about $100 without the bulbs.

photo 3Here is the light after being mounted to the ceiling.
photo 1Now we need more plants.
photo 2The fish poop and fertilize the plants. I got the idea from other aquaponic companies, but really didn’t want to pay what they were charging for complete setups. Amanda hates all of the wires, so those will be hidden somehow and then I will really be finished… until we work on the next one beside it.

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So many new projects…

With all of my prerequisites for nursing school out of the way (hopefully), I find myself with most of my days free instead of studying anatomy, physiology, microbiology, etc. We also found this wall to be very bare. It used to have a few pictures of me with fish.
empty wall
I have always been a fan of hydroponics. I have had different types of food growing setups. This empty wall begged for something cool. A vertical hydroponic garden seems just the ticket. Oh yeah, and we want it to be as cheap as possible. We acquired a couple of pallets. We Amanda painted and stained them. The paint was a couple of samples from Home Depot ($3 each) and a mistint from Benjamin Moore ($5).

Green!I built troughs for the water and clay balls that will hold the roots of the plants. We bought a 3 inch by 10 foot PVC pipe that we cut into about 17 inch segments. We used 3 inch PVC end caps and glued them with Christie’s Red Hot waterproof PVC glue. The pipe was under $10 and the end caps are about a buck a piece. Including the glue, we are up to about $35 so far.With the troughs glued, I drilled a few holes in each one so the nutrient rich water will drain from the top plant to the bottom ones. Then I made sure that they fit. It can’t be too snug, as we need our 1/4 inch microtubing to be able to go from the water pump in the reservoir (more on that later) up to the top plants.

snug!Mounting the pallets by yourself can be tricky. Especially if you aren’t sure where the studs are in your house. I used drywall screws with the plastic receivers, but I am not sure if the metal screws made it inside because I couldn’t see anything as I was screwing the pallets into the wall. So far, it has held up!mountingWe also found that it is easy to paint the pallets when they are mounted on the wall.pallet 1Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 12.21.45 PMScreen shot 2013-02-28 at 12.21.38 PMI have ordered a pump on Amazon and we are waiting for that to arrive and then we will find a reservoir. I will keep posting as the project progresses. Thanks for reading. Leave our comments below!

>Frying Pan adventure.

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So sitting around the house being sick is pretty miserable, so after work, we packed up the car and drove into the mountains. Everyone knows about the Fryingpan River and it’s monster trout. So we headed that direction. We pulled a “pirate camping” maneuver and slept in the car on the side of the road. It is a 3 1/2 hour drive from Boulder, so being able to fish at first light with nobody around is rare and pretty awesome. Unfortunately, first light was freezing cold! We put on every layer of clothing that we had and waited for the sun to hit the water before venturing into the river.
I pulled a 12″ and a 14″ Rainbow Trout out of some slow moving water behind a cluster of rocks. The fish seemed to be sticking together, so where you saw one fish there were a few more hiding nearby. We walked up stream and found hundreds of fish, but they didn’t want to eat what we had. It wasn’t until later that we realized how close the dam at Reudi reservoir we were. This has a major effect on our fishing as we didn’t have any shrimp patterns. The fishing shops were closed when we arrived and we were already fishing when they opened the next day. Here is why we needed shrimp patterns:
Mojdeh’s fish of the day. It rose for a BWO.

Mysis relicta is the sole freshwater relative of a saltwater shrimp which became stranded inland after the last Ice Age. They were stocked in the 1950’s in Colorado reservoirs in the belief that they would support populations of Kokanee salmon and lake trout. Unfortunately the researchers didn’t realize that the evidence they relied upon for this theory was misplaced and that in the Colorado lakes the mysis was not visible to the salmon during day time. Nopt liking sunlight, they moved to the bottom of deep lakes during the daytime when the salmon feed on the surface.
Worse still, at night the mysis moved back to the surface to feed on the Daphnia zooplankton which was a food source for the kokanees and trout denying them a food source. The only trout which benefited from the introduction of the mysis was the lake trout, a deep water feeder which reached the depths where the mysis were located in the daytime. However, in bottom release dams with deep cold waters such as Reudi, the mysis are sucked out into the tailwaters where they become visible in the daylight permitting the trout to gorge themselves.
There are a number of mysis patterns noted below which work well. The healthy mysis are translucent. As they die they turn white, so when fishing near the outlet of the dam, fish the more translucent patterns as the mysis which have just been expelled from the dam will not immediately turn white. The whiter patterns work better a little away from the outlet. The mysis shrimp has an exceedingly high nutrient value accounting for the massive growth in the trout that are able to feed on them in large quantities.
So now we know where to fish on the Frying Pan river. I saw two trout as long as my arm that must have been 8 to 10 pounds. I didn’t understand. I didn’t think that they existed. Those pigs just gorge themselves on shrimp. One day I will get back and go after them.
After fishing the Frying Pan, we headed home. But not without a stop at the outlet mall in Silverthorne. Most people shop here for hours ignoring the great fish that live beneath their feet. I have fished here 4 times and the closest I got was missing a hit that I didn’t think that I deserved. There weren’t as many fish as there usually are, and the biggest ones were eerily absent. I still fished a parachute adams in the places where I thought the fish should be and WHAMMY I hooked one. I landed him, showed him to the admirers on the bridge above, called it quits and went shopping.
Here are the hydroponically grown tomato and basil plants that we are starting.

>Hydroponics.

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I thought that having this sweet mustache would improve life dramatically. As it turns out, it doesn’t do much except keep parents with children far away from me. Some guy in a van without windows gave me a thumbs up and he drove past. I have been sick this week and unable to workout. Your health is your wealth. Instead of swimming, biking, and running we have set up a hydroponic system for growing our basil and tomatoes.
Still living the dream…