Aquaponics - Strawberry runners

I cant tell if the reason the surviving strawberry plant fruited so well, and so deliciously, because it just happened to be thriving, or if it's more suited to aquaponics in some way.

Most of my strawberry plants died, but I suspect the one that did survive was one of those I pulled from my original grow bed. If so it may have survived because it had an enormous root system, where as most of the others were store bought when they were transplanted, and had roots that didn't quite make it out of the cups they were in.

All of them had roots that touched the water in the end, but having a huge root system might have stored some water during those 4 times the water was off. Some of them spent 4 days in my bathroom sitting in a dry bath tub.

Lucky for me the one plant that did well is sending out runners. They seem quite healthy, and if it did thrive because it's extra suitable, I'll at least have some more to go on with.

120 Things in 20 years not just one plant hanging on by the skin of its teeth, but actual aquaponics strawberry runners!

Aquaponics - Retired strawberry towers

I finally gave up and decided the risk of running my poorly constructed strawberry towers, was greater then the strawberry return.

I pulled everything out and found homes for it, either in the compost heap, as many of the plants had died due to being dry so often in their lives, or in the case of things that were still ticking along in spite of my treatment, into the lettuce holes on the other side.

I'm not sure if I'll try to fix the towers, or retire them to the rafters of my shed as spider homes.

Aquaponics - Dramas and good times

All the water tried to escape again. This time the fail was in two places at once.

It seems I have sprung yet another leak in my strawberry towers. Last night at 4 am I heard the terrible gurgling sound of my powerhead trying to shift air instead of water. At least every time the water gets low its the power head and not the pump that's kicking up a fuss and sending out the alarm. I get the feeling the pump would fail if it ran dry, but the powerhead shifts so much water, it starts sucking air way before its dry. so it makes a lot of noise as early as possible to let you know something is wrong.

I think it's time to either rebuild the towers, or throw them away and move onto something that works

The rest of the system is growing really well, to the point where I'm starting to get crowded out of the grow house.

You cant really see it from this photo, but the tomato plant isn't just growing up, it's also growing toward the camera, and as a result taking up my head space whenever I'm sitting in their.

One of us will have to go.

And I own scissors.

Actually I've been pruning it a lot, but the latest hot weather has seen it going nuts, and seen me being to busy/air conditioned to go out and deal with it.

The other interesting thing in the garden at the moment, is that my bean density experiment is well on the way.

I haven't counted the sprouts, but it looks like there will be plenty enough to get a sample of which density produces the most beans.

I'm starting to think they would actually grow to maturity just sitting in their shallow water. It goes against everything I know about aquaponics, and oxygenated water, but who knows. I think I'll leave them in the seed raising tray, at least until they show signs of needing a better environment.

120 things in 20 years, Aquaponics - Dramas and good times

Aquaponics - Capsicum pollination fail

I don't know enough about plant reproduction.

I don't like not knowing enough about plant reproduction, so I'm going to do something about it.

Since I put up the grow house, I've had some concerns about pollination. With the door closed and when the weather is cold there isn't a lot of insect life around my plants. Most things seem to take care of themselves, but I have a cotton bud that I use on the first flowers I see.

The first flowers I see of something like my strawberries are more important then the next, because I want to taste the fruit, and I want to get photo's for this blog. As a result I try to take care of them a bit, and make sure they don't get eaten, or knocked off by my clumsy moves around the grow bed. (it's amazing how much damage one person can do when chasing a tiny bug around with a camera).

I also take the extra effort to make sure they are pollinated. To do this I have a cotton bud in a little jar that I keep in the grow house that I stick into flowers. I don't bother with it as an ongoing thing, but I almost always do it to the first of a new fruit or vegetable.

When my first capsicum flower opened, I didn't have another to cross pollinate with, but I thought I'd collect some pollen on the cotton bud I keep around, so that I'd have some for the next flower at least. So I took a swab. The cotton was already yellow with pollen from the first tomatoes, the first strawberries, and whatever else I'd used it on. 

That first flower turned into a fruit, so I didnt bother doing it to the next few.

The odd thing is, that the next few failed to be pollinated, and the fruit did what un-pollinated fruit do. They shriveled, died, and dropped to the ground.

On hot days when the grow house door is left open, I get a lot of visitors from the bug world, including some bees. I suspect that a bee or someone with a similar taste for pollen, visited my first flowers on my strawberries, and before I took a swab, left behind some capsicum pollen from a nearby garden. I took it up on the swab and passed it on to my capsicum's first flower.


I might be wrong, but just in case, I wandered out into the garden and, using the same cotton bud, collected pollen from a random selection of flowers.

It hadn't occurred to me that the bees would not just leave the correct pollen for the plant to set fruit, but it would leave a stack of different pollen. And perhaps not just the pollen it had collected, but probably pollen from everything the entire hive had visited. And given that flowers between hives are vised from both hives, perhaps even pollen from other hives. Pollen is small. really small. Small enough to be in the air and make allergic people sad. I'm told that today the pollen count is high, but I cant see any of it.


For the next few days I'll be taking my cotton bud around with me and stick it into flowers to collect a decent sample of everything that's currently flowering. Then I'll do it a few more times at different times of the year. Eventually I'll have every kind of pollen I'll ever need. It seems the stuff stays viable for a while as well.

It's also possible that capsicum flowers don't need pollination, thus my need for further education.

120 Things in 20 years, sometimes plant romance needs a helping hand, because sometimes aquaponics capsicum pollination fails.

Thinking - Six in one solar toy sets

After my post on solar flying toys I actually went out and bought some. Or at lest sent away for one.

Actually it's one of those green six in one solar toy sets you see around on the internet :)

Your never too old to play with toys.

It occurred to me I'd never owned a solar toy and probably never would unless I did something about it myself. I spent a few cents on myself for my holiday season invention time. I guess my own subliminal message seeped into my head and got me attempting to contribute to the solar toyosphere.

Actually none of my toys fly, and I don't think there are any that do yet, but time will prove my theory correct in the end.

Now all I have to do is to pull the bath out of the wall and put it out in the sun so I can use my solar powered boat.

I wonder if my fish would like it.

In reality other than being genuinely interested to see what they can do with a tiny panel, and what I imagine must be a very tiny motor and gearbox, I also have a feeling I will need it's parts for an invention or two, if I can keep it from turning into a last minute gift for a visiting kid.

*by the way I have no idea if these things are any good or not. I haven't even seen them other than online, so don't take this as some sort of endorsement.

120 things in 20 years, not just thinking about 6 in 1 solar toy sets, but contributing to the world by encouraging the manufacture of yet more solar stuff.

Aquaponics - Heat stress

This is a bit of a worry.

It's a 32 degree c day out there and fish tank water is already 30 c. The air temperature in the grow house is 40 c, and we get days of 46 c+ ever now and then.

My first bulk bean experimental planting cup is showing some serious signs of heat stress.

As are the coz lettuce.

The tomatoes on the other hand are loving it, and don't understand what all the fuss is about.

I'm not really sure what to do about it.

I draped some shade cloth over the grow house yesterday, but it actually made it hotter. I think if I leave an air gap it will work, but dark coloured shade cloth touching the grow house roof absorbed a lot of heat.

I think I'll try to add a frame and perhaps a water spray with a temperature probe to start the spray if it gets too hot.

I sprayed some water around and the temperature dropped by around 7 degrees, so I should be able to work something out.

Aquaponics - Bean seed density experement

As mentioned earlier I thought I'd see how densely I could plant bean seeds before they started to suffer.

To this end I've planted different numbers of bean seeds in plastic cups to be grown in my NFT tubes.

I started with six of my standard plastic drinking cups with holes drilled in the bottom to allow water to flow through. If you make some, don't forget you can drill a stack of ten at a time.

I added one, two, four, eight, sixteen, and thirty two seeds to each cup in turn.

They will grow to seedling size in my little seed raising grow house, until they are big enough that their roots will reach down to the water in my NFT tubes.

I tend to wait until the first signs of their real leaves rather than the two first leaves that the seed turns into. In previous tests where I've pulled up seedlings, I've noticed that by the time their first real leaves appear, their tap roots are well developed and reach the bottom of the cups. This seems to apply to every variety I've tested.

I guess roots are pretty important things to grow first. Plants manage for quite a while without light, but only hours without water.

With a lot of small seeds I don't bother covering them as their is a steady rain of water from the roof of my little grow house, but with the bean seeds I worry that they might dry out as they stand up much higher than the damp media, so I cover them with scoria.

I water them with fish tank water, and on this occasion I added a little seasol ( a seaweed extract plant tonic) because there are going to be a lot of seedlings and I don't want them begging for trace elements.

The fish tank water stands around an inch deep or a third of the way up the cups.

There is also a pot with my twice weekly lettuce planting, an experimental seed raising method that I'll talk about later, and also an additional cup with 20 pea seeds buried because I love peas.

I've only just done this, so it's going to be a while before I can report results.

Unfortunately this isn't going to be a case of "and here's one a made earlier".

120 Things in 20 years - Still trying to rob perfectly innocent giants of their golden egg laying livestock with Aquaponics - Bean seed density experiments in an attempt to build a better magic bean scaffolding.

Aquaponics - Repainted ladybug

I think I just got a visit from a ladybug that had been in for a respray.

I've never met a lady bug that did the individualism thing, but this one seems to have.

That's a capsicum plant she (all lady bugs must be girls surely) is on, and not only is she a diffent pattern than every other lady bug I've met, but she is also only about one third the size they normally come in.

I'm often a bit of a fan of research, but sometimes I also like a mystery, so if your keen to know if this is some kind of mutant, or just a slightly different version, I have no plans to look into it.

120 Things in 20 years - not just Aquaponics - Repainted lady bug - Sometimes just irritating.

Aquaponics - Raising seeds

My experimental seed raising system started nearly two months ago, and consisted of a small seed raising mini-growhouse with an inch of fish tank water in the bottom.

The little growhouse was filled with plastic cups with holes drilled in the bottom. These were filled with scoria as my grow medium.

For the first two months or so everything semed to grow well. I would just drop the seeds on the top of the media, (except for beans, where I added a layer of scoria over the top) and was seeing around 50% success in germination.

The condensation forming inside the mini-growhouse would rain down on the seeds and keep them moist.

Most of what I was growing was basil, and coz lettuce. As the plants got big enough that I thought their tap root reached the bottom of the cup, I'd move them into my NFT tubes.

The interesting thing was that the water stayed fresh.

Very fresh. No smell and it looked clear enough to drink.

Normally water left sitting for months would sour, but even though the water had fish nutrient  (the water was from the fish tank) it stayed sweet.

Pictured here is what it looks like after three months.

Its still surprisingly clear and still has no smell.

I plant coz lettuce every few days to keep a constant supply, but the last few batches haven't done so well, so I thought I'd inspect the growhouse a bit more closely.

It still looks pretty good, but there are some signs of the water going a little slimy. Keep in mind this is the original water.

It's possible that the slime is rotting the seeds before they can germinate, or perhaps it's just that the nutrient is depleted, but I thought I should was it down and start again.

From now on I think I'll clean it every month or so.

It's no great task to was it, but I wanted to see how long it would last. It seems that the cycle of evaporation, condensation, and dripping rain from the ceiling all within the little growhouse has in some way kept everything fresh.

The brown you can see is dirt on the bottom rather than slime growing or fish solids. Some of the original pots for the basil were not cleaned as well as they could have been.

All in all, it's been an interesting experiment, and I can see no reason why it shouldn't continue to be my way of growing lettuce seedlings on an ongoing fashion.

[Not all seeds took well to it. The baby spinach tended to rot before germination, as did larger seeds like rock melon, although both those seed types came from old packets, so it's possible the method had nothing to do with it]

120 Things in 20 years - where shortcuts and time saving, lazy methods of aquaponics, and raising seeds is a way of life.

Aquaponics - Stake 'n beans

I cant really see why a plant like a bean needs all the space the seed packet tells me it needs.

I figure instead of giving them some kind of string or stake to climb on, I'll just give them more beans to climb on.

With this in mind, I planted fifteen bean seeds in a single plastic NFT cup a few days ago.

Fourteen have sprung to life, and are looking good. It's still early days yet, but I suspect, with a plant like a bean, they will each find enough real estate to express their beanie selves, and will probably do alright.

That's them on the left, and right now they don't look like much, but it's either going to turn into a jungle, or some kind of rotten swamp in no time.

If it works, I doubt I'll get a harvest fourteen times as much as I would have with one plant, but I should do better than the single.

At the very least, it should be interesting.

I planted one or two in each cup in the previous batch, and unfortunately didn't count how many beans we harvested. This time didn't plant any cups with just a single bean to compare outputs with my fourteen bean cup, but that's my plan for tomorrow.

I think I'll do a test with different cups with 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and if I have enough seeds left, I'll do one with 32 bean plants all growing in the same standard, small, plastic cup. I'll measure the output from each cup, and decide which is the beast way to go.

120 Things in 20 years, bringing you free, NFT, bean science, even if you don't want it.

Aquaponics - Capsicum

My capsicum, chilli pepper, red or green pepper, sweet pepper, or whatever else you call these things in your part of the world are starting to form.

I grew my capsicum plants from seed ages ago, but due to delays in transplanting caused by my being too lazy to add the needed new media to top up my grow bed, they lost a little of their desire to live just before transplanting*. This left all but one without most of their leaves. The one that did have leaves had also lost just under half its leaves.

The result was my feeling that I wasn't going to see a lot of fruit from my lazy labours.

It turns out being lazy can still pay, and in this case, might even pay off more than being whatever the word for un-lazy is.

Industrious? That works. Anyway...

It seems that after losing all your leaves, some plants like to grow two or more new main trunks, so I might see twice as much fruit on the ones that were sickest at some stage down the track, when they are fully recovered.

Or not.

I'm not sure that it would be worth doing on purpose, because the ones that fell apart are way behind as far as flowing, and fruiting are concerned.

But it might have worked out well by spreading the fruiting out a bit or perhaps as mentioned, mean I get twice as much fruit from them.

I'll let you know.


120 things in 20 years - Aquaponics - Capsicum plants often contain methyl vanillyl nonenamide, which is what makes hot members of this family hot.

Thinking - The Solar Toyosphere

A prediction.

At some point in the near future, there will exist around the earth, a halo of solar powered flying toys that either never had, or have out-ranged their remote controllers.

This Solar Toyosphere will be a problem to air transport, people who don't like things falling on their heads, and anyone who would prefer to not be in shade all the time.

It works like this.

Little Johnny gets a new solar helicopter for his birthday and runs outside. He forgot to put the batteries in the remote control handset, so the second he turns it on, it flies to the Solar Toyosphere where it lurks for fifteen years, when it's bearings finally wear out.

The end.

Repeat 1.3 billion times in a holiday season coming soon :)

So you bought a solar hang glider, launched it, and it's still up there. 120 things in 20 years is yet another place that wont refund money on solar toys lost to the Solar Toyosphere.

Aquaponics - NFT coz lettuce

My original, repeat harvest coz lettuce are at the end of their productive life, and have to be retired.

This is the first time I've been able to check to see how my plastic cup system is working.

I let a few go to seed so I can collect it for ongoing production, but all I need is one plant because they produce so much seed. The result is I'm ripping up and composting the rest.

They have a fair size root system, although nothing compared to the spinach that was only half their age.

This is the root ball that was inside the cup.

I'll need to learn a little more about lettuce, and make sure that it's not this tight root mass that's causing the plants to go to seed.

It doesn't really matter if it is, because we got a stack of lettuce from them as we were harvesting them as they grew by just cutting leaves as we need them.

The lettuce required quite a pull to get it out from the plastic cup as the plant had expanded, and pushed the grow media (scoria) into the sides of it. If I hadn't let them grow on and go to seed, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue. The stems get quite think and woody as they get older.

As usual this camera doesn't do a very good job of low contrast subjects, but I think you can see it a bit.

The cups all came out in reusable condition and I'll let them dry out in the sun to kill off any mould or beasties growing on them, and then reuse them for another batch.

In the mean time I've been planting their replacements for a while now, and have eight or so at various stages of development.

This time I plan on not taking leaves off as they grow, but rather waiting until they form a heart, and harvesting the entire plant at once.

The vague plan is to make some kind of comparison.

120 things in 20 years, not just Aquaponics - NFT coz lettuce

Shiny new computer

At long last I have a shiny new computer.

This means I should be able to continue with the automatic, demand fish feeder project because now I can install the software I require to program the thing. I've been using borrowed computers when I can over the last few days to put up the odd post, but now I should be back on track.

It also means I can get back to general inventing and writing.

Aquaponics - disaster, strawberry towers, and narrowness

Normally I tend to dive right in to aquaponics disasters, but this time I thought I'd narrowly avoid one instead.

I decided to do a post on my two spinach plants I have growing in my strawberry towers.

That's them from the front...

and from the side.

I look at them every day, but what I don't see is the root system.

It turns out the root system has been growing down into the drain hole of the strawberry tower it lives in.

The result was the water was restricted from leaving the tower, and was getting ready to overflow at any minute.

Seen here is a meniscus forming on the lip of the hole for the plant. This is looking into the bottom  hole, down toward the drain.

Seconds to spare.

No doubt a lot of water was still getting through the drain, but it did look ripe for disaster.

The roots looked like this when I removed the plant. It's difficult to see in the picture, but they reach the ground. This means they were not just blocking the tube, but were probably growing in the large PVC drain half way to the fish tank.

Definitely something to look out for, and another mark in the "cons" column against my system design.

My only real course of action was to prune the roots. They were so long that even if I only used the top holes of the strawberry towers, they would still reach the bottom, and thus, the drain.

120 things in 20 years, the disaster that never was - Aquaponics - disaster, strawberry towers, and narrowness

Home made preserves - Green tomato chutney build

I have a stack of tired, old, dried, spices that I tend to avoid.

I should throw them out, but instead I like to risk ruining perfectly good food with them.

I started with the perfectly good food.

It included a few green tomatoes, one of which fell from the vine for some unknown reason. It was this act of self harvest that originally made me think to make green tomato chutney.

And an apple and half a very large red onion.

I finely diced the pealed apple...

the red onion...

and the green tomatoes.

I also added some sultanas...

I dropped all the diced fruit and onion into a pan and added around a cup of malt vinegar...

and the contents of the sugar bowl.

Next was some spice.
cinnamon (more than you might think)
white pepper (about what you might think)
tired, old, dried, powdered, ginger (as much as I had)
cayenne pepper (just a bit)
and 3 cloves and two bay leaves that I put in a stainless steal mesh thing for making cups of tea. (to be removed)

and some hot English mustard.

I think that's everything I added.

I put the entire lot on low heat to simmer for an hour or so.

And I have a tip. I came up with it all on my own. I don't know why I had to, as it's the kind of thing my grandmother should have taught me.

But it's this.

If you are like me and tend not to follow recipes, other than a vague guide as to the the flavours and to get a general idea of ingredients, there comes a point where you have to add something, but you don't know how much to add.

Now, it's easy enough to add a bit at a time, but you cant go back from that. ie if after adding, you think "actually it tasted better before" you're in trouble. My tip lets you go back.

It's simply a matter of adding a little of the ingredient into the centre of the pot, and gently stir it in a very local way, so you only mix it with a little of the main mixture. That way you get to taste it as if you added a lot, because its all concentrated in one spot. If it turns out to be too ,much, when you stir it all through the rest of the mixture it dilutes to almost nothing. If it's good, you can add the amount that will make the rest of the mix the same strength.

No doubt it's something people do all the time, but I still invented it :)

Just before removing it from the heat I added some fresh coriander leaves (cillantro?) in the end, it looked like this and tasted really, really good. (my independent taster said "Yep" to the question "Good?".)

Home made preserves - Green tomato chutney

In spite of the endless pruning and sun drying, I can see I'm still going to have too many tomatoes.

I think for my next trick I'll try to make some green tomato chutney. I bought some once and we ate it very quickly, from memory, on cheese sandwiches.

I was going to start picking and making, when I discovered all the recipes that look good, call for apples and a stack of different spices.

I keep a decent supply of spices, but for some reason don't have any apples. So it's going to have to wait until I get some.

Stay tuned.

120 things in 20 years, bringing you nothing really, not even "Home made preserves - Green tomato chutney"

Electronics - Low aquaponics water level handling

Previously I mentioned using an alarm rather than employing some way to turn the pump off when the water level became critical, mainly due to wanting to avoid mains power, and all the dying that comes with amateur electronics and it's use.

Wading room only
But I think I may have a better approach to help prevent low water problems associated with leaks or mismanagement within my aquaponics system.

And it's this.

Because I run my pump through a 200 amp hour 12 volt deep cycle battery via an inverter, it occures to me I can just play with the 12 volt supply to the inverter, and avoid playing with my 240volt ac mains power and still turn off the pump if the water gets too low.

Pictured here in sophisticated blue pen (I usually use crayon) is a circuit diagram which will probably shed some darkness on my plan.

Basically, if I control the 12 volt power supply to the inverter, I can control the pump at the 12 volt level rather than at the 240 volt level, and nobody has to die.

Which is nice.

All I need is a PICAXE 08M chip (owned), a 5 volt voltage regulator to supply 5 volts to the chip from the 12 volt battery (owned - thanks pete), and a float switch. (not owned, but $5 (thanks Nom))

This should actually work.

120 things in 20 years of slapping my head because this solution to Electronics - Low aquaponics water level handling should have been obvious from the start.

Electronics - Water level alarm

Given how often I like to try to run my fish tank dry, I think it's time I started looking into a way to improve the situation.

I'm thinking either an alarm of some kind, or perhaps a way to turn off the pump if the water level gets too low.

My pump is mains voltage, so I don't really want to mess with that because I have no idea what I'm doing and quite like the whole living thing I'm currently doing., so I guess that's already limited my options to creating some kind of alarm. It wont solve the problem when I'm not home, but it might give me a fighting chance to catch leaks or some other problem before it harms the fish or my pump.

For anyone contemplating an aquaponics system that's feeling a little put off by everything that goes wrong in my system, please keep in mind that it's all about either doing things for 10 cents when I should have spent 15 cents, or because I keep trying different things. Just keep in mind the point of my doing this stuff is so that other people don't have to. If I kept to my original layout of a grow bed over a fish tank, a leak would mean water would run back into the fish tank, so all my problems are because of experimentation rather than any kind of inherent problem with aquaponics.

I still have to finalise the design, and build my swirl filter to return solids to the grow bed rather than having them sent to the NFT tubes, so there will no doubt be a stack of shiny new potential points of failure still to come, so stay tuned.

120 things in 20 years, Just idle thoughts about electronics, and water level alarms

Home made preserves - Sun dried tomatoes success!


My sun dried tomatoes turned out perfectly.

This is them in some olive oil with a little oregano, some peppercorns, and a few rosemary leaves.

The largest slices took three days, and some of the smaller ones were done after only two.

The original advice I read was to make sure they were all about the same size. No doubt this was to prevent them being ready at all different times.

That was good advice, and the next time I do it I'll try to be more fussy with size.

Also I think I'll be drying them a bit less. I suspect the best home made result would be a semi dried tomato, dried a little more than a dried apricot, but not much more. I'd also only cut the tomatoes in half rather than smaller sections. The halves looked better and had a more even texture.

I think I'll still have spare tomatoes to give away, but from now on I'll be giving them away as sun dried tomatoes.

Rope some kids in to remove the seeds, and make some holiday season presents for the people next door.

All in all a total success. Easy, child friendly, and a great way to value add to left overs. I understand you can also do it in the oven on the lowest heat you can manage, but I think it's more fun to use the sun. In the end I didn't bother with the sieve, because the pests didn't seem interested during the day, but I did bring them in at night to keep the snails away. The first night they were outside, I found snail tracks on the sieve from someone trying to get in, and a small snail or any sized slug would probably have managed to get in and eat the lot.

Aquaponics - Dry fish

Yet again my poorly built system has decided to drain itself.

Fish hate it when that happens, but luckily my fish are a native Australian species (silver perch) and seem to take drought in their stride.

I was out checking my sun dried tomatoes yesterday and could hear my fish flapping about in a way that didn't much sound like a fish in water.

One of the spouts that puts water into my strawberry towers had decided to be a powerful jet instead of a trickle.

As far as I can tell, some algae built up in the pipe, and acted like a finger on the end of a hose.

Some of the other spouts to the other towers were also partially blocked, and I suspect this might have added to the pressure and assisted the water in it's escape bid.

The fish seem to be ok, and I managed to source enough system water to keep them swimming from the duckweed tank, and by reducing the grow bed depth.

All in all, a pretty good outcome for what could have been very nasty.

I hate it when something happens that I hadn't even considered as a possibility.

120 things in 20 years - a fresh, aquaponics, dry fish disaster each and every week.

Home made preserves - Sun dried tomatoes day 1

It actually seems to be working.

After 24 hours the colour is still great and they look like they are well on the way to being sun dried tomatoes.

But I'm currently in the middle of an aquaponics near disaster, so I'm a little too busy at the moment to have much else to say.

Home made preserves - Sun dried tomatoes

In spite of all my pruning and pinching off growing tips to keep my tomatoes from taking over, my two trimmed tomato plants in my little aquaponics garden have been producing tomatoes faster than we can eat them. I've started giving excess tomatoes away but now I've decided to horde them and try my hand at sun dried tomatoes.

If it works well, I'll make a solar drier based on the stuff I learnt from the solar hot water collector experiments I did, but for the time being, I'll knock up a temporary test drier.

I figure I'll need a screen to keep the flies off.

I have a kitchen sieve or two that have so far escaped being destroyed in aquaponics experiments, so I'll use one of those.

And I'll need a couple of tomatoes.

From what I've read, they should be the same size, but I didn't have two ripe ones of the same size so I photographed them to look the same. The closest one is about half the size of the other.

Nobody will know.

So I cut them into sections and thumbed out the seeds.

I pealed two sections as well to try them that way, although it is not normally done that way.

I then found a bowl and a cake cooling rack.

I put the cake cooling rack over the bowl, and spread the tomato sections out over the rack, and put the sieve over the top.

I moved the entire thing out into the sun near an ants nest, so figured I should stand the whole contraption in a big bowl of water to keep crawling things out.

Now we wait. I'm told for a few days.

120 things in 20 years, Home made preserves - Sun dried tomatoes, and waiting

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