Wednesday, May 21


Hi all!

I know, I know... it's been way too long since I've posted. There's been a lot going on.

First off, I AM working on getting chapter one of Storms of Ishira (book two in the series) finalized so I can post it. I promised I'd do that when I hit 500 likes on my Facebook page, and that has happened.

Second, my health has made doing much of anything a real chore lately, and a simple half hour of housework will lay me low for several hours. I found that I was writing far too much pain into my heroines' lives, so I decided a break was in order.

Now, all that being said, I have not been lying idle. I've been doing a lot of research on a great many different topics. But the nearest and dearest to my heart lately has been something I discovered on Pinterest (shocker, right???).

It's called aquaponics and it's AMAZING! It will be utilized on Ishira and most likely in other books, as well, just because it makes so much sense. The premise is to use fish or freshwater edible critters to provide waste material that is then pumped up into grow-beds where plants turn the ammonia and fishie poop into nitrites and nitrates to help them grow. Then the cleaner water is drained back into the fish tank using a bell siphon. The draining process also oxygenates the fish water. Because the waste is filtered through the plants and the draining provides aeration for the fish, there are no other electrical devices needed, other than a pump.

I have just set mine up... nine goldfish in a ten gallon tank (I had ten, but Fred decided to jump out yesterday). A small fountain pump lifts the water into my grow-bed, a 7" deep Sterilite container full of river pea gravel and my plants. There is no soil used... the rocks provide ample space for roots to grow and also help to add air to the water that gets drained off.

The really fun thing about it all is that my fishies LOVE it when the draining starts. The force of the water is strong enough to create a fun current that they frolic in and swim against, giving them exercise. :) The moment they feel the water start to trickle in, they rush to the drain-side of the tank and wait for the big gush. So funny!

Right now, I only have a bit of lettuce in the grow bed, but I'm going to finish rinsing my rocks today and adding them in, then I'll pull out some of the extras from my container garden outside, bring them in, wash off all the soil, and transplant them into the grow-bed.

Now why, you might ask, would this be so fascinating to me?

Well, I was trying to find a system that would work in a very limited space, such as a long-distance space-ship. Traditional gardening is fine if your ship is equipped for it, but what if you have just a small one-four person spacecraft, not intended for hauling much of a load? You'd need to maximize every inch of usable space and recycle as much water as possible.

So I started with hydroponics, then stumbled onto aquaponics. Being the curious person I am, I clicked on the Pin and... well... the rest is history. :)

Several of my folks will have variations on the aquaponics theme in their crafts or homes. Ishira Colony will have a much larger set-up, since this system can provide a lot of food in a smaller space, and because the nutrients are plentiful and constant, plants can be spaced much more closely, even vertically against a wall or something.

Seriously, if this is intriguing to you at all, google aquaponics or check out my Pinterest board. I'm not done adding things to it. I'll also be posting some pics of the system, once i've got all my plants in, so you can get a better idea of how it all works.

Why the sudden intense need to garden?

I honestly don't know. I think it's because my love of gardening comes from summers spent with my grandparents, who had a half-acre food garden in Charlotte, NC, when things were much less developed. I remember sitting beneath the grape arbor with Grandmama, swinging gently as we snapped beans, shelled peas and limas, or shucked corn. Big Band music would be playing on the transistor radio as Grandaddy wound his way through his garden, weeding and feeding and supporting and harvesting. He'd bring us baskets of stuff to work on, then go back for more.

Such halcyon days have come back to me more and more often in recent years. Grandaddy died last July and I think that this urge to have my own garden this year comes from missing him. He was my last grandparent to go, and the world seems a bit colder without my grandparents. I was very lucky to have all four of them well into my 20s, but I had lost two more before 30. Grandaddy Bob was the only grandparent I had from 30 until 42.

So this year, I started a container garden, since we're renting our home at the moment. If we end up having to move for HoBA's job, I can literally pick it up and take it with me. The aquaponics is much the same way. Moveable, adaptable, and expandable. If we end up buying a place in the next few years, I'll be able to create a larger system, produce more food, and maybe even stock the pond/much larger tank with fish I can catch and eat. :) I think Grandaddy would approve. ;)

That's what I've been up to lately. The writing has had to take a break for many different reasons. I hate being one of THOSE authors, but I can't force the story. The characters start misbehaving if I try! LOL

I do have some reviews I need to get up and posted here. And I WILL have Chapter One of Storms of Ishira up ASAP!!! Keep watching for it!

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