Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's been a cold winter

This is my catfish tank... iced over and buried in snow. Yes, we had snow in Elgin and three days of cold that did not get above freezing. But eventually the sun came out and everything thawed out and my catfish survived. They are pretty hardy. Now if they can survive the Texas heat this spring. Hopefully, they'll be eaten before the summer and I'll replace them with Tilapia.

I have also managed to keep my tomato plants alive. I try to start seedlings in January in zip lock bags over our wood burning stove. Germination happens fast. Then I put them in cups and move them to the greenhouse. Normally I don't heat the greenhouse but this winter has been so cold I taped a piece of clear plastic over my shelf that the seedlings sit on and put four clip on lights underneath the shelf. I have a thermometer that reads the temp in the greenhouse and an extention that reads the temp under the plastic tent. The coldest it got under the tent was 34 degrees F so everything has survived so far. Another month and I will set these little babies out in the garden.

These are the plants growing aquaponically in my greenhouse. They are doing really well and I noticed today that my first head is forming on a broccoli plant. Pretty soon we will have some veggies to harvast, kale, lettuce, chard and broccoli. I even have a tomato plant that I took a cutting of and stuck in the gravel. It rooted and has been growing and I have a tiny bud on it. Maybe I'll get some early tomatos.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aquaponics: i'm up and running

I got half of my grow beds up and running. The timer is working filling the grow beds every 1-1/2 hours and draining back into my two ump tanks. I have a couple of leaks I am trying to figure out how to fix without having to drain everything but they are not too big.

I planted some cuttings from our tomato and basil that were in my test beds. I also have planted lettuce, kale, broccoli and swiss chard seeds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aquaponics Update

I haven't been painting this week. Since I go back to work part time next Tuesday, I was really wanting to get my aquaponics system up and running before I go back to work. So I have been working on it full time this week. I am making progress.

I finished burying my bathtub/sump tank.

I decided to move the fish tank out side as I think I will have less problems keeping it hot. I painted all my barrels to retard algae growth and laid them out and got the drains plumbed.
I have just about finished installing the overflows. It is a pipe within a pipe.

I made a trip to get a truck load of gravel and tomorrow hope to wash it and fill up the grow beds. Then I have to plumb the supply water, and overflow from the fish tank back to the sump tank and I should be ready to add plants and fish.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I am finally starting my aquaponics system. I have had a very small test system going for several months in a couple of 18 gallon totes hooked up to my goldfish pond with a flood and drain on a timer. I have pretty good success having grown some really nice basil, a bit of tomato, green beans and radishes. It was good enough for my lovely wife to give me the go ahead for a full blown system.

I have an old barn and I turned part of it into a green house replacing some of the tin with clear poly panels, It already had the south wall full of windows so I think there will be plenty of light. I have purchased a 300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank for the fish tank for $220.00 which will sit on the floor in the corner. My sister-in-law scored 8-55 gallon white barrels for free that she gave me. We sawed these in halve horizontally with a skill saw. I plan to bolt these together and sit them on the floor in a row on each side of the greenhouse. I can get in about 12 or 13 half barrels.

Outside the greenhouse I am burying an old bathtub I got for free from a friend. This will be the sump tank and the lowest point in the system.

The greenhouse has a pretty step slope poured into the slab ( the previous owners used it for a kennel, it even has a drain. :) So the ST will have a pump in it, which will be on a timer and fill up the FT. The water will drain by gravity into the grow beds then drain by gravity back into the ST.

I have been working on finishing up the green house and plumbing up the barrels and burying the bath tub.

I drilled a 3/4" hole out of the bung on the barrels as it already has threads for a 3/4 adapter. I glued a 1" coupler on the inside using gutter cement. I will use 1" inner pipe with a 2" outer pipe for the stand pipe and overflow. The drains for the growbeds will step down from 1" to 3/4" PVC.

The supply from the FT will be 1/2" PVC.

Once I get everything plumbed I will go fetch some pea gravel for the grow medium. I will mix in some of the gravel from my existing grow beds which should help it cycle quicker, no?

I may just start with a bunch of gold fish or make a trip to a local fish farm for some channel cats.

Friday, September 10, 2010


To celebrate my retirement I am having a big party and art sale on Saturday, 18 September 2010. If you can't come to the party and still want to take part in the art sale here is a link to the price list.

If you live out of town I'd be happy to ship a painting but you would be responsible for the shipping and handling costs.

If you would like to buy something let me know or show up to the party.

A couple of pieces won't be at the party because they are in the Diocese of Austin Fine Arts Council exhibit which opens next Thursday, 16 September 2010. The two pieces are Marian Garden and Joyful Mystery #4: The Presentation.

Also note that two paintings just got accepted in an exhibit in Philadelphia and will be traveling for October and November but are still for sale. Those two paintings are The Rich Fool and Knock, Knock. They'll still be on display for the party but will be leaving soon after. This is the exhibit that Sister Wendy juried.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I am retiring from the University of Texas as of September 30 2010. I will take the month of October off then return to work at the same place, doing the same job 19 hours a week. My plan is to get up at roughly the same time, 5:00 am, have my contemplative time then work around the house for a couple of hours and then paint for several hours. Around 11:30am get cleaned, up eat lunch and head off to work from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

I am really excited to be able to paint every day for several hours. I currently get about 3 hours per week of painting and finish around 10 paintings a year. I should be able to get five times as many paintings done in a year, painting every day. And I think the work will be better and I will gain some momentum. This is the realization of a dream and I am very grateful for the HRC's willingness to let me come back and work part time.

I am having a big retirement party and 50% off art sale on September 18 at 6:30 at our little place in the country. Everybody is invited. If you don't know how to get there shoot me an email.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Exhibition Opportunity

As you know a previous exhibition I had entered put on by The Foundation for Sacred Arts was canceled. By the way, they sent me a refund check for the entry fee, THAT BOUNCED! What's up with this organization?

Anyway, yesterday I got a flyer in the mail and a personal email about another exhibition of Sacred art put on by St. Vincent Gallery in Pennsylvania. So I am entering the work I did for the above failed exhibit plus a couple of other pieces. And the most exciting thing for me is the juror is Sister Wendy Beckett. I am a huge fan of hers and think she will be a great Juror. If you want to enter, the deadline for postmarked entries is Monday.

Always trust in Divine Providence. When one door closes, another opens, although sometimes its a trap door. ha ha.