Thursday, July 30, 2015

Energy Efficient Greenhouses For Growing Food

What Kind of Greenhouse Do You Want To Build?

There are all kinds of different styled greenhouses people can build to house their aquaponics systems and grow healthy foods. Winter can be a challenging time for many people who live in the Northern Hemisphere. We have to deal with maintaining a good water temperature, heating the greenhouse and keeping the cold out to grow food. 

Our family live at 8000 feet in the Colorado mountains. That means freezing temperatures and high winds during winter. In our area we need a greenhouse that can take the winds and believe me it can get pretty rough here at times. Our family already tried the hoop house build (below) and the wind tore it to shreds after a few months. 

Maintaining natural heat throughout the greenhouse is also important. I want to have a greenhouse that will not break the bank but allow me to grow throughout the year. The picture below shows the winter sun position in our area. As you can see the sun is fairly low in the sky on a southerly aspect. We took this picture in January when the lake was totally frozen over.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere growers will need a Southerly aspect for their greenhouse position to maintain the best heating. The longest side of the greenhouse should get the most exposure. For anyone living in the Southern Hemisphere, you will want to place the greenhouse towards the North. 

The graphic image above gives people a good idea of the sun's position during winter months in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Walipini's And Earth Sheltered Greenhouses

Walipini means place of warmth and these types of natural earth style Greenhouses have been built in South America where people were growing bananas at 14,000 feet. That's quite an amazing achievement when you think about it. 

A Walipini is build inside the earth and you may need to hire someone to excavate the long trench. Walipini's are usually built 6 to 8 feet down into the ground and can be as long or short as you need them to be. You can re-use the excavated dirt to create earthbags to reinforce the side walls if you want a secure bunker style.

If you build your walipini correctly it should maintain a healthy temperature of approximately 70 degrees even on those cold wintery days. If you live in an area where space is not a problem check the position of the sun first, then build the length of the Walipini facing the winter sun. The more sun exposure the better it will be for heating purposes. 

Will your Walipini have a plastic or polycarbonate roof? Plastic is obviously cheaper but it will not last as long, so do you put most of your money into a good roof and framework or wait a few years to change it out? I guess that will depend on you and the amount of money you have to spend. I know of a family who used Dura-skrim as a cover for their roofing materials.

In my area of CO, I would much rather go for the secure roof materials (polycarbonate) and framework rather than have a disaster happen and lose plants due to flooding or a cave in.  

Placing a walipini on sloped land is a better idea because it will allow for any rainfall to run away from the walipini instead of flooding it out. Walipini's are ideal builds for people who live in Semi-arid desert conditions like Texas, Utah, New Mexico, California and Colorado. Lower rainfall areas work better because too much water can be a problem. If you live in Florida a walipini is probably not going to work for you. 

I have some plans here for you to keep which will teach you to build a Walipini: 


Take a look at this great PDF created by the University of Minnesota Extension Service 
On cold climate greenhouses: 

Passive Solar Heated Design Greenhouse

Saving money on heating any greenhouse throughout the winter is crucial especially when millions of people are financially strapped for cash. Having a reliable greenhouse to grow food during the cold months is even more important. I would like to offer people the below plans which comes with building materials needed for the above passive solar heated greenhouse design. 

It was put together by the Bradford Research Center College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and I love this design because black water barrels are used to heat this particular greenhouse. 

This type of greenhouse is ideal for people who cannot dig down to build a Walipini but want a passive solar greenhouse. Check out the below link for the plans: 

Having an energy efficient greenhouse to grow food can be a lifesaver for a family who wants a more sustainable lifestyle. It can house your AP System, grow smaller tropical plants you normally couldn't grow in the North and even offer a warm shelter for animals.

Warmest Regards


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ethoxyquin In Animal, Fish and Human Food

Ethoxyquin Is Actually A Registered Pesticide

For a long time people may have looked at their fish food ingredients and noticed the word 'antibiotic' on the packet and never really given it a second thought. Most will think it's there because of the fishmeal in the food and antibiotics help to keep the food safe.

The 'antibiotics' are just there to preserve the shelf life of the product and to stop the food from going rancid. The actual truth of Ethoxyquin is something a bit different. This chemical is actually a registered pesticide on the EPA website and is owned by Monsanto. The beginnings of the chemical Ethoxyquin is even more interesting; as it started life out to prevent rubber from cracking because of antioxidant efficiency and stability properties. The chemical was then refined down and added in food as an antibiotic.

People really should be asking why is a pesticide being used in ANIMAL, FISH and HUMAN Food? 

“Ethoxyquin is rapidly absorbed from gastrointestinal tract of laboratory animals like rats and mice. Peak blood concentration of the compound is observed within 1 h. Distribution of EQ in animal body is similar when it is administered orally and intravenously." 

Other names for Ethoxyquin are: Stop Scold,  Santoflex, Quinol and Santoquin. Monsanto uses it because it’s cheap to produce and because it protects lipid peroxidation and stabilizes fat soluble vitamins (A, E) in animal feed. 

“Small amounts of parent EQ were detected in liver, kidney, and adipose tissue and fish muscles. It is excreted predominantly as metabolites via urine.”

The above quote is something people in the AP industry will be more interested in because the produce is grown in water and the fish urine-poop helps everything work in the symbiotic cycle. You can download the below PDFs for more information on the studies regarding Ethoxyquin.  I have more science studies but this is a good start.  

Download The PDF regarding Ethoxyquin here:

Aquaponics can be a very healthy way to grow food and I totally support growers and farmers who are producing this way. However can we still say the produce grown in AP is totally organic when pesticides are being found in fish food?  It's obvious from the above links Ethoxyquin is a registered pesticide and that alone is cause to question what fish are eating.

Anyone who is growing food in Aquaponics needs to look more closely at the food they are feeding fish. Check the labels on the back of commercial food packets and look at ALL the ingredients which should include preservatives and antibiotics. 

There are some good brands of fish food out there but you have to look around. The Aquaponic Source sells a pretty good brand and they have all their ingredients listed on the website.

If you are selling fish food online or in a store, it is your responsibility to be posting ALL the ingredients. The EPA has guidelines they expect sellers to follow so checking out their website might be in order. Consumers have the right to know what they are buying and feeding to their animals. If you do not see these two ingredients listed on a seller's website, don't buy the food until you know what type of chemicals are being used as antibiotics. 

My Questions Regarding Ethoxyquin Are These:  

Can this pesticide be found in produce being grown in aquaponic systems? The roots intake the much needed nutrients from the water, so it stands to reason the plants may also be ingesting Ethoxyquin. That sounds reasonable don't you think? After all Glyphosate from Roundup is now being found in waterways, drinking water, breast milk, food and soil. So can the same be said about Ethoxyquin?

Could Ethoxyquin be a good reason why some people have problems with their fish health? Some people have complained in the ASC community their fish just up and died for no particular reason. Could it be the fish are ingesting Ethoxyquin from the food and over time the chemical build up in their bodies, causes them to die? Most of us already know fish are extremely sensitive to chemicals so this could be a valid point. 

Can a pesticide like Ethoxyquin affect the water in the AP fish tank? Could this also be the reason why so many people become frustrated with high pH problems? If a person has to rely on city water for their fish, there are already chemicals in the water but could Ethoxyquin affect pH? Has anyone ever questioned this or done testing on this pesticide? 

These are good questions to ask because more people are becoming painfully aware of the amount of chemicals in water and food. Not everything we have been told is the truth and sometimes bait and switch tactics are used on the public to convince them pesticides, additives and antibiotics are safe for human consumption. 

"How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?" -Jane Goodall

Over a year ago I wrote a book called "Essential Healthy Fish Food In Aquaponics" where I named many different chemicals, used in fish food and other animal products.  For instance SOY and CORN added into fish food; do you know about these two foods your fish are consuming?

Nearly 97% of Corn and Soy being grown in America is GMO. If you consider the Glyphosate from Roundup on the seed itself and then look at the ingredients in your fish food, this might be one of the reasons your fish become sick or die off occasionally.  Think in terms of long term chemical build-up and not so much about the fact it's GMO then you get what I'm saying here. 

Soy is also washed in a petro-chemical called Hexane 

n-Hexane is a chemical made from crude oil. Pure n-hexane is a colorless liquid with a slightly disagreeable odor. It evaporates very easily into the air and dissolves only slightly in water.

n-Hexane is highly flammable, and its vapors can be explosive.  

Makes you think about what you are eating now doesn't it....check your labels before buying fish food because that old saying of Buyer Beware is also true about the food we may be feeding the fish. 

Warmest Regards