Monday, May 28, 2012

The Silo Foundation Becomes a Pond

What we did this weekend!

This was  the foundation of a silo that was built in about 1920 but burned down soon after.  A silver maple sprouted inside the circular foundation  and it grew to be humongous.  We had to cut the tree down when we installed the solar PV system on the barn so it wouldn't shade the panels.

Then we got the crazy idea to transform the silo foundation into an aquaponics pond, a symbiotic fish and plant growing system.
So, this spring Rog chainsawed out the remaining tree stump (no small feat) and repaired and leveled the concrete of the foundation. He  purchased a load of foam insulation via Craigslist, which was dropped off yesterday. He cut the insulation into panels to fit around the perimeter and on the bottom of the pond, beneath the pond liner. We had hoped to find a large piece of roofing  material to recycle as the pond liner, but ended up purchasing a 20 x 20 foot sheet new from Sargents.  It  was a bit costly, but this way there was no seaming to do and we know it will be fish-safe.
Rog, figuring to how to pleat the excess liner around the circular silo wall. It is important not to have deep folds in the liner where a fish can become trapped, die and decompose,  messing up the chemistry of the aquaponics system.
We started filling the pond with water. It holds 2400 gallons, so it took hours to fill.
Since it was going to be a while, I suggested we take a walk to a farm  half a mile down the road where we had noticed an old wire corncrib.  We would like to enclose our pond in a corn crib, which will be the structure for the growing beds and can be a covered with plastic like a greenhouse in winter. Aesthetically, it will fit the character of our farm.

We had fun meeting our neighbor, Marie, the owner of the farm with corn crib (this  photo is the  approach to her beautiful farm.)  Marie is an artist! Unfortunately, she doesn't want to sell the corn crib. We'll keep looking...
The walk home---what a spectacular day.
When we got back the pond was about half full.   It was  rather magical walking around the corner of the barn and seeing a reflective pool where a decrepit concrete hole had been.
I realize it is rushing things, but I couldn't resist getting a few goldfish and a couple of aquatic plants to make it a real, living pond. I floated the bag of fish for a long time, gradually adding small amounts of pond water to the fish water to accustom the fish to the new water and colder temperature.
Finally the fish swam free in the pond. They are fairly large goldfish, but ridiculously small in this big pool of water.  We sat on the foundation edge and dangled our feet in --it was cold. Hope these three little fish are tough.

Eventually, we will raise fish for food in this pond. We haven't decided for sure what species yet. Yellow perch? Catfish? Tilapia?
Rog already began constructing the walkways that will span the pond.
Stay tuned for further Adventures in Aquaponics.  Hopefully the next  chapter will include a corn crib!


Woody said...

What a cool idea for the reuse of what could have been a pain to remove. Too bad she didn't want to let the corn crib go. The use of the crib, or similar structure, would also keep your fish out of the hands of your recent coon problems.

Jocelyn said...

What a great reuse of something otherwise useless!

Congratulations! I think it's a great idea and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it!

katiegirl said...

This is so cool!!! I can't wait to see what develops.

Snooks said...

How neat this is turning out. How exciting to get it to the point of having water in it. Now the fun starts. Can't wait to see how it goes.

@ 3Beeze Homestead

Nicole Martin said...

Your blog refreshed my memory. Fantastic art work for gardening and pond was looking magnificent. I used to apply EPDM Pond Liner Repair