The LPS Pilot Project Photo Gallery
Be part of our journey and watch us grow!
Click on the photos to read our amazing story and see for yourself what a difference a balanced, sustainable approach can make!
A diverse garden
The last three years have been an amazing journey! Come follow us as we embarked on this project and see for yourself the amazing results!
It began with a 250 gallon reservoir
After some early trials, it quickly became apparent that we were going to need a space to test our ideas, so a plan was hatched and we got to work on our greenhouse.
Starting on level ground
A soild foundation
We decided to give the greenhouse a full floor so that we could better control the conditions inside. Plus it gave us space to run plumbing ect!
A roof in the making
Building the roof on the ground made it easier to install the glazing.
Time to raise the roof!
A long days work
Although it looks here like we were done in a single day, the construction actually lasted a couple of weeks with days often stretching well into the evening.
A greenhouse is born (almost)
From the beginning, wherever possible all materials used were salvaged and repurposed, or purchased from the restore in order to support habitat for humanity and help keep construction waste from our landfills.
Extensive lengths were taken to ensure that water use was optimized with extensive recirculation systems.
Time for some planting!
Off to a good start!
Getting drain tables in
Computers are a must in this day and age, and having one in the greenhouse gives us a great deal of control over our automated systems.
Automatic climate controls
heating, cooling, humidity and irrigation systems are all automated and monitored 24 hrs a day.
Lining the pond
Aquatic garden, check!
An aquatic garden provides crucial habitat for numerous beneficial insects
The glow of nursery lights
A home for the Gasifier
We built an additional shed to house our gasifier so that we could insure that adequate ventilation and fire isolation measures could be met.
The biomass gasifier
This is our biomass gasifier. by gasifying our excess biomass, we are able to produce a clean burning fuel for heating and power generation while also creating carbon sequestering biochar for use in our soil.
The nice blue colour of the flame shows just how clean this fuel can be!
We built this cozy little terrarium as a hatching nursery for ladybug eggs as we find them around the greenhouse.
Getting the plants in
We set up irrigation lines to each pot insuring that each plant received equal amounts of water and nutrients.
We also installed measuring tape on each beam to give us a visual reference for monitoring growth rates
We start many more plants than we can use to ensure we have plenty to choose from, and we donate what we don't use.
Different growing mediums including promix and coco coir are evaluated side by side to determine the substrates effect on plant health
Testing the soil
Within only a week of transplanting, the corn in the Balance bac. medium was showing signs of more vigorous growth compared against the promix HP.
Higher yields in less time
The end result saw the corn on the right, grown in Balance bac.,maturing 30% sooner than the corn in the promix AND producing a roughly 30% heavier harvest by weight over that grown in promix.
Despite being watered directly with unfiltered lake water that is known to harbour oomycetes, seedlings grow healthy and vibrant root systems, as they are protected from pathogen attacks by the rich diversity of soil organisms present in the liquid extracted from our O.O.R.B.S. system.
Here we see an example of the strong mycorrhizal associations that we have been seeing as a result of our approach. Seeds started using the techniques developed during this project rapidly develop strong mutualistic relationships, reducing germination times while greatly improving success rates.
Waited a bit too long to transplant this corn, but it gives us an opportunity to see just how healthy the roots are.
There were so many potatoes in this little 3 gallon pot that it nearly burst open!
Of course at the end of the day, it's the plants that really tell the story!
Fiji Gold hardy Hibiscus
Luna Rose Hibiscus
Double Red Tropical Hibiscus
Of course with all this growth, pests are inevitable, but rather that attempting to eliminate them through the use of sprays, our approach is to manage them through environmental controls. The goal is to find a balance point where the plants natural defences can keep the pests in check.
Here comes the Cavalry!
As part of their defense mechanisms, plants send out powerful chemical messengers to attract predators, so it isn't long before the greenhouse is crawling with an amazing assortment of beneficial insects. Here we see three different species of ladybug; Seven Spotted, Three Banded, and Polished all looking for a tasty aphid.
Cozy Seven spotted
A Seven spotted seems to have made itself right at home in the hibiscus
Friendly three banded
All the insects in the greenhouse seem to quickly become very comfortable with our presence.
A growing population
Of course with plenty of food around and a good habitat, the predator populations quickly grow.
these are ladybug eggs that are just hatching. Although we usually try and protect the eggs in our nursery, mommy ladybug sometimes lays her eggs in strange places.
Ladybug larvae gallore!
A clutch of hatchlings emerges as a small orb weaver looks on.
Seven spotted larvae
Just like the adults, ladybug larvae have distinct markings unique to their subspecies, but these can be much more subtle and may change several times before finally reaching adult hood.
Although Adult ladybugs eat a significant amount of aphids on their own, it is the larvae have the greatest impact on pest populations as they need to eat their body weight in prey every day.
this larvae has eaten well and will soon be getting ready to become an adult.
This is a Ladybug Pupa. When a larvae is ready to become an adult it builds a pupa to keep itself safe while it undergoes it's transformation.
Mealybug Destroyer larvae
The shear diversity of ladybug species alone that have found their way into our greenhouse is truly astonishing! Here we see a Mealybug destroyer larvae.
Painted lady beetle
This little guy, all covered in pollen, is a painted lady beetle. We have also seen spider mite destroyers, two spotted, convergent, and pink ladybugs just to name a few. And all this in a greenhouse that is just 10 feet wide by 16 feet long!
Occasionally we even get species we simply cannot identify!
So far this little guy has proved very difficult to identify. Although similar to a few other ladybugs, certain features don't match up with the ones we are aware of.
Unknown ladybug 3
in some ways it is similar to an inverted two spotted, but the colouration is wrong. Although hard to see in the pictures this ladybug is a dark woody brown, and it's markings are a pale orange compared to the black and red of a two spotted.
Unknown Ladybug 4
In addition it's pronotum pattern does not match an inverted two spotted, nor does it match any of the harlequin ladybugs which can sometimes have similar but not exact markings.
Unidentified Ladybug 5
In many ways it is reminiscent of some hyperaspis species, but so far we have been unable to find a match. If anyone can identify this one we'd love to hear from you!
Of course ladybugs aren't the only predator to make a home in our greenhouse. A myriad of other creatures have also found their way in and now play a role in the ecosystem. This is a pseudoscorpion. this scary looking little guy is a type of arachnid and is in fact quite harmless, at least to you and me,but if you're a booklice, ant, mite, or small fly you better lookout!
This amazing insect is so effective at controlling pests it is often referred to as the gardeners dear old friend.
This is a close cousin of the Green Lacewing, but slightly smaller with more of a taste for mites and thrips.
These odd looking insects have barely changed since the early jurassic period (140 million years ago)! also closely related to lacewings they represent yet another very effective predator.
Also a truly ancient insect; damselflies have found our small aquatic pond an ideal place to reproduce and have been incredibly effective at keeping the greenhouse mosquito free.
This little sweat bee is one of a number of very docile, solitary bee species that call our greenhouse home. As their name suggests, these brightly coloured bees like the taste of sweat, which is probably why this one is so fond of my hand!
Mites on a wood louse
A good soil should be full of life and by the look of this poor fungus eating wood louse, there is no shortage here! These mites are fast moving and effective generalist predators. the young will hitch a ride on unsuspecting soil dwelling arthropods like this woodlouse. Although they rarely kill their ride, they do feed by sucking nourishment from joints between the armour of their host.
A brightly coloured ambush predator, it waits with it's front limbs open like a spring loaded trap. Should a fly get too close... snap!
Hoverflies or more properly, syrphid flies, are easily one of the most important grounds of insects on the planet! with thousands of different subspecies, hoverflies can be incredibly diverse in form, but are almost always characterized by the way they seem to hover like a helicopter around flowers and they will often mimic the appearance of bees. Which is appropriate as they are second only to bees as a pollinator, and many species of flower can only be pollinated by it's respective hoverfly.
In addition to being important pollinators, Syrphid flies also play a vital role in pest management. While the adults of many species feed mainly on pollen, the larvae are often voracious predators, preying on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects. This is definitely one insect you want to see in your garden! You can attract them by planting an assortment of brightly coloured flowers throughout your garden, but they do tend to have a preference for yellow flowers.
The great outdoors
Of course, it's one thing to see results in a greenhouse where we have a high degree of control over nearly every aspect of the environment, but for this approach to be truly viable it needs to work out in the real world. So, in addition to the greenhouse we have our outdoor growing spaces where we test and compare various approaches.
To test the effects of Balance Bac. as a soil amendment, we tilled it into the top 3 inches of the soil on left side of the garden, and to insure that we weren't just seeing the benefits of increased organic material, the entire garden was first covered in 4 inches of top quality gardening soil and tilled with premium garden compost. The results speak for themselves, as you can see here, the plants on the side with Balance Bac. quickly pulled ahead of the plants on the right.
The combination of good soil and nourishment from the O.O.R.B.S. DIGESTER quickly transforms the small garden into a back yard Jungle!
Red Russian kale
Just one plant!
But at the real story is the amazing harvests! so far we've fund that fruits and vegetables are larger sweeter and more plentiful when grown using our unique and sustainable approach.
The unique properties of Balance Bac. allow us to grow amazing blueberries in soil with a neutral ph!
The raspberry bushes are so productive that we literally can not harvest them as fast as they grow!
Crisp, sweet green peppers!
More to come!
This has been just a small sample of our amazing journey so far, and we're not done yet! Check back frequently as we add more photos documenting our results, and see for yourself what a difference working with nature can make!