Aquaponic Gardening

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So I moved into this shared living arrangement not too long ago and have brought my interest in growing food. The backyard is big and the space has a history of communal building. We have a tree house and a fish pond; both were built by residents. 

Location New Orleans LA:

  • The pond is a rectangular hole cut through concrete and aerated by a waterfall type thing. The current system has koi and some useless plant. I'm thinking about setting up some grow towers and running the pond through them.

But the real topic is way out back. What we have now:

  • a very large hole, a second tier, two hills, and a delta type thing in between the hills. OK... maybe I should take some pictures... but for now just imagine.
  • the bottom of the hole has several inches of water now. Tadpoles have sprung into life in abundance.
  • Long grass grows
  • tree saplings
  • pretty good sun
  • an alligator, about ten inches

The idea I've come up with is:

  • several ponds varying in elevation and size connected. The grow material will be dirt and the beds will be built into and irrigated by the hill/pond system.
  • How do we prevent dilution from rain water? We don't
  • How do we keep water in the system? I think a combination of liners and excavated and tamped clay. I think The system just has to be pretty efficient at catching and holding the precipitation we get.

 

Is this kind of system possible? manageable? build able? I dunno but I'm gonna find out and I thought this place might have some thoughts. 

P.S pics are promised.

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Notes about the house: We live in the shadow of the I10 overpass and Claiborne highway. Our neighbors are a gas station and an empty lot. On my way to work I walk past a sign that tells me I'm in the historic treme neighborhood. The house was build in 1870 it's a rundown mansion with a still living palm tree leaning on the roof of the second floor kitchen out back. The first room is concrete floors, none of the walls in my room are the same color and the drywall has a melting look/feel. The second floor features tall ceilings a hallway with huge windows and a front porch with columns. One column has a beehive. Yes, it is a fascinating and terrifying place.  

Out back a giant goldenrain tree and its partner stretch a skynet connecting the two tree houses above the big hole/hill. Cats paw spreads shade as it creeps across webbing of string. An all black cat named ninja is getting used to taking care of two new sister puppies. Giant morning glories are stripped of their flowers by the stray hippies that wander through. More Cayenne peppers grow than I would ever want to cook or eat. Grass springs through cracks in concrete with time worn spiral design. The seeds of wilderness have taken root here. I want to garden them. 

Wow, sounds like you might be able to grow a true fantasy land there.

Try things and be creative, trial and error will find you some things that work.

One plant I love for hot wet summers, is Lufa, however this vine can be a real beast so be careful what you plant it close to since it can easily smother 30 foot oak trees and it sounds like it could dismantle some of the house so keep it out where you can contain it to a desired trellis or old snag of a tree.  It is an annual at least but will grow back from dropped seeds.  Fruit are edible when small and they become great cleaning and bathing sponges when big and are also great worm bin and bsf bin bedding/food.

dry cayenne peppers for use in pest control measures.

good Luck and I can't wait to see pictures

FYI

to put pictures directly into your posts, use the img button (it is the one at the top of the post box right next to the LINK button.)  Like this

This is our hill. I'm thinking about ways to terrace it to create horizontal grow space and insure that it doesn't erode into our pond. I'm planning on putting a concord grape in the middle where that fluffy thing is half shaded by the tree.

This picture is left from the previous one. In the top left is part of the slide. The bottom left is where the pond would be deepest. In the middle on the other side of the tires could be second smaller pond. Water would be pumped from the deep pond up to the top of the hill, run down into the small pond and then into the deep pond.

That's what I've got so far anyways. Does anyone know anything about pond liners or building outdoor ponds?

The picture the camera swung around to it's right. The strange wooden thing is a stage and our house is in the distance.

You can see the shovel in the second pic, but when I stopped to figure out what it was I was doing all my plans slowly unraveled as I considered the scale and complexity of this project. Not to mention I haven't done anything like this before. I'm sure once I get started people will help with the labor, but then I'll be in some kind of leadership position.


Does anyone have or no of a backyard like this?  Useful techniques or directions would also be appreciated.

Thanks Dillon

I would recommend getting some containers and building a small system in close so you can learn and gain a little experience.  Perhaps a little IBC or barrel ponics system.  The barrelponics manual is available for download free as is the IBC of aquaponics (let me know if you need links, I have them on my site.)

So once you have a small system up and running it will give you some extra ideas and help you figure out things that will assist you in your further designs.

For big ornamental ponds of irregular shapes, I highly recommend the EPDM pond liner (search just liners plus)  It is a bit costly but it is generally worth it for complex shapes and durability.

Those tires will probably provide you with some good retaining wall pond edge build up materials to help you when shaping and forming your ponds.  Keep in mind that you need some sort of flat/level areas to place your rocks/stones to cover up the liner where it leaves the water, if the pond slopes all the way down, you won't be able to place rocks easily or you will need to build them up all the way from the bottom and depending on where you are, good pond rocks get $$$$$.  Do some research into ornamental pond building, some extra reading now will save you loads of headaches later.  Hum I wonder if I can find a link with some pictures of the small pond I did up at Grandmas house.  Ok here

http://www.tclynx.com/showoff/showoff.shtml

Yes, thank you for the advice I needed. It's a good thing I didn't start any major projects because they might be under water now. I'm gonna work on the other system I already have, and maybe set up a small tank in my room.

One step at a time.  I need to keep reminding myself of that too since I've got so many different projects going around the farm right now.

I work in New Orleans.  I'm also starting my first aquaponics project.

Even though I have a lot of room, I decided to start small and learn as I go.
I think that is the best way.  It would be discouraging to put a lot of time into building a pond and then find out aquaponics was not your forte`.

Maybe after you get some ideas about how you are going to start, we can grab a cup of Cafe au lait and swap stories.

Wait, TCLynx, you mentioned an old house having a food forest. You mentioned having a food forest before. Are you on a legitimate farm now? Sorry, had to ask.

TCLynx said:

One step at a time.  I need to keep reminding myself of that too since I've got so many different projects going around the farm right now.

Yep!

TCLynx bought the farm

Here are my blog posts about the farm so far

TCLynx BLOG category Farm

BUT

here is a link to probably the easiest place to go read about it

TCLynx Bought The Farm BYAP thread

The BYAP thread has the most current pictures of my progress setting up systems.

Mazel Tov! I love seeing the pictures!

TCLynx said:

Yep!

TCLynx bought the farm

Here are my blog posts about the farm so far

TCLynx BLOG category Farm

BUT

here is a link to probably the easiest place to go read about it

TCLynx Bought The Farm BYAP thread

The BYAP thread has the most current pictures of my progress setting up systems.

Very cool, TC, look forward to reading your BYAP thread. Dillon, if only you had an excavator and $100k, alas. Epdm liner is $.66 per ft here in Cali, and is pretty closely regulated. It doesn't much matter how big or where you buy it, same price. I know some places sell dry clay by the dumptruck load, and you can spread it a couple inches thick and add water, works good from what I've heard. I also recently heard of a buddy who lined his pond with a sort of paper mâché made from junk carpet soaked in free paint and cement. Here you can get free paint at the dump by the hundreds of gallons, and of course the carpet is free, and cement is very cheap and not too much is used. After it sets, he then plasters the carpet like a swimming pool, looks pro. I've no idea of the toxicity that may leach from carpet and paint, but it's a thought. Good luck

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