Aquaponic Gardening

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I live in Palm Desert, California and I would like to start an aquaponic vegetable garden in my side yard that gets 3-4 hours of direct sun (noon - 2pm or so. but bright most of the day. Palm Desert is very hot in the summer and warm in winter:A few back ground information:

1. Location: In a narrow sideyard (7ft x 16ft), bed and tank will be lean on to a wall but face North west. Because of the location, most of the afternoon sun will be blocked by the house, so only noon - 3pm the most.

Space behind the steel gate. Pic taken in mid afternoon.
2. Narrow sideyard, so the most would be 3ft x 12ft, ideally 2ft x 10ft.

3. Tank would have to be above ground, with grow beds above it. Am thinking of using IBC,
4. Vegetable for two people.
5. Not planning on eating the fish. So that's not a concern.

Plants that I would like to grow:

1. Herbs.
2. Tomato
3. Spinach
4. Asian vege mostly bok choi


1. Very hot in the summer, being above ground. Can the fishes take it? Was thinking of using 4"-6" of foam to surround the tank/IBC? But even then it gets hot.
2. I may not be able to grow much in the summer (true?), do I need an alternate plant to use up the nitrate when the bed are not used? I am thinking of growing a bougainvillea on the side.
3. How to ensure the fish feed is organic, as I think garbage in garbage out, if the feed isn't healthy, they could affect the vege, can't they?

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Hi Pete!

  This is a tricky place to grow. Here's why:

  In theory, given the limited number of hours of direct light on plants, you'd want to grow shade or cooler weather plants. These are plants that thrive in bright, indirect light. They do best when they get direct morning and/or evening light, and shade througout the middle of the day (when the light is the strongest).

  However, since your patio and backyard get 3 hours of midday sun, shade plants won't do well. Tomatoes, peppers, etc., on the other hand, love midday sun. But, they need 16-18 hours of direct light a day to produce fruit. 

  So, you will have to play around with different species and varieties of plants to find the ones that do well in your lighting conditions. I think your best bet is to hang shade cloth (found at Home Depot) over the grow beds to help with the midday sun in the Summer. Then you may be able to grow greens and other Spring veggies. In the Winter, the shade cloth probably won't be necessary.

  I doubt you'll be able to grow most fruiting veggies, but you may be able to find 1 or 2 hybrids that fruit in less light (like those intended for artic climates).

Good luck!


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