Aquaponic Gardening

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Floor Plan and Advice For Aquaponics and Growing Fruit/Veggies in an attached Greenhouse (aka Sunroom)

 We are considering adding a four season room (aka attached greenhouse) to our house - about 17x30 ft. with a small side room with sink/countertop and more growing space - 7.5x24 ft.  The front our home faces South/Southeast so we will have to put it on our front.  We will miss some of the sunlight as the day goes on because the garage will block the sun.     Attached is a picture of what the designer came up with. 

 

We would definitely have to supplement lighting, especially in the winter.  We are in the planning stages now and would totally appreciate some advice on strategies for lighting (and humidity control)...most likely we will have an automated system to control humidity, and we would have timers for lighting.

 

If you could design this sunroom, how would you lay it out?  Lighting? Humidity control?  Storage? Sink/table/work area?  Sitting area?   What things would you include or change?  Put the fishtank in the ground where a "hot tub" could be inserted?  Our goal is to be able to grow as much fruit, herbs and veggies to feed our family of 5 all year round indoors.  With Aquaponics, we would also raise fish - but I don't think we could eat that much so we could try to sell our excess to the local Asian stores (who like to buy live fish).    We also plan to use square foot garden techniques and put some fruit trees in our backyard.     How can we make this possible? 

 

As newbies to aquaponics and gardening in general, I could use all of the advice you have!

 

Thanks everyone!!

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Well I highly advise doing a lot of reading about aquaponics for a while keep in mind that aquaponics often takes a season to really get going so don't expect the spectacular growth from the plants as soon as you power up the pump for the first time (building the bio-filter is kinda like building up the soil in an organic garden but you don't get to cheat by bringing in bagged soil with the bio-filter.)

 

Is the "sunroom" sharing climate control with the main house?  I would definitely do quite a bit of research into greenhouse ventilation and humidity control for your climate.  People in a really dry climate might not have too much trouble with aquaponics indoors but the midwest is far more variable and I expect you will need to do quite a lot of careful planning to avoid moisture problems there during much of the year and you probably don't want to spend the electricity to simply take care of it with dehumidifiers year round (noisy and annoying in my experience but here in FL we gotta use them even without aquaponics in the house.)

 

I would probably try to allow the system to be a bit seasonal.  As in grow the cool weather crops through the cooler season and use the big vines to grow up and add shade through the summer to help keep things from getting too hot in the summer.  This would allow for some savings on heating if you are not trying to maintain tropical growth through winter and also gives you a chance to grow cool weather crops like lettuce, broccoli and many others through the winter inside.  Now when I say seasonal, I only mean you can let the room cool off a bit, I would still keep it well above freezing.  How well this will work will depend on how it's tied to the main house.  Tilapia might not appreciate this too much if the water gets down into the 50's and they will stop growing below 70 F but there are many other kinds of fish that will continue to grow well in such a system.

 

Sorry I don't have too many specific details for you but this project sounds like one where a site specific design would be important.  If the fish tank is sunk into the ground, make sure it is well insulated.  Actually, insulating the floor and adding hydronic heating to the floor and around the fish tank as well as in the base of the grow beds could be a very good thing for this situation.

WoW! That is some undertaking. It's beautiful.

 

Like TC says you will have to address HVAC and humidity. If it were me I would try to incorporate some sort of solar panels into the green house to ventilate, pump and heat the green house independently of the house. That way if the grid goes down you won't be left with dead fish :(

That is an awesome layout and something I can only dream of doing right now.  Sharing the air space between the growing area and the house would be a great thing - most of the time.  But when it isn't it could really damage the living space.  I'd want to be able to segregate it completely when necessary by using exterior grade materials within the grow space so that the humidity can't hurt it and well sealing doors between the grow space and the living space to keep the humidity out of the house when necessary.

 

One thing I think is missing in the plan is equipment space for the environment control mechanicals (humidity control, heating, etc) for the growing space.

 

TCLynx's ideas about 'seasonalizing' the growing conditions is a great idea and could save a lot of heating costs in the winter as well as the use of hydronic heating for the space.  Chi Ma's comment about using solar panels is also great.  The plan shows a large amount of roof space that could be used for solar panels and an equipment room could accomadate the  necessary electronics and batteries.  Ice storms in the midwest can take out the power for many days even in the cities.

 

Good luck with your plans and please keep us posted on your progress.

 

 

 

Thank you for your comments.  We have a lot to consider and it helps to get insight from experienced growers! 

We had a meeting with the solar guy yesterday.  Current plans give us a few rows of panels, but we will try to change the pitch of the roof to be able to add one more row of panels.

 

 


John R said:

That is an awesome layout and something I can only dream of doing right now.  Sharing the air space between the growing area and the house would be a great thing - most of the time.  But when it isn't it could really damage the living space.  I'd want to be able to segregate it completely when necessary by using exterior grade materials within the grow space so that the humidity can't hurt it and well sealing doors between the grow space and the living space to keep the humidity out of the house when necessary.

 

One thing I think is missing in the plan is equipment space for the environment control mechanicals (humidity control, heating, etc) for the growing space.

 

TCLynx's ideas about 'seasonalizing' the growing conditions is a great idea and could save a lot of heating costs in the winter as well as the use of hydronic heating for the space.  Chi Ma's comment about using solar panels is also great.  The plan shows a large amount of roof space that could be used for solar panels and an equipment room could accomadate the  necessary electronics and batteries.  Ice storms in the midwest can take out the power for many days even in the cities.

 

Good luck with your plans and please keep us posted on your progress.

 

 

 

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