Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Howdy all!

 

I have some questions about varies things but thought it may be a good idea to introduce myself before just jumping into discussions.

 

My name is Pat but I go by 'Quigs' often times. I'm  33 years old, married to my wife and best friend for 6 years (14 years together) and we have an awesome 5 year old son. We're located in Missouri, just south of St. Louis for the time being. I'm a cabinet maker by trade however, I lost my job two years ago like so many others. Since then I have been a stay-at-home Dad with our son and having a blast (but the job doesn't pay too well). Somewhere along the way, I ended up in the hospital on two separate occasions with blood clots. The first time in my leg and the second time in both lungs. Come to find out, both of my sisters and I have inherited a genetic clotting disorder. Which is now (hopefully) under control with the use of blood thinners. I'm not overly thrilled about that but that's other story and it sure beats dying!

 

So anyway, I'm not usually that open and up front about my personal life with strangers but it directly pertains to my search for a different career path. I did quite a lot of research, looking for something that didn't involve chemicals and sawdust (construction is all I have ever done in my adult life) and for the lack of a better term, a "greener" type job. So I stumbled across sustainable agriculture. I've kind of always been a suburban boy but have enjoyed the country too. Farming is challenging, rewarding and to be honest, I like the idea of getting back to the basics. (Besides that...the food we eat just scares me and I want the best for my son!)

 

In the past two years, I have done extensive research on sustainable farming. Everything from berry to Christmas tree production and pastured poultry (and eggs) to managed intensive grazing of cattle. I read everything I can get my hands on and my library of reference material is growing quite large. We've also watched movies, started attending small farm conferences, began networking with folks in many aspects of the business (lifestyle really) all across the country and even started a volunteer group to help local small scale farmers! Aquaponics has sneaked it's way into our plan and we like the idea so much, that it has gotten nearly to the top of our priorities list!

 

We haven't begun our farming journey yet but we will hopefully be looking for suitable land soon. Currently we are working on a private financing option for our future endeavor. Meanwhile, we do what we can on a 1/2 acre (ie. big garden, canning, dehydrating and freezing food, composting, vermicomposting, chickens, etc.)

 

I first heard of the aquaponics concept while watching the film 'Fresh'. Will Allen's Growing Power is one of the featured farms. Instantly, I loved the idea and began searching for more to fuel my curiosity and enthusiasm! I've done some research and looked into a few commercial systems. I wanted to visit Milwaukee this Spring and hit both Sweet Water and Growing Power and then a planned trip with my wife's family was going to put us in Colorado this summer, where I was hoping to hook up with Colorado Aquaponics and possible take their class. Unfortunately, all these plans have fallen through and it doesn't appear at this point we will be traveling at all this Spring/Summer. Then a couple weeks ago I found out Colorado Aquaponics was offering an online class. I tossed the idea around a little and conversed a bit with JD Sawyer about the details and expressed my commercial interest. He convinced me, not only to take the class but to start small. I'm now anxiously awaiting the second half of the class tomorrow night with Tawnya!

 

So I took JD's advice, ordered Murray Hallam's DIY video and now planning a small IBC media system in my garage. I'm here now seeking tips, tricks and advice and hopefully I'll be able to help out and guide others as I become more familiar with how everything works!

 

Sorry this ended up being such a long introduction. I love to work with my hands and being able to see the results. I also have somewhat of a passion for learning and really enjoy "alternative" thinking and ideas. Hopefully I'll be able to get to know some of you all and see how different things can be accomplished!

 

Quigs

 

 

 

 

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Welcome

 

Much like you I'm doing what I can on a small plot (I've got 1/3rd of an acre) and trying to do a food forest, lots of gardens and aquaponics as well as a duckaponics system for my muscovy ducks and the chickens take advantage of that too.

 

Biggest challenge for trying to grow one's own food is figuring out how much to plant/when and then managing to use it when it's ready.  I feel like we cheat though since what we don't eat helps feed the ducks n chickens.

 

Yep, starting with a small backyard scale system is a good idea since it will let you learn before you are in over your head on a commercial scale.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Quigs.  Sounds like you are a very busy man whose been through a lot of the past few years.  Looking forward to hearing more about your aquaponics explorations over time.

So far the only challenge we have crossed is not growing enough! Our garden is pretty big (it would be the whole yard if I didn't need some grass for the kiddo and the dog) and we grow quite a variety. This year we have secured another 1/4 acre or so on an organic farm nearby to use as well. We're looking to begin to sell some of our produce but all of my family is relatively close by and willing to take extra good food off my hands. We also give some to our neighbors in an attempt to stay on their good sides with all the project we have going on here! Besides eating fresh, we put up a ton of food also!

I wouldn't feel like I was cheating! Even composting extra, buggy, wilted or over ripe produce is worth it really. Giving to the chickens and worms is all part of the whole, in my eyes anyway! I grew it, I may as well use it in some fashion. Certainly not going to let that stuff go to the dump.

 

TCLynx said: 

 

Biggest challenge for trying to grow one's own food is figuring out how much to plant/when and then managing to use it when it's ready.  I feel like we cheat though since what we don't eat helps feed the ducks n chickens.

 

 

Pat welcome to the world of lost sleep and strange cravings for fish and fresh food. I am new as well but I would consider building a lean to against your south wall outside. Build it cheap and cover it with 2 6mil sheets. This will give you a easy to heat (almost nothing) shelter that has real sunlight which is expensive if you are running lights. Getting aquaponics out of the garage and capturing excess heat for your home in the winter will have multiple benefits. I live in zone 5 like you so I know what you are up against. Just a thought.

Thanks for the welcomes!

 

@Christopher - I have totally been bitten by the AP bug and now my wife is getting sucked in! We're in an area I call "semi-rural". No big box stores nearby, not many fast food joints and are free to do basically anything on our property without code restrictions on many things. Discharge of a firearm isn't illegal, no laws about how many chicken and/or roosters that I can have and derelict vehicles in the driveway or yard aren't all that uncommon. However, the big city amenities aren't all that far if we really need something.

 

@David - Funny you should say welcome to the world of lost sleep. I was up until around 3am reading different stuff on this site and drifted off onto a few others as well! I guess it's not too uncommon for me to get an idea in my head and not get much rest for days (or weeks). As for the fresh food craving...that's a constant ever since I begin growing in soil, learning about food made that even worse!


The lean-to is a good idea, however we are currently leasing until we secure our farm property. Our landlord is the best there could possibly be and she's very tolerant of my projects and ideas (as long as the fresh eggs keep coming) but building something like that might be pushing the boundaries a bit. I actually like the idea of building this system in the garage (it's a largely oversized 2 car) for a number of reasons and then again there are a number of reasons I'm against it.


Pros: It will be confined to a certain foot print and will force me to build it with the realism that I will have to move it someday. Also won't have to worry about degradation of the plumbing and IBC's as much. Not to mention, the garage is right off the kitchen and will be mighty convenient for many reasons.

Cons: Lighting, yes sunlight would be better but I think I'll be able to make it work. (I have been successful not only to over winter large pepper plants but also forcing them to fruit indoors, so I have a little experience in that area.) Cold I'm not so much worried about but heat build-up is a concern that I'll have to figure a work around using some heat exchange/ventilation methods.

 

It will be fun to experiment anyway! Long term I looking at a hoop house operation.

Hello Quigs,

I too am unemployed. I was fired before Christmas after I was injured on the job. Still trying to get some money rolling in.

But on the bright side it gives me more time to work on some projects that I would otherwise be too busy for. Like you I have the soil garden, chickens and now have AP fever.

 

When I get stressed out I just go sit with the chickens or work in the gardens to chill out and recharge. Sounds like you were looking for a change in occupation anyway. I know I sure am. We live in the country where people used to grow there own food, but most of them drive to town for groceries and fast food. What a shame.

 

Good luck with your new "lifestyle."

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