Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello friends. I need help with suggestions on another farmscape project.

I need help identifying:

  1. Crops and plants that grow well in sandy dirt (not soil).
  2. Animals.
  3. Identify possible attractions.

It covers an area of about 166 acres, at an elevation of around 1,500 feet above sea level.

The geology is rocky sand, high plateau/ high desert, similar to Sierra Nevada high plateau/ high desert.

Its climate is considered continental monsoon, semi-arid and sub-humid transition zone. The annual average temperature is 23 C with the coldest being –8.8 C, in January and the hottest being 26.1 Deg C in July. Springs and autumns are quite short while winters are relatively long.

Annual average relative humidity is 57%, average annual rainfall reaches 447.8mm, with 180 frostless days. With obvious temperature difference between day and night with daily winds during sunup and sunset. Dominant wind direction is southwest and southeast winds. The southwest wind velocity is stronger.

At present, the local communities grow wine grapes, apples and raise ducks to the west (near the lake), with some grain production (wheat, buckwheat & corn). Most of the soil is alkaline; much of it is low in nitrogen and poor in physical characteristics.

Plants planed for use so far include:

Trees (shade): The tree-of-Heaven ailanthus, often called simply ailanthus, Green ash, Velvet ash, Aspen, Boxelder, Siberian/ Chinese elm, Mesquique, low Pinyons, Junipers, Hackberry, Norway Maple, Thornless honeylocust, Red mulberry, Russian mulberry and Bur oak.

Trees (fruit):







Entertainment & Attractions:

Camping, fishing, goat carts (as main transportation within the community), Aquapoonic demonstration, my “tractor style” cow/ deer/ fowl portable pens, petting zoo, ATV/ motorcross track.

The major limiting factor not including climate and poor soil is that only one percent of land can be used to build permanent structure/s. At present, I plant to build a community/ activilies center with commercial kitchen and dining room.

Portable residences will be made out of recycled shipping containers and busses.

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Yea, pretty tedious making seed balls too but it means they will be more likely to lie dormant until moisture levels are right for them to germinate.

Good Luck getting the bio waste for building the soil.  Pesticides are less worry to me if you are composting before use.  There are some herbicides that get used over here that remain toxic and potent even after composting though.

Hello Rachel, I haven't heard from you in a while. How are you? I have heard about Master Cho but couldn't get much info from the sites I visited. I am however, familiar with making brews and teas to increase the microbial content but I am sure it is different from his (almost patented~ coz I can't find a free version). From what I remember, he claims his information is open sourced but... Anyway, I would love to know more. Is it possible to get someone or your group to donate a copy of his book to me? I guess I can try digging up the info online but as I am swamped with projects and I honestly can't do it justice. The only time I let myself relax is here on this site. This year (winter) I wrote plans for six farms totaling about 200 acres of organic veggies (double what I did last year). Now with the weather warming up we are ready to start planting in the greenhouses so will be hectic till October. Besides that, my main focus will be expanding the chicken farm from two hundred hens to two thousand hens in phase one. The presentation for this project would be in two months so I do have a bit of time to adjust or rethink the whole thing if I can truly find a better way. Thanks again for you input. It is always appreciated.

@ TC If I can get it. It would certainly be a good thing, contaminated or not. I can't see any other way. There are no animals to speak of. Just means more time doing legwork, spending money I don't have and drinking more o dis rotgut they call biejao (rice wine).

I know that beer and spirits arepopular in china. Which means that there has to be bruweries there as well. What do they do with the spent mash. If you could get ahold of it, it is very good to use as a fertilizer. If you need the nutrients from the mash to be avaliable immadiately it can be burned and tilled into the soil, this will give you the nutrients and help with the high ph level of the siol that you are dealing with.

In my last reply I asked what depth the moisture layer is in your soil? I apologize for being unclear what I was looking for. The moisture layer in soil is the depth that you have to go down till the soil starts to clump together when sqweeze it in your hand.

Sorry Robert, I can't answer that one cause last time I was out there was still winter and the ground was frozen. I'll try to answer that soon but I imagine there is very little moisture as this is the dry side of the mountain.

Carey... Robert has a really good idea...If you could get ANY leftover seed meal in bulk (cottonseed, flax, rapeseed brewery stuff etc...just about should go a long way in improving the nutrient content in your soil especially when used in conjunction with other soil conditioners/warm blooded animal fertilizer/bulking agents). Somehow I'm quite sure that you already knew this but...just sayin'... 

I'm trying to source a ton or two of zeolite, because after some small tests, I was pretty impressed. It won't necessarily add any N-P-K value to your soil directly, but should go a loong way in helping to retain (and to remain plant available) what nutrients you do add (25% or so). It should exhibit these properties for about the next decade when added, though I have not any direct experience within the context of any long term use.

Its micro porous shape and slight electrical charge helps to attract and retain certain ionic nutes (N and K it seems mostly) as well as moisture. Both of which it sounds like you need. I'm pretty sure China has some mines for the stuff. 

@ Robert & Vlad, thank you so much for your contributions. Please continue!

Great ideas guys. However, this society, unlike the States, is very recycled. Every scrap of everything we consider garbage or waste is recycled to the extreme and is valued by someone. Breweries etc. have contracts with different farmers to reuse their refuse. Even poop is sold as a commodity. Only true toxins are released into nature via air and water. Anything usable is spoken for.

I'm not sure if we do have zeolite here but I am interested in it and will look into it tomorrow. If one of my proposed projects comes through with financing, I will definitely try to secure a quantity. This country is so ass backwards, it's hard to accomplish anything. Imagine, even corn stalks have a use here.

Am off to a friends B-Day party. Catch ya'll soon.


I wouldn't really call that ass-backwards...

Yeah, I remember from some of our other conversations that it would probably be that way in China...but it seemed worth a shot. It's so big, and you would (in scale) need so 'little'...

It's like they've applied the Kreb's Cycle to the whole damn country...

Have fun at the party

Backward, no.  Reusing everything useful is actually good, just makes it difficult to go low cost organic.

But it does make me laugh to think that everyone has to be careful to keep the rights to their own poop.

It's not a bad idea at all and I'm not disagreeing with you'all. I was just stating that unlike back in the states and elsewhere in the west where there is plenty of free raw materials considered waste to recycle because creating waste is part of the consumer equation. As soon as I get my bike going, I'll try contacting some of these producers and see if I can get on their list or something. It'll cost, but just might be my best option. Any suggestions for other sources of organic input?

Would be nice to grow some feed first. Might be time to start with some animals and feed them out. Lots of organic fertilizer. Have seen cardboard and paper used in compost, probably recycled there however. Nice  to hear everything is recycled up there. I have been working on water catchment tanks here. Obtaining and control of the water allows many possibilities.

Good Luck in finding sources of organic matter for the soil.

Well growing it is the standard permaculture method so finding plenty of fast growing nitrogen fixing plats to grow the bio-mass is good.  Now I'm still not really clear on your climate there, can you compare it to something here in the USA?

Now I'm sorry that I'm about to list plants by common name instead of going and looking up their scientific names.

I know in my location that the Orchid trees make great fast growing biomass and nitrogen fixing trees/shrubs, of course they are invasive exotics here so I have to be careful that I don't get in trouble for letting them grow and improve my soil.

I've also planted Wax myrtle which is supposed to be a non legume nitrogen fixing shrub.

And Gumi is not only nitrogen fixing but has fruit.

I'm not sure if your climate would be good for any of those.

Now I know I've also heard of people using certain root crops to add organic matter to the soil and break up hard clay soils.  This might be a faster way if you can get enough moisture during some season to grow some of them.

Good luck on getting your share of the poop!!!!

Hey Carey

 I have been trying to figure out how to get Master Cho's Natural Farming to you.  This is the answer to your problems.  You need to read a little about it before you understand it,  It will make your soil grow spectacular food and plants.  I have not been to Korea to see the farms there but I have a few friends who have,  They are practicing this here in Hawaii also.  It is really on fire on The big Island.  I will try to get you a link to Dr Park and to Mike Douglas I think that is his name. There are several videos on you tube.  Do you have access to You tube.  They are called 'Korean Natural Farming - IMO 1.  It is a series of videos explaining how to do it.  If you don't have access to You tube ket me know and I will see how to bring them down for you

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