Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Last year I spent a ton heating my fish tank and built low tunnels around my beds to keep plant temps up. This year I'm thinking about heating the greenhouse to around 50-60 and by doing so cut down on the fish tank heating cost. I don't think this would cost any more than heating the tank in freezing greenhouse. I've taken additional steps to insulate the greenhouse and fish tank and have plenty of wood and a backup thermostatic propane heater when needed for when the fire goes out. Any thoughts on this concept?

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Mary, Mold is no problem here our humidity is in the 30's (sometimes in the 20's- high desert) and even in the hoophouse It's relatively dry. I have an old apple shed that I'm going to try to convert and am considering a small scale system in the hoophouse. The Wallapini was a thought however we are in sandy soil and I would have to build a supporting structure that would be cost prohibitive to make it safe - it would cost as much as an above ground structure. Thanks for the input. What are your thoughts on polly walls and or walls that give good light and retain a good R factor? Glazing considerations.

No matter what you cover the structure with I would go ahead and fully cover and insulate the lower 4' and north wall. You don't get much light in those areas so you may as well insulate. Polycarbonate sheets are great but expensive. I just use greenhouse 6 mil plastic. I originally used construction 6 mil but it would only last a year. The GH plastic is suppose to be goog for 4-5 years.

I use a woven Solarig 140- it has proven to last over 10 years here in the harsh NM sun (I didn't buy it here it's just a link i found on the internet http://www.gro-techsystems.com/product/solarig-140-poly-greenhouse-...). I have it on my hoop-house but only one layer. I was wondering if the 2 layer system is worth the outlay. Maybe if one was poly and the other the more expensive Solarig? The other structure I have is going to be a large shed. I need to replace several metal sheets that are blown off and was wondering about the different poly roofing/ glazing panels for that long term.

I can see the difference in the GH poly over regular construction poly. The GH poly is suppose to prevent ceiling drips from condensation and I haven't noticed any condensation like I did with regular poly.  Your solarig over GH poly might be a good way to go. My GH is made of 2x4 construction and I just spaced my roof plastic with furring strips.

Jeff,
I live in northwest Indiana and travel frequently to Troy Mi. area to visit family. Would it be possible for me to come by and see your setup sometime? I hope to start a system in the spring with an eye toward a greenhouse in the future. I am still skeptical about the economics of aquaponics....especially in our type of cold climate.

Not a problem Mike. Just let me know when you're going to be in the area. I'd be happy to show around and give you some info based on mistakes I've made. LOL. I'll even give you some fish when you're ready to start. That's usually a biggie when starting.

Mike R. said:

Jeff,
I live in northwest Indiana and travel frequently to Troy Mi. area to visit family. Would it be possible for me to come by and see your setup sometime? I hope to start a system in the spring with an eye toward a greenhouse in the future. I am still skeptical about the economics of aquaponics....especially in our type of cold climate.
Thanks Jeff. We come that way usually every couple of months or so. I am very interested to see your setup and hear how it works. I have had a conventional garden most of my life. I am interested in the economics of aquaponics as well as the bounty it may provide. I have been surfing the web looking for info on the different systems and trying to educate myself. I am one who likes to study a subject before plopping down my money or investing my precious time in a venture. I might even be considered cheap! I hope to attend one of Jeremiah's classes this spring.

Mike, Re: Research... I have a "PortableFarm.com" set up that I've only experienced for 6 months here in the NW. The summer use shows great promise. Winter is so so... the cold weather crops are "ok", but I wouldn't call them life enhancers. They are growing incredibly slow. I keep the house at 50 degrees and have two water heaters in the 300 gallon tank (150 watt and 300 watt). The tank is insulated, but with the exchange through the gravel bed, the water loses its heat. In the summer it stays at 78 degrees without the heaters on, and now it hangs in the low 70s with the heaters on. 

Portable Farms people GREATLY underplay the cost of the greenhouse set up needed to house plants in the north. Without that housing, the portable farm is a skating rink.  Also, up here we get regular 60 mph gusts (like the ones that took down Seattle this summer). I have a SunGlo greenhouse that's good for 80 mph winds. (Gothic roof for snow) It never flinched, but other plastic covered greenhouses were blown away.  The downside of this excellent structure is that it's 3.5 R factor also keeps water IN - lots of condensation that even fans don't seem to cut. 

And the rest of the story... to have that greenhouse meant having a foundation with 3 ft walls and that meant excavation and that meant a building permit...   

Check out NW Tilapia in Oregon for fish and for a mini greenhouse set up.  http://www.nwtilapia.com I've been to his place, he's a good guy and very knowledgeable about the entire process for this area. 


Mike R. said:

Thanks Jeff. We come that way usually every couple of months or so. I am very interested to see your setup and hear how it works. I have had a conventional garden most of my life. I am interested in the economics of aquaponics as well as the bounty it may provide. I have been surfing the web looking for info on the different systems and trying to educate myself. I am one who likes to study a subject before plopping down my money or investing my precious time in a venture. I might even be considered cheap! I hope to attend one of Jeremiah's classes this spring.

I do some dirt gardening myself (with limited success). I never grew anything until a couple of years ago when I started aquaponics. Getting on my knees in the dirt never appealed to me. Aquaponics seemed like a good fit for me. Now a couple of years and 1000 YouTube videos later I have a greenhouse with a full aquaponics setup, worm bins, 4 compost bins, 3 raised beds, 3 wicking beds, and 1 kratky bed. YouTube is dangerous lol.

Mike R. said:

Thanks Jeff. We come that way usually every couple of months or so. I am very interested to see your setup and hear how it works. I have had a conventional garden most of my life. I am interested in the economics of aquaponics as well as the bounty it may provide. I have been surfing the web looking for info on the different systems and trying to educate myself. I am one who likes to study a subject before plopping down my money or investing my precious time in a venture. I might even be considered cheap! I hope to attend one of Jeremiah's classes this spring.

Mike,  Looks like you understand the reality of things. I'm curious, Is there anything special about the PortableFarm setup or is it just the knowledge you get from their course? I've looked at what they show online and don't really see a revolutionary system. Granted they probably give you 2 years worth of knowledge to get you over a lot of stumbling blocks.

Mary Hunt said:

Mike, Re: Research... I have a "PortableFarm.com" set up that I've only experienced for 6 months here in the NW. The summer use shows great promise. Winter is so so... the cold weather crops are "ok", but I wouldn't call them life enhancers. They are growing incredibly slow. I keep the house at 50 degrees and have two water heaters in the 300 gallon tank (150 watt and 300 watt). The tank is insulated, but with the exchange through the gravel bed, the water loses its heat. In the summer it stays at 78 degrees without the heaters on, and now it hangs in the low 70s with the heaters on. 

Portable Farms people GREATLY underplay the cost of the greenhouse set up needed to house plants in the north. Without that housing, the portable farm is a skating rink.  Also, up here we get regular 60 mph gusts (like the ones that took down Seattle this summer). I have a SunGlo greenhouse that's good for 80 mph winds. (Gothic roof for snow) It never flinched, but other plastic covered greenhouses were blown away.  The downside of this excellent structure is that it's 3.5 R factor also keeps water IN - lots of condensation that even fans don't seem to cut. 

And the rest of the story... to have that greenhouse meant having a foundation with 3 ft walls and that meant excavation and that meant a building permit...   

Check out NW Tilapia in Oregon for fish and for a mini greenhouse set up.  http://www.nwtilapia.com I've been to his place, he's a good guy and very knowledgeable about the entire process for this area. 


Mike R. said:

Thanks Jeff. We come that way usually every couple of months or so. I am very interested to see your setup and hear how it works. I have had a conventional garden most of my life. I am interested in the economics of aquaponics as well as the bounty it may provide. I have been surfing the web looking for info on the different systems and trying to educate myself. I am one who likes to study a subject before plopping down my money or investing my precious time in a venture. I might even be considered cheap! I hope to attend one of Jeremiah's classes this spring.



Jeff S said:

Mary,  Looks like you understand the reality of things. I'm curious, Is there anything special about the PortableFarm setup or is it just the knowledge you get from their course? I've looked at what they show online and don't really see a revolutionary system. Granted they probably give you 2 years worth of knowledge to get you over a lot of stumbling blocks.

Mary Hunt said:

Mike, Re: Research... I have a "PortableFarm.com" set up that I've only experienced for 6 months here in the NW. The summer use shows great promise. Winter is so so... the cold weather crops are "ok", but I wouldn't call them life enhancers. They are growing incredibly slow. I keep the house at 50 degrees and have two water heaters in the 300 gallon tank (150 watt and 300 watt). The tank is insulated, but with the exchange through the gravel bed, the water loses its heat. In the summer it stays at 78 degrees without the heaters on, and now it hangs in the low 70s with the heaters on. 

Portable Farms people GREATLY underplay the cost of the greenhouse set up needed to house plants in the north. Without that housing, the portable farm is a skating rink.  Also, up here we get regular 60 mph gusts (like the ones that took down Seattle this summer). I have a SunGlo greenhouse that's good for 80 mph winds. (Gothic roof for snow) It never flinched, but other plastic covered greenhouses were blown away.  The downside of this excellent structure is that it's 3.5 R factor also keeps water IN - lots of condensation that even fans don't seem to cut. 

And the rest of the story... to have that greenhouse meant having a foundation with 3 ft walls and that meant excavation and that meant a building permit...   

Check out NW Tilapia in Oregon for fish and for a mini greenhouse set up.  http://www.nwtilapia.com I've been to his place, he's a good guy and very knowledgeable about the entire process for this area. 


Mike R. said:

Thanks Jeff. We come that way usually every couple of months or so. I am very interested to see your setup and hear how it works. I have had a conventional garden most of my life. I am interested in the economics of aquaponics as well as the bounty it may provide. I have been surfing the web looking for info on the different systems and trying to educate myself. I am one who likes to study a subject before plopping down my money or investing my precious time in a venture. I might even be considered cheap! I hope to attend one of Jeremiah's classes this spring.
Mary, I will have to take a look at the sites you mentioned. From what I have studied so far, I would say a passive solar greenhouse and super insulation on the grow beds and fish tank would be the only way to make cold weather aquaponics work without going broke. Initial setup would be more expensive on the green house but would pay back over time. Still, I think it will be tough to make winter growing pay enough to be profitable....and I mean on a homestead level. Of course personal satisfaction and facination have to be worth something. I suppose we each one have a different break even point depending on our personal goals and desires.

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