Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Well, here I am trying to get something put together that will work for me ... again. I have MS so my health comes and goes. Aquaponics seems to be the way for me to garden as it doesn't include lots of ground level bending. (I have a neighbor who can help me with the heavier stuff)  I am going to be using kiddie pools and such until I can get some money saved up for a 'real system'. I have a pool that is 8 feet across and about 15 inches deep that has served for the gold fish pond for two summers now. Amazing how well it works if you can get past the graphics that is all cartoonish. I am wondering if I can put a raft in it to get started? It's heavily planted with blue and yellow flag, bullrush, and a second rush I haven't identified yet. There is one water lilly but I still think I can put a small raft in before I get something more complex put together. Any ideas if I can get this started from here or do I need to get a flood and drain system started before I try.

Views: 570

Replies to This Discussion

Where do you live?  If you live close to me, I will give you an IBC tote converted to an Aquaponics grow tank system as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYFM7J_TpTU . I will also give you lava rock media and a 1000 gph pump and rain water to fill the fish tank and pond water to get the system started.


I live in Poulsbo, Washington.

Margaret, Get a freshwater master test kit so you can run some water tests to figure out if there is any nutrient left over to feed a raft and if not, you will need the test kit to keep an eye on water quality to make sure you won't kill the fish by feeding more or higher protein feed.  Also I think you will need to get an air pump so you can put an air stone or several right under the raft since by placing a raft on the water you will 1, be reducing the surface for aeration and 2 the plants will do far better if their roots have extra aeration.

Drawback with adding a raft directly over the fish tank, the fish might eat the roots.

''Drawback with adding a raft directly over the fish tank, the fish might eat the roots."  Use nets or baskets.

Margaret, Your first system is not going to be your best system. The point is to get going. 3 containers = Fish tank, Grow bed, Sump. One pump, and some rocks, And you have a system. Add some styrofoam and you have a raft. Add some pipes and plastic and you have a 3 season garden. You can get a minnow trap from Wally world for just a few bucks and catch minnows in local creeks. Hope this helps get you going.

Phill, I think that I am located to far away to accept your kind offer. I am in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

TCLynx, Since I am thinking of putting it in my outside pondish thing I will have to think more about adding the air stones. I am in a rental with limited electricity, so it might need to include a power splitter or another power cord.

Tony, Right now I just have a kiddie pool with gold fish in it. A friend suggested that I use a couple of preformed kiddie pools to serve as the grow beds. 

I think I am going to have to start taking pictures.

You do not need to start with flood & drain. In fact, you can make your entire system a raft system. Here's something to think about that won't require grow beds; or you can add them on later:

This system is developed by Dr. George Brooks, here in AZ, and he's grown a jungle on his pool using rafts alone. His garden includes tomatoes, lettuce, melons, squash, watermelon, a variety of greens, beets and radishes, basil, and ornamental flowers. He's using a 3' deep pool, so it's deeper than yours, but the idea should work.

His goal is to feed a family of four with one pool. He's been experimenting with what will and what won't grow, and under what conditions. The results this year have been awesome and show great potential for other crops.

He put three trash cans in his pool: 2 to hold the fish and one for clarifying. This allows the fish to be managed easily and they won't mess up the pool or eat roots. You'd probably want shorter containers since you have a shorter pool. He has two for fish because he's experimenting with both tilapia and gold fish; eventually he'll try koi. You could reduce this to one container for fish and one for clarification.

In the pool itself, put guppies. He also had either mollies or platies. I think mollies... They will eat any grunge and algae on the roots, keeping them clean to absorb nutrients, but the little livebearers won't eat the roots themselves. They will also reproduce nicely. You may have fish that will do this job better in your climate, but feeder guppies are pretty cheap.

Use rafts cut in manageable sizes with the standard media-filled baskets. Cover the top of the pool with the rafts, and plant away. Plant melons & squash near the sides so you can add trellises along the pool for them to grow on. You can move the rafts around to reach them and tend to them.

The water is pumped from the pool into the fish tanks, which overflow into the clarification tank, which then flows back out to the pool. There are 8 aerators (large stone bubblers) around the periphery of the pool; his is a 10', so you may need fewer. This, and the raft material, would be your biggest expense.

You can start small with a few rafts, and expand, replacing your pond plants with garden plants as you do so. If you choose to do a media garden later, you can send water from the pump to a bed, while maintaining your established raft system.

do you already have a pump running for the pool?

If you do then it may be all the more reason to set a bin with gravel up at a nice working height since it would probably not require more electricity to have a gravel bed if your pump will be strong enough to pump water up to the gravel bin.



Margaret said:

Phill, I think that I am located to far away to accept your kind offer. I am in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

TCLynx, Since I am thinking of putting it in my outside pondish thing I will have to think more about adding the air stones. I am in a rental with limited electricity, so it might need to include a power splitter or another power cord.

Tony, Right now I just have a kiddie pool with gold fish in it. A friend suggested that I use a couple of preformed kiddie pools to serve as the grow beds. 

I think I am going to have to start taking pictures.

I'm not sure where my earlier post went. I guess I wrote it in invisible ink!

Anyway, you don't have to have growbeds to start AP...or ever..., and you can definitely use your pool as a raft system.

For a quick and dirty little raft system with minimal setup:

Get an 18 - 24" high container, cut large holes in the sides (maybe 4") for water flow and screen them off to keep fish out, and add a good aerator. Build a raft that sits in your container, and start planting. You should be able to grow some good things while you build a more permanent system.

For a larger system that does not use growbeds:

Let me describe what Dr. George Brooks, here in AZ, is doing. He's experimenting with deep water culture in a 10' x 3' pool to see if he can feed a family of four affordably. Right now he's at $7/sf setup cost, and want's to bring it down to $3/sf. The biggest cost is the pool, which you already have.

So far the results are very impressive. He's grown a variety of lettuce, mustard greens, radishes, basil, beets, squash, melons, tomatoes, ornamental flowers, etc. If you don't want to invest in growbeds right away (or ever), you can follow his method, modifying it for your smaller pool:

  • He has his fish contained in a trashcan, sitting in the pool for easy maintenance.
  • He has a second trashcan in the pool that acts as a clarification tank.
  • The water is pumped into the fish container, which overflows into the clarification container, pulling the waste out from the bottom of the fish container. The water then flows out of the top of the clarification container back into the pool.
  • There are 8 large stone bubblers around the periphery of the pool for aeration.
  • The plants are in media-filled cups floating on styrofoam which is cut into manageable pieces; about 2' square, give or take. The pool is pretty much covered with the little rafts.
  • The climbers are kept at the side of the pool with a trellis set up so they can climb & be kept out of the pool.
  • He has guppies and mollies in the big pool, and they nibble the muck and algae off of the roots of the plants, keeping them clean to absorb nutrients. They do not eat the roots themselves. 

Working this way you can definitely use part of your pool for your garden, and expand as you're ready. You can also add  growbeds in the future if you want to go that direction.

You'd have to modify things for your situation. For example, you'd replace the trashcans with something lower that fits your pool; you wouldn't need as many aerators, and you might want to only grow around the sides so you can reach things better.

Whatever you decide, please share your experiences! I look forward to hearing about your garden!


   Hi Sheri,

   I read your post and it has me very intrigued....I am not trying to be thick headed... When I read the part of your post that I highlighted below, I could not get a proper image in my head.  Read it over and over.  The description works. I mean the process makes sense.  I just cannot picture how the trash cans are set in relation to each other.

 Are they next to each other, or inside one another...?  Is there a link with a photo on the web somewhere?  This sounds very interesting.  I just can't get the set-up straight.  Hope you can help me out here.

- Converse


Sheri Schmeckpeper said:

 

Let me describe what Dr. George Brooks, here in AZ, is doing.

So far the results are very impressive. He's grown a variety of lettuce, mustard greens, radishes, basil, beets, squash, melons, tomatoes, ornamental flowers, etc. If you don't want to invest in growbeds right away (or ever), you can follow his method, modifying it for your smaller pool:

  • He has his fish contained in a trashcan, sitting in the pool for easy maintenance.
  • He has a second trashcan in the pool that acts as a clarification tank.
  • The water is pumped into the fish container, which overflows into the clarification container, pulling the waste out from the bottom of the fish container. The water then flows out of the top of the clarification container back into the pool.

Converse, you're not thick headed by any means! It's hard to visualize. I tried to find pictures, but can't find any yet. I've attached links to some of his crop, though. Let's see if I can explain it better:

The quick answer is that the cans are sitting next to each other in the pool and are plumbed like a tank & sump. (He has two for fish because he's testing different kinds of fish, but one would do.)

The pump is in the pool and pumps water into the fish "tanks," just as it would do in a CHOP2 system.

The tanks have overflow siphons into the clarifying tank, so they have a pipe running from the bottom of the fish tank, again just like you'd do in a CHOP system. This cleans the grunge from the bottom of the FT.

That water goes into the clarifying tank, which sits right next to the FT in the pool.

The clarifying tank has some 4" holes cut in the sides, at water level, so the cleaner water flows out to the pool and the tank stays level with the pool. He has some netting on the holes to keep the little fish out.

Here's his crop on the water: http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/247108_1577093809623...

Here's a new setup he put together for a school: http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/403376_342496205816998_100...

Some of his crop: http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/421733_3215253945606...

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/550213_369631396416762_172...

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/527936_369634763083092_172...

He's still experimenting; this was his first season. But he's grown some great stuff. Also, in the AZ desert most crops are done now, but he's still growing, which is really great. He even tried carrots, which came out very...interesting...

I'll keep looking for pictures.

Well, I can't figure out how to post a note and the pic... so that is where I am starting from. LOL

RSS

© 2021   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service