Aquaponic Gardening

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Recently I saw a lot of information on straw bale gardening. It seems that people have been getting great results with this type of gardening. But it looks like to make it work, you need to add some nitrogen to the straw.

Then I thought about adding aged urine into the equation and I came up with the following scenario;

Why not have a drip-to-waste bioponics straw bale garden that is controlled by a timer and uses an inline fertilizer injector to mix the aged urine with the tap water and distribute it to the straw bales through a cheap soaker hose.

(Alternatively, you can have a 55 gallon drum as your nutrient tank, sitting on a few concrete blocks, filled with urine and water (the right ratios) instead of the inline fertilizer injector and house tap water. )

This would be a very cheap solution (see below for supply list) that would allow incorporation of traditional methods of gardening such as using compost, manure, etc. with organic fertilizers (urine) that will build and improve the soil. The straw will decay into the ground as well further improving the soil.

Water Timer - $30

Soaker Hose 50 ft - $15

Hose - (You should already have one) - $0

Inline fertilizer injector (Hozon Injector Brass Siphon Mixer 1-16 ratio) - $25

Straw bales - $3/each

Comments? Suggestions? Will this even work? Potential issues? I'm thinking of doing this next year.

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Replies to This Discussion

My bioponic system requires additional iron and magnesium.  Relying on straw does not strike me as something that will provide a broad spectrum of nutrients.

I have been thinking about experimenting with weed tea.  I've hear that a lot of nutrients can be obtained that way.  It's easy.  Just pick weeds and crop them a bit and make a tea from them like compost tea.

Yeah, I wasn't thinking of the straw in terms of nutrients, more like an inert media. I think urine would work well for the vegging stage and for all-purpose, weed tea would work nicely, maybe worm tea, compost tea or even comfrey tea. Obviously straining out the particulate would be important in order to prevent clogging.

Urine water will make the straw bale rot very fast.

Mine have not rotted that very fast and have been putting up with the tomatoes nicely so far. The "weeds" surrounding the bales are giant sized :)

Meir, you might want to think about inoculating the bales first, against fungal pathogens with some beneficials (nothing could do it while you water)...and think about growing a simultaneous crop of some type of mushrooms since they seem  to do real well in the straw bale along side vegetable crops...2 for 1 kinda deal...

As far as 'weed teas' I've only ever used/tried stinging nettle and comfrey. Phosphorous appears to be one of the biggest potential limiting factor there, as far as the plant essential element content of the tea goes...(nettle or comfrey anyways, depends a lot on what you hope to grow I suppose)...

I really don't see why you couldn't get that to work...

I guess everything just rots fast where I am.  I've been known to plant things in piles of wood chips here and not really suffer from nitrogen deprivation due to it being tied up for too long in order to compost the wood chips.  I expect in a place with actual Winter, it is a different story but here in wet sub-tropical FL, the simple way to make things compost FAST is to pee on it.

Vlad Jovanovic said:

Mine have not rotted that very fast and have been putting up with the tomatoes nicely so far. The "weeds" surrounding the bales are giant sized

Vlad, do you have any pictures of your setup? I do have a ton of pink oyster spawn that I could use for inoculation, but I'm not sure the weather would be a ideal for a good mushroom crop, but it is a fantastic idea if I get the right type of wood-loving mushroom to work. I take it that the mycelium won't interfere with the roots?

"Set up" would be a's just a couple of straw bales at the end of the garden that are hand watered with either diluted humonia or AP water. At one point I think there was more mushroom bio-mass than tomato plant...I'm not sure if the mycelium interferes with the roots or not in any meaningful way?

TC, yeah I bet things rot way faster down where you are. Here it's pretty much super hot and drought, or cold and wet...and not much in between usually :(

I always thought mycelium were good for soil structure and plant growth but to an extent I expect it is all about balance.  I know the best compost has both high bacterial as well as fungal populations.

Yea out seasons here go like.

Spring swing between spells of cold sometimes even freezing to hot and Dry.

Summer WET And hot but usually less hot than spring but it doesn't cool off at night so it is just MUGGY and buggy always.

Fall, Don't blink you might miss it.

Winter, sometimes hard to tell if it is fall, winter or spring as it could be chilly or Hot or just nice and then a freeze here or there with rain sometimes and not others.

However, when I say DRY here, we usually still have humidity that would make most dry climate dwellers whimper in protest.


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