Aquaponic Gardening

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One more step – Part two ~ Sorry, lots of words and no pics (at this time)

Good news! Merry X-mass all! On Christmas Eve, I received a call that lasted about four hours and in conclusion I got a wonderful X-Mass present in the form of a committed Angel Investor. Phase one will begin as soon as I finish negotiating and sign an agreement with the landlord, (hopefully within the next month).

Phase One will be concentrating on the forest pasture to increase my egg and chicken production from my current two hundred hens to a possible five thousand plus chickens. Unfortunately, this puts a hold on my AP practice and will resume in last part of phase one (hopefully in the fall of 2012).

I know this is not AP so I hope you all will bear with me, posting this here. I will have several small AP systems for personal entertainment and demonstrate to investors. I also hope to continue my relations with commercial aquaculture here to add AP and will post results if this comes to be. However, this project changes my previous focus entirely and I may not have the time to devote to the now, extracurricular activities like researching sustainable fish feed production which would be a personal disappointment but it is time for me to make some money. It sure doesn’t help to do things on a shoestring budget.

The first thing I will do come spring is to increase the organic (cellulose) content and inoculate the stand of Aspen with my assortment of brews and teas to increase the microbial, especially the fungal content but first “clean” the surface of the trees of disease. Unfortunately I do not have the time required to ramp soil fertility properly, so will be forced to start clearing then seeding my forest pasture for the year as soon as I can. As most of the seeds I hope to use are not found naturally here (open pollinated or simply can’t get), I hope you folks would assist me by donating some seeds. Each and every bit helps and I thank you in advance for your kindness. Seeds I need in bold green.

The base formula I will use is from an American university study to increase Omega3. A similar formula can be found @ The base of my chicken pasture will consists of: 20% Common Flax, 5% Ladino Clover, 5% Birdsfoot Broadleaf Trefoil, 10% Non-dormant Alfalfa, 20% Red Cowpeas, 40% Buckwheat.


After sewing the base I will use Mr. Fukuoka’s seedball method. I hope to sew a large variety of seeds and let nature take it’s course to determine what plant is appropriate in different locations and supplement more aggressive cultivars by over seeding with more appropriate selections. Because this is not a full sunlight pasture I will have to increase the prescribed grazing allotment by at least 30% to compensate for the slower, weaker growth. Being about twelve acres, I’ll need about a hundred pounds of seed for this pasture so I’ll probably have to substitute all these wonderful selections below with common commercial grass cultivars. Ten, twelve acres mean many man-hours of hoeing and raking! So I’ll pen two small pigs in fenced rows between the trees and move them as so they have first go at rooting and breaking ground. As soon as they have gone through and done all the rough stuff, I’ll load it with manure and send the ducks and chickens in to finish off the detail work of clearing weed seeds and spreading the nitrogen heavy fertilizer.


My pasture should contain the following open pollinated plants for maximum bio diversity:

Hay seeds

*Non-dormant Alfalfa


*Timothy Grass,

*Milk Vetch, Lucerne,



Forage seeds


Alsike Clover,

Ladino Clover,

Nitro Persian Clover

Renegrade Red Clover,

Strawberry Clover

Sweet Clover,

White Clover,

Antas Subclover,

Campeda Subclovers,

Dalkeith Subclovers

Denmark Subclover,

York Subclovers,

Hykon Rose Clover,

Nungarin Subclover,

Trikkala Subclovers


Birdsfoot Broadleaf Trefoil,

Blando Brome,

Beardless Barley,




Red Cowpeas,



Fawn Fescue,

Martin Tall Fescue

Meadow Fescue

Common Flax,

Parabinga Medic,

Santiago Burr Medic,


White Oats,

Red Oats,


Akaroa Orchardgrass,

Berber Orchardgrass.

Paiute Orchardgrass



Italian Ryegrass,

Perennial Ryegrass,

Tetraploid Perennial Ryegrass,

Tetraploid Annual Ryegrass,


Awnless Wheat,




Broad beans,





Yellow Cylindrical Mangels (Beta Vulgaris)

Mammoth Red Mangels (Beta vulgaris)

*Assorted root crops will be planted. Greens can be grazed while the root stores well for winter-feed.


Beneficial plants:

Wormwood - Planted around the coop area helps eradicate internal and external parasites

Yarrow - Terrific for digestion and has great antiseptic properties. Healthy ladies, here we come!

Sage - A panacea for all ailments. Perfect for nibbling on by your girls to keep them healthy.

Peppermint - Used as an internal and external parasite aid.

Nasturtium - A panacea for all ailments. Perfect for nibbling on by your girls to keep them healthy.

Lavender - Cut up and put in the laying box to stop lice and mites. Make the eggs smell like pot pourri.

Dandelion - Add to chicken feed to help boost immunity or let the ladies graze on it's flowers and leaves.


Fruit and flower seeds would be most welcome esp. wildflower and sedum seeds. Any special plants (Granny’s blue ribbon Rose etc.) would also be appreciate

As soon as the pasture is seeded and growing, I’ll fence the circumference, turn loose my current flock and build the coop and new nest boxes. This coop will have an attached greenhouse to supplement heating in the winter and produce aquaponics grown sprouts for winter green fodder along with the harvested and chopped mangels and root crops for continuous (though slower) egg production.

At full production, I expect this area to sustain a herd of about twenty dear and a flock of about five thousand hens which should bring in an income of one, to one point five million Ren Men Bi (Chinese yen) or a hundred and twenty thousand US dollars, provided I can ramp my CSA customer base at the same time. Sheep, goats and rabbit will be our secondary offering.

Good land management will be key to the success of this operation. The idea here is to use companion grazers in rotation much the same way we use companion planting so different livestock can produce beneficial symbiotic relationships for each other and their living environment. From looking at natural succession and prescribed land management practices, I will first let the rudiments eat what they like then move them one to new pasture. Given a few days to recuperate, I then move the chicken and geese in to eat their share (hopefully without over grazing their favorites, thus the varied selection and seeming haphazard location).

My first coop will be low tech and open faced shed; large enough to host two hundred nest boxes, sheltering around four hundred Peking Bantam hens, twenty roosters, twenty goats/ sheep and a slew of geese. Flocks would contain twenty hens, one rooster and two geese with goats/ sheep as their companion grazer. Rabbits will get their own area as soon as I can get financing. Although it is more expensive to build and maintain, I also hope to experiment with non centralized housing by setting up smaller coops for individual flocks with their own fenced areas so I don’t have to move (herd) them as frequently. Proper flock management is essential in free-range situations or they can decimate an area in no time, wasting all the hard work and money already invested.

Rabbits are essential to this system overall because their poo will be the base material for worm production, essential the raising the protein value of feed for ducks and fish. Other grubs and critters will be reared in the insectaria for all to enjoy. At present the lineup would be: red wriggler earthworms, crickets, mealworms, BSF, and possibly grasshoppers. Instead of peanuts or chips; fried, salt and pepper grasshopper or mealworm will be the specialty recommended as a separate dish or as a snack with your beer & drinks at both the Cabana and indoor bars. Yummy huh?


As soon as I get financing I will get back into AP with a Duck, Koi/ Carp, Frog, Shrimp and Lilly production IBS (integrated bio system). This fenced in system will cover an area just shy of an acre with duck and fish as the main attraction along with an assortment of wholesome veggies. The goal here is to balance the nutrient flow to reduce labor and maximize harvest benefit. I believe our Peking Roast Duck will taste as wonderful as the ones the Emperors of old enjoyed. Champion Koi would be introduced after the system is somewhat mature. Until then, carp and tilapia will be raised in this green-water system as both food fish and the central component of our Aquaponics demonstration/ production system.

The reason I chose this location for this system is because of the pit that was dug for sand during construction of the villas and the small south facing clearing. Most of this pond will be fenced off from the ducks to protect the larger growing fish. The external growing area will be located on the north side of the pond in raised racks of DWC, PVC tubes in a staggered formation for maximum production with the smallest footprint. This concentrated nutrient production area will also demonstrate different types of hydroponic cultivation systems, using my 50 gal barrel, worm, gravel, perlite, bioreactor to convert fish effluent into usable nutrient. I believe the nutrient from fish waste solids can be broken down by worms quicker in my system than in flood and drain, media bed systems with a sump filter/ bioreactor. Excess worms would go to the ducks as treats.

I plan to grow spinach in the sand culture bed and an assortment of lettuce and herbs in different vertical systems. Strawberries will be the main attraction here, grown in an assortment of configurations to demonstrate the flexibility, friendliness and productivity of AP in a small space and how that can translate to better urban food security.

There is so much more to write about but I am sure you have had enough at one sitting so I’ll continue this soon, especially if I get some encouragement, so please leave a comment or critique.


May your god guide and comfort you.


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Comment by Carey Ma on December 31, 2011 at 12:45am

How come no comments?

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