Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

The $600 head of Lettuce - The green drug dealers guide to sanity.

Caution ... Don't let your significant other read this post.
Refer to my next post - Relationship therapy through Aquaponics.

Ok we all know that there are hidden costs when getting involved in Aquaponics. I have written in the past about how my reuse - recycle greenhouse cost me in the thousands already. I know many of us like to scavenge - salvage - recycle etc. many of our materials. So here is my quest to lettuce nirvana.
I bought into vertigro and spent $600 for a starter system. When the monthly inorganic mixture was costing $40 per month I resurrected my interest in Aquaponics. Then I got the bug to build a greenhouse that would be attractive enough to be in my front yard and could be dismantled as I rent the ranch house we live in.
I know you are thinking how this is not your plight but we will get to your particular secret funding.

So here I had accomplished the growth of the most delicious and beautiful lettuce that man could want. Guest would say "Where did you get this lettuce it is amazing?" I would beam back that I grew it and show off the lush growth in my greenhouse.
Greenhouse is the right name as it cost lots of Green to build and maintain.
Please see pictures below of the lettuce I was getting before my cost cutting Aquaponics endeavor.

So here I was at the height of production. Spending 2-4 hours every weekend just harvesting and processing those beautiful leaves for my friends and family. They got so use to it that I had to deliver it to them to make room in my frig. When I found out that some of the large bags of this green gold I was bestowing on them was going to spoilage. I punished them with waiting for them to ask for it. Yeah like that worked. So alas I was now trading with the local organic produce stand. Of course I was keeping my non-legal operation justified as a trade. Well when their customers got a taste of my green drug there were calling to order it and I couldn't keep up the demand. At the same time I was trading to where I ate lunch and dinner and they wanted more. I was the red and green lettuce drug dealer of my town. I couldn't have been happier.

I know you are saying that isn't what it cost me I didn't spend that much on my whole system. Well we get to visit your personal home town of denial latter. You won't escape your personal TRUTH.
So one day I was curious what it cost to produce this beauty that I was trading for $2 a pound. Oh NO! Now that number couldn't be true. If I could just not spend that $40 a month for those nasty inorganic nutrients. So like all addicts and drug dealers I graduated up to the mainline solution.
Aquaponics. Now many of us of my age grew up in the now generation and we have nurtured the natural monkey before. So I was no strange to the art of justification. Yes that great mental path of why we do it. How much it really costs.

Spoiler alert: You better quit reading now or you may need to realize that we have a lot in common.

So I did a mental calculation one day on what I have spent so far and how many heads of lettuce i have harvested so far. Sure I dance around the well. I will many more times in the future. I know I could grow so many more. The real american dream. More. More. Sure I tried some Tomatoes and peppers. Lets not go there to what they might have really cost. And don't forget the half dozen edible cukes. Ah they all had the " This tastes so good!" Addiction. You know that first time you do a drug. Like chocolate. This experience reminds me of sharing with my 4 year old grandson his first ice cream cone. He once told a lady next in line that he was going to "have chocolate all day". She said she always wanted to do that. See picture of him eating his first cone below. Sure he had Ice cream before. But the power of having it in a cone.
This is his last bite of his first cone from the aptly named store IceCream Doctor that is only 100 ft from the door of my office. He is having a double dose.

Well back to my Lettuce.
So now I have hundreds of heads of lettuce growing in the greenhouse. I figure with the 500-700 plant capacity I could really make out in this lettuce deal. Sure I still have to close in the rest of the roof before winter, build a door, insulate the float tanks, get the backup system running, build the gravel bed for filtering, build the second DWC bed under the the second half of the Hanging vertigro, hang the vertigro towers not hung yet, plumb, plumb ....... you get the idea only a few more steps. Soooo When I see the mature systems my fellow Aquapon travelers are just maintaing. (Do such people exist?) I figure I will be just able to spend my time harvesting.
RIGHT? Here are one of my 11 hanging stacks of Lettuce from today.
Now to visit my personal realm of denial. You may just be begining to think that some of this may be encroaching on your world let me assist you in how to ward off reality.

When they ask?....
How much does this lettuce cost? $.20 a seedling.
How much did this greenhouse cost? it was built from recycled windows.
How much of your time does it take to grow this? I spend almost all of my time harvesting and eating it.
What else can you grow? Everything almost.
Wow can I have some? Sure just let me pick some for you.
Like giving candy to a baby.

Now these are only a few ways to stay in the land of denial. But this all will be really useful to remember when you read my next blog on Significant others. So if if you telling yourself that this doesn't apply to you than I suggest you consider the next photo in this little blog entry.


Seen below is the happy picture of a fellow Aquapon. Observe that blissful smile.
Notice the simple easy work she is surrounded by. One of those many gardens in her backyard. Don't forget her prolific postings here on her spare time hobby of Aquaponics. Don't be fooled. This addictions has a grip on us all. We can all relate to these so called simple gardens we are nurturing.

So now I will give you some words to help stay in your land of Aquaponics denial and and further your misdirections.




Use these words and thoughts for inspiration.
It only cost a little bit.
You could do this.
It doesn't take long.
Lots of people are doing it.
I can show you.
Taste this.
Ok I could go on for quite awhile.
Now for those of you who think you only spent a few dollars on your system. I will leave you with just one word when you calculate your $600 Lettuce.
LABOR
Now if I could only grow enough lettuce this year to get it down to $60 a head.
And when I can grow 1000+ heads for ten+ years I may get it down to .60 a head. Excuse me! I have to work on that list of to do's.


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Comment by M Cosmo on November 9, 2010 at 9:51am
The Crazy ones. I actually worked for Apple for many years. I have accumulated the largest collection of Apple Think Different posters and other Apple Think Different printed media. For many years I traded and sold them on Ebay. While at Apple I was able to secure a few of the rarest poster the Crazy ones. They have been sold on ebay for ridiculous amounts as they were never shipped to the retail channel but only available as gifts from the mother ship - Cupertino. I never had the opportunity to sell one to someone that I knew. I would be willing to consider a more reasonable price to someone on the Forum if they were buying it for their own use. I must say I have a dozen photo and posters in my office and this one always sparks a discussion.

As you can see I have sold them for up to $500 and here is a listing of when they were close to that. Here is a picture of it.

http://www.bkserv.net/images/Grin.gif
http://forums.macnn.com/59/marketplace/216248/wtb-to-the-crazy-ones...
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=139267
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on November 9, 2010 at 9:13am
The quote from Apple has come up a couple times here, and it is just such a perfect description of aquaponics and this community that I have added it to the About the Aquaponic Gardening Community on the home page. Thanks for the inspiration, Paul and Cosmo. :D
Comment by Paul Letby on November 8, 2010 at 10:16pm
I love that quote! I just read a book called Rascal by Chris Brady. His whole book is on this subject! He calls us Rascals. He even has a test at the end to determine your Rasculinity and based on the results how to get better at it. Awesome read. He's on the top 25 leadership gurus.

I look forward to reading more of your posts Cosmo. I like your style.

""Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
— Apple Inc."
Comment by Amy D Crawford on October 5, 2010 at 9:26am
sounds fascinating! ordered used copy... via amazon, of course....
Comment by M Cosmo on October 5, 2010 at 8:46am
Critical Path
I am a big fan of Bucky. I have built several Geodesic Domes. Residential, commercial, sport and research. Some large. But this book is a true example of what could be called science prophecy. He predicted that the then unknown Internet would change the world by leveling the playing field of resources. Ebay - Craigslist - Amazon anyone? here is a descriptions etc. Anyone can enjoy this book. I think I will reread it now that I have been talking about it.
Product Description
R. Buckminster Fuller is regarded as one of the most important figures of the 20th century, renowned for his achievements as an inventor, designer, architect, philosopher, mathematician, and dogged individualist. Perhaps best remembered for the Geodesic Dome and the term "Spaceship Earth," his work and his writings have had a profound impact on modern life and thought.

Critical Path is Fuller's master work--the summing up of a lifetime's thought and concern--as urgent and relevant as it was upon its first publication in 1981. Critical Path details how humanity found itself in its current situation—at the limits of the planet's natural resources and facing political, economic, environmental, and ethical crises.

The crowning achievement of an extraordinary career, Critical Path offers the reader the excitement of understanding the essential dilemmas of our time and how responsible citizens can rise to meet this ultimate challenge to our future."
""Critical Path is a state-of-the-art summary of human evolution." --Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy
-- Review
Product Description
R. Buckminster Fuller is regarded as one of the most important figures of the 20th century, renowned for his achievements as an inventor, designer, architect, philosopher, mathematician, and dogged individualist. Perhaps best remembered for the Geodesic Dome and the term "Spaceship Earth," his work and his writings have had a profound impact on modern life and thought.

Critical Path is Fuller's master work--the summing up of a lifetime's thought and concern--as urgent and relevant as it was upon its first publication in 1981. Critical Path details how humanity found itself in its current situation—at the limits of the planet's natural resources and facing political, economic, environmental, and ethical crises.

The crowning achievement of an extraordinary career, Critical Path offers the reader the excitement of understanding the essential dilemmas of our time and how responsible citizens can rise to meet this ultimate challenge to our future."
"
Comment by Amy D Crawford on October 5, 2010 at 8:11am
? bucky's "Critical Path"?
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on October 5, 2010 at 7:47am
Can I just say that you guys provide FAR better reading material to have with my coffee than the newspaper! I constantly tell people that the one of the most fascinating aspects of aquaponics is the fact that it isn't be developed in universities, but rather through the global interaction that happens on sites like this one. I just watched a TED talk recently that went to the heart of this called Crowd Accelerated Innovation which you guys might enjoy. Did you know that there is actually a three letter acronym for what we are doing here? Go figure.

Anyway, thanks to Kobus I'm now considering naming our next system the Cosmo Kobus...or should it be the Kobus Cosmo?
Comment by M Cosmo on October 5, 2010 at 7:25am
Kobus: You have a great point there. I am going to use this in my Relationship Counseling interactions. I have the largest collection of Apple think different posters. I am a avid follower of Bucky's "Critical Path". So I am right there with you buddy. We are the crazy ones.

""Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
— Apple Inc."
Comment by Amy D Crawford on October 4, 2010 at 8:52pm
Hey, it's just a question of where those dollars are going to go... it could have been cigarettes, right? Aqua-ponics has many saving graces (that's my mantra, "a GOOD way to spend the dollars")!
Anyway, ROFL!
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on September 29, 2010 at 9:29pm
You've done it again, Cosmo - LOL. I think this is exactly why Jon Ezrine titled his blog The Expensive Tomato. Looking forward to the next installment!

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