Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Adventures in Aquaponics

Hill and Bourne (comet goldfish) and the
Solids Lifting Overflow (SLO) pipe

About 12 years ago, I became very interested in hydroponics. I bought all sorts of books on the subject, studied how it works and how I could get started. I made dozens of soda bottle wicking planters, and had a lot of fun. But the whole waste problem really bothered me. When the nutrients are out of whack, just throw the lot and make new solution?
   So I had an idea. I thought I would grow fish in a tank and use that water to fertilize plants. To me, it was an original idea. Just to see if anyone else had the same idea, I Yahoo!d it (yes, back before Google conquered the internet). I found out that: 1. No, it was not my idea. And that 2. It works. So I subscribed to the Aquaponics Journal e-edition from 2003-4. 
 I wasn't able to really do much in the area and mainly forgot about it for the next ten years or so until my blog guru Anna of the Walden Effect reviewed an aquaponics book on her blog. While Anna is not so keen on it, it re-kindled my interest and I bought the book, Aquaponic Gardening, by Sylvia Bernstein
  Her book really got me interested in it again, and I read it cover to cover in a weekend. My mind was full of possibilities, and I googled the idea and found Japan Aquaponics. They had a course on May 11th, and I loaded up the family and we drove down to take it. 
  I thought I already knew the basics, but it really helped to hear Aragon St. Charles describe and actually show us how it works. What is the easiest setup and why. What a SLO pipe is and how it works, etc... 
Aquaponics Mark I- Flood and Drain
  So the result is- my new aquaponics system. It is small. It takes a total of 2.16Kw per day (I'll get into that later) and it has two little tiny fish I named Hill and Bourne. The system has evolved a little since then, and will probably continue to change over time. 

Lettuce sprouting after 12 hours... not bad, eh?

The next aquaponics post will go into more detail about the system.  Until then- Happy Gardening!

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