Monday, March 07, 2011

Beginning Aquaponics

Last month, I went on a tour of The Garden Pool, which is located near where we used to live.  I had just received a number of plants for my birthday and was hoping to find someone who could help me grow a garden - like a mentor.  I came across the website for The Garden Pool and was intrigued.  There was a public tour the very next day with one space left, so I signed up and went!

The Garden Pool is a large in-the-ground pool that a family has turned into a greenhouse, complete with tilapia pond and chickens!  They grow enough eggs, fish and veggies to sustain their family of four.  They use aquaponics, which is a combination of hydroponics (growing with water) and aquaculture (growing fish).  The beauty of this system is that it waters and feeds itself and there are NO weeds!!  Well, those are two of my greatest challenges with gardening, so hope sprouted in my heart that I COULD successfully grow a garden.

Earlier that day, they had taught a class on a small aquaponics system using a shelf that they call "shelfponics".  I missed the class (didn't know I would be interested:-), but they put the video online the following Monday.  So I watched it and thought this would be a great way to being to learn about aquaponics.  They include step-by-step instructions and a list of items needed, so I went to work rounding up what I would need.  It took less than an hour to get the whole thing ready to go and I bought some goldfish to begin with until I can get some tilapia fingerlings.

I planted cilantro and basil in the top shelf, romaine lettuce in the middle shelf and a gourmet lettuce blend in the bottom shelf.  In about a week, I had LOTS of lettuce sprouts and my herbs are growing well.  I lost some goldfish due to cold nights, but I bought some more (only 28 cents each) and now have 10 healthy larger goldfish in my 10 gallon tank.  They seem to be doing really well and the biofilter of the growing medium (hydroton) seems to be working very well since my pH levels are good after 2 weeks.

I am anxious to get some tomatoes going in another small aquaponics setup this week!  There are lots of websites where you can learn more about aquaponics.   If I can be of any help, let me know, but I am just beginning this journey.  I have BIG ideas for another area of my yard where I am hoping to put in a large tilapia pond and many growing beds to grow all kinds of fresh food for my family.  It makes me SO happy to grow fresh stuff for my family:-)

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