Its time to start thinking about your vegetable garden. Or in my case, time to get my pumps fully operational, my grow beds leak proof, and my tower garden loaded. I am a believer in producing your own vegetables, for the purpose of cleanliness, as well as for the purpose of increased nutrient density.
My regular readers know that I love to grow my own vegetables from both my tower garden, as well as from my aquaponics garden. The tower garden is one that you can have to, just click the link below and order one today. You don’t have to be a green thumb, just have about an hour to set it up, and you are good. Seeds go straight in, no need to start them off.
But, what about this aquaponics thing. You might have seen it in action if you have been to Epcot and done the Living with the land tour. Towards the end, the tour boat goes outside, and as it is heading out, you pass an aquarium full of fish on the left, with plants in rows above. The water and nutrient is derived entirely from the water that the fish swim in. Water = water… and well… poop = nutrient. Fish poop, which isn’t quite so bad sounding, well not to me anyways.
The waste of the fish provide the perfect nutrition for the plants growing in the beds. When I first saw this at Epcot years ago, I thought it was cool, but didn’t think “I gotta get me one of these!” (in the voice of Flyn Rider from Rapunzel). Instead, there was no thought, until a couple years later when one of my interns just happened to be well versed in the aquaponics world. Cool stuff this aquaponics. He had helped many set up home gardens, so it was only natural that I would do the same.
A pond with 300 gallons of water, and about 40 fish from a 10″ koi down to a 1″ minnow (yes, if you followed my Great Blue Heron saga in the fall, I think I only lost a few fish), is all it takes to produce a significant volume of food. All you need is the sunlight. as the season progresses, I will post some video and pictures of this years setup. But for now, the key is to understand the process in case you want to pursue this.
Water is pumped from the pond into a watertight grow bed that is actualy a concrete based design stamped to look like stone from the outside, and it is actually nothing but stone on the inside. Pea gravel to be exact. This holds the roots tightly when the plants grow. There is no need for soil, because, once again, all nutrition comes from the pond. The water fills my upper grow bed on a timer system, to the point of flooding the bed, then drains to the lower bed. where there is a constant flow of water back to the pond. The water has now been filtered clean leaving all of the waste/nutrient in the beds, and returning clean water to the pond.
Interesting I hope. However, if you want to try to grow an abundance of food without this kind of effort, try the tower garden. The $500 tower garden will pay for itself in one season if you maintain it, and be more than worth it if you move it inside to a protected well lit area through the winter. I run it from April til November outside, next to my kitchen. Harvesting a tower garden is more of an exercise in restraint than anything. Prune your food versus pick a bunch, and it will come back over and over again. The mechanism is similar to my garden, but the nutrient is added. Organic vitamins and minerals into the water, which is pumped to the top of the garden, and cascades down moistening the roots and providing all the nutrients needed.
I enjoy the idea of being completely self sustaining, though it won’t happen yet. I have taken a decent chunk of the food needs into my own hands with these two gardening methods. I hope you will dig into your own gardening this year.
Be well and Be blessed! – Dr Eric