Nine Steps for Building a Super Backyard Portable Farm
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis
READ THE ENTIRE AQUAPONICS COURSE OUTLINE: CLICK HERE.
Read our Six-Part Article Series for Backyard Aquaponics Made Easy
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis
- Article 1. Sizing your Aquaponics System to determine how many people you want to feed.
- Article 2. Location for your Aquaponics System in your backyard
- Article 3. The Type of Building for your Aquaponics System – greenhouse, etc.
- Article 4. The Cost and Materials for an Aquaponics System in your backyard
- Article 5. Operations for your Aquaponics System – fast and easy!
- Article 6. Variations for You Aquaponics System – no two are the same.
- BONUS ARTICLE: Nine Steps for Building a Super Backyard Portable Farm
As an addition to the popular six-part series just published on the topic of Backyard Aquaponics Made Easy, we also wanted to offer nine excellent suggestions for simplifying your installation process. After all, once your Portable Farm is installed, your daily operations require only an average of about ten minutes a day to feed a family of eight. So, yes, the work and initial financial investment are on the front end, but after that, you’ll be harvesting fresh food FOREVER for the minor costs of water, electricity, seeds, etc.
Think of it this way: For the price of a used car, you can enjoy fresh organic food for the rest of your life. When you look at it like that, you realize it’s a one-time investment that assures food safety for you and your family and you’ll have immediate access to the best tasting food you will ever eat – right outside your kitchen door. That analogy puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems grow health food in the following climates:
- VERY HOT DRY CLIMATES
- VERY HOT HUMID AND RAINY CLIMATES
- VERY COLD CLIMATES
- WARM, MILD, SEMI-TROPICAL WITH COOL WINTERS.
In this article, we will present the latest and most effective methods of building a climatically adapted structure for installing a completed Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems so you can harvest your first vegetables after just 30 days after installation. The focus of this presentation of information is on backyard installations, but it can easily be scaled UP to the needs of a small commercial installation.
You will find recommended components and the process in our popular Aquaponics University’s Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Course© which provides our clients (and hopefully for YOU) easy step-by-step directions for building a simple functioning backyard Portable Farm – which we consider to be a 10’ x 24’ (240 total sq ft and 120 sq ft of grow space enough to feed 4 to 5 people) that is installed inside a climatically adapted structure [See sizing article for more information]:
Start by building an insulated stem wall (not concrete, but 2×4 lumber and plywood with insulation in the spaces between the studs. It is in effect a short, 4 ft tall, insulated wall that the greenhouse will sit on top of the stem wall. This stem wall gives the greenhouse four more feet of head room (you need 8’ to 10’ of head room above each grow tray to provide air and adequate sunlight to surrounding plants). A stem walls raises the entire greenhouse to become taller which creates more air space above the grow trays. This stem wall needs to sit on a solid base; we recommend a poured footer or even a short concrete stem wall. In the tropics (hot and humid temperatures), you can use the concrete stem walls because you do not need the insulation from cold weather, but you do need the head room above the grow trays.
Interesting side note: It is MUCH easier to HEAT a greenhouse space than it is to cool it down. There is a huge amount of thermal mass inside the building and the fish tanks are heated (78 degrees F to 80 degrees F) so the space stays relatively warm even in very cold weather. On the other hand, the heat builds up VERY QUICKLY in bright sunlight and there needs to be accommodations made for removing that heat to keep the temperature below 104° F (40C) to grow healthy plants. This includes a thermostatically controlled exhaust fan(s), shade cloth, wet walls, or swamp coolers and other methods of keeping the heat temperature down to a healthy level for the plants.
We recommend inexpensive greenhouse designs for backyard farms to accommodate the climate in your area: Tuff Greenhouses or Greenhouse Mega Stores. Cover these greenhouses with SolaWrap (ask for Ken) as your greenhouse cover (guaranteed for 25 years) for the most effective use of your space. (More information on SolaWrap.) Or you can build your own using this really useful book we have recommended for the last four years.
#1 Bestseller – Do-It-Yourself greenhouse plans for your Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems or any other project you have. There is a 60-day money-back guarantee on the greenhouse plans.
Make sure the floor of your structure/greenhouse is concrete or some other easily cleaned surface so you can keep the interior clean. We do not recommend sawdust or dirt floors. We encourage a tile, concrete or or other solid installation of flooring so you can hose it down with a garden house or clean it with small vacuum cleaner (instead of a broom – to keep the dust from flying around and landing on your plants and creating potential insect problems)
Install screened, louvered intake vents in the opposite end (from exhaust fan), usually at the opposite end of the entrance to the greenhouse (where the door is placed) to allow air to flow to flow easily when the exhaust fan(s) come on.
Build the Grow Tray Module to maximize the utilization of the space. Please keep in mind that Grow Trays need to be kept to a width that can reached across from the edge of the tray, or to the middle of the tray for easy planting and harvesting. This normally limits the width to 6 feet wide. Using PFAS technology, the maximum length of a 6’ tray can be up to 32’. The magic number for the Grow Tray is to be 200 sq ft or less.
Upon completion of the greenhouse and PFAS Module, start the water flowing through the system and have your 10 to 12 day growth from seedlings ready to place in the gravel in the system. After a full day of cycling the water through the system, you can add your fish and now you are a Portable Farmer and ready to enjoy fresh vegetables in a little as 30 days.
The cost of an installation similar to described above will be in the range of $3,500 PLUS the labor cost PLUS the cost of the greenhouse. The total investment can be under $5,000 for an installation that will feed a family of 4 year round forever.
If you’re interested in a backyard or a commercial aquaponics system, you’ll need to take our Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Course© FIRST, and upon satisfactory completion of the course, you’ll receive one Portable Farms Kit as part of the Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Course©, so you can build your own Portable Farms™ Aquaponics System. This price for the Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Course© includes the entire assembly, operations and maintenance course, PLUS, it INCLUDES one Portable Farms® technology kit – all for the price of $2,500. Offer good only in the US and certain other countries.