Survival Farms and Gardens in the 21st Century

Survival Farms and Gardens in the 21st Century
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

For most people, having a built-in cushion of almost anything provides a really great feeling of comfort. The topic of ‘food security’ for families is in the news today especially in cold climates where fresh food must be imported up to eight months per year instead of being grown locally. Aquaponics offers the choice for growing fresh food grown near your kitchen and available year round.

To have a few months of money that you’ve saved safely tucked away, or a full tank of gas, or cupboards stocked and supplies in the house makes us all feel much more secure. Now, add to that a nice garden, some survival foods tucked away and the means to obtain more food on short notice and you begin to feel that you and your family are ready for whatever might happen in the future. And something will happen, let’s all hope it is something nice.

Assuming you have some of the items (listed above) taken care of and you can afford to create a real survival farm/garden, consider an aquaponics system inside a weatherized greenhouse, basement, garage or even an outbuilding. To size it properly, use the formula for a highly efficient aquaponics system (think Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems) of 25 sq ft of grow space which is necessary for each adult. This ‘small acreage’ will feed that adult all of their surface vegetables year round forever and provide a source of protein: fish. You may want to increase the total area slightly to insure you can feed those who show up at your door if times do become more difficult.

Lanai Aquaponics in the tropics. This tray feeds four people.

Lanai Aquaponics in the tropics. This tray feeds four people.

Ah yes, the cost. To build a greenhouse (10 x 30′) to house a single PFAS Module for feeding four adults will cost somewhere between US$3,500 and US$5,000 depending on many factors. Cost of greenhouse, climate considerations, floor covering, local lumber costs, etc.

There you have it. If you put the PFAS in your basement or garage there is no cost for the greenhouse, only the PFAS Module materials and some grow lights for indoor growing. Neat, elegant, practical and affordable and the best part, it’s AVAILABLE TODAY.

 


Aquaponics Food Tastes Great! GROW YOUR OWN

Aquaponics Food Tastes Great! GROW YOUR OWN
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

ind-gro kale 8 18 aquaponics

woman brunette arms outstreched

Isn’t it time to simplify your life and enjoy quality time and food?

Globally, self-sufficiency is becoming main stream in 2017 as individuals and communities unite to find ways to source affordable housing, create food and water safety, find access to quality health care, organize opportunities for living wages and find support for children and our aging population. These topics are as realistic today as there were 200 years ago when the world population was only a little over one billion people in 1814, compared to today’s 7.5 billion world population.
Today, natural resources are dwindling and the need for shared responsibility for self-sufficiency is a growing trend for assuring peace and prosperity in families, communities and the world.
Aquaponics is affordable and it’s ONE VIABLE SOLUTION to the issues related to food safety and added self-sufficiency because:
  • People of any age can participate – adults, children, seniors and those with disabilities
  • Aquaponics systems can be located in urban communities near the population of cities. It has been proven that urban neighborhoods with community gardens have a sharp decrease in crime because of neighborhood pride.
  • Aquaponics systems are as effective in outdoor greenhouse structures as they are in abandoned warehouses or parking lot basements.
  • Caring for food is a nurturing act that has therapeutic benefits that are good for the soul.
Broccoli grows well in Portable Farms! Large, tender, delicious and the plant offers several rounds of new blossoms after initial harvest.

Broccoli grows well in Portable Farms! Large, tender, delicious and the plant offers several rounds of new blossoms after initial harvest.

Aquaponics is a simple growing system that provides an all-chemical free environment that delivers all the nutrients and water that plants need to grow to perfection. In addition, the structure (generally a greenhouse) protects the plants and fish from climate changes (rain, cold and heat), wind and predators (bugs, birds and bunnies).
If you add up all the benefits to the plants and fish, it’s paradise on earth from them as a growing environment because there is no ‘stress’ on the plants or the fish to protect themselves from predators or to source food or freshly oxygenated water. Plus, the daily maintenance for aquaponics is minimal and redundant: 1) plant and harvest plants, 2) feed the fish. REPEAT the next day. There is no watering, no weeding, no chemicals, no fuss, no muss.
  • All of the food (nutrients) for the plants arrives before the plants need it, or want it.
  • The water is always available and it is refreshed a couple of times a day
  • The light levels are always perfect in the structure
  • The air circulates in a gentle fashion to help with pollination and to help avoid dampness in the structure
    • The temperature is pleasant and varies a bit so as not to be monotonous
    • There are no bugs or weeds or poisons or harsh chemicals used to contend with, ever. 
    • The water in the Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems turns over ENTIRELY twice a day. Plus, all of the heavy fish poop has been removed and rerouted so it never flows into the Grow Tray or has contact with the plants.
Phyllis Davis harvesting Tokyo Bakana, an Asian Herb we use as a great lettuce for salads. Delicious and easy to grow in aquaponics.

Phyllis Davis harvesting Tokyo Bakana, an Asian Herb we use as a great lettuce for salads. Delicious and easy to grow in aquaponics.

As a result of an ideal environment:
  • The plants grow faster than the seed packets say they will
  • Food grown in an aquaponics system is much healthier than ‘regularly’ grown plants, and as a result, they are healthier for you, they TASTE BETTER and are higher in nutrition.
  • The food in an aquaponics system is grown without any chemicals (think about it; if chemicals were used, it would kill the fish). The growing food is more beautiful with each passing day
  • The plants mature in less time and require 90 to 95% less water than their dirt-grown friends
  • The plants stay clean and dry at all times
  • They are harvested when they are at their peak of ripeness and maturation which means their flavor and nutritional content are always at optimal levels
  • They are simply the best vegetables on the planet.

Grow and Sell Food with Commercial Aquaponics

Grow and Sell Food with Commercial Aquaponics 

Now is the time to install a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. 

Learn from us and be a food supplier in your area. 

Lettuce grown in Portable Farms using 95% water than traditional agriculture.

Feed your family with a backyard farm or grow food commercially! If you sell a head of lettuce for $3.00 instead of the new forecasted rate of $5.95, ONE SINGLE Grow Table would yield over $14,000/year, or pay off a 10,000 sq ft aquaponics installation is 11 months.

Read our book, Commercial Aquaponics GOLD.

  • This comprehensive information about commercial aquaponics provides you will all the facts you’ll need to make an informed business decision about commercial aquaponics growing in controlled environment agricultural (CEA).
  • We’re also offering TWO FREE BONUSES with the purchase of Commercial Aquaponics GOLD: 1) A formal ten-step strategy business plan template designed specifically for commercial aquaponics growing to present to funders and, 2) PFAS LLC’s Executive Summary showing production and operating costs, profits and best-produce choices to achieve the shortest Return on Investment.

CLICK ON our fun video by the Crazy Professor, aka, Colle Davis, Inventor of Portable Farms, talk about commercial aquaponics and explain what his book Commercial Aquaponics Gold offers.

COMMERCIAL AQUAPONICS IS TRENDING 2017

 

According to MSN, April 25, 2017

A Severe Lettuce Shortage Is Putting a Dent in Your Wallet

© Provided by The Daily Meal A Severe Lettuce Shortage Is Putting a Dent in Your Wallet

The end of California’s epic drought has cost farmers their bumper crops — and cost average consumers a few dollars more on their grocery store bills. Leafy greens, cauliflower, and celery crops have been underwhelming this year, costing consumers around $1 more per head of lettuce. A head of iceberg lettuce could cost you $5.99 at your local supermarket, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

The reason for the lettuce shortage, scientists are saying, is counterintuitive. After a decade-long drought finally broke and was followed by a warm winter, unusually rapid snow melt and heavy rains adversely affected California crops, drowning plants and rendering many leafy green crops useless.

The cost of a box of celery heads has tripled since February, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The salad shortage could affect consumers until at least May, Roland Fumasi, a senior produce analyst for Rabobank in Fresno, California, told Bloomberg.

Although there are other regions in America that grow leafy greens (notably Arizona), California’s lettuce production accounts for about 71 percent of the total crop and can seriously sway the market one way or another.

 

Feed 8 People FOREVER in ONE 40′ Grow Tray!

Feed 8 People FOREVER in ONE 40′ Grow Tray!

by Colle and Phyllis Davis

 

We’ve done all the work for you!

All you need to do plant some seeds and harvest fresh healthy food – FOREVER. A 5′ x 40′ Grow Tray to feed EIGHT people FOREVER (and forever means just that: ALWAYS.)

Enroll in our NEW ONLINE aquaponics course:  Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Course© from Aquaponics University. It offers step-by-step instructions with hundreds of photographs that walk you through the entire course. This is a fast and fun way to learn how to build and operate your own aquaponics system. After graduation, you’ll receive a Portable Farms® Kit so you can build your own farm.  Enroll today!

 

Tomato and cucumber plants growing vertically in one grow tray.

Tomato and cucumber plants growing vertically in one grow tray.

Over 300 varieties of plants grow well in aquaponics. Of all the garden-fresh foods that people enjoy growing in our systems, the favorites are:

  • All varieties of lettuce (romaine, red leaf, butter crunch, etc.
  • Many herbs such as cilantro and mints
  • Most greens such as collard greens, etc.
  • In an acclimatized greenhouse with seasonal grow lights, you can also grow blooming plants year round such as tomatoes (large tomatoes or cherry tomatoes), most varieties of climbing beans – green beans and even peas, cucumbers (large crisp farm-fresh cucumbers), all varieties of peppers (green and red peppers, and all varieties of hot peppers)
  • Basil
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Asian greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Eggplant
  • Plus, don’t forget the HOME GROWN FISH in a tank only steps away from your kitchen.
WOW!!!!!!!!!! LOOK AT THAT KALE! Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems harvesting 8 kale plants with leaves averaging 47" in length. This kale was grown in 42 days in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor, Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems harvesting 8 kale plants with leaves averaging 47″ in length. This kale was grown in 42 days in a Portable Farms Aquaponics System

Growing produce in Portable Farms is easy and nutritious and food is grown YEAR ROUND regardless of weather conditions anywhere in the world.

Picture perfect greens.

Organic Worm Casting Tea for Aquaponics

FF (Fish Friendly) Organic Worm Castings for Making Worm Casting Tea!

worm castings 2

FF (Fish Friendly) Organic Worm Castings are Now Available for Sale from Portable Farms.To Order FF Mineral Rock Dust: CLICK HERE. (Ships from San Diego, California)

FF Portable Farms® Worm Casting Tea – The Quick and Easy Method

We suggest you purchase a simple sprayer to apply the worm castings tea to your plants.

Brought to you by PFAS LLC, Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems’ Modular Aquaponics Systems

We recommend you spray the plants in your Portable Farm once a week with Worm Casting Tea to create healthier plants. There are tremendous benefits from the foliar application of Worm Casting Tea in your Portable Farm:

  • Safe for your fish (a very big advantage)
  • These worm casting are pure organic worm castings and not vermin-compost.
  • The worm casting tea is non-toxic to plants, fish, pets or people.
  • By spraying the worm tea on your plants (under the leaves as well as on top) and over your seed trays (seed nursery), you’re adding nutrients directly to your growing plants and making them healthier and minimizing any potential problems.
  • Since you’re spraying the leaves and fruit/vegetables, pathogens are less likely to attack your plants because you’re adding beneficial microbes (very important to healthy plant growth) to the surface of the plants.
  • Worm casting tea used as a foliar spray is beneficial and controls many fugal problems like black spot, black mildew and tomato blight, to mention a few.
  • Testing proves that there are microorganism properties in the worm casting tea that act as an insect repellent for many insects such as aphids, white fly, spider mites, and other small bugs that eat plant juices. This is due to enzyme released in the worm tea called chitinase which will dissolve chitin which is the exoskeleton of an insect.

To Order FF Mineral Rock Dust: CLICK HERE. (Ships from San Diego, California)

The Portable Farms® Worm Casting Tea method works much faster than standard methods and produces tea of equal or better quality. You can make your Organic Worm-Castings Tea in as little as 4 hours and 98% of that time is allowing the tea to brew or sit and brew prior to application in your aquaponics system. Easy to make. Easy to spray. Great for your aquaponics system.

For an Aquaponics system with 200 sq. ft. of grow space, use one cup of FF Worm Casting Tea. You only need 10 cups of fish-friendly water from fish tank or aquarium to make the tea and apply it on the same day. 

Adjust amounts for your grow tray size. The Portable Farms® Worm Casting Tea Method makes two assumptions:

  1. You have an aquarium or fish tank water or water that has been in an open container for overnight.
  2. Here is a quick and complete way to remove chlorine from water – Vitamin C (just plain water-soluble ascorbic acid with no fancy additives such as Citrus Bioflavonoids or Rose Hips, etc.) at the rate of 1 mg per gallon of water. We picked up this trick for curing water from our work in Portable Farms®.

Ingredients and equipment:

  1. 1 cup FF Portable Farms® Worm Castings which is 100% organic and supplies a natural source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and iron for your plants.
  2. 10 cups of water from your aquarium or your fish tank. Use tap water only when it has been treated with Vitamin C to remove the chlorine.
  3. A bucket that holds 14 cups of water (make sure the bucket has had no chemicals in it in prior usages).
  4. Let a kitchen blender to do the work to mix and aerate the worm casting tea.
  5. Use a wire mesh strainer (mesh strainer works better than a spaghetti colander) or a cloth (cheese cloth or old hosiery) to line the strainer (the tea has to pass through your sprayers nozzle so make sure the filter is smaller then the particles in the brewed tea, so strain well). If the worm casting tea is not well strained, it will clog up your sprayer. 

Process:

  1. Pour four to five cups of water which has been taken from your total of 10 cups into a kitchen blender  (this process is tough on blenders, so it’s best to buy a cheap one to use only for this type of work) and put the lid on before you blend.
  2. Turn on the blender and let it run for about a minute at a relatively high speed to entrain air into the water oxygenating it.
  3. Remove the lid and then carefully add the one cup of FF Portable Farms® Worm Castings.
  4. Put back the lid back on the blender and run it at full speed for one to two minutes, turn off and then let the mixture sit for 2-4 hours in the blender.
  5. Set up the strainer with the cloth liner to drain into the large bucket with the rest of the water.
  6. Very slowly and carefully pour the mixture through the strainer/cloth into the bucket with the remaining water. The drainage gets slower and slower so you may want to stop and change filters to speed up the process.
  7. Stop pouring when the heavier remains start to flow out of the blender.
  8. Stir the worm casting tea thoroughly.
  9. Pour the resulting liquid into sprayer. Note, the color of the Worm Casting Tea can be VERY black.
  10. Now you can spray your plants on the top and underside of leaves.
  11. Use all of the mixture within a day. It may start to ferment if you leave it in the sprayer longer than one day.
  12. BIG BENEFIT: FF Worm Casting Tea can be made in HOURS not days!

Note: Use the remaining casting residue left in the strainer cloth and blender on your indoor or outdoor plants, or your yard, at the base of a plant or tree. DO NOT PUT LEFT-OVER WORM CASTING RESIDUE INTO IN YOUR AQUAPONICS GROW TRAY.

Very Beneficial Additional Ingredients:

You can add The FF Portable Farms® Mineral Rock Dust at the rate of one teaspoon per batch at the time you add the Worm Castings, now you have a great Mineralized Worm Casting Tea.

This FF Portable Farms® mineralized Worm Castings Tea is quick, elegant, the perfect nutrient foliar spray, a strong insect spray for the plants. It’s fast and easy to make and is applied the same day.

This Portable Farms® Worm Castings Tea or Super Tea is quick, elegant, the perfect foliar spray, a strong insect repellent for the plants and can be made and applied in the same day. One more product and service from PFAS LLC.


Keep pH BELOW 7.2 in Aquaponics

Nutrient Absorption Occurs BELOW 7.2 pH
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Testeur Ph d'une piscine individuelleIf the pH gets too near or above 7.2 in your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System’s Fish Tank, your plants cannot absorb the nutrients in the system and creates a NUTRIENT SHUTDOWN and your plants will begin to wither, show systems of leaf curl, begin to yellow, have stunted growth and not produce growth or blossoms. In effect, the plants are starving to death.

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are designed to accomplish this adjustment in an extremely easy manner. Checking the pH in your system at least a couple of times per week is vital, especially as the vegetables approach harvest time; this is an inexpensive process to increase production in the grow trays. This simple checking and adjustment will result in more bountiful harvests of healthy and nutritious produce.

Each plant has a preferred range of pH, or parts Hydrogen, that creates an ideal growing environment for the plant.

In aquaponics, this adjustment is very easily when the water flows through the system. To ‘increase’ the pH means to make the solution more alkaline and to ‘decrease’ the pH means to make the solution more acidic. There are quick and very inexpensive ways to change the pH of water in an aquaponics system.

When adding any agent to adjust the pH levels in your system, allow several hours, and better yet, monitor your system over a day or two before trusting the testing medium results.

Testing can be done with simple swimming pool test strips or with sophisticated scientific instruments that have been designed for the task. Both work very well and if you use both, be prepared to have two very different readings. What you are looking for is consistency using one method. Using both is confusing and makes adjusting the water much harder. (We know from experience . . .)
We check the pH in our fish tanks two or more times per month to make sure the pH is below 7.2.

Each plant has a preferred range of pH, or parts Hydrogen, that creates an ideal growing environment for the plant.

 

  • Plants in Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems prefer a pH in the 5.8 to 6.8 range, or even a slightly lower range.
  • Fish prefer a little higher pH and to keep both organisms happy, the water in an aquaponics system needs to be adjusted.

The measurement of pH is how acidic (6.9 and below) or alkaline (7.1 or above) a liquid is at any specific moment. This pH measurement is not about the water’s hardness, that is a measurement of the dissolved mineral content in the water, and it is measured in a different way.

In aquaponics, this adjustment is very easily when the water flows through the system. To ‘increase’ the pH means to make the solution more alkaline and to ‘decrease’ the pH means to make the solution more acidic. There are quick and very inexpensive ways to change the pH of water in an aquaponic’s system.

If you are trying to grow vegetables with very different pH requirements in the same grow tray, plant the heavy feeders at the beginning (top) end of the tray and furthest from your fish tank, where the water flows into your grow tray, favoring their pH requirement and the light feeders at the end where the water flows out.

meterWhen adding any agent to adjust the pH levels in your system, allow several hours, and better yet, monitor your system over a day or two before trusting the testing medium results.

Testing can be done with simple swimming pool test strips or with sophisticated scientific instruments that have been designed for the task. Both work very well and if you use both, be prepared to have two very different readings. What you are looking for is consistency using one method. Using both is confusing and makes adjusting the water much harder. (We know from experience . . .)

We use a Microprocessor Conductivity & TDS Meters with Automatic Temperature Compensation with Automatic Calibration to check the water in our systems (image left).

Locally Grown Food is Fresher and More Nutritious

Locally Grown Food is Fresher and More Nutritious
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

UGLY and tasteless tomatoes. So sad.

UGLY and tasteless tomatoes.  So sad, so very sad.

 

To be considered a true locavore (one who eats only local food grown in season) requires defining ‘local’ in a way that makes sense to the person chasing the title. The current trend in MARKETING is to define ‘locally grown food’ as food that has been grown within 100 miles or four hour’s drive from the consumer. After all, who in the North Eastern US enjoys a freshly grown tomato in January or February that has a rich summer flavor? The majority of their tomatoes are shipped from Canadian hydroponics tomatoes (they LOOK like tomatoes but have no flavor) or they were shipped from Mexico and harvested before ripeness, gassed and then shipped to the East Coast. Again, they look like tomatoes but have no flavor.

With today’s air transportation, it is possible to fly produce over 2,000 miles in four hours. Locally grown? Hmmm, no, not really local, but it would fit one organization’s definition. Even four hours of driving means over 200 miles away and that travel time is hard on vegetables that were harvested at ripeness. The difference between food grown within 30 minutes of the place it is grown and shipped to a consumer, and having it travel four hours is not subtle, and it is not easy to understand why people are confused regarding what good food actually looks and tastes like anymore.

warehouseToday’s food distribution system is truly an amazing logistics delivery mechanism. Food can be grown, harvested a bit early, packed, transported to a terminal to arrive at the local store in three to eight days, anywhere in the WORLD. The price of the food locally is determined on a worldwide basis which means that the cost of a head of lettuce or a tomato is similar everywhere in the world. There are a few exceptions to this statement, but most of the differences are because of locally available seasonal produce and the customs or shipping cost involved in moving the produce from field to store.

Kittitas County Farmer's Market, Ellensburg, Washington, USA

Collard Greens‎ freshly picked at a local marketIf locavores INSIST on local meaning ‘within an hour’s drive’ then the retail outlets will become more focused on what they can procure locally. And because locavores are usually willing to pay at least a slightly higher price for the best food in the world, the market will very quickly support ‘local’ farmers. The trick is the year round supply of fresh vegetables.

Here is where controlled environments growing comes into play and becomes profitable to the point of being an excellent investment as well as ‘helping ‘ people.

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems or any aquaponics system housed in a climatically adapted structure can produce prodigious amounts of food year round. The local markets are beginning to demand this level of ‘local’ and have customers that will buy all that can be produced. It is a seller’s market and the first to deliver will have those customers for life.

TILAPIA is the Fish for Aquaponics


TILAPIA is the Fish for Aquaponics

-by Colle and Phyllis Davis
tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusTilapia is the fish most used in aquaponics.

Tilapia prefer a water temperature in the low 80° F, the water can be fresh water, brackish water or even salty water, and they do just fine. They will thrive in water that can be dirty looking and still grow and be ready for eating almost anywhere in the world.

Most trout/salmon do not like water over 60° F at which point they begin to experience stress and become susceptible to diseases in warmer water. This means either the water must be cooled and heated each cycle, or the fish or the plants will be unhappy and not grow well.

WATERBLUEFISH2Trout/salmon are also carnivores and are grown best on animal protein. Commercial trout chow contains fish meal as the protein source and that fish meal is from ocean harvest fish, depleting the ocean fisheries.

Catfish, which was our personal first choice, have a different problem. The fry or fingerlings are only available three months of the year (May, June, July) so there is no way for farm owners to consistently restock their fish tanks. Catfish grow quickly, they like warm water, they will eat almost anything, they taste good and are a hardy fish. But, stocking off season is impossible.

Perch are carnivores and eat bugs, crayfish and other animals to grow. This feed is tough to get in the winter months unless you grow them inside for some other purpose. Perch food is tough to get almost any time of the year. Perch taste sweet and are easy to work with but are difficult to find food for them.

Most crayfish and many freshwater prawns are cannibalistic and need to live in separate ‘apartments’ built in the tanks so they don’t eat each other. They are sometimes used in the tanks with other fish to clean up the bottom of the tanks. They are very hardy, but the housing for them is a problem.

tialpiaswimming21-300x199That leaves the incredibly, tasty, hearty and adaptable Tilapia. They are very easy to grow, prepare, they taste great, grow quickly, and are available year round. They are herbivores and prefer plant protein and are very hardy.

 

Aquaponics for Beginners

Aquaponics for Beginners
By Colle and Phyllis Davis

There are literally millions of pages on the Internet about the topic of aquaponics.

JOIN THE PORTABLE FARMS FAMILY.

peppers three smilingPFAS LLC’s website has been visited several million times over the last 12 months or so and we are only one of the many other sites available. To start the journey of having a working aquaponics system, the best place to start is to begin to search the Internet and devote several hours of time to do the research and then assemble your own unique aquaponics system.

Begin with one beta fish or gold fish in a bowl to support one lettuce plant. Grow your interest to feed your family and then if the stars align, install a community garden. BEGIN SMALL and grow from there.

If you’re interested in owning your own aquaponics system, your first goal is to select the size aquaponics system you’d like to operate for your own unique purposes. We always suggest to our customers that they learn how to successfully operate an aquaponics system and if it fits their needs THEN expand to multiple aquaponics modules (the sky’s the limit).

There are literally thousands of websites that can show you how to set up a small workable open-source backyard hobby-aquaponics systems without paying for the information. For those who are not able to purchase our systems, we suggest you START TODAY by working with online/open source information so you can learn about aquaponics and build your own farm. We also suggest you visit online aquaponics forums so you can ask questions you may have from other aquaponics enthusiasts. 

Please do all the research you need to feel comfortable moving forward with your aquaponics project. Some quick numbers that will be helpful:

  • IF you place your small system inside, as in garage or basement, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on the very smallest system that will be a joy to show off to your friends and enjoy a few vegetables each year. Indoors, if you build a larger system (4 x 8’ grow tray size) be prepared to spend a little over $1,000 and that will help feed one and a third people. More fun and more bragging.
  • If you go absolutely crazy and put up a greenhouse or ‘big’ installation to feed 4 to 8 people then you are looking at an investment in the US$3,500 to US$8,000 range (depending on your choice of greenhouse).

farm 8 18 2012 aquaponicsWe call this process of starting small and expanding the size of your aquaponics system ‘getting your hands wet’ because even if one possesses all the knowledge in the world about a topic (in this case aquaponics), it will not feed a single person; only ACTION GROWS FOOD and in this case several steps are required before it creates food that nourishes someone and that action has an impact.  Start with research, build a small aquarium and dish pan system, move up to garbage cans or IBC totes, go crazy and build a ‘real’ system so you can kill fish and plants. Oh, sorry, you may not want to hear that, but that is what will happen. That is how one learns, by making mistakes.

aquaponics back yard farmIn the world of makers and successful businesses there is a motto: Fail fast and fail often. This means you will try things and if they work, keep them, if they fail, try something else. Side note here: we have killed thousands of fish in our 45 years in the field of aquaponics. Some we ate, some were our own dumb mistakes coming to bite us and some were out of unintended consequences.

Back to getting a running start in aquaponics. Start somewhere, at some level, now. Modern aquaponics is a brand new field because it encompasses recent technology and innovation along with successful techniques from the past. Aquaponics is evolving rapidly and slowly becoming main stream. The commercial side of aquaponics may take another ten or twenty years to accept on par with hydroponics, but it will happen.

It is the hobbyist, gardener, cook and home owner who are leading the charge on this ‘new’ technology, not the big companies, governments or NGO’s. Aquaponics is up close and personal as only eating can be and it is the opportunity to eat the best food on earth, every day, for a long as you live.

The important part is to get started NOW. Have fun, make mistakes and eat great food.

 

Aquaponics in the Urban Environment  

Aquaponics in the Urban Environment  
By Colle and Phyllis Davis

Urbanization of the world is continuing and over half the people on Earth now live in cities.

The countryside is depopulating, and the skills of growing food for local consumption is being shifted away from large country farms to small or even tiny urban plots. There are urban or suburban farmers with less than half an acre now producing over US$100,000 annual income. The technologies they have embraced are the use of cold frames, hoop greenhouse covers, greenhouses, and high intensive cultivation methods.

Fun Fact: In Russia, over half of all produce is grown on small home plots during growing seasons.

In the days before massive food distribution in refrigerated trucks, many of our grandparents had family gardens that grew food to be canned or pickled for winter months. Today, urban farmers have learned to extend harsh winter climates thirty to ninety days, urban farmers gain a twenty to fifty percent increase in their incomes. Anchoring a small plot or even a rooftop (as many in Asia have done, with a greenhouse and surrounding it with high-intensity gardening) has freed these urban farmers from the need to work for others.

 

 

 

Do you have a deck, a patio, a small back or front yard? [Greenhouses in the front yard are a red flag to certain types of neighborhoods’ home-owner associations, be forewarned.] Perhaps a balcony, flat roof or a parking space, can be converted into urban gardens. YouTube is a fantastic resource for information and how-to videos in the area of intense farming. The newest planting equipment is expensive, but the payback is less than one season.

Producing protein on tiny plots presents exciting challenges. Chickens, rabbits, and fish are the top choices because they are easy and cheap to raise and there is a ready local market for them. There are US jurisdictions where restrictions apply, and urban farmers are learning how to pressure for changes in the zoning and livestock regulations. Chickens are sometimes noisy and hard to hide from neighbors. Rabbits and fish are quiet and less apt to draw attention.

The fish raised in aquaponics are a bonus and provide a fantastic fertilizer for the rest of your intensive garden plot. Applying the fish waste, a nontoxic, no burn fertilizer, encourages the growth of most plants. A garden plot of three by ten feet can utilize the waste load from an aquaponics system of fifty square feet of Grow Table space. Other plants on the property or nearby will benefit from its magic.

Alternatively, as a last resort, the liquid can be sold as a natural, pesticide-free fertilizer that will not burn or harm plants. The price can be as high as US$15 a gallon. Oh, another income source. A one-hundred-gallon fish tank system supporting a fifty square foot Grow Table will produce thirty gallons of ‘waste’ every three months. Let’s see, if we sell half, that is 60 gallons times US$15 or US$900 per year. That money adds extra money for paying bills or for luxuries.

Sign up today for the Aquaponics University Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Course© and lead the way to a safer, happier and more secure urban living.

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