Saturday, October 29, 2011

Whats new/ Freezing Bell Peppers Link

Wow, I've been gone a long time and have so much new material to post. Sorry for my absence but I am putting together a website database listing all of the Farmers' Markets in the USA and I have learned that I have much to learn about building a website. The good new is though that progress is being made and when finished there will finally be a reliable listing of farmers markets that is constantly updated and will encourage more people to buy local and support their hometown growers.

There is so much going on in the garden of Scott and soon I will be back at the helm of my blog. I do want everyone to know that I have not jumped ship and that soon this blog will become an integral part of my mission...sustainable living.

So much has happened the past few months: I have a new container garden mostly from my own seed stock and have also started my first hydroponic garden. I have been on TLC as a volunteer on a project and have made a trip to a Philippines market with the love of my life:) I have many pictures to share in the upcoming months. In the meantime, I would like to pass along the link to a wonderful gardener and food preservation expert....The Bayou Gardener and also share his video about Freezing Bell Peppers  since I have an abundance of them in my garden:). I look forward to blogging with you again soon, in the meantime....HAPPY GARDENING!!!


Use The Chop Wizard To Make Cooking and Canning a Breeze

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tropical Fruit Trees Thrive in the Arizona Desert

I Love Tropical Fruits! The more exotic the fruit, such as dragon fruit or passion fruit, the better I like it. The problem with being a tropical fruit lover is that I don’t live in the tropics! This typically means that with tropical fruit comes a high price associated with the long distance they must be shipped from the tropics. Most of the tropical produce found in the USA comes from Southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. Couple this long distance with high fuel prices and it makes for some very expensive fruit. If you have ever seen the price of mangos you can understand what I’m saying. What we pay for one mango here we would pay for a whole kilo (about 6 fruits) in the tropics. Another problem with shipping fruits long distances is that the fruit must be picked before it has fully ripened and is therefore not as flavorful as fruit allowed to ripen on the tree, bush, or vine. I have been fortunate enough to have visited the tropics and trust me…..nothing tastes better than freshly picked tropical fruits.




I have often toyed with the idea of growing tropical fruits in desert but I figured I would have to spend a fortune on a climate controlled environment which defeats the whole purpose. Then I got a meet-up message from Dennis McClung at Gardenpool.org that the group was going to meet at Tropica Mango Rare Fruit Nursery  in Mesa AZ. Of course I had no idea that anyone was actually growing tropical fruits in Arizona so I was all over that opportunity. Well on the day I was to go I ended up with an ear and sinus infection and couldn’t go. I was disappointed and decide as soon as I could I would take a drive out there on my own.
 
The Tropica Mango Rare Fruit Nursery is Located at 10520 E. Apache Trail,
Apache Junction AZ (Actually E. Mesa) So type Mesa in The Ole GPS




Well, Saturday, June 25th, 2011 was that day. I left about 10am and arrived at the nursery about 11am. There is a big handmade sign in front of the nursery that proclaims rare and exotic fruit trees inside, Mango Banana, Guava, Avocado, and Papaya are all mentioned on the sign. I expected to see a huge greenhouse with misting systems and a sophisticated climate control system. Instead, I found a large array of very healthy looking plants and trees under a canopy of shade screen. When the owner, Alex Peña, arrive a few minutes later I introduced myself and started asking questions.


Some of the many varieties of Tropical Fruit Trees Found at the E. Mesa Nursery





The first question was, “What got you interested in growing tropical fruit?” Alex responded with a simple, “I like fruit.” He then went on to explain that he began a number of years ago by trying, with much difficulty, to grow an avocado tree. While doing this he also began experimenting with other tropicals and actually found most varieties quite easy to grow. In 1995 he opened the first of two nurseries, one in  Central Phoenix  and the other in East Mesa which just happens to have an Apache Junction Mailing Address.

Owner Alex Peña Is More Than Happy To Help Make Your
Tropical Fruit Growing Experience a Sweet Success



The second question I asked was don’t tropical trees require high humidity to grow. Alex replied that it is not the humidity that is the limiting factor but the temperature. What makes Arizona a great place to grow Tropical Fruit Trees is that the temperatures rarely dip below the point that will damage them. There are a few, such as the Guyabana tree that do not do well below 40 F. but most tropical trees will grow in Arizona. Some better than others. Not to worry though, Alex has become an expert in growing these trees in the Valley of the Sun and will be glad to offer the advice needed to make any gardeners’ attempts to grow tropicals successful!

Healthy Guava Trees Thrive in The Arizona Sun






I asked Alex what fruit trees would grow here and he started to rattle off a list which included mangos, banana, guava, avocado, papaya, and about 3 dozen other varieties. The greatest enemy to the trees is not the hot sun but the short winter with below freezing temperature. To counter this, the plants must be covered. Tropical fruit trees thrive in our hot desert climate, but Alex points out that most must be protected from full summer sun for the first two years until the bark develops enough to keep the tree from burning.


Bananas Are A Good Choice For Beginners.  





Well armed with Alex’s encouragement and the confidence that I can now grow my own fruit trees, I asked Alex which trees would work well in containers. I was told that bananas and guava will do well and that many of the species have dwarf varieties which will lend themselves well to containers. All I have to do is remember to water, feed, and protect the new trees from the hot sun and I will be well on my way to my own tropical garden.


My Personal Favorite, The Mango Tree




Cherries and Curry Leaf



Tropica Mango Also Carries Several Varieties of Sugar Cane




For more information on the tropicamango visit there website at: http://www.tropicamango.com/. The site offers all of the information needed to make growing your own tropicals a smashing success.


Search Amazon.com for growing tropical fruit







Friday, May 6, 2011

I Volunteered at Horny Toad Farm!

I first met Stella McPhee from Horny Toad Farm in February 2011 at the Roadrunner Park Farmers’ Market in Phoenix Arizona. Stella has a vegetable stand at the market that features fresh organic vegetables grown right in the heart of Phoenix. Well naturally this piqued my interest because I am a huge fan of locally grown produce.. I was able to talk with Stella for awhile and asked if I could have a tour of her farm, and I in turn would do a blog post for her. She was more than happy to do this and told me that she had volunteer opportunities at the farm. All I had to do is sign up for their newsletter and I would be informed of any upcoming opportunities.

Horny Toas Micro-farm is right in the heart of Phoenix just south of downtown.
With the warmer weather approaching, many of the crops are going to seed such as the ones shown here. 
At Horny Toad Farm, all unused plant matter is returned to the soil helping the farm to be sustainable.

An adjacent Micro-farm.  Notice the warehouses in the background. 
Nothing rural about this farm.
Cabbage growing right next to a freeway, you can't get much more urban than this!

Volunteering at Horny Toad Micro-Farm is a
great opportunity to get your hands in the Earth
 and get your teeth into some freshly picked
organic vegetables and herbs.






On April 10th I got my first opportunity to volunteer on the farm that afternoon and it turned out to be a rich learning experience. I arrived at the farm about 3 that afternoon. The way Stella works it is that volunteers can bring a bag with them and then after working for a couple of hours volunteers are allowed to harvest anything that is ready and will fit in the bag and for a veggie lover like me this was a bargain. Not only did I get to bring home a bag of ultra fresh veggies, I also acquired so new and very useful information regarding desert gardening and more particularly organic gardening. Vegetables that are not distributed to volunteers are sold at several local area Farmers’ Markets including Downtown Phoenix Public Market and Roadrunner Park Farmers’ Market.



Helping out at an urban farm or garden is a great learning opportunity for children.
No one is too young or to old to get involved.   Stella's Youngest Daughter lends a hand here.
 Her son works the stand at the Phoenix Public Market.  The whole family is involved in the operation.


My task for the day was onion detail. I was given about a 25 foot by 3 foot strip of garden that I had to till, level, and then plant. The strips are about 2 feet wide and divided by shallow channels which allow irrigation water to flow through the farm. There are no pesticides or chemical fertilizers used at Horny Toad Farm, everything is done naturally. Stella does not use a tractor to till the nearly 2 acre farm. Everything is done by hand. She explains that tractors disturb the ladybugs which are used for very effective pest control. To fertilize the field she uses cow manure and also collects compostable vegetable matter from the markets to mix into the soil.


Your's Truly on onion detail. It was so nice to get my fingers back in the soil. 
Stella McPhee, (behind me) is a very knowlegable gardener and teacher. 
This was a terrific opportunity to learn about desert vegetable gardening!




Ladybugs are seen everywhere at Horny Toad Farm. Used as a nautural way to control garden pests,
ladybugs replace pesticides to make the veggies grown here safe and organic and also contibutes to sustainability. 


As well as being an urban micro-farm, Horny Toad Farm is also a CSA farm which stands for Community Assisted Agriculture. A typical CSA farm sells shares to consumers which are typically a box or bag of seasonal produce harvested from the farm weekly and distributed to the consumer. Other forms of CSA farms offer volunteer opportunities in exchange for vegetable or animal products. Some of the main advantages of a CSA farm are that it forms a relationship between the farmer and the consumer. I will talk more specifically about CSA farms in an upcoming blog because they are becoming very popular and are a great way to reduce oil consumption; something we desperately need to do. Below are just some of the many vegetables and herbs that can be grown in the desert.

Beautiful Lettuce Ready for The Salad Bowl

My Harvest


Cauliflower


Beets do very well in the desert soil.

does very
Dill does very well in the desert.


If you are a gardening enthusiast such as myself, I highly recommend volunteering at Horny Toad farms or one of many other CSA’s all over the country. A good way to find one near you is to visit the local harvest website; http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ they have a locator map that’s easy to use and shows CSA farms all over the USA. To contact Horny Toad Farm send an emailto:stellahornytoad@gmail.com. I learned so much in a couple of hours about gardening in the desert and I plan volunteering on a regular basis and it felt so good to get my hands back in the dirt and connect to Mother Earth.


Until the next time, Happy Gardening!


 



Friday, April 1, 2011

My Response From Senator John McCain on the Food Safety Bill/See Food Inc.

Hello all my fellow gardeners and farmer's markets enthusiaists.  I just thought I would share a response I received from Senator John McCain regarding the Food Safety and Modernization Act that was signed into law on January 4, 2011.  As many of you know, I was against the bill because it was strongly backed by Monsanto in an effort to further strengthen their control over our food supply. For the record, both of Arizona's Senators voted against the original draft of this bill as it would have forced Farmers Markets out of business. Let it also be known that over 95% of people polled were against it.After the Bill was rewritten with looser controls over small scale growers and producers, it passed.

 We cannot afford to lose our Farmer's markets and our link to the Farm's  If we allow Corporations to Control Agriculture we will be in serious trouble.  The scaled down version of this bill was but a small victory and be rest assured that the Monsantos and The Tysons and The Fast Food Companies will not rest until they completely dominate the food supply.  I urge you to see the Movie Food, Inc.  It is a very revealing look at what these corporate giants are doing and in my opinion is a must see for everyone.

Well I don't often agree with them, I would like to publicly thank Senators McCain and Kyl for standing with the people on this Bill.  As this response proves, our Representatives in congress do listen to us and the only way we can keep the Corp. Giants from controlling the food supply is to get involved in the political process and write our Senators or Congressional Representatives.  here is the response I received from Senator McCain:


Mr. Scott Kronabetter


xxxx x xxxxxx xx xxxxx


Phoenix, AZ 85018




Dear Mr. Kronabetter:


Thank you for contacting me regarding the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views.


As you may know, recent outbreaks of contaminants in spinach, peanut butter, and eggs have raised consumer doubts over the safety of retail produce and manufactured foods. In response to such outbreaks, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act radically expands the regulatory authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).


The Food Safety bill first passed the Senate on November 30, 2010. After a period of negotiation in the House of Representatives, the final text of the bill, H.R. 2751, was agreed to in the Senate on December 19, 2010 and signed into law on January 4, 2011. Please be assured that I will continue to keep your concerns in mind when considering issues surrounding food safety legislation.


Thank you again for sharing your concerns. Please feel free to contact me in the future on this or any other matter of importance to you.


Sincerely,


John McCain United States Senator


As you can see, they do listen.  Thanks for reading this, I hope you will get involved. 

Until the next time,  Happy Gardening!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Container Garden, The End of Season One

With the hot weather approaching in the Arizona Desert, my first container garden season is drawing to a close. Overall I would say it was a success in that it provided valuable learning experience for me. As most of my vegetable gardening experience was derived by directly planting in the soil which meant I had to learn all over again.



While container gardening does have its limits it also has some distinct advantages. The main limit, I discovered, was that the productivity of the plant is directly proportional to the size of the container. For instance, my tomato plants became stunted when the root mass filled the container it was in. When this happens, the root system cannot support the entire plant and the leaves begin to yellow and die. Another drawback to too small of a container as that there are smaller fruits because the amount of water and sugar needed to produce a larger fruit is limited. The largest tomato container I used this year was three gallons and the other two were one gallon. The results were evident with the 3 gallon plant producing the largest and the most fruit. Ironically this was an heirloom tomato which should produce less fruit. Next season I will use planters made from two five gallon buckets stacked together with the lower bucket being a water reservoir for the upper bucket. This will proved more space for the roots and provide more water for them as well. The result should be larger fruit and more of it.

The warmer temperatures have begun to take a
toll on the tomato plants as evident with this
heirloom tomato.


The benefits of a container garden are that first of all there is better control over watering and feeding. We also had several freezes this year and the plants were able to be moved to a safe area to prevent damage. There was also very little insect trouble and the plants can be moved around to maximize sun exposure.


The peppers did quite well this year with the acceptation of the Red Bell Pepper which only produced one fruit. The Anaheim Peppers were abundant but lacking in size. Next year they will be in one gallon containers instead of ½ gallon. This should be just about the right size. Another thing about peppers is they grow well in this climate so I will plant more of them.
The Jalapeno Peppers Produced Well.  The sun is beginning to
turn some of them red.

The Anaheim Peppers were small due totoo small of a container
but were very flavorful and abundant.


The Cilantro I planted did fantastic and the troublesome Rosemary, Thanks to the guys at Dos Arbolitos, has finally taken off and begun to flourish. So the will certainly be an expanded herb garden next year.

Finally, a successful Rosemary Plant!


Seeds for next year's Cilantro Crop




So with this season at an end it was time to start thinking about next season. As I have said all along I will practice only sustainable gardening meaning nothing will go to waste and nearly everything will be returned to the garden. This will be the only season I buy seeds for crops I have produced and next year the only seeds I will buy will be for new veggies and herbs not produced this year. . I will not plant Hybrid tomatoes next year but will instead focus on the heritage variety. I have saved about 100 seeds from the tomatoes. I have also saved seeds from the peppers and herbs which will be used for next years crop.


As for food preservation I found several ways to use the tomatoes. I was able to make several containers of Marinara sauce which turned out to be delicious. I also made some more Pico de Gallo, and what I didn’t give to my neighbor I am drying in the sun to be used in several recipes which I will share later. The peppers that were not used in the Pico de Gallo are being dried. The Cilantro also was dried and stored in containers. Incidentally, dried cilantro works very well in recipes too. As far as the stems and leaves, they will be composted and then placed in a worm box to be turned into next year’s soil. All of the soil from this year’s garden will then be amended with the worm composted soil.


The Arizona Sun works perfectly to make Sun-Dried Tomatoes.


To summarize my first container season I would like to say that many valuable lessons were learned and that I am greatly encouraged by the ability to use containers to maximize food production in small areas. Next season a small Aquaponics Garden will be incorporated as well which will mean fresh fish. I am very optimistic that home food production will be a viable means of self preservation in the future and I am hoping, through my efforts, to help many people produce a portion of or all of their food in the years to come. This has been a wonderful learning experience. Until the next time, Happy Gardening!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Worm Boxes Help Make Gardening Truly Sustainable

There is a word I’ve been tossing around that has become very popular in the past few years; that word is sustainable. So what does it mean to be sustainable? The definition in the Webster’s Dictionary is to endure, or to maintain or prolong. Ecosystems in nature do this all of the time unless their balance is disrupted. In sustainable living, the idea is to return what has been taken in perfect balance. When both sides of the equation are zero, we are living sustainably. This is of course very difficult to do but the idea is to get as near zero as possible. By definition though, we are living sustainably even if we are not at zero because we are prolonging the depletion of resources.


This year I made a resolution to live more sustainably. I’ve been blogging about it for about nine months now but when I really take a look at myself I haven’t been living it to the best of my ability.. I have to face the facts; I am spoiled when it comes to convenience, and as a result I throw a ton of stuff away! What I realize today is that all of this waste costs money both directly and indirectly.

One of the biggest areas where I am guilty of waste is food. I have to admit that when I go to the Farmers Market or the Supermarket I buy more than I can eat, especially produce. Then when it spoils, I throw it in the garbage and ultimately it languishes in the local landfill for years and years because it is buried and cannot get enough oxygen to decompose. The cost of this directly is the money I could have saved out-of-pocket by buying less and eating everything I purchase. The indirect cost is the amount of energy and money needed to plant, cultivate, harvest, process, ship, and distribute the food to me. When I start to think of cost in those terms the numbers really add up. This not only taxes me, but all of society. When we start to add millions of people like me together the numbers become astronomical. The prices at the gas pump are a pretty good indication of this cost; more demand, higher prices.

I was standing in my kitchen one day when I heard water dripping under my sink, not a good thing. What had happened is my garbage disposal had corroded and water was leaking out the bottom. My first though was that I would have to replace it. Then I had an epiphany, what if I could turn all of my vegetable and food waste into soil for my container garden. Now that would be sustainable! The first thing I did was to get a five gallon bucket and turn it into a compost bin. Eventually bacteria will break down the vegetable matter into a mulch which I an mix with my potting soil as an organic base.

Composting is One Way To
Garden Sustainably


When I ran this by my friend and associate, Don Jacques, he suggested I also build a worm box. The worms will then breakdown the vegetable matter into rich soil which can be used to grow organic vegetables without chemicals. Another benefit of using a worm box is that the worm will also break down plant matter into a liquid fertilizer which can be drained out of a spigot on the bottom of the box. To me this offers a perfect solution to my sustainability problem and also provides a way for me to return the waste from my container garden back into the garden and thereby balancing my sustainability equation to zero.


Worm Factory DS4GT 4-Tray Worm Composter - Green


I though at first about building one but it can be time consuming and really is not any less expensive once I factor my time in. I decided to buy one through Amazon.com instead. Amazon has several models available and they are reasonably priced. There are some nice wooden ones from Wooden Worm Farms but I decided on a 3 tray worm composter from Worm Factory. I liked this one first of all for price and second of all it has a spigot on the bottom to drain the liquid.




So there you have it and I feel better now knowing that I have made a decision that allows me to be a truly sustainable organic gardener. Until the next time, Happy Gardening!


Wooden Worm Bin 3 Trays

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Want a Great Market Experience, Try Roadrunner Park Farmers Market!

Often the cost of a vacation is far more than the price of an airline ticket or a vacation rental. Usually that cost is the time it takes to play catch-up and get back into a normal routine. Why am I saying this, well I’m about three blog posts behind after another trip to Costa Rica. I know, excuses excuses! Ok, so the real reason I haven’t posted is I ran into a slight case of writers block, and I couldn’t think of a topic, usually not a problem but after a wonderful trip to the tropics I was having a hard time getting back to earth long enough to focus. Well I’m back and as I was checking my blog stats I saw and suddenly remembered that Roadrunner Park Farmers Market in Phoenix is one of my followers, and that it was on my list to pay them a visit.  So I put it on my calendar to show up this Saturday, and I am so glad I did.


The market, which is open every Saturday except Christmas, has been in existence since 1990. Hours are 8am to 1pm October-May and 7am to 11am June-September. Admission and parking are free although get there early as the spots fill up quickly. Of course  if you want to sleep in, there is extra parking on 36th St adjacent to the park. I rather enjoyed the short, scenic walk to the market (Yep, you guessed it, I slept in). Roadrunner FM accepts Arizona Farmers Market Nutrition Program Vouchers and also makes shopping with a credit cards simple by allowing you to pay for all of your purchases with one swipe.

Roadrunner Park, named so because it is actually located in a Public park of the same name, is in a idyllic setting. Here you can walk the dogs, take the kids to the playground, and buy groceries all at once. Even with record cold temperatures all week in Phoenix, the market was well attended. The crowd was vibrant and the vendors were extremely friendly and helpful. I spent about an hour and a half here and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was able to spend a few minutes with seven of the vendors and was even invited to tour some of their farms and facilities which of course I will blog about. They are as follows:

Horney Toad Farm which grows pesticide free organic fruits and veggies. They have invited me to tour their farm which is amazingly right in the middle of the city.

Prescott Valley Farms, producers of steroid free, hormone free, antibiotic free poultry, pork, and lamb. The also carry a line of buffalo and elk meat and have a store in Phoenix which I will visit in the near future.

Double Blessings Lotion and cosmetics who specialize in lotions and cosmetics made from goats milk. I bought some just out of curiosity and I AM SOLD; A great product at a great price.

Lewis Hen House and Veggie Farm who are growers and producers of Organic vegetables, fruit, and poultry.

What’s Your Grind Coffee Roasting who are local roasters and purveyors of a wide variety of coffee and tea.

Life Energy Awakenings owned by Leanne Phillips who is a Feng Shui designer and teacher and who also creates edible gardens.

I also ran into my old friends from A Pickled Perfection and I got to sample their new creations, pickled celery and pickled mushrooms both of which live up to the Pickled Perfection Name.


An Idyllic Park Setting Lends
To The Charm of The Market

The Horny Toad Farm Banner,
Great People, Great Products.

A Very Relaxing Way
To Shop

Lewis Hen House and Veggie Farm Has An
Attractive Selection of Fruits and Veggies.

The Lewis Farm Banner

Even The Littlest Shoppers Enjoy
The Roadrunner Market

Homemade Cheese Anyone?

Nothing Like Fresh Honey

Even On A Chilly Day, The Market
Draws A Crowd

The What's Your Grind Booth,
A Great Place For A
Cup-A-Joe on a Chilly Morning

All in all I found my Roadrunner Park Market experience very enjoyable and refreshing. The atmosphere there is very energetic, and it really got my creative juices flowing. I enjoyed talking to many of the vendors who, even though were very busy, took the time to answer my questions and tell me about their enterprises. I was also very impressed with the gals at the info booth who were very helpful in answering my questions about the market in general. I hope to interview the market organizer in the near future who is, by the way, a follower of this blog. I highly recommend a visit to the Roadrunner Park Farmers Market; I think you will be pleased as well. For more info, visit them at their website: http://www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com/pageRoadrunner/roadrunner.htm

Until the next time, Happy Gardening!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Local Gardeners Convert Old Pool Into Aquaponics Garden!

What do you do when you have a swimming pool, small children, and no fence? There are several options; you can put up a fence but a fence is only good if the gate is closed. You can drain it and fill it in which is a safe option or you can do as Dennis and Danielle McClung did, put a garden in it. The McClung’s didn’t put any old garden in it; they built a fully self-sustaining, completely organic, aquaponics garden that not only feeds a family of four, but also functions as a classroom to teach others how to become aquaponics gardeners and provides Nile Tilapia fish fry to help the new aqua-gardeners get started.

Dennis and Danielle McClung converted
their unwanted pool into a sustainable
aquaponic garden.




I was first introduced to the McClung’s through a friend of mine, Donald Jacques, who thought their garden pool might be of interest to me. When I learned that the McClung’s garden pool was completely self-sustaining and that it provided for a large percentage of his family’s food needs, I was in. My goal has always been to be able to raise my own food in limited space and this was this missing piece of my year’s long search to find a solution for my goal. I have tried many other forms of gardening but Mother Nature is not kind to vegetable gardeners in Arizona; it’s too hot in the summer and there is always a risk of frost from November until February. Aquaponics provides a perfect solution for those who want to have highly productive gardens in not-so-friendly gardening environments.

In general, the McClung’s aquaponics garden pool works like this:

The deep end of the pool was filled with water to a depth of about three feet. The water was allowed to stand for about 24 hours in order for the chlorine to evaporate out. Once the water was stabilized, fish are introduced into the water. While any fish will work, Nile Tilapia are the best choice for warm weather climates because they tolerate warmer water temperatures. Another reason they are good choice is that they grow rapidly from fish to fillet in about 9 months. The waste from the fish introduces nutrients into the water. The nutrient rich water is then pumped up into the  Grow Medium in which supports the plant roots. One of the plants that grows well in the fish water is Duckweed. Tilapia and many other fish just love to eat duckweed so it is used to feed the fish. The McClung’s also have incorporated chickens into the system.  The chickens' waste falls into the fish water which stimulates algae and bacterial growth. Algae and bacteria are very important to the system as they introduce oxygen into the water and remove toxic chemicals such as ammonia found in fish urine. The chickens also eat the duckweed which grows in abundance in the McClung’s garden. The plants in the garden also help to maintain the proper ph level in the water which should be about 7.5.


A fish pond is established in the deep end of the pool.  The plants in
The water help to maintain a proper ph od 7.5.  The nutrient rich water
is then pumped up to feed the plants.  The McClungs use Nile Tilapia
which tolerate warmer water temperatures and low oxygen levels.  They
also grow rapidly and are absolutely delicious!


Waste from chickens cooped above the fish pond introduce algae and
bacteria into the water.  The algae and bacteria helps to keep the ph
level in the water safe for the plants and the fish.



Duckweed, which grows rapidly in water pumped up from the fish
pond, is used to feed the fish and the chickens.  It is a key component
in the garden's sustainability.


Plants thrive in the garden pool.  Not only does the fish water provide
a rich source of nutrients for the plants, it also keeps the humidity at levels
that promote healthy plant growth.




Dennis McClung, in blue hat top center, freely shares info on the
garden during one of his tours.  You can arrange a tour by visiting
his website, http://www.gardenpool.org/ and joining his meetup group.


Dennis and Danielle McClung explain the importance of chickens
to their garden.



Here is the beauty of the aquaponics garden, it provides fresh vegetables, fresh fish, and eggs from the chickens (the McClung’s won’t eat the chickens as they have become attached to them but that is an individual choice). The only thing left for the McClung’s to buy are staples such as milk, sugar, and bread, but they are experimenting with sugar cane and I imagine wheat could be grown as well in some larger systems.



To learn more about the McClung’s garden pool or to sign up for one of their classes, go to their website:  http://www.gardenpool.org/ which offers all of the information needed to build your own garden pool. Don’t have a pool, No Problem, the McClung’s also teach classes in barrelponics which uses 55 gallon drums to support the fish and the plants (chickens excluded). Aquaponics gardens can also be built using a 10 gallon aquarium which works well for the hobbyist.




For those who don't have a pool, 55 gallon barrels also work great.
The McClung's teach classes in barrelponics.  To learn how to sign
up visit their website: http://www.gardenpool.org/

Nile Tilapia in an aquarium are used to grow strawberries in
a smaller scale aquaponic garden.


I hope you have enjoyed this post, and that you will consider using an.  aquaponics system.  Oh, by the way, I tasted one of the tomatoes in the McClung’s garden and they are absolutely out of this world.


Until the next time, Happy Gardening!