|Dennis and Danielle McClung converted|
their unwanted pool into a sustainable
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.
|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!