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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Aquaponics: Synergies with Other Topics

At left:

Example of a book you could look to for info on creating a 365 aquaponics system

I love aquaponics. But when you're looking to create your aquaponic garden, you can pull from numerous other resources. One of my favorite topics is year-round gardening.

I love the idea of being able to have vegetables (and fish...) during late fall, winter, and early spring. Most of the current aquaponics literature talks about growing in climates that are warm throughout much of the year, which makes it easy to have your fish and veggies year round. But what do you do when the temperature plummets to crazy low?

Last time I mentioned the site. The interface is a bit clunky, but I love being able to look at climate information for any major city anywhere in the world. So if I'm reading a book written by Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm, for example, I can look up his address in google maps, find the closest major city, and see what his climate is. In Eliot Coleman's case, that's either Augusta or Bangor, ME. If the lengths of his days and his temperatures are similar, I can have some confidence that the solutions he's developed can be applied to my situation.

On the other hand, if the person giving me advice on winter crops has their garden on the equator, I may want to be a bit more sceptical about whether the measures that work for them will be adequate for me.

PS - I haven't posted much lately for various reasons. But the most trivial reason for my silence is running up against my storage limit. Getting me and my credit card and the website to buy more space together all at the same time wasn't working. Luckily for me, Google has shifted to their "Google Drive" concept, along with 5GB of free space (I think it was 1GB before). I'll still be absent a bit for the next few weeks for the other reasons I've been hiding. Towards the end of June, however, you can expect to hear from me more regularly.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Urban Farming Guys in India

I woke up this morning to a cool e-mail from the Urban Farming Guys. They'd gone to India, to the isolated city of Imphāl, to install a barrelponics system for an orphanage.

The e-mail contained three videos. The first two minutes of the first video gives you a glimpse of the barrelponics design they were installing. Then next 30 minutes of video mostly gives you a sense of the beautiful people they were serving, and the primitive conditions with which they had to work.

UFG goes to India (14 min) :

part 2 (8 min)

part 3 (10 min)

Thinking back, I initially didn't like the barrelponics system. The blue barrels and lack of aesthetics bothered me. But after over a year of trying to figure out elegant ways to create DIY systems one can create from local materials, the barrelponics concept is growing on me. And I think it would be possible to modify this system to make it less screamingly blue plastic DIY-ish. Anyway, check out at least the first couple of minutes of the Urban Farming Guys' video if you're just interested in plumbing ideas. The rest of the video is fun if you want to experience another world.

Another cool thing I discovered this week is the website Gaisma, where for any major city in the world you can find sunrise, sunset, and averages for the amount of sunlight ("insolation" in kWh/day taking into account weather and cloudcover), the amount of rainfall, windspeed, and temperature. For example, here is a portion of the Gaisma page for Imphāl.

At a glance you can see the amount of sun a location gets in each month of the year, the average monthly temperature, and the amount of rain (you can change the units if you're not used to the default measurements (e.g., inches of rain versus mm of rain)). Using for my location, I was able to calculate the amount of rainfall I could expect per year on my greenhouse, in case I wanted to limit my rainwater harvesting to the relatively-clean plastic roof over my garden. In my case, it comes out to almost 2500 gallons per year for my little 8'x12' greenhouse. Crazy!