Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sahib Aquaponics Tour

Today Kevin and I met with two other couples at the Winter Garden facility where Sahib Aquaponics
is located.  Our tour was guided by owner Sahib Punjabi, (not his real name, but what he goes by for this business).  He began his journey into aquaponics when a lack of garden space at his home and rough gardening conditions for container planting forced him to consider alternatives in order to pursue his passion for growing plants, some tropicals he missed having and a need to create garden space.  Owning some industrial buildings that had useless side yards gave him the opportunity to experiment with this.  After considering his options he decided to try and use aquaculture to help him grow his gardens and the systems we saw today on our tour were the results of his experimenting to find what worked best for him.

The original system is in the parking lot area where it's got a few goldfish and the plants it provides nutrients for are in the beds he's created along the fence line.  This microculture in a once desolate parking strip allows bananas, papayas, mexican sunflower, and a variety of other edible plants to grow and are available to anyone who happens to want to eat from them. His original system is called Zero Lot Backyard Gardener and you can click on the name to check out his post from his blog.

We next toured the area with the majority of his growing beds.  These vary in types and styles and are supplied with the nutrient rich fish water from his 1000 gallon tub that holds both koi and tilapia.

Fish in his large tank

Feeding the fish

Growing beds on sides of fish tank that also help filter water as it returns to tank

Deep water culture beds on left, along with tower systems behind them.  Then on the right side of this picture are riverbed wicking systems.

An elevated growing bed makes great use of this space

Sahib showing a plant starter floating raft on his deep water system

Happy healthy plants that produced a lot of fruits and veggies for this small space

Looking down the shaded area, with the fish tank located in the very back

At the opposite end of this area from the fish tank and grow beds is his Aquavermiponics and the vigorous plant growth that are in the beds above the compost tea barrels.  This looks like a really interesting system to add to our "to do" list.

Using worm castings in the barrels to brew compost tea, Sahib feeds the plants in the grow bed on top of the barrels. The lush growth and rich colors of the plants let you know they truly appreciate the nutrient rich mixture in this Aquavermiponics system he's made.

Wasting no space a smaller tank by the fence behind the papaya tree and Aquavermiponics holds a few goldfish to feed another set of his grow beds.

Finally, on the other side of the parking lot is another side yard space that has IBC Totes and his hanging plant systems attached.  There are the larger wicking beds that his tomatoes and beans grow in and can climb up on.

Wicking bed system for his taller plants

A couple big buckets of chives

Clever low tech bucket aeration using buckets with holes in them linked together 

Buckets and plants in a wicking bed

Hanging towers with sponge media to hold plants and nutrient water before draining into the catch basin beneath

IBC Totes with fish for this system

Beautiful malabar spinach growing here

Then the final part of the tour is a newer system he is creating in a small back yard between his building and the fence line for the neighboring buildings.  This turns an otherwise useless space into an amazing growing area using these newer aquaponic "riverbed/ wickingbed" method.

Buckets and soil being prepared in this new wicking bed system

Last questions before our tour ended.  You can get another look at his hanging towers on the left

We really enjoyed our tour and I came home with a small papaya plant, a malabar spinach plant, and tall mexican sunflower and a few loofah starters all compliments of Sahib.  If you are near the Orlando area or plan to travel there and are interested in Aquaponics I recommend checking out his place.  You can visit his site  for information, it's Sahib Urban Gardening.

In the meantime we have more to plant and new ideas to consider as we expand our gardening area and the methods we are using.  I'll post my updates in my next blog post on our garden progress.

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