Here is a post by Dave Hart, an experienced Aquapon who works with me at Sahib’s Urban Aquaponics Hybrid Research Farm. The lady at Lowe’s Dave refers to below is a Master Gardener and gives classes on Botany. She want to bring her class students and those of some of her Seminole County based Master Gardeners for a Farm Tour.
“This past Saturday, we were like a couple of drug dealers in the hood…. …but we were ‘pushing’ Aquaponics at a Lowe’s in Fern Park, FL.
Sahib goes into this one often and has gotten to know the folks in the garden dept. The lady that runs the dept asked if we would be interested in setting up an aquaponics display for their ‘100 days of spring.’
We got to talk about AP to lots of folks. I tried to mention DIY, to everyone I talked to. Hopefully, a little taste, has created some new ‘addicts’…
On one end of the table, we had a small raft system set up. The pump was a little big, so I added a spray bar in the fish tank.
On the other end, we set up a small demo of a bell siphon. The stand pipe was pvc, but the ‘bell’, was part of a clear soda bottle. That way folks could see the siphon actually working.
In the 1st picture, the green pop up tent was the scotts vendors tent. Boy, did we get dirty looks when they heard us telling folks that with AP, you don’t need to buy fertilizers….
If you want to get the kid’s attention, just add a large gold fish or two. Lots of kids sat right there and watch them.
Hopefully, it’ll be a ‘seed’ for them, later on in life…
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – President Ronald Reagan
Sahib introduces an AquaVermiponics system in order to have a quality supply of ‘casting tea”, also known as “compost tea” always available for foliar spray for his Aquaponically grown plants and produce. So what is Aquavermiponics?
Aquavermiponics is the combination of Aquaculture, Hydroponics and Vermicomposting. How Vermicomposting is added to Aquaponics can vary to some extent as to the need for the particular application. Why add Vermicomposting to the better than organic method of growing food using Aquaponics? To answer this one has to know a little about both Aquaponics as well as Vermicomposting. In Aquaponics, there can be no harmful pesticides or chemical fertilizers added to the system. Even products that are approved for use in organic gardening can result in disastrous consequences if added to an Aquaponics system. Take Neem Oil as an example.
Being from Indian Ancestry, naturally I am familiar with the many beneficial qualities that Neem Oil offers such as being a natural insect repellent and a safe pesticide that is organically approved. It has been found to be effective in controlling such pests as white flies, aphids, scales, mealy bugs, spider mites, locusts, thrips, and Japanese beetles. Neem Oil is also biodegradable, breaking down quickly and it is also considered to be non-toxic to mammals, birds, bees or earthworms. Neem Oil is certainly a wonderful product in organic gardening if used correctly.
Severe caution: Do Not Use Neem Oil in Aquaponics! Foliar spraying Neem Oil, while helping you control the pests mentioned above could result in the death of all your fish. Why risk such?
So I was looking for an alternative foliar spray product that would not only help in controlling the pest issues but also help in providing additional nutrients and trace elements to the plants growing in our Aquaponics systems. We have been spraying Maxicorp with iron on occasions as well as Vermicompost tea with excellent results. We do not always add the worm castings directly to our media beds (we may if they are wicking beds), but prefer to use foliar spray. Why? We had read and do believe that plants absorb the beneficial aspects far quicker as a result of foliar spraying. As every sustainable urban farmer knows, Vermicompost is a wonder product in the world of agriculture. It use is increasing rapidly as the numerous benefits are being shared with each other. Here is some information as well as the source:
Castings contain: 5 times the available nitrogen, 7 times the available potash and 1 1/2 times more calcium than that found in 15 cm of good top soil. Therefore, castings are supplied with available nutrients. The nutrients are also water soluble and immediately available to plant life. You will find that most potting soils have nutrient life of 2-5 days, where worm castings will last up to 6 times as long as other types of potting soils. You will need 5 times as much potting soil to do the same job as the worm castings. So, in the long run, worm castings are much cheaper and do a much better job. Also, castings hold 2-3 times their weight in water. That means you water less and the pot will stay damper for a longer period. Worm castings will not burn your plants; unlike using any fresh raw manures (cow, horse, etc.) which can burn root systems if it is not applied properly. The advantage of using castings is the manure passes through the worms' digestive system producing rich organic plant food and a slow releasing fertilizer that allows for better growth. Kids for Landcare: Wormwatch, Education Department of South Australia, 1992, p. 35.
A worm casting (also known as worm cast or vermicast) is a biologically active mound containing thousands of bacteria, enzymes, and remnants of plant materials and animal manures that were not digested by the earthworm. The composting process continues after a worm casting has been deposited. In fact, the bacterial population of a cast is much greater than the bacterial population of either ingested soil, or the earthworm's gut. An important component of this dark mass if humus. Humus is a complicated material formed during the breakdown of organic matter. One of its components, humic acid, provides many binding sites for plant nutrients, such as calcium, iron, potassium, sulfur and phosphorus. These nutrients are stored in the humic acid molecule in a form readily available to plants, and are released when the plants require them. Mary Appelhof, Worms Eat My Garbage, 1982, p.68.
Worm Castings also contain trace minerals, such as small amounts of Phosphorus and Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Boron, Copper, Zinc and Manganese. There are two ways to obtain the solution, what we call “compost tea”, for the foliar spray. One is to brew the compost tea by merely soaking a bag of worm castings in water for some time and using this spray solution, a weak “compost tea” – the extracted method. The other, and one that I prefer, is known as the “aerobically” method.
In the brewing method, compost/castings are placed into a container of circulated and aerated water (via an air bubbler or similar system) typically with other nutrients. The circulated water extracts the microbiology and the microbes are in an abundance of both oxygen and nutrient to feed upon. In this method, colonies of microbes are brewed in exponential numbers, a colony of bacteria for instance can double in population every 20 minutes. Aerobic brewing takes longer than basic extraction with common brewing times of 12 to 24 hours. Brewing time is very dependent on water temperature with warmer water creating faster brews. Aerobically brewed teas have much higher microbe population densities than extracted teas and for this reason are the tea of choice. The sign of a good aerobically brewed tea is a good head of foam and scum on top signifying healthy microbe action! https://www.yelmworms.com/compost-tea/page3.htm
As we have increased the growing area in our Aquaponics research farm, we require an increased quantity of the aerobically brewed compost tea. This compost tea takes at least a couple of days to make and only has a limited shelf life (try use within 12 hours if possible). We have designed an Aquavermicponics system that will ensure that we will have the aerobically brewed compost tea available on hand at all times. In our system, we can also experiment by adding such wonderful natural products as Molasses, thus adding additional nutrients for excellent and robust natural plant growth. Prior to using such this incredible powerful and magical “Sahib Compost Tea”, one could add just a few drops of “hot sauce” and/or cinnamon juice extract so as to increase the potency of the solution. Do remember that you should only spray when temperatures allow and when not harmful to beneficial insects such as honey bees and lady bugs. Here are a few pictures of our Sahib’s Aquavermiponics system. We have added a media bed with a modified Affnan bell siphon so as to increase aeration.
SAHIB AQUAPONICS is a Florida, USA domiciled corporation and is a pioneer in developing and building Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems for sustainable urban gardening. The company specializes in Aquaponics and in the promotion of sustainable urban gardening and the establishment of such Ecosystems. Their mission is to strive to be at the forefront of sustainable urban gardening by adopting the latest Aquaponics technologies and growing methods to provide both high quality food and fish, competitively priced, grown locally and grown naturally. SAHIB AQUAPONICS is providing training workshops for community members and students around the U.S., interested in learning innovative methods and market-based solutions using urban agriculture and Aquaponics.
You are welcome to share your ideas and designs as to how you would suggest we increase additional growing space and/or make improvements. You can submitt them firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Media Beds at Sahib Aquaponics Research Farm
Adding Additional Media Beds for Increased Growing Space and Extra filtration
Adding additional media beds for increased growing space and extra filtration presented a challenge, especially when you are working with extremely limited space. I noticed that the top of our Koi pond was at present “wasted space”, just waiting to be put to use for growing additional food. I could have just built shallow water culture (SWC), raft beds as our filtration system was already adequate for our needs. However, our Koi are growing rapidly in size and I do not really want to part with them. They feed right out of my hand and provide such stress relief that it is hard to describe. With the temperature’s increasing as we enter the hurricane season, the extra feed that the Koi are enjoying, any extra filtration during these months would be extremely beneficial in keeping our Aquaponics created Ecosystem in balance. Adding media beds should help meet this need.
David Hart, my fellow Aquapon friend and I discussed what would be appropriate to build over the Koi pond that would be both functional as well as cost effective. We decided that we would replicate the Sahib Zero Lot Hybrid Aquaponics System grow beds on both sides of the fish tank. Not only would these provide us with additional growing area and the much sought after filtration, helping us use as much of the valuable fish waste within the system as possible, we would also be able to substantially increase aeration by using the modified Affnan bell siphons. We have built the first section of the media beds and they are operational, functioning just a s planned. Here are a few photos that we are sharing and a brief video of the new media beds now in operation .
Sahib is happy to share with you the endless possibilities of how to grow your own food locally and naturally without the use of harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers by using these Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems. These Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems can be scaled to size and can be replicated. They can be modified to be operated off grid as well as expanded as the need arises. Such systems can be used to have fresh food at home, work or anywhere they are set up. They are excellent tools to use as teaching aids so that we can empower the future generation with the knowledge to grow their own food locally by natural means. Sahib’s Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems can be the basis of feeding the family, the community as well as provide income to the urban farmer. Sahib will also share how such systems can be used in urban retail economy, both by food establishments as well as food/produce retail outlets to enable the consumer to purchase food that has been grown locally and by natural means. Food that is “live” (a new twist on the label “Fresh”), and the type recommended by most medical and health professionals as what we should be eating.
Sahib is using the profits from Aquaponics training workshops by Aquaponics Urban Gurus to fund the development of Aquaponics for the poor hungry world villages. He has set up a separate group for this called “Feed Hunger Now” (see link below). Will you help join Sahib…can we work together in this venture? What ideas do you have to help towards this goal?
The February Free Farm Tour was the first opportunity for Central Florida members of IDEAS For Us to come and discover the wonderful world of Aquaponics. We certainly had a full house. We had over 60 visitors, 50 of them via IDEAS For Us. We had to arrange 4 tours, starting at 10.00am and lasting well past 4.00pm. A very busy day!
You should have seen the starry glaze in the eyes of all who attended. Was this really true? A sustainable urban food jungle in waste space! We felt so good that we could capture their imagination and open up a whole new world for them to seriously look at the fabulous opportunities that Aquaponics offered re “Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions”. Everyone who attended left with a big smile on their face and made comments that they would now seriously consider starting their own Aquaponics systems and look at attending the Aquaponics Workshops by Aquaponics Urban Gurus. As announced in January 2012, Sahib Aquaponics and IDEAS For Us have partnered to provide educational tours and professional training programs for students and community members. The first Aquaponics Workshop for the members of IDEAS For Us has been scheduled forMarch 17th & 18th 2012.
Sahib shared with them the following example. He asked them, how do you start bonfire? Both answered that you should start with small twigs that will light easily than the big logs. Small children will learn this wonderful knowledge quickly and will be able to expand its use significantly as they grow. It is for this reason that Sahib stated that he would be happy to donate such systems to the educators to teach our children this wonderful way of life.
Sahib loves to share his knowledge and encourage everyone to learn. His goal is to empower you to grow food for yourself, your family, your community and your business. Grown locally and grown naturally without any harmful pesticides or chemical fertilizers. He thus offers FREE Farm Tours of Sahib’s Aquaponics Research Farm.
FREE Farm tours are held the first Saturday of every month starting at 10:00am and last for about one hour. As Sahib’s Aquaponics Research Farm is located in a small facility, you will need to register as we try to limit our farm visitors to 12 per tour so as to be able to give you personal attention. Small or large groups are welcome and we encourage field trips for all class sizes. Please plan to have any groups with young children or those with special needs, be chaperoned.
Aquaponics Hybrid Urban Growing Systems introduced by Sahib Aquaponics
Sahib Aquaponics held their inaugural Aquaponics training workshops by Aquaponics Urban Gurus on December 10th, 2011. The Aquaponics Workshops were very well received by all who participated and hopefully the world will have another few people who will build Aquaponics systems themselves, enjoy this way of life and then share such knowledge with many more to help provide sustainable solutions to the world hunger epidemic. Reflecting at the end of the workshop, the question was asked as to what constitutes “success” to Sahib?
Tim Mann of Friendly Aquaponics recently wrote…"To Sahib what the word “success” means is that most (if not ALL) of the participants in the courses go out, build and operate aquaponics systems with the knowledge empowered that Sahib has imparted during the course to help end world hunger". Needless to say, I was very happy to read the following e-mail from one of the Workshop participants…
“Dear Sahib, Just a quick note to again thank you for an interesting and educational two days. We enjoyed it very much and our eyes were opened to a new concept. We are already trying to locate the necessary items to build a system much like the one you demonstrated. Keep up the good work! Best wishes, Clyde and Trudy Edwards”.
The Aquaponics hybrid urban growing system that Sahib demonstrated during the Aquaponics Urban Gurus Workshop was a prototype. Over the course of the next few weeks, Sahib will share with you the endless possibilities of how to grow your own food locally and naturally without the use of harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers by using these Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems. These Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems can be scaled to size and can be replicated. They can be modified to be operated off grid as well as expanded as the need arises. Such systems can be used to have fresh food at home, work or anywhere they are set up. They are excellent tools to use as teaching aids so that we can empower the future generation with the knowledge to grow their own food locally by natural means. Sahib’s Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems can be the basis of feeding the family, the community as well as provide income to the urban farmer. Sahib will also share how such systems can be used in urban retail economy, both by food establishments as well as food/produce retail outlets to enable the consumer to purchase food that has been grown locally and by natural means. Food that is “live” (a new twist on the label “Fresh”), and the type recommended by most medical and health professionals as what we should be eating.
"The Zero Lot / Backyard Gardener" System
This was the Aquaponics hybrid urban growing system that Sahib shared with the Workshop participants. We introduced two growing methods, one based upon the raft system and the other using media beds. We explained the different medias that could be used as well as explaining them how to mix media to assist in the planting of seedlings. Workshop participants gained hands on experience in the assembly process as well as seeing the complete system operate. They were shown the beauty and functionality of using the bell siphons (we used a modified design based upon Affnan's design), to aid in the aeration process. Workshop participants were requested to assemble a similar Aquaponics hybrid urban growing system and begin to grow food for themselves. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will add vertical towers ("Sahib Sandwich Towers") over the media beds, add an NFT system as well as introduce re-circulating media beds. In due course we will add some containers to be watered on occasions by the fish effluent water. As the fish grow in size or an additional fish tank is added, we will add additional raft beds to dramatically increase the overall growing capacity. The system will be designed to have a canopy to allow shade cloth as well as cover to collect rainwater for recycling. A small solar system will also be introduced so as to be able to operate the complete system off grid. We will post photos as we build and incorporate such additions.
These are the types of systems that Tim Mann was referring to when he wrote… “Sahib is dedicated to “feeding the villages” of the world, are his words for teaching the poorest people in the world how to feed themselves using aquaponics. He is developing Aquaponics systems in Winter Park, Florida, that are the prototypes for affordable systems that will be appropriate for economically disadvantaged and developing nations.” Sahib’s Aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems will be engineered to enable them to be built completely by locally sourced materials as well as complete packages so as to meet different needs and wants. This should ensure that they are affordable systems for the economically disadvantaged, where ever the need is, thus helping provide a sustainable solution to the world hunger epidemic. Water conservation, use of green technology, reducing the carbon footprint while providing a sustainable solution to help develop ecosystems and sustainable living food jungles thus helping reduce, perhaps even eliminate hunger, are just some of the goals and end results of Sahib’s aquaponics hybrid urban growing systems.
Sahib is accomplishing this in the most interesting place ever seen on an Aquaponics farm: in the “dead space” of a suburban strip mall in Winter Park, near Orlando in Central Florida. Recently an experienced Aquaponics gardener commented…” all the improvements that have been occurring at the "Urban Wasteland"… Now it has been transformed into a beautiful and productive "Urban Farmland"!” Tim Mann comments…” This is not only innovative on Sahib’s part, but perhaps prescient also. Although the politicians all say “we’re on the road to recovery”, there are others who talk of going back to basics and being responsible for our own food security. I can’t think of a better use for a lot of those empty strip malls we see nowadays: imagine housing the farming community in the buildings and growing the food in the empty parking lots!”
Sahib is using the profits from Aquaponics training workshops by Aquaponics Urban Gurus to fund the development of aquaponics for the poor hungry world villages. He has set up a separate group for this called “Feed Hunger Now” (see link below). Will you help join Sahib…can we work together in this venture? What ideas do you have to help towards this goal?