I have a few friends who are working with backyard aquaponics right now, including my friend Larry who has just rebuilt his entire aquaponics system, as you can see in my new video:
There’s a lot going on there and it’s still a brand-new setup.
Redundancy and Experimentation
One thing I find quite interesting about Larry’s backyard aquaponics system is how he’s integrated grow bag gardening, gutter gardening, wicking garden beds, gravel beds and tilapia all into the same plan. He’s also surrounded those gardens with other gardens and food projects, including deep mulch gardening, grapes on wires, a small orchard, pigs, chickens, goats and more.
It’s very (as aspiring philosophers might whisper in the rarefied atmosphere of worldview studies classes and theological libraries) syncretistic.
The combination of multiple gardening styles into a system builds redundancy and elasticity.
When I created my homestead in North Florida, I didn’t just rely on that food forest. I also planted annual gardens and grape vines, hot tub ponds and greenhouses, roots and nuts, etc.
Heck, just consider the variety of root crops:
Sweet potatoes (5 varieties), white potatoes (5 varieties), true yams (4 varieties), taro, malanga, eddoes, Jerusalem artichokes (5 varieties), cassava (4 varieties), yacon, turnips, daikon radishes, ginger, carrots, arrowroot, cannas, ground nut, jicama, onions (multiple varieties), garlic…
…and I’m sure there are more I can’t remember off the top of my head.
Instead of just sticking to a single theme for his backyard aquaponics garden, Larry integrated multiple different ideas all playing with the idea of using a constant water supply to grow crops.
There are a lot of functions that this system allows. In a small space, Larry is able to raise tilapia, create fish manure for his gardens and trees, start cuttings in grow bags, grow some ornamental pollinator-attracting species, grow vegetables for the table, garden without irrigation and keep touchy plants growing through the heat of summer.
Remember, too, that in the video we’re only seeing the aquaponics garden at its beginning, in spring. A lot of the plants haven’t even emerged from the soil yet and a lot of these wicking beds and other portions of the system are just getting started. He’s created a good structural framework, though, and I fully expect that his aquaponic gardening is going to excel in production over the course of the year.
Though I never filmed Larry’s previous setup, it worked well and provided the experimental groundwork that led to Larry’s Backyard Aquaponics Laboratory 2.0.
Keep experimenting, folks!
P.S. One guy you should follow on YouTube if you want to see some great ideas is my friend Mart Hale.