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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 54
September 27th  2011
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

Although I didn't see any live gators in Florida, last week I got to eat selected small parts of one at a business lunch. These were labeled "Gator Bites" on the menu; luckily Susanne also ordered gator bites. This was good, because they were tasty and I got to eat my own gator bites instead of guard them and be a selfish egocentric you know what.

For those of you who are married, I assume you know the rules: "if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy; if Daddy ain't happy, ain't nobody cares". Based on this archetypal rule, a smart Daddy checks in with his wife before she orders in a restaurant. One must be willing to have one's first choice be wife's second choice, and be willing to enthusiastically eat wife's first choice if it doesn't turn out to be as delectable as it seemed on the menu.

This in no way is meant to make fun of or disrespect women. It's simply a recognition of the fact that men and women operate according to different rules. As they say, "If the man had the babies, there would be ONE". The woman is usually the one who wakes up immediately if a child coughs in the night, then cleans them and their bedding up after the child throws up on everything. You've got a disoriented, scared child at that moment, and frankly, Daddy holds second candle to Mom for reassurance and calming effect when the fish poo hits the fan.

If you boil it right down to its evolutionary basics, the man's job is to do whatever is necessary, right up to sacrificing himself, to ensure the continuance of the children and the woman taking care of them. It's no good to survive a situation if your children are eaten up by it; your genetic bequest of future generations is gone. Likewise, if you lose the woman but keep the kids, your ability to take care of them to adulthood is going to be less (usually) than the woman's ability alone, especially when the kids are young; and as a result their survival and/or development will be compromised from whatever is normally considered optimum. The bottom line is that it doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes two really dedicated and connected people.

To make this work, there's a simple two-part process you can follow: One: make sure your partner knows what their needs are, and is able and encouraged to communicate those needs to you; Two, make sure you know what your needs are, and are able and encouraged to communicate those needs to your partner. You can't always satisfy ALL of the other partner's needs, but knowing what's most important to each is a huge part of the process. What does this have to do with aquaponics? Well, if you're doing aquaponics with your wife or husband, it's absolutely critical operating information to have!

If you're interested in commercial scale aquaponics, please take a look at our Commercial Aquaponics Trainings (Special Offer in right sidebar of this email), where you will learn more about real-life operation of a commercial aquaponics system than you can anywhere else in the world. The next training is in Hawaii in October 2011. For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Apartment/Condo Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our Apartment/Condo System package includes new and easy-to-understand building instructions and complete operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience operating a commercial aquaponics farm. Anyone can build a system out of plastic barrels, but operating one successfully without good and easily-understood information can be frustrating. You simply use the "Daily Operations Checklist" in the manual and follow the step-by-step instructions on your way to success.

We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and built our first commercial aquaponics systems with FAR less information than this manual contains. We included all the information learned from that experience in this manual so you don't need to make any of the same mistakes we did.

Learn about our Apartment/Condo Systems!

Aquaponics Nugget #54:
Hybrid Aquaponics/Permaculture Sustainable Food Production Systems

We described two of these hybrid systems in the last two "Nuggets", and this week I'll describe another such system. this system is normally referred to as "Dutch Buckets" and is traditionally used in chemically-fertilized hydroponic systems. In today's column, we'll investigate making dutch buckets out of all kinds of cheap things as well as how to use them effectively in conjunction with an aquaponics system.  Here's a picture of some dutch buckets from the CropKing catalog ( a big hydroponics equipment supplier) so you can see what they look like:


A dutch bucket is simply a container that holds a potting mixture, with a drip irrigation system to keep it moist, and some drain holes near the bottom of the container so that the container can't fill up with water and drown the plant. When you use aquaponics water in the drip irrigation system instead of chemical fertilizer solutions, they grow food like no one's business, in about half the time it takes to grow in the soil!

The advantages of dutch buckets are:

1. You are not just limited to the nutrients that the aquaponics water brings in, because you mix your own potting mixture for the dutch bucket. This leaves you free to use ingredients such as volcanic cinder or sand (to aerate the mixture), azomite, calcium carbonate (oyster shells) and other mineral additives (to provide trace nutrients and adjust the pH of the potting mixture), and compost, compost tea, or vermicompost (to add more nutrients for heavy feeders such as tomatoes). In addition, you have the ability to adjust the amount of nutrients going into the buckets by putting these additional nutrients in at any time, not just when you are initially filling and planting the bucket.

2. Dutch buckets are inexpensive; and depending on the size of the plants grown, they can be gallon cans, buckets specifically made for this use, 5-gallon buckets, or barrels cut in half. What do you have that is cheap, easily available, and holds water? The larger sizes of dutch buckets can easily support two or more plants in them. When they get a LOT bigger, they are called "wicking beds" rather than dutch buckets (we covered these in a "Farmily" column in an earlier newsletter). They are versatile: you can  install them at any desired spacing to get the results you need.

3. The nutrient water from the aquaponics system is simply run through the normal irrigation drip tubing for distribution, with battery-powered or AC water timers so that you don't have to stand there holding the hose when watering. We suggest NOT putting "emitters" on the ends of the drip tubes, as these will reduce the size of the hole that the aquaponics nutrients need to drip out of, and will possibly lead to clogs and dry plants.

4. Plants that are particularly suited for growing in dutch buckets are anything that climbs or spreads out; such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds. Another advantage is that you can take a single dutch bucket out of a system for replanting without having to deal with the rest of the system.

5. Using dutch buckets is really simple: just feed your fish a little more, add a little more water to your system, and siphon off the resulting rich nutrient-filled water to grow more stuff in dutch buckets on the ground outside your aquaponics system!

These hybrid systems are simply
combinations of ingredients that we put together in a different way using system thinking that understands the qualities and possibilities of interrelationship between all the parts. Think of additional ways YOU could combine systems so the output of one can reduce the need for (purchased) inputs in another, for instance.

(Next week: something interesting (though we're not sure what!). We just got back from an exhausting two weeks of training and being-on-the-road, and we're pretty fried right now. Aloha!)

Click Here To See Our New Aquaponics Video!
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Free Farm Tours
Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month,  focused on growing food with aquaponics and permaculture.  Click here for information. See you there!

If you are a school, a non-profit organization, an organization working with the poor, Native Hawaiians, or ex-inmates, or if you are a church, we will hold a free farm tour for you anytime. You DO need to email us first to schedule, or we might be out on errands!


3-1/2 pound kalo (taro root) grown in a 2" net pot (little bump at bottom)


4-month old prawn (macrobrachium rosenbergii) grown in hydroponics troughs of our aquaponics systems

Special Offer! Sign up for our  our September 2011 Florida Commercial Aquaponics Training, OR our October 2011 Hawaii Commercial Aquaponics Training now, and we will email you our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

More Information on Hawaii and Florida Commercial Aquaponics Training

In The Farmily

In 1956 I was 4, and being a fledgling engineer, had used my Dad's tools to take my tricycle apart and put it back together "improved". I flipped the main frame upside down and reinstalled the front wheel, handlebars, and seat.

The result was a chopper trike (what they call a "Big Wheel" today) that would go four times as fast as a regular trike with no danger of flipping over in a turn. It was a sleek beast, and I tore around the neighborhood sidewalks with it, terrorizing the slower children who only had unmodified store-bought tricycles to ride.

Well, one morning, me and my kiddie chopper were cruising down the main drag in Green Meadow, Palo Alto, when a neighbor lady backed her Ford Galaxie out her driveway and right over the top of me and my trike. I mean, the next thing I knew I was looking up at the underside of her car and getting dragged along the asphalt. Fortunately she heard the sound of the trike crunching under the car and stopped.

I was okay until she got out to see what happened and started screaming. I was bleeding from a couple of scraped patches on my knees and stuff, and I guess she thought she'd Osterized me. She grabbed me up and hugged me, called my Mom, who came out and also started crying. I didn't imderstand what the fuss was about. There was less blood than when I skinned my knee, and they didn't make any fuss about that.

What I was really upset about was my trike. I immediately tried to address my overriding concern about when the heck I was gonna get a new trike, but they wouldn't even talk about it, they just kept saying how glad they were I didn't get hurt. Sheesh!

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