Backyard Aquaponics Update, 2021

So now we can talk about 2021

Early July, 2020, Aquaponics system grow tower, media bed and grow-pipes.
Early July, 2020, Aquaponics system grow tower, media bed and grow-pipes.

All in all, 2020 was a good summer and not an awful winter. The Christmas of 2020 saw my partner Chrissie give me a copy of Sylvia Bernstien’s book, Aquaponic Gardening. It’s quite good in terms of information, layout and fun to read. I’m currently on my second read-through, in fact.

The good news was that there wasn’t a lot of news to me in the book. In the period that I’ve been building, testing, researching, and breaking aquaponics systems and systems concepts, I’ve taught myself a lot. I’ll openly admit that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, as it were, but I’m the stubborn sod that climbed up here.

Snowy backyard, Morell, PE.  Chicken coop is buttoned up tight against the cold, -18c.  Not great backyard aquaponics weather.
Snowy backyard, Morell, PE. Chicken coop is buttoned up tight against the cold, -18c. Not great backyard aquaponics weather.

One of the things that Ms.Bernstien’s book did confirm for me was that I was artificially making my life harder by shutting the system down in the winter.

Every Spring began the racing against the clock all Summer to try and get both biology and chemistry to sing in duet before the enforced grand finale in October of the Atlantic hurricane season. Even without internalized vermicomposting, an approach that Ms.Bernstien strongly believes in, the reality is that it takes longer that my entire available outdoor growing season for the system ecology to mature and stabilize.

At my latitude, north of 45 degrees North, aquaponics needs a greenhouse. No one would douse a year-old established system with a bottle of chlorine bleach; that’s a complete waste of all of the hard won effort in cycling the system and maturing the beneficial bacteria and verimiculture. Yet, when the outdoor temperature hits -10c here, that’s essentially what’s happened. That system is pretty much sterile by the time the next April arrives and I start all over again.

So, the porch-side backyard aquaponics system is (hopefully) moving into the greenhouse this fall (2021). If all goes well, it will keep running through the winter months and straight on through to next summer.

Late May, 2021.  Backyard aquaponics system Mk.III dismantled.  All that remains is the wooden frame and the sump tank.
Late May, 2021. Backyard aquaponics system Mk.III dismantled. All that remains is the wooden frame and the sump tank.

Obviously, that’s going to be a lot of work. The current system just does not fit in my greenhouse. Atop that, the primary tank is suffering from material fatigue in the top ⅛ of the nylon bottle, so that has to come out of use. I have a whole list of issues to sort out, including removing some of the redundant concepts and trialing some new ones.

So that means the old system has to be taken apart. As of yesterday, 24th of May, it was done. Backyard Aquaponics System Mk.III has been fully dismantled.

One thought on “Backyard Aquaponics Update, 2021

  1. Very interesting! Reading this post, I learned a lot about aquaponics, plus there was a bonus cat AND goldfish. What’s not to love? 🙂

    Seriously — it’s really cool to see your set-up!

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