Backyard Aquaponic Gardening Tips

I thought I would share the fun I had while building my aquaponics project in my back yard.
There are photos (getting better at doing that ) the idea is to have fish growing in a large container and the water from the fish is to be filtered through a garden bed with a substrate in which the vegetables will grow.
The fish waste will fertilise the vegetables and the vegetables and substrate will filter the water.
Backyard Aquaponic Gardening is growing in popularity with many people combining growing vegetables with fish.
There are a quite a few things to overcome such as how to re-arrange the planter box to accommodation the tanks and also how to avoid things like ammonia increase in the tank as the fish grow in size producing more waste than the grow beds can filter out.
Ammonia is very bad for the fish.
I am expecting to be able to harvest enough vegetables, fish, yabbies and maybe some mussels to feed the whole family.
With Backyard Aquaponic Gardening I should save us approx $60 a week which will be more than $3000 a year
as much as I like fish we still will be buying red meat.

At this time I intend to have 6 tanks and 6 grow beds, it is anticipated that, that would create enough food for us all and have enough left over for Sunday BBQ with extended family members.

What is Aquaponics

aquaponic garden

Aquaponics is a symbiotic relationship between Aquaculture & Hydroponics.

This means that fish and plants are grown in an integrated system, the system uses the water from the fish tank and circulates it through a grow bed where the plants are grown.

The plants use these nutrients from the fish waste as their main nutrient supply. The fish also benefit as the water is filtered by the plants, cleaning the water for the fish.

Starting the Aquaponics System

The planter box needs to be altered to accommodate the fish tanks as I dont want the tanks to come too far out into the yard.

Aquaponics System work begins

The start is harder than it will be for the rest of the project because I have to adjust the existing infrastructure to fit the ICB (from now on i’ll call it the fish tank)into place

I had several restrictions.
I didn’t want to make the whole thing any taller and I also didn’t want to come further out into the yard.
I needed to dig down far enough to fit the fish tank and to also make sure I could put re-enforced concrete under it as the channel that the fish tank will be placed in, is also going to be a drain for the whole yard.
Taking out the existing pole was a much bigger task than I anticipated. I did manage to get it out , it weighs a lot more than I thought it would.

First Aquaponics Fish Tank

backyard aquaponic gardening

The first tank is in place not ready for use yet by any means, as I have to complete the area for the second tank and also to prepare for the concrete base

Learn how to do Aquaponics Yourself

Aquaponics works! It is a very simple process to get going and is proven to be a viable alternative to other gardening methods using a lot less space, grow both vegetables and fish in a sustainable way in the smallest of gardens or balconies.

aquaponic gardening
Listed below are is some extra reading that can get you started on your own home food production

  • Home Food Production for Everyone
  • DIY guide for growing your own food.
  • IT WORKS – Aquaponics has been PROVEN to grow more food faster.
  • Aquaponics is organically grown without the use of pesticides.


backyard aquaponic garden

The rains came and the work stopped. Not that I was working at it all that hard. LOL
Budget constraints and such and then just as I was moving ahead the rain came

Just to show the amount of work that has been halted, hopefully a lot of progress will happen once the rain stops

After the rain stopped I was able to get some progress happening.
I have done most of the work here with the help of me, myself, and I, on a couple occasions a mate came over to tell me how wrong it all was going and hold a pole to ensure it was straight. Other than that the mess is all mine

First bit of concrete is laid

backyard aquaponic gardening tips
Such a mess thankfully my partner is a very patient lady and I can get away with this mess.

Since we live on a very small block 380 sq metres for house and yard. Things do get very cramped and messy not to mention the amount of dust I create

I have been told that somehow I have created a bigger mess than when I started

Some degree of progress showing now. It actually looks like I am getting somewhere and getting it finished is a real possibility

last 2 bays to get done

aquaponic gardening tips

It now starting to look more like it should, nearly finished the last bays

Just managed to finish the major bit of the last 2 bays, only the retaining wall and some concreting around the edges and the step to do now.
Next day the rain started again and hasn’t let up for 2 days now, hopefully the concrete was hard enough not to wash away.

Some Progress in my Backyard Aquaponic Gardening

Just so you know it is a lot easier to get an Aquaponics project of your own up and running than the one I’m doing.
You only need about 1.5 square metres and you can create one for about $400 or even less if you can source your tank from somewhere that you can either get it cheap or even free.

It is possible to just make a sleeper box and line it with pond plastic, same with the grow box.
Then all you need is a pond pump with luck you could possibly setup for under $200
Not bad for something that can produce a lot of virtually free food.

Well back to what I am building.

backyard aquaponic gardening tricks
I have almost finished the tank structures (rained for a week and then I managed 2 days and it rained again.
I shall have one tank and grow bed filled with water and ready to start setting up the plumbing this week (thank you rain LOL)
I still have a lot of concreting to go as I am renovating the entire back yard at the same time.
As soon as I have finished the tanks and plumbing I will be building a bar by the kitchen window, I will need somewhere to sit relax and enjoy all that BBQ’d fish

Aquaponics System main structure nearly done

2 tanks in
I have the first 2 working tanks in place water is flowing all that is needed now is the grow media

The growbeds have now been filled, just $25 from local landscape supplier for 200 kg of “Autumn Gold” pebbles up to 20 mm in size.

For now there are only Beens and Pak choi, it is still in testing phase.

The plan is to add some corn along the back of the planter in the next couple of days.

2 Weeks later and the beens are coming along nicely Backyard Aquaponics after after 2 weeks

Corn has been added, it is 2 weeks since I planted the corn Gardening Corn
and they are sprouting nicely I have also added cabbage and cauliflower Backyard Aquaponics Cauliflower

To get the system to “cycle” I have added 40 feeder fish, they will get the process of wastes to nitrates for the plants started, it doesn’t matter if they die but they look like they are doing well Aquaponics fish tank.

Soon I will get the fish I want to keep and those feeder fish will be their first meal.

Its been 2 more weeks now and I have added 40 more feeder fish, The growth will be much faster once i have the fish that I will be growing for food as there will be more fish waste for the plants to process as this is a new setup with no nitrates already established it takes a little longer for the plants to grow as fast as they otherwise would.

That’s Pak Choi in the middle beans on the left (flowering already) with corn at the back and capsicum on the right, Tomatoes have been planted seeded across the front to grown down the front of the box but they haven’t sprouted yet, The seeds were out of date so they may not sprout, you can see the Young cabbage next to the pak choi in front.

Most Useful Lawn and Garden Tools

garden tools

Beautiful lawns and gardens don’t just happen. They require a lot of work and dedication, as well as constant attention. The people that manufacture lawn and garden tools realize that gardeners are a hard working breed, and would like us to believe that we need a different gadget for every job in the yard. The truth is, many tools can be used for more than one purpose, and spending the money on these useless gadgets just isn’t necessary.

Let’s examine some of the tools that will prove to be the most useful for tending to the yard or garden.


A garden trowel is similar to a small, hand-held shovel. No gardener should be without this great little tool. Whether you are digging up a spot for new colorful spring flowers, pulling weeds from the garden, or replanting your favorite container plant, this is an item you will come to depend on.


Everyone needs a durable shovel when working outdoors. A shovel can dig large holes for planting trees or shrubbery, or can be used to pick up and move large clumps of dirt or other debris.


A rake is a very basic yard tool, used to gather leaves, dirt, or other debris. There are some things a shovel simply cannot pick up, which is usually when a rake comes in handy.

Garden hoe

There are two types of garden hoes, a cutting hoe and a draw hoe. A draw hoe can be replaced by other items listed here; however, a cutting hoe is essential, as it can be pushed back and forth to cut the soil, making it ideal for edging.

Garden fork

A garden fork has a long handle with several (usually three or four) short “teeth”. It can serve many purposes, including cultivating soil, breaking new ground, tilling the garden, aerating the yard, removing debris, and so much more. This is a heavy duty gardening tool that everyone should have in the garage or shed. Hand-held garden forks are also available, which are much easier to use in small garden areas.

Before purchasing any lawn and garden tool, handle them to test for comfort. When selecting your tools, keep in mind that copper based metals are most beneficial to the soil, as copper is non-magnetic and will not add traces of metal when used. This type of tool wears nicely and will not corrode as easily as garden tools made of other materials.

This entry was posted in Tools.

Using Shredded Office Paper In Your Compost Pile: Getting The Best Results

Compost Pile

Using shredded office paper in your compost pile is a great way to both reduce the amount of paper waste that your company throws away every day but it is great carbon content for your compost pile.

Paper by nature is a great carbon source for composting and if you can use it in the right way you can really get some good results from a free source. There are a few things that you will need to know in order to get the most out of your paper.

  1. Most of the office paper that you receive will more than likely be ok because they will all more than likely use soy based inks. The only exception to this rule is if the paper is glossy or if there is a lot of color ink used as some of the colors may have heavy metals in them. Other than that you are in the clear to use all the old office memo faxes that you can get your hands on.
  2. Cut it up as small as you can to get the best results. If you leave it as whole sheets or large portions it has a tendency to clump really bad. I use an old lawn mower with a bagger attachment to get the paper into the smallest form possible. If you have one just put all of your paper into a pile and put the mower the mower on the lowest setting so that you get the most paper into the bag possible. Once you got that done just crank’er up and go back and forth until all of the paper is in the bag. If you have a lot of grass clippings and are having a hard time getting the paper to go in the bag you can mix the paper with the grass. Another way to get your paper shredded up the most is to use a paper shredder or a wood chipper. These two options are require you to buy one of these items if you do not already have them. They do work great if you do have them though.
  3. Once you have all of the paper torn up as small as you can you will want to layer it in between other carbon or Nitrogen sources such as leaves or grass clippings. You can also dump all of the shredded paper into the pile and use a pitch fork to turn the pile to mix it in as much as possible. If the paper does turn into a giant clump try and mix some small twigs or mulch in with it and put the mixture as far into the middle of the pile as possible.
  4. Once everything is all mixed up into the pile you can wet the pile or choose not to if your pile already has enough moisture in it. Cool video about shredded paper composting and other ideas to use shredded paper around the garden.

Turn Your Wall Into a Vertical Garden

vertical garden

You can bring your wall alive with a vertical garden. If you can do it properly, it will add life to your house making it both functional and attractive. There are many different ways you can go about it. Don’t worry if you can’t find anybody to help you. There are lots of vertical garden ideas on the internet, and the DIY wall garden is not hard to make.
The first step in building a vertical wall garden is to choose the right place. Most vegetables need plenty of sunlight and fresh air to grow well. Also, make sure that the garden will not obstruct your movement in any way or make the house look unsightly.

After you have chosen the place, select the method. You can go for the one in which you let plants climb all over the wall. You can choose one in which you let a climbing plant climb up another plant or a branched pole, while growing other plants at its feet. You can even build a hydroponic garden in water containers without using any soil.

The Vertical Wall Garden

Here is one method you may find quite easy and good for your home. It involves screwing planters in several rows against the wall and growing plants in them. This is how you go about it: Get planters or rain gutters, a foot or a meter scale, screws or nails, an electric drill, a screwdriver and a hammer. You may also use an open-topped fixture 8 inches to 1 foot deep instead of planters or rain gutters.
Now, draw several horizontal lines on the wall one above another. The lowest line should be one to three feet above the ground, and each line should be two-three feet above the line below it, depending n the size of your planters – gutters, being smaller, can be closer to together – and what you intend to grow. Mark the places along the lines where you want the planters.

If using gutters, you will need to drill drainage holes, about 6 inches apart. Make sure the holes do not line up from one gutter to the next one. Screw or nail the planters on the marked spots. Fill the planters with soil. Add fertilizers if necessary. Sow seeds or plant seedlings in the planters. Water the plants regularly. Once the plants cover the wall, your vertical garden will look beautiful.
You can also grow plants in containers sitting on the ground below your wall garden, if you have left enough space below your first mounted planter.

Hydroponic Garden

Here is another method. It is called hydroponic garden and it uses the mineral nutrients available in and/or added to water. It doesn’t use any soil and you can set it up at any place in your house. This can be one of the best vertical garden ideas if you absolutely have no space, but still want a garden. The good news is that almost every plant that grows on land can be grown hydroponically.
To learn how to make a hydroponic garden, study hydroponic websites or invest in a book like Gardening Indoors with Soil & Hydroponics by George F. Van Patten.

You do need a bit of know-how to get this right, but the advantages of hydroponics are: the same water can be used again and again; you can control the amount of nutrition added to the water; there’s no pollution (fertilizer run-off); and it’s easy to get rid of pests and diseases. The disadvantage is that if something goes wrong, the plants quickly die.

Other Methods

Other methods of building a vertical wall garden include placing the planters on the balcony and window sills; or letting the plants climb up an arched trellis; or letting climbing plants such as cucumber simply climb up the wall.  You can also buy purpose designed vertical garden systems, such as Grow Wall, Zipgrow towers and Arista Caseto.