Nick Rosen |
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You live in a small urban dwelling – an apartment with a balcony or rooftop, or in a house with a tiny yard. So how can you make a small step towards self-sufficiency?

We’re here to tell you it is possible – but don’t take our word for it: ask Aquaponics Steve.

Aquaponics is defined as “sustainable food production system that combines plant-growing with a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish). It was Steve’s years working in a pet shop that gave him the know-how. The secret is in breeding the bacteria from fish waste – sounds yucky but it works – with no need to use creepy chemicals.

He shows you how to make a tiny greenhouse and stock it full of plants for just $50. However if you want to spring for a solar panel, car battery and pump then you can go the whole way to a full aquaponics set up.

The greenhouse is made from found lumber to create the structure which can be any shape and size depending on the dimensions of your balcony or yard. The covering is transparent plastic.

The water is held in plastic candy jars from a dumpster behind a supermarket and the water feeds through bamboo straws into moss, then down through the moss, through a layer of roofing pebbles down to crushed coral which provides calcium and minerals for the Crayfish that Steve is breeding in there and will eventually eat – if he doesn’t fall in love with them! He insulates the containers with sytrofoam packaging material.

By running the water through black tubing (IV tubing from from a medical supplies store), he can tru the water temperature from cold to tepid – which is what crayfish need.

He does not say where got the earth, but the compost presumably was from a Garcen center. He has strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes.

There is venting for the summer months to avoid the plants wilting.

And here is a tider set-up specifically designed for a balcony.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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