I wish I had a dilapidated pool…


Sunflowers for seeds, not oil

My almost fully homegrown lunch included my own fried purple potatoes and eggs with a salad made of tomatoes and cucumbers. I don’t produce any of my own oil, so I used store-bought oil to cook, plus I like a bit of salt on my tomatoes. For a little zip, I added someone else’s diced red onion to my salad – I’m not growing any onions this year because I got mad at them last year. I devoted a huge amount of space to bulb onions and only got greens, I’ll try onion growing again next year (cabbages are on my current hit list because they are buggy space hogs, so they won’t be grown next year). It is only one meal in my day, breakfast was totally not homegrown and dinner tonight of left over chili contains my own celery as the only homegrown ingredient.

I’m still actively working on getting more homegrown food into my family’s meals. In pondering how to grow more, I stumbled across this pool – an awesome conversion of a dilapidated pool into an food producing ecosystem including vegetables, tilapia and eggs that mostly feeds a family of four (another article is here).

The hens live above the deep end of the pool which is filled with water. Chicken waste falls into the water providing nutrients for algae and floating plants, tilapia eat the algae and excess floating plants (duckweed and azolla) get fed to the hens. The nutrient rich water is then pumped (solar powered) through a hydroponic growing system. In their video I spotted chard, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, various herbs and perhaps even taro. The plants looked fabulous and healthy.

They make a claim of ‘unlimited tilapia’, is that possible in the 1000 gallon* they have for them? I did a quick check on an aquaponics site. Their ratio of gallons of water to pounds of fish was 3:1. Which translates into roughly 300 lb of fish in a 1000 gallon pond. I don’t know how fast they reproduce, but it does seem like a lot of fish dinners are a possibility.

It looks like the Garden Pool produces lots of healthy food, perhaps a bit calorie light as they didn’t appear to be growing calorie dense stuff like potatoes (perhaps taro fits this category, I just don’t know enough about it), root vegetables, dried beans or corn.

My one criticism was that their operation was covered with poly – I see that as a great way to start, but if it was my pool I’d be looking to convert to a covering that is more permanent and ascetically pleasing. These clear solar energy collectors would make a great cover (how cool is that!), perhaps fashioned into a pyramid like this one suggested for living on Mars.

*feeling too lazy today to convert these units to metric