Aquaponics and My Crazy Brain

Part of my work over at The Zombie Preparedness Initiative is to write informative, creative, fun, and educational articles about not just surviving, but thriving post zombie apocalypse.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about turning small ponds and fountains into fish (for eating) holding tanks.  Without refrigeration, during the warm months, fish and chicken; things consumed entirely in a single meal will be the order of the day.  Unless you have a very large group or some form of refrigeration, beef and pork are not practical foods, they’re just too wasteful, even with smoking and curing.  Pork specifically can grow salmonella and botulism within hours.

The outcome of that article was that a fish holding tank in your garden is the post apocalyptic version of fast-food.  Go net a fish, scale it, cook it.  Twenty minutes to mealtime.  The trouble with putting a load of fish into a small pond is that the water becomes polluted with nitrogen very quickly, requiring daily changes of water.  If you’re tossing that water, one might as well apply it to a garden, because the same nitrate that makes the water toxic to fish is a fertilizer for vegetable plants.  But that only solves half the problem, because you still need to refill your pond.  So, what if you moved the water from the pond, to the plants, but instead of growing your plants in the soil, you grew them in pots.  And if you then placed the pots over the pond, the excess water that normally drained into the earth would drain back into your pond.  The plants would eat the nitrate (and other pollutants) and the fish would get clean water back.

This of course led to much googling, and three days worth of reading.  We’re not talking about growing a 2-cup container of basil.  We’re talking about some scale here, real food production.  And, of course, it all has to be out of materials that the average person can use, and can scavenge, because we are talking about a post apocalypse DIY setup.

If one is going to do this in a “post apocalyptic” fashion, the first thing someone would need is a greenhouse, because having year-round fresh vegetables is key to survival.  Something green growing in the middle of winter is a delight, a treasure.  Imagine, post apocalypse, when there are no grocery stores, how much you could get for a pound of fresh spinach.  So, I wrote an article about building a greenhouse.

Once you have a greenhouse over your fish pond, then you’re going to need a hydroponics system.  So, I wrote an article discussing How Hydroponics Works.  That led to the next article “How to Build a Hydroponics System” (currently half-written).  And then one more article, wrapping all of them together, “Aquaponics: Fish and Vegetables Together”.

Now, many of you know I’m an avid fish-keeper.  I have hundreds of gallons of aquariums, including one monstrous 150 gallon tank.  All of this has me so fascinated.  One of the things I love about my job now is the constant learning.  There is always something to learn, something to research, something I have to figure out.  The problem is that I have such an addictive personality.  I’m so much like my father in that regard.  I’m learning about growing food, suddenly I have this insane desire to build a 2500 square foot greenhouse with a 2000 gallon pond holding tilapia (A delicious fish), growing vegetables on top of it.

Where does that come from?  Who does that?  Where does this all encompassing curiosity come from?  I have this drive to know all the things.  The more I learn, the more I want to know.  I have this weird brain, I can’t remember people’s name for more than 10 minutes, but I can remember exactly how to tie a bowline knot, something I read in the boy scout handbook 27 years ago.  I can see the pictures in my head, and remember the text.  I can envision the exact page, and read it in my brain.  So much worthless knowledge rattling around in my head, stuff I’ll never use in my entire life.

10 years ago, I read up on building pole barns.  I can recall, in exact detail, the tables from the book that governed the size of the beam required to support a given span.  (The longer the span, the thicker the beam required to support the load.)  Millions of useless facts, bouncing around in my head.  I think it’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to the idea of post-apocalyptic living.  Because it would be so nice to put some of this crap in my head to use.

Of course, I really don’t want the apocalypse to happen.  But the post-apocalypse is pretty attractive.



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