Looking through a backup drive I found hundreds of old pictures from the past 18 years of my backyard, produce I’ve grown and aquaponic systems that I’ve built, so I thought I’d put the best of them into one post so that I have a reference. The picture above was three different varieties of beefsteak tomatoes from the “crazy tomato year”. I grew about 40 different varieties of tomatoes in the one year.
Most of them I grew in large pots and containers, it was part of a concerted effort to make use of concrete areas, especially out the front.
Keeping track of the tomato varieties I used wooden pegs with their names, easy to transfer from pot to pot as you transplant into larger containers. Notice here the espaliered plum trees against the wall, the trees helped shade the west facing wall in the summer time, while letting the sun through to warm in in winter when they lost their leaves.
When I first bought the house, my decision to purchase was swayed by the trees in the yard, there were plump mangoes hanging from branches, avocados, apple trees, pear trees, plum trees, custard apple, feijoa, literally dozens of mature fruit trees around the house. I jumped at it and began removing any non productive plants and practicing permaculture type plantings. Build a chook pen, plant raised beds, add organic matter and mulch wherever possible, you can see a great crop of potatoes in the foreground of the picture above.
Bit my bit I added pots and half barrels as well as any other large containers I could source, and made use of structures to grow plants up, you can see peas growing up the fence of the chook pen to the right, while using tall containers against the chook pen fence helps to protect the plants from their attacks.
The raised beds under the fruit trees were pretty productive, even though they were very basic. As things grew, I tended to just let them go and the yard became a bit of a jungle, a productive jungle though. I found this pumpkin about 1m off the ground hanging in a cactus with a frog looking after it.
Though even crazier was this pumpkin hanging from one of the avocado trees, I hadn’t even noticed the pumpkin plant had got up the tree.
Did I say the yard was getting a little out of control? Figs in a pot, pumpkin everywhere, sugar cane and creepers growing up against the fence.
By now the white mulberry in the chook pen had grown enormously and a choko vine was smothering some of the fruit trees.
White mulberries are delicious and huge, they are still sweet when quite green and highly productive, and don’t stain like black mulberries.
Yacons grew really well in sandy Perth soils, this was the crop from just 2 plants, very productive for small areas, the tubers are sweet and because they contain inulin, they are great for diabetics. The old raised beds and pots everywhere weren’t really hacking it any more though, it was time to upgrade to heavy duty permanent railway sleeper beds.
These raised beds were far neater and more organized than the previous mess..
This is what I love, going out into the garden and picking a stack of food then trying to figure out what you make with it.
This next photo was a meal completely from my garden, everything except oil, sesame seeds and some honey.
It was fish with carrots and assorted beetroot, potato salad with egg, and a garden salad.
Sometimes you get interesting finds in the garden.
And often the produce is huge like this cucumber.
I started playing with aquaponics soon after moving into the house and it quickly became an obsession and I began filling every space available with systems.
My first system was very basic, an old inflatable pool which stopped being so inflatable, with some plastic tubs on top.
This was my second system, you can see the remains of the old pool system in the background. Believe it or not, the plants in this growbed were planted as seedling only 8 weeks earlier.
My third system around the side of the house was smaller, but after this one I went huge, even having to build a shelter over the top.
This was a large fish tank and 4 big round beds, I could stock up to 100 fish in this system.
Then a barrelponics system, small but not highly productive.
This was a crazy system. I wanted it to be as self sufficient as possible. The original plan was to cover it with a clear roof and collect the rain water and I wanted to try and run the pump on solar. There’s a buried 1000L tank at one end for the fish and it pumps water to the growbeds on the right and up to the top yabbie tanks, the yabbie tanks flow from the top level to the lower ones, then back to the fish tank. Floating plants grow on the surface of the yabbie tanks, and on the ground under all the system are worm farms. The idea was to feed all the plant scraps to the worms, feed the worms to the fish and the yabbies and use the rainwater to top up the sustem, make it almost self sufficient while building from as many recycled materials as possible.
The last system I built at home was this little transportable one, specifically designed to be easily transportable to take to shows and demonstrations.
This was the first aquaponics get together of forum members at my place back in 2006. And these next few photos were filming of the Gardening Australia segment in the same year.
A few more random pictures to finish.
Wow those early AP systems were so fascinating – I remember them well (on your forum) it’s what got me interested in AP 🙂 your garden served you well Joel.
Thanks Dave… 🙂 Ahh yes, the good old days of having a garden. I hope you’ve got a bit of a productive patch going for you and the family.
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