This page is dedicated to answering the most frequently asked questions. We at the Garden Pool believe in providing as much information as we can to the public. We feel that what can be learned at the Garden Pool can be used everywhere by anyone. We share what we learn as we live it. This is a journey.
How do you design, build, and operate the Garden Pool? – We suggest reading The Garden Pool to answer all of your questions about creating and operating a Garden Pool.
Is the pond water safe and sanitary? – It is safe and sanitary. We have had the City of Mesa take a look for any health issues and everything is in order. The water is actually clear, mosquito-free, oxygenated, and constantly flowing. It is hard to get a good look on YouTube videos and pictures because algae grows on the bottom of the pond, therefore everything looks dark and murky in the pond. We intentionally grow algae in the water to feed the fish (we also feed them duckweed and black soldier fly larvae). Biofiltration is natural and living, just like water you would find at a natural lake. We also wash and sanitize all hands and produce that exit the GP.
Does the air and water smell in the GP? The air can be described as lake fresh in the GP. One comment we consistently receive from visitors is just how pleasant and organic the environment of the GP is. Walking in to the GP feels like you are entering a pleasant mountain lake environment mixed with herbs.
How big is the pond? It is approximately 16’W x 16’L x 3.5’D = 896 ft³ = 6,703 gallons (US Liquid).
You are in the Sonoran Desert, it must be too hot to grow anything in the GP, right? Although we are in the desert, we take advantage of shade cloths. The temperature is usually 10-15 degrees cooler (Fahrenheit) than the outside temperature.
Do you have a pest problem in the pool? No. We do not have a pest problem. We do have beneficial pests like Black Solider Flies. The nice thing about a greenhouse is that it is a little easier to control the environment. The tilapia would eat any mosquitoes near the pond and the water is constantly flowing in the aquaponic setup which prevents the growth of larvae. We also use organic biological control, mosquito dunks.
What are the benefits of using the GP method of producing food over conventional dirt farming methods? Low cost – After the initial expense for equipment (which can be offset by using household items) aquaponics requires less resources than traditional farming by creating a sustaining recycling system. Energy usage is offset by taking advantage of solar power, thermal mass, and gravity. We also let the produce produce seed to plant free food. One plant can make many plants in return. We stick with heirloom varieties. Ease of maintenance –Because the fish and chicken waste are absorbed by the plants, the upkeep of the animals may actually be easier than a typical fish tank and coop. The water is also constantly recycled and this uses 95% less water than conventional farming! You also don’t have to spend time watering plants. You do not have to weed as they do not grow in a controlled greenhouse-like environment. Organic Food – With your produce receiving nutrients from your fish and chickens, not only will the resulting crops be vibrant, fish healthy, and eggs fresh, they will be organic too! Reduced Carbon Footprint – Talk about going local! Less land is needed to produce crops in an aquaponic system and crops yield faster. And since an aquaponic farm can be created pretty much anywhere, such as a pool, food could be produced closer to markets thereby reducing the cost and energy required to transport food. Even if you are cultivating an aquaponic farm exclusively for home use, your trips to the market will be greatly reduced.
Do you really grow enough food to feed a family of four? We are a family of five now and our kids have grown. However, we get 8 chicken eggs a day, unlimited tilapia fish, and organic produce everyday. We like to grow food that is very productive and healthy. We don’t eat fish every single day. We trade food with others for some variety and we also enjoy pizza once in a while. We do grow different produce as the seasons change. We preserve what we can. We still have some produce from the winter. If we really wanted to we could eat only what comes out of the GP. We look forward to planting more types of produce and expanding what we grow. You should see our rooftop garden!
I heard that tilapia is not healthy to eat and that bacon was healthier. Is this true? No. This was misinformation floating around out there. This article explains that.
How can this work in a colder climate? Use a fish more suitable for your climate. I’ve heard folks use Yellow Perch in colder climates with great success.