Shelfponics, a term first coined here, is the Garden Pool team’s original invention and is available for purchase. Click Here to order a Shelfonics Kit by GardenPool.org.
Here is how we invented shelfponics:
So I was looking at an unused corner of the Garden Pool when I had an idea: vertical growing. It was a small area with about 78″ of vertical height, perfect for vertical growing. We generally used the corner to store unused buckets, aquariums, or small starter plants in soil.
The next task was to find a simple solution for vertical growing. What was found was a bookshelf that was used to store tools and miscellaneous GP stuff. I took down the bookshelf and installed a simple plywood shelf elsewhere to take its place. While examining the bookshelf I noticed that the shelves could be snapped-in upside down. This would make a perfect tray Ebb & Flow system. Over the next 9 months we would experiment with and perfect what we have coined shelfponics.
The assembled bookshelf’s dimensions are: 34-1/2″ L x 14-3/8″ W x 57″ H. It’s a no tools required Plano brand 4 tiered bookshelf. It cost about $14 USD. For every item used in this project, we spent about $110 paying full retail for everything. The finished product has 6 square feet of vertical plant growing space, 10 gallons of water for fish, and only has a 2 square foot footprint. This project has great potential. Imagine walking in to a store or your back yard with lettuce and herbs growing fresh on the shelf!
We contacted Plano to make sure this was a safe plastic to use for aquaponics and the Plano corporate resin manager was kind enough to respond. The plastic they use is polypropylene. This resin is identifiable as plastic recycle number “5.” This type of plastic is used for food items such as yogurt containers and is 100% recyclable. Plano also makes the best tackle boxes!
On the upside down shelves, you will notice a big cross molded in the middle of the shelf dividing the shelf in to four parts or quadrants. The water should flow in to one quadrant and you will have to cut a channel for the water to flow in to the next quadrant. Continue to cut a path until the water will fill all 4 quadrants. In the last quadrant to receive water flow, drill a 5/8″ hole for the water to fall to the shelf below it.
Cover a 1/2″ “T” with a stainless steel cover as indicated in the picture and video. Place covered “T” in the hole and connect the 1/2″ black flexible tubing through the bottom. cut tubing to easily reach the bottom of the shelf below (about 15″.) The water will fall through this tubing to the next level.
Run fountain pump from water source to the third shelf for the water to enter the system and let the system run to expose any weaknesses. We found that running the 145 gph pump works best on low flow for us. We tried a 190 gph pump and found it was way too powerful for this project. We also tried a 66 gph pump but it did not have the lift required. The 145 on low flow was perfect.
Complete the aquarium with a bubble stone, gravel, and and air pump. You can also add a 50W aquarium heater. We prefer Marineland Stealth Submersible thermometers from our experiences.
When: February 12th, 2011
Where: The Garden Pool in Mesa, AZ
Who: Dennis and Danielle with GardenPool.org
Length: 42 minutes
Introduction to Shelfponics was recorded live in a classroom setting. To be a part of our classes in person, join our meetup group.
Video streaming by Ustream
Suit this project for your needs. Here are a few images of our variations of this project:
Conditions of Use Statement
This document, in part or in its entirety, may be copied, reproduced or adapted to meet local needs without permission from the author or publishers, provided credit is given to Dennis McClung of GardenPool.org. These provisions apply only provided the parts reproduced are distributed free or at cost – not for profit. If you are using these materials, the Garden Pool team would appreciate being sent a copy of any materials in which text or illustrations have been adapted. For reproduction on commercial basis, permission must be first obtained from Dennis McClung of GardenPool.org. Any commercial or for sale application of this design is strictly forbidden without prior approval in writing from Dennis McClung of GardenPool.org. To reach Dennis, email him: dennis [at] gardenpool.org or via the contact page at https://gardenpool.org/?page_id=197.