While I’m still working on designing and finding materials for an aquaponic system at CVI, the two farmers and I decided to setup a mini test system. We made two aquaponic growing buckets and utilize human-power to transfer water from the fish pond to the plants.
First, we found a couple of 5 gallon buckets on the farm, cleaned them, and drilled drainage and air holes. Next, we gathered a pile of small rocks and performed the vinegar test to assess their acidity. If the rocks start bubbling when vinegar is poured on them, then the pH in the rocks is too high. Ours didn’t bubble, so we were good to go! After rinsing the rocks to remove sand, we started filling the buckets with larger rocks on the bottom and smaller rocks on top.
Finally, in the cool of the evening, just before sunset, we planted our little seedlings in the buckets. We found the perfect spot on the side of one of the fish ponds under a little tree that offers a bit of shade from the scorching Ugandan sun. After slashing the grass in that spot, we placed each bucket on a couple of bricks, and our mini aquaponic system was complete! Our first test is with collards and green peppers.
We’ll pour water from the fish pond onto the buckets 4-5 times a day. While the larger aquaponic system we’ll build at CVI will utilize a solar powered pump, this human-powered aquaponics is perfect for our test system. The CVI farmers were amazed that we could grow plants in rocks with no soil—we’re all excited to watch the development of the plants in the coming weeks!
After we finished building the aquaponic test system, my little buddy Joshua came over to say hi. Whenever he sees me, he runs over and wraps me in a hug. His huge smile always brightens my day! Aquaponics and adorable children…how much better can a day get?