Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Wyrm, Aquaphonics, Aquaculture, Terra Preta

A lot of my thinking over the past couple of days has been based on inspiration I have gathered from a visit to my friend Paul Shellenburgers wormery and also viewing the Growing Power documentaries and reading about aquaphonics. When I was in high school we did some aquaphonics experiments and decided that the technology was best used for crops that require high amounts of nitrogen and little of other nutrients, however integrating verticle room in the greenhouse and the Wyrm and utilizing shelving and plastic as well as pvc pipe and a air pump I can make room for aquaphonics and the growth of high value, highly nutritive winter and spring greens, of course the fish will provide needed protein to my diet and the diet of my family.

Before I can reach this point I must first accumulate the capitol and resources to invest and to also finish up the ongoing "Wyrm" project and further work required for the chicken coop. However, while visiting Paul and seeing his vermicomposting setup, I noticed that he was using some fishtanks and utilizing gold fish and gravity fed water to bind the amonia/nitrate to pulp paper which would be fed to the worms and as such would up the nitrogen content of the castings themselves. I plan on doing the same in my system, but I also plan to integrate this technology into my Terra Preta hypothesis by setting up what would normaly be known as a aquaphonics system (utilizing plastic drums, pumps and pvc pipe, along with gold fish) but instead of growing plants I will be growing micro-organisms and soil fertility in charcoal. Once I finish the project I'll post pictures which will better explain my system.

Another project high on the list is water cachment, I recently found a great resource for used 50 gallon plastic drums which once contained carwash soap. The barrels are a resonably cheap price and will make excellent cachment containers for the greenhouse, the wyrm, chickens, and outside crops. More to come on this soon.


Jeff Davis said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas and interests. I find your idea of preparing charcoal in an aquaponics environment so fascinating and intriguing. I'm thinking you would use the charcoal instead of gravel in the aquaponics system and after a period of time you would move the charcoal into your worm bins to get even more beneficial microbes before placing the compost with charcoal into your soil.

I read this post and the manual she found on barrel-ponics - it seems like a place I would be able to start with. When I see the tomatoes growing in an aquaponic environment, I wonder if they are as nutritious as ones grown in the soil... I just don't see how they could be. But for salad greens it seems perfect!

Also, I am so glad you posted about the Terra Preta soil because I'm not sure I would have come across it otherwise.

I'm not in a position to experiment much right now other than in some pots, but I hope to be able to try some of these things at some point.

Thanks again,

Bishops Homegrown said...

Glad to be of help Jeff, I will definitely be updating often regarding the Aqua-Char method that I am thinking of using. As soon as the tanks go in you can expect the first pictures and blog post. Thereafter I will continue to update with my results and all that I learn. One thing, I will probably now be using yellow perch instead of gold fish as I would like to make the projects that I tackle as self sustainable as possible, as such I would love to have fish that can also double as food, after all, I have to sustain my own system to sustain the agricultural systems.

I often doubt that tomatoes grown in an unbalanced aquaculture or hydrophonic system are nearly as healthy. At the very least they are growing in an environment that they were not intended to grow in and often recieving the wrong amounts of nutrients in proportion to what they need for production of foliage, flowers, and ultimately fruit. If it doesn't negatively effect these traits, then it often negatively effects flavor traits. Greens would be ideally suited to such environments however and would be a low cost production.

Glad to have been the one to have introduced you to Terra Preta as well, this ancient technology may hold big promises for self-sustainability in the near future.

Have a good one friend!

Your Friend,
Alan Reed Bishop

aquaponic70 said...

Hey Alan,
I am the guy who wrote the Barrel-Ponics manual. I noticed you had doubts about growing tomatoes and such in an aquaponics system as so did many others but I decided to give it a try back in 2003 and have been growing them ever since. THe do amazingly well and really like themoist environment. In fact I have grown justabout every crop you can imagine and the only issue I have had related to the system is powdery mildew on squash and such. I believe going verticle will take care of this as well asgood air circulation. Another misconception is you can't grow root crops in an aquaponic system which is totally bunk. They do very well and the carrots are much sweeter as are the tomatoes, by the way. You can check out my website at: and go to the photos section to see some of what I have done. Keep up the good work!!