Saturday, May 17, 2014

Backyard gardeners

Attended Backyard Harvest Gardeners Q&A Panel  organized by the Darebin City Council as a part of Darebin Food & Wine Festival. One of the highlights is a fifteen minute talk by Robbie Kershaw mentioned in The Age yesterday:
"The boom in growing your own fruit and veg has sparked plenty of friendly rivalry but the Kershaw family of Thornbury has a secret weapon. Fresh fish poo.
Your yard may be bursting with celery, rhubarb, coriander and potatoes. But the Kershaws also have 100 trout.
The rainbow trout aren’t there to look pretty. As part of the Kershaw’s avant-garde aquaponics system, the fish tank water, including fish waste containing nitrates, is pumped as fertiliser into garden beds lined with clay beads and volcanic rock.
The plant roots filter the water and that water is then fed back into the fish tanks, in a continuous loop.  Robbie Kershaw says he has barely had to add water in five years. ‘‘The only thing going in there is fish food.’’..................
After moving to their 200 square metres in Thornbury 10 years ago, Mr Kershaw developed a keen love of gardening.
Over a year, the family grows more than 50 different fruit and vegetables, including 12 fruit trees, 10 types of tomato, eight kinds of lettuce and strawberries, broccoli, chilis and masses of herbs.
Passers-by have been known to pinch rosemary, vine leaves for dolmades and recently a cantaloupe, but Mr Kershaw doesn’t mind. ‘‘It’s part of being in a community,’’ he says. 
He discovered aquaponics online five years ago and it beautifully combines his passions of fish and gardening.
He reckons the family saves on average 50 per cent of its annual fruit and vegie bill. He spent about $2200 building and buying two 1000-litre tanks, pumps, clay beads for the garden beds plus buying trout at $1 each and $50 a year in fish food."
 I could not get much more out of the talk but Mr. Kershaw suggested that there is much information available on line and on YouTube about aquaponics from one Murray Hallam of Queensland. Robbie Kershaw is currently the Board Secretary for an organization 'Cultivating Community'

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