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If you read this your probably thinking WTF is a Vermiponic Garden.  Basicly  is a cross between a traditional soil garden and Hydroponics. I'm not a fan of Hydroponics as some food tastes "not right" . Buying chemical nutrient and having to disinfect the system does not appeal to me. Also some crops may not able to be grown Hydroponicly (root vegetables) 
I had a look at an Aquaponics and though I quite liked the system there where some things I didn't like about  it such as the energy consumption of the pumps and that amount of fish in a small amount of water can cause problems with all the fish dyeing.
edit  26/7/12 Just a note on growing root vegetables. A number of readers have pointed out that some people have successfully grown root crops in both a hydroponic and aquaponic systems. I have also spoken to "experts" who have told me no way, there are problems with crops going rotten.  http://www.instructables.com/id/Hydroponic-Food-Factory/step17/Hydroponic-potatoes/ give a short description on how to grow potatoes in a hydroponic system.
I'm not able to grow a traditional  garden, as  we have extremely poor soil, water restrictions, low rain fall, and extreme weather events such as week long heat waves of 45C or 113F which will kill any veggie within hours.
  I started this project about a year ago and at the time it was an experiment to try an address the above issues, I had never heard of vermiponics, and there is still not a great deal of info about it. It wasn't until a few weeks ago I found that it had a name and there are some similar systems out there. Stupidly I didn't take a lot of photos and it is now July and the middle of winter so the garden doesn't look that good at the moment. I will up date photos every month for the next year or so.

Step 1: How it works

At first glance you might think its just a garden in a box, but there is a little more to it than that. The IBC containers have had the liner removed from the cage and cut in half. The bottom half is put back in and the top half is put on top but upside down. Small holes are drilled for drainage and the bottom have become water storage.
The bottom tanks are joined together with poly pipe and a solar pump, pumps water to the top storage tank. The top storage tank has a siphon inside it and that trips off around every half hour in full sun, which waters the plants. The plants are grown in soil and taste fantastic (no sad watery acid hydroponic tomatoes here)
The soil in this area is very poor and aqua-phobic ( will not absorb water) so  I use a mixture of soil, animal manure, lawn clippings, leaves, food scraps,wood ash and a box of worms to get it started. The worms have gone mad and turned the soil in to rich dark loam and the plants have thrived.
Below the soil is several layers of shade cloth to keep the soil out of the layer of gravel which is at the bottom of the top tank and to provide drainage and a home for microbes. The water then drains into the bottom tank and the process starts again.
I had a problem with mosquitoes in the bottom tanks when first set up, a couple of gold fish in each tank soon fixed that.
Another problem when first set up before the worms became established was the soils poor nutrient level as the plants were not growing very well, some organic liquid fertilizer helped in those first few months
As the worms started working the water became so full of nutrients that it became possible to grow leafy greens in a gravel bed.
Here is my first crop of lettuces grown in gravel.
Congratulations. Your setting is inspiring me more than others vermiponics system I saw.<br>Can you update a bit, share more experience after this time?<br>Thank you.
<p>Its winter here at the moment, And I haven't done much with it the last few months due to illness and a plague of fruit bats. some of the IBC containers are cracking due to UV exposer so I would recommend painting them.</p>
thank you for your reply. I try to find the way on instructables to send you a tip but didn't find it. it should be a feature of this app.<br>have a good recovery.
<p>Awesome set up liquidhandwash! I saw this a few months ago and it really inspired me... I finally got round to making a vermiponic wicking bed myself a few weeks ago (<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-set-up-a-vermiponic-wicking-bed/" rel="nofollow">http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-set-up-a-vermiponic-wicking-bed/</a>)... It's not tech at all but it seems to be working so far... Have you had any issues with nutrient deficiencies at all?</p>
<p>The last year or so I haven't done much with it, as ive had a problem with fruit bats... I got a bit over having entire crops go missing in the middle of the night. I try to rotate crops and keep the worms fed, a little liquid fertilizer now and then. The main reason i made them is Australia has a very harsh climate and we often have water restrictions. I think another gravel bed would be good and a few more fish. </p><p>I was also thinking about pee... its very good fertilizer and i flush lots of it down the toilet ...don't know what the neighbors will think of it. </p>
What kind of dedication would you say this system takes? Are you able to go a week or two away?
<p>You could go away for a month if you want, The biggest problem i have is fruit bats attack the veggies at night</p>
<p>Awesome, liquidhandwash! Just what I need to convince the wife :D</p><p>Thanks!</p>
<p>What size holes did you drill for draining?</p>
8mm. it doesn't matter just smaller than the rocks.
Thanks! great instructable!
<p>Awesome instructable - if these Aussie flower growers are getting awesome results from worm juice then it has to work for other plants too! <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3EYr4LrQNo" rel="nofollow">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3EYr4LrQNo</a></p>
i start with 1 tank and working on getting more. thank you for the information.
excellent instructable! we will be soon using all these great 'ables to get our own setup. fish, worms, gardens, and hopefully a couple small pasture animals. only time will tell but thatnk you for the outline, we have learned alot from this xD
<p>thanks mkemper1 </p>
<p>Very nicely done. I'm learning all I can about vermiculture, aquaponics, space saving gardens ect. For now I really can't do anything myself as I drive truck over the road with my wife. </p><p>So I enjoy hearing what others are doing seeing their mistakes and triumphs. All quite ingenius what people come up with. Wish I could be doing it along with you guys. </p><p>I like the combination of different types you have brought together. Check out youtube and a guy named Larry Hall he does some pretty good videos of stuff and loves worms. You might even try another type of worm for better composting.</p>
<p>Thanks sikpuppy, its winter here so ive only got celery, spinach, and lettus growing at the moment</p>
<p>Many KUDOS on this one. I think you made a great instructable here. I found your information and journal quite informative. Thank You so much for showing people what is possible with a lil bit of time and patience. I am having issues with pics though. I am not sure if its on instructables end or the post. I would like to see those pics. thanks again.</p>
thank you, I not sure which pics you mean everything is working from my end. try clearing you cache in your web browser, or using a different browser.
<p>Many KUDOS on this one. I think you made a great instructable here. I found your information and journal quite informative. Thank You so much for showing people what is possible with a lil bit of time and patience. I am having issues with pics though. I am not sure if its on instructables end or the post. I would like to see those pics. thanks again.</p>
<p>Many KUDOS on this one. I think you made a great instructable here. I found your information and journal quite informative. Thank You so much for showing people what is possible with a lil bit of time and patience. I am having issues with pics though. I am not sure if its on instructables end or the post. I would like to see those pics. thanks again.</p>
<p>Many KUDOS on this one. I think you made a great instructable here. I found your information and journal quite informative. Thank You so much for showing people what is possible with a lil bit of time and patience. I am having issues with pics though. I am not sure if its on instructables end or the post. I would like to see those pics. thanks again.</p>
<p>Many KUDOS on this one. I think you made a great instructable here. I found your information and journal quite informative. Thank You so much for showing people what is possible with a lil bit of time and patience. I am having issues with pics though. I am not sure if its on instructables end or the post. I would like to see those pics. thanks again.</p>
In step 9 (September) you mention the ebb and flow gravel bed that you added. <br>Do you have any updates about that and how that worked out for you? I'm sure your followers would like to know what kind of results you got. A comparison maybe between the 2 different systems? <br>Starting from scratch all over again, with all you've learned what would you do different? <br>Your instructable has kept me excited. I've got the 2 IBC's, 1 electric pump, 2- 12 volt pumps, Solar panel, worms etc. I still have to rework the end of the greenhouse so I can get the IBC's inside. <br>Thanks again,
The ebb and flow system works really well, although it did take a while for the bacteria in the gravel to start doing there job ,about 3 months, so I had to use a little liquid fertilizer in that time. Ive mostly grown leafy greens in the gravel and the best part is the birds don't dig the plants out, and the lettuce stay clean. <br>Sorry that Ive haven't updated lately I got sick at the end of the year for a couple of months so didn't really get in the garden as often as i should have. <br>Ive just pull out most of the plants as we are now going into winter, but the lettuce, celery, spring onions, capsicum (bell peppers) are still growing well.
Harbor freight (www.harborfreight.com) in the US has a 15 watt - 12 volt solar panel with good reviews for $59.99 USD. I have never had anything to do with solar but it seems like these 2 might be made for each other? What do you think?
i think you could do better on the price, but it should do the job nicely <br>have you looked at ebay? Ive seen 20 watt panels for $30
thanks! ... but one more Question... because I think it is also an important fact... <br>how many liter does your pump pump per hour? <br>thanks in advance!
I got the pump from ebay and it says 550 l per hour, but as it is run from a solar panel it would depend on cloud cover,time of day, size of the solar panel and how high your pumping to. <br>at $15 you could buy several if you needed to. <br> <br>http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/5-12V-DC-Micro-Brushless-Magnetic-Pump-High-Solar-Hot-Submersible-Water-Pump-1-/320883441103?pt=AU_Decor_Furnishing&amp;hash=item4ab624bdcf
just one question: <br>how thick is the hose?
the syphone hose has to be thick wall so it holds its shape, and 3/4&quot; diameter
I meant to say &quot;battery&quot; but in my rush to post I didn't proof read it till I had it posted. I had to leave and tried to find a way to edit it quick and could not.<br> <br> In your step 9 (September) it says, &quot; The pump runs from a solar panel and a battery,&quot;. But if I don't have to use a battery that's great and simplifies things even more.<br> <br> I don't have readily available 120 volt where my greenhouse is located and that's my reason for searching for the 12 volt pump and solar panel. We generally have a lot of sunshine in this part of the state.<br> I'll try eBay and see what I can come up with.<br> <br> I appreciate your time spent answering my questions. Thank you.
sorry I forgot that I played around with a battery for a while, It was only on the gravel bed anyway. i found that you dont really need a battery the plants seem to be happy with the amount of water they get during the day.
I would only be able to run this for maybe 5 months out of the year in the greenhouse <br>without supplemental heat. Then I would have to drain the water out for the winter as it would become a solid block of ice. <br>Initially I was going to do the aquaponics thing indoors as I have a building with south facing windows 12 foot high.but when I seen your system for growing food in the dirt and using worms that sounded like the way to go. <br>I might be able to do both so I could continue to grow thru the winter. <br>I have ordered an Eco-Plus 396 submersible pump and it was shipped a week ago and should be delivered today. Does that sound like it would be an adequate pump for your system? Lift for this pump is just over 6 feet. <br>And one more question which I'm sure your other readers would like to know is what to look for in that solar unit? I have no idea from just looking at the picture. <br>And is a car or light truck adequate for running this system? <br>
This system is part aquaponics, if you look at the gravel bed and fish, the soil and worms part just make everything a little easier, as I dont have to worry about nutrient levels, ph. levels etc. Just feed the worms food scraps and it all seems to work. <br>Putting it in a building sounds like a good Idea, and the water will help stabilize the temperature somewhat, as it has a lot of thermal mass. <br>&quot;And is a car or light truck adequate for running this system? &quot; do you mean battery? <br>I dont use any batteries the system stops at night, which seems to work just fine for around here but it would depend on the cloud cover you get in your area. <br>The pumps I use are 12 volt and can be connected directly to a solar panel. I looked at the pump you have and it looks like its 120 volts which is fine just put it on a timer, and plug it in.
Wow, that is an excellent instructable! Sure got me to thinking. <br>I just got a free IBC container and got the top 9 1/2 inches cut off and all cleaned out. That was before I found your instructable. Do you think that the 9 1/2&quot; top is deep enough for your grow bed? <br>I believe I can get another free IBC if you don't think this is deep enough. <br>I'm in Montana, USA and we can get down to 40 below zero in winter. How cold does it get where you have this set up? <br>I have a greenhouse, unheated 12 X 24 foot in size. It appears very similar to yours. What would happen to the worms in winter when things freeze up. Do they go dormant or die? If they die then I assume you would start over with a new batch of worms? I fished with worms for many years but never thought about what they did in <br>winter.
My gravel bed is about 14&quot; deep and is great for growing lettuces and the like, im pretty sure it would work at 91/2&quot; . why not grab the other IBC and have your worms in and soil in one, and gravel in the other. <br>As for the temperature I cant help you with that, it rarely gets below freezing here, I would think you would have to watch the ice doesn't damage your pump, or break the bottom IBC I really don't know enough about worms to help you with what would happen to them at that temperature. <br>Best part of this project... No crawling around on my hands and knees. <br>
wahaha love the opening sentence x] <br>
Also very useful instruct able :]
Thanks
Have you been using red wiggler composting worms? (They tend to operate in top of &quot;soil&quot; (5 to 7&quot;) and have a high demand for waste while earthworms will dive and take nutrients deeper into soil.
Hi lkurtz2<br>I have a mixure of worms some are just earth worms, others I bought in a box, called night crawlers, there are a few different colors including red ones. I have heard of the the red worms but not seen them for sale around here.<br>I just added an ebb and flow gravel bed I will post the photos in the next couple of days.
Hi every one thanks for the feed back, Ives updated the instuctable put in an extra step (4), and a heap more photos on step 3.
I just spent a great deal of time reworking my plans for a vermicompost bin into a vermiponics system because of you! I love the idea of actively growing food in the composting bin rather than have it sitting in a corner or under a counter. But now I have a question about watering. How often do you run the sprinkler and how much water is put into the growbed each time? I'm going to be doing something MUCH smaller, probably along the lines of a 30ish gallon grow bed, as an experiment, with a tank that is probably the same size. (If it works nicely, I may set up two growbeds for the one tank.) This is such a new idea to me that I can see all sorts of interesting possibilities.
Hi Freya <br>With the watering, the pump is always on, the more sun the more the pump works, you can regulate the amount of water on the grow beds by adjusting the bleed off back into the tank, and the amount of holes that you drill in the sprinkler tube. Ive also found as the soil quality improves, I don't get wet spots or dry spots anymore, the soil absorbs water like a sponge, and also drains very well. I haven't measured how much goes on the grow beds each time but, I would guess that the top tank is 60 liters when full, and about 40 liters would be returning to the tank, and about 20liters on the grow-beds every 20mins mid day in full sun. if cloudy or morning and afternoon it may be every hour or so.
In the first paragraph, you misstated something. You can grow root veggies hydroponically. The proof is in Dr. Struan Sutherland's book Hydroponics for Everyone. One of the best books on the subject.
Im sorry if it is incorrect, I will have a look at the book, is it common where you are to grow things like beetroot and potatoes hydroponically? around here ive been told it cant be done.
I haven't tried it myself, but I have heard of people successfully growing potatoes hydroponically with an ebb-and-flow system, and modified trash cans filled with expanded clay balls. <br> <br>Here's one instructable I've found: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hydroponic-Food-Factory/step17/Hydroponic-potatoes/
Thanks Moonchylde I will change the wording on instuctable as a couple of people have said that its possible.
try aquaponics its very interesting

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