• Aerate & irrigate the soil
•feed Plants & soil with there castings
• Encourage Beneficial Balance of bacteria & fungi in the soil.
• Worms Castings are mineral rich piles of excreta
Containing masticated digested decayed organic matter
• Buffered with calcium and mixed with soil particles
•Neutral 7 pH
• Will not burn the most sensitive of rootlets.
•Mixed with sand, peat moss or less fertile soil
• Sieve, use as mulch, in potting mix.
poisons chemical fertilisers
are bad news for worms.
Use less harmful alternatives for all situations.
Companion planting, pH adjustment, mulching, legume & green
manure crops, chisel ploughing, sheet composting, slashing, strip
cropping, strip grazing for root shock, ploughing by pigs,
Garlic or rhubarb leaf sprays.
Encourage useful insects - lady birds, mantis, leopard slugs,
A semi closed organic food system
Integrating Composting, Vermiculture
Hydroponics & Aquaponics
Using Organic and Permaculture Principles
chicken coop waste Light
organic green grocer
clean garden waste
urine soaked charcoal
Reforming woody products
heat used for cooking, heating water
Green waste return
Settling Worm Juice Hydroponic
Container grow beds
Worm castings Soil conditioners, potting mix
Non biological Wastes eg. Plastics packaging, things that don’t compost
Small scale non commercial reticulating food system
Integrating Composting, Vermiculture, Aquaponics.
Foods scrap and clean organic wastes to be composted and
Vermiposted to generate nutrients for hydroponic horticulture.
Vermiponics Aquaponics as energy translator utilising
biological processes to produce human nutrients (food).
Contain bio-acumlate recycle nitrogen and other nutrients so as
not to pollute local environment.
Understand and use water effectively in compact horticultural
Answer questions concerning our individual part in the Carbon &
• Worms produce nitrogen rich liquid and solid products
suitable for growing plants, are a rich protein source.
• Fish eat worms and also produce nitrogen.
• Plants use nitrogen.
• I Eat fish plants and (worms sometimes).
• Hydroponic gravel beds act as bio-filters collecting particles and
• What type of fish?
• Commercial home size aquaponic systems take about
the space of a double garage and are claimed to feed
a family of four.
Can these separate systems be worked into an integrated
system to grow organic food and recycle organic food
wastes with minimal commercial inputs?
How efficient is such a system?
What space is needed, horizontal vertical?
Fish tank size, volume?
Volume and surface area of casting in Vermicomposter?
What is The Relationships between plant growth, volume, tank size,
species and mass of fish, size of hydroponic gravel beds, working
medium, nutrient salt concentrations?
What plants will grow in worm liquor ph 8.1 , TDS 1460 ?
What is worm liquors NPK and mineral balance?
(I assume it is equivalent to what goes in)
What gains and or losses occur?
What nasties can be bio-accumulated ,amplified or breed?
Organic waste from organic shop about one or two garbage cans a
Scraps from home table
Selected composts, clean garden clippings, chipper shreds
Urine soaked biochar
Chicken coop waste
Light from the sun
Water from the roof top
Composting - chook house waste, weed seed free garden
pruning, urine activated charcoal, processed through compost
added to Vermiposter & or processed into potting mix.
Vermicomposting - food waste, soft clean plant products,
composts, animal manures, tagasaste.
Liquor and Castings collected cleaned processed for -
Hydroponic & Container grow system.
Using the above techniques and salvaged recycled equipment.
Water the working nutrient solutions to be collected and
reticulated however possible
Reforming woody products unsuitable for composting or
Vermiposting to produce Biochar may be a way to fix CO2. into a
long lasting soil conditioner.
Activated with urine & added to compost stream
catalyses composting & heat production.
Charcoals large surface area used to capture and hold nutrients.
Charcoals process used to sequence carbon into soils
Use to capture contain & Introduce Nitrogen into system
Pyrolisys is exothermic, clean if done correctly, could be carbon
negative, heat can be used for energy production, cooking heating
These have been scavenged where possible
reservoir - 600lt
split 1000lt polycarbonate liquid transport container, only one half in use.
Growing trays surface area - 5.7 sqm
Large grow tray - upturned fibreglass umbrella
Stainless steel kitchen sinks
Bathtubs for vermipost media based growing
Commercial hydroponic tray
Bainmarie for water plants
The supporting media is a mix of gravel, charcoal, hydroponic clay beads
Fine suspended particle filter - hessian sacks rolled with charcoal in 20lt stainless steel
ice cream container, works
300lt worm collection settling drums
250lt poly bag overflow container
Two pumps – filter pump, reticulation pump, float valve
Air pumps, timers,
Ph meter , TDS conductivity meter, simple soil test kit for NPK.
First Results at a guess
System plugged in and first plants were added September 2008
At four months - Slow healthy growth
Overall plant growth score 6
Success with management.
Added worm liquor at about 20-50 lt a week,
Total Dissolved Salts have slowly increased to about 1180 ppm and
Heavy downpours dilute and scatter nutrients.
Attempted to adjust pH to about 6.88
Nutrient deficiencies - plants as indicators respond quickly
-from hours to a couple of days.
- Phosphate in castings
- Potassium in liquor
- Nitrogen low in liquor and castings probably in the living biomass
- Nitrogen Released slowly or on demand, leaks ?
- Deficiencies of Magnesium & iron
Overall nutrient low - adequate for slow plant growth.
pH creeps upwards towards 8.5
Collected rain water 8.0 – 8.5
Worm liquor 8.5
- System needs buffering somehow
- Worms like pH up, hydroponics pH down.
- With buffering pH stabilises around 7.1 – 7.4
- Potassium sulphate, Magnesium sulphate, Phosphoric acid,
Citric acid, Acetic acid, Iron chelate, - used on a trial and error
basis to buffer ph and balance nutrient deficiencies
Phosphate, Calcium, Iron & Sulphur salts principate as sludge?
Occasional stirring allows sediments to be collected in bio-filter
trays hopefully allowing plant root interactions to release them
No fish have been added to the system as yet
There is a need to understand each component of the system
before adding another level of complexity
fish will probably keep sediments in suspension
May help in accumulation and management of Nitrogen
This experiment is teaching me the complexity such a simple system can have.
I'm Gaining a better understanding of the nutrients in the elemental cycle of life,
and a better appreciation of the quest ahead in managing the ecosystems of this planet.
geo engineering ,you gota be kidding.
There is little real knowledge on using the energy from the sun, biological processes,
nutrient recycling to produce food simply. It is easy to chuck on a heap of fertilizer use
pesticides to solve problems. We have been eating three times a day and most of us are
totally ignorant of the complexities of producing food. It must be possible to produce
food on a local basis without large nutrient input other than initial adjustments.
This is important to us all now because of the problems with C02 N and other cycles.
Soils buffers the nutrients to the extent it is easy over fertilise and not utilize them
effectively, eg permanent.
Using Composting Vermiculture Aquaculture to recycle organic waste while producing
food could possibly be a solution in intense non soil based agricultural systems.
It was pictures like this that inspired
“What permaculture designers are doing is the most
important activity that any group is doing on the planet.
We don´t know what will be the details of a truly sustainable
but we need options,
we need people experimenting all types of forms and
permaculture designers are one of the crucial groups
who are doing this.quot;
Dr David Suzuki