Q: Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’m 51 years old and born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. I work at Circus Circus Hotel/Casino in room reservations for the last 28 years. I’m very active in hiking and paddle boarding. Love my family and friends and absolutely love animals.
Q: How did you get interested in aquaponics?
A: For the last several years I’ve been looking into hydroponics and just recently learned about aquaponics, which makes so much more sense to me. I never liked handling fertilizer and was a little turned off on all the fertilizer you had to use for hydroponics. The more I read about the aquaponics the more it makes sense to me. I like to garden but was never was really good at it or patient enough to grow here in Las Vegas. It was either the big winds, the heat, the bugs, the dirt and the money spent buying good dirt then it drying up. I just got frustrated with it all. When I touch dirt even with gloves on my hands do swell, so I believe I have an allergy to dirt.
Several big reasons for my interest really peaking in “ponics” . I hate the food that comes to Vegas. The vegetables are mostly grown in Mexico or California and anything with Organic wording on the products the price goes way up to where it is unaffordable for me. Same as the farmers market here in Vegas, most of them are from California and some from Arizona. they just don’t taste good for the price they are asking for. Plus I love the concept of growing food locally.
The second big reason I’m getting excited about this, is I plan on staying with Circus for another 2 years to fulfill my retirement requirements. I would like to have a small scale aquaponics to sell at farmers market with better produce and better prices for organic. I think I found out what I want to be when I grow up…..
I get so excided when I watch the you-tubes on aquaponics, mostly hydro, then I got your book and now I cant stop thinking about aquaponics. Way out of character for me. Next year I plan on taking aquaponics classes and looking forward in meeting people who are excited about it and wanting to learn
Q: How are you currently working with aquaponics? Home setup, community greenhouse, etc.
A: home set up, very small scale
Q: Tell us about your system. Geek out a bit and tell us all the specs.
A: DWS 4 Lowes buckets, with air stones. A little embarrassing at this point.
Q: What plants and fish have you had the best luck with? And the worst?
A: No fish. Cabbage did really well and grew so fast that I thought it was a little scary. I put them in February and they totally bolted in March when it got warm. Tomatoes are doing great. I put them in at the end of February. Got 8 tomatoes on one plant and 6 blooms on second plant. Getting hit pretty hard with horn worms and aphids. System is outside. Using organic pesticides such as Pyola and diatomaceous earth dust from Gardens Alive with no real luck. The nutrients I’m using is Botanicare Pure Blend 3-2-4 and Maxicrop seaweed 0-0-1. It seems the plants really liked the seaweed. The tomatoes are Hawaiian and Heat Wave. I have no idea what type of cabbage since they were in the trash in the garden center at Wal-Mart.
Q: What do you like most about aquaponics? Least?
A: Since I never really experienced the aquaponics, I have to go by what I see on You tube and the books I’m reading. What I like the most about aquaponics, I love water and fascinated that you can grow something without using dirt. Your standing upright, no weeding, (still have issue with bugs), love the fact that the water usage is so low and I think its incredible that you can have fish feeding the plants and the plants cleaning the water for fish. There’s no reason for using or buying fertilizer. I also love the fact you can grow twice as much in hydroponics vs dirt.
The least: With my little 4 bucket system, I find doing the PH thing is really frustrating and trying to figure out the nutrients. It seems the more I read about it the more confusing it is.
Q: What do you think the biggest misconception about aquaponics is?
A: Again, its from what I’ve been reading. When I first started talking about it to friends and family, every one of them had a look of horror on their faces. They all thought of the marijuana thing and I’m sure they were thinking that I would become a hippie selling on the street corner. Then they said the taste was awful and not one of them ever had a hydroponic vegetables. So its what they heard from other people. I heard also hear about how expensive it is to produce and run there fore its expensive to buy. I would like to keep the cost down for people as well as making money. Seems to be an oxymoron concept. lol I’m a little concerned, it seems most of the hotels and restaurants are not buying the hydroponics. I talked with our Executive chef from Circus and he pretty much said no way he would ever buy from a hydroponic system. Not sure if it has to do with costs or that it is not readily available to make it feasible. Another thing is that some of the big hydroponic/aquaponics companies that are organic seem to fall wayward. Sweetwater Organics in Wisconsin and the Blue Oasis Shrimp in North Las Vegas seemed to cease operations with a couple of years of opening. Not that I would want to become big scale like that. It just seems Vegas is really not interested in the hydroponics. When I talk to people it is mostly negative responses and the people who are excited about it, are far and few from me……
Q: What are your future aquaponics goals?
A: to have a system that works well in Las Vegas and be able to sell great tasting vegetables at the farmers market. I’m also thinking about doing cut flowers
Q: What do your friends say when you show them your system for the first time?
A: they seem semi interested and wish me well……
Q: What is your next big gear purchase going to be? What about your next small one?
A: electronic meter for PH, something that tells me what nutrients are need.