Vertical Garden meets Aquaponics

| Animals, Appropriate Technology, Aquaponics, Courses + Workshops, Off-Farm goings on, Permaculture | 20 comments | Author :

This idea combines two of my favorite urban food growing solutions – vertical gardening, and aquaponics. Can they be friends? Of course they can!

Charlie from Ecolicious in Sydney has been trialling a funky combo of these techniques in various urban gardens he’s been designing of late. Vertical growing space of edible vegies and herbs, irrigated by a solar powered pump. And beneath it all, an aquaponics system which cycles fishy nutrients to grow the plants above…

Vertical food growing system with herbs and salad greens grown vertically, irrigated by fish pond water below the deck in an aquaponics array. ©Ecolicious
Newly installed aquaponics system with vertical herbs and horizontal growbeds for vegetables, with the fishpond centre. © Ecolicious

In the Aquaponics workshops that we run with Charlie in Sydney, it’s been clear that some students want to design and create vertical systems, to save space and to catch available light.

The modular products that Charlie is now working with are one way to go about it, but there’s lots of scope for DIY vertical solutions here too.

Student design for a vertical aquaponics system

Above is a great Windowfarm-esque design created by a student at a previous aquaponics workshop (but maybe even better than Windowfarms, in theory, as it’s using aquaponics, not hydroponics, so no nasty chemicals or high inputs).

I think there’s also lots of scope to integrate the pallet gardens that are popping up everywhere into this type of design idea… don’t you think?

Pallet garden: Life on the Balcony

A pallet garden with a small tub (or beautiful nearby pond) of fish beneath it. That’s sounding like my type of small-space garden…

We’re also now looking at the aquaponics system we installed with Charlie at Alexandria Park Community Center, and we’re looking at that wall behind the growbed. Hmm. I think it needs a bit of vertical gardening love, don’t you? Maybe next workshop we can get that happening…

Charlie with aquaponics workshop students at our Alexandria park aquaponics system. See that wall at far left? Prime vertical garden location, methinks…

Our upcoming aquaponics workshops are here…

Many thanks to Charlie of Ecolicious for the photos and his ongoing enthusiasm and commitment to urban food production, and to all things aquaponic-ish!

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  • DriftingSon

    Brilliant stuff- I’ve bee playing with some ideas for vertical gardens over my pond. Thanks for more inspiration!

    • milkwoodkirsten

      you’re welcome!

  • Vicki Hamels

    This is such a fantastic idea. I especially LOVE the pallet garden. Hmmmm might just have to try some of this out :)

    • milkwoodkirsten

      yeah the pallet gardens are a great little idea, when done properly – Vicki also have a look at this pallet garden photoset, if you’ve not seen it?

    • Denise

      Do you know whether the commercial pallets are made from treated wood that may leach toxins?

      • milkwoodkirsten

        Good question Denise – I got told that some are and some aren’t depending on the industry they came from… Will find that info and report back?

  • shanegenziuk

    Yep Aquaponics looks like a real winner – Can’t wait to get into it myself (At the top of my ‘to do’ list).

  • Sadie

    And I thought pallets were a way of organising gumboots. Very cool.

  • barter411

    Aquaponics is one of the best things to happen recently. It has appeal on so many levels. I love to see all the new innovations like what you are doing here, taking a great idea and making it even more interesting.

  • Kristy

    I just wonder about the pallets… I really like the vertical garden ideas, esp in conjunction with the aquaponics but wonder about what might be in the pallets (ie are they treated), in terms of growing edibles?

    • milkwoodkirsten

      yes I wonder too. I would be putting a non-permeable membrane between the pallets and the soil myself, and just using the pallets for their structural integrity…

  • rob

    i have told so many people about the ‘peak oil ‘ film ….why does it seem that my lips are moving and no sound is coming out ….. permaculture could be our single most important export in these troubled times ….

  • Atkinson Forestry

    fantastic post! loving the pictures, i will definately be recommending that my readers take a look at your site, keep up the good work

  • Felicity Waters

    encourage you to look at woolly pockets for a good vertical gardening system – they are made from recycled plastics plus they are made ethically (ie no cheap labour) – plants love them and they last – a great marraige with aquaponics

  • Kgeesey

    Love this idea! I’m doing my best to make small changes at a time. Still learning a ton. When I have a place I will definately be using this!!!!!!

  • estudiolampada

    Muito interessante!

  • Penny

    That’s genius! I’d love to have something like this. I’ve seen the ponds at, but I never thought of using a vertical garden for a water source.

  • deborah lange

    Dear Milkwood, Do you know where i could find some really practical information with photos for setting up growing greens in limited space with limited income in the slums in Uganda?

    • milkwoodkirsten

      I’d suggest researching ‘worm wicking beds’ (as opposed to wicking beds) which is growing directly in the top of worm farm systems- good for limited space growing of crops with high input needs (greens) …

  • John

    Hi there, where can I buy the pots from? Would love to add a green wall to my existing aquaponics setup