Family of Four Grows Their Food in a Swimming Pool

We were in Brisbane last week visiting my brother Geoff when I noticed that Stephanie, my sister-in-law, had started planting food gardens around the edge of their swimming pool.

Over winter they had also let their pool develop that natural green look. With summer coming there was talk of bringing the pool back to crystal clear ready for the occasional swim.

When I saw this article from Treehugger below I immediately thought of their pool and whether it might be a better idea to extend the garden into the pool.


Food Doesn't Get More Local Than That
A family living in Mesa, Arizona, has decided to convert an old unused backyard swimming pool into a very productive DIY urban greenhouse, which they named Garden Pool. Within a small, mostly enclosed space, they grow all kinds of vegetables and herbs, as well as raise chickens and tilapia fish. They started this project in 2009 and expected to be "self-sufficient" by 2012, but they've reached that goal this year, getting "8 fresh eggs a day, unlimited tilapia fish, organic fruit, veggies, and herbs 365 days a year" (though I'm not sure if by self-sufficient they mean that they couldtheoretically live off the amount of food the Garden Pool produces, or if they actually do it). Check out the video tour of the Garden Pool below.

An Oasis in the Desert
The Garden Pool combines the following techniques (and is obviously a work in progress that should improve as time goes on -- if you look at the early pictures, you'll see what I mean):

There's a more detailed list of things they grow and facts about the Garden Pool here. Here's a diagram of the bio-filtration process: More...

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Comment by Sheri on September 8, 2010 at 2:07pm
I know how you feel Margaret. Here on the Pacific coast we were robbed of our summer. I had so much rain and fog. I hear that Alaska gardeners are having the same problem. I guess a greenhouse is truly in my future. Many Alaska growers use wonderful methods to excellerate growth. Using things painted "Black" really helps to conduct heat. My husband and I are building onto our home, a garage, office and lower gardening room. I hope to set-up the gardening room with shelves and grow lights for next springs starts. That would help get a jump start with the young one's.

Mulch is the real answer. Lots of straw worked into your soil and on top of your soil. I rescued some Rhubarb this spring and tried the "Ruth Stout" method on them. They really flourished. YouTube use to have some wonderful videos on her but they were all pulled off. Such a loss! She was such a dear soul and inspiration! I have one of her gardening books and it's a treasure.
Her method is to put down at least 8 inches of straw in the fall and let it winter over. This feeds the soil, feeds the worms and warms the soil and it has many other benefits like holding moisture and it also blocks weeds. It works! So far I have worked 25 bales of straw into my yard and I'm just starting! I also live in an area where slugs are a real problem. But this year they weren't so bad for my yard like in the other neighbors yards. I had them, but they preferred to stay under cover eating on the roting straw. In one of the old videos on Ruth I remember someone asking her this question and she answered that she really didn't have much of a problem with slugs. I guess slugs have their place in the garden, we just need to provide them with the rotting mulch to keep them in it! In the spring, when you plant. you just pull back some of the straw and plant your seeds or plant starts. With potatoes, just lay in the whole potato (Buy organic one's) and lightly cover with straw. With my Rhubarb, I pulled the straw right up to the the plant and gosh did they get happy! Potatoes like this straw dressing also and you can just keep heaping on more straw as the plants grow.
Comment by Margaret Beers Oliver on September 8, 2010 at 12:10pm
I really love the videos of the Devaes family farm. That they are growing several tons of food a year on such a small plot is a marvel to me. Colorado winters limit what I can grow right now.
Comment by Sheri on September 6, 2010 at 3:08am
That was inspirational! There are some real big court battles going on over the Colorado River for fresh water. So many people in the southern states have pools in their backyards and feel they are entitled to all the water they want to fill their toys and water their lawns to keep them green. When I look at all the Casino fountains in Las Vegas, Nevada it makes me sick.

I don't know if you've hear of Jules Devaes and his family's Urban Farm in Los Angeles, California. Here's some YouTube videos for you to watch. I hope you find them inspiring also.


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