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the obligatory, newbie-"is this right for me"-post

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Hello APN!


What a phenomenal wealth of experience and information there is to be found on this site. I am completely impressed and, well, pond puns notwithstanding, feel completely underwater with all there is to explore and learn!


I am in the process of designing an approx. 1/3 acre small-city site located in the Sacramento, California, area. I'm slowly converting it from a bunch of lawn, paving, and garden beds surrounded by pea gravel to something much more integrated, locale-appropriate and productive. I'm working off my rusty PDC-learnings from about 8 years ago, mostly doing it alone while the spouse works overseas… and it's very slow going and prone to large bouts of indecision (and postponement as I'm also a caretaker for a teenager and an elder parent).


I've been reluctant to get into AP - I don't have the time or resources for merely an expensive hobby. I'm aiming toward bolstering a system that doesn't require pricey or eventually-hard-to-obtain external inputs (so, raising freshwater fish on feed made from ocean fish, for example, is going to be a hard sell as would be high-maintenance filtration/pumping systems with costly, finicky, parts … or what have you).


But I'm more than willing to accept that I don't have all the facts! I've seen reference here and there to "low-energy input" systems, and this micro-ponics category seems really right up my alley. I'm in the process of preparing to raise Coturnix quail, have a teeny vermicomposting system (and a regular compost pile), am going to have a mealworm farm shortly … and since water is EVERYTHING (esp. where we don't have it, like CA), am gearing up to harvest water on site in the landscape and in tank/pond catchments - so that's what has me turning to the AP community for ways to "stack" water's functions. But, too, an ultimate goal is to build soil - my garden beds seem to have been stripped of much of their nutrient value by the previous owner while the rest of the property has grown lawn and roses <eye-roll>.


I don't have a horse in any of the AP races that seem to exist - but I am aware that I'm in a position to take advantage of the learning curve that's been scaled by so many before me (so, thank you!). I'm exploring AP in general, iAVs (and am reading Gary's manual online - Gary, you're an inspiration!), vermiponics (I never knew there was such a thing), etc. etc. 


Can anyone suggest, then, a good way to start small, with something sized so that failure is a learning experience and NOT a break-the-bank situation? Raising guppies in a 10-gal tank, feeding extras to quail and using changed-water for a basil plant? Growing duckweed (for compost or quail?) and a few mosquito-fish in a kiddie pool? An indoor system that requires heat (ie. for guppies) and light (for a plant) or one outdoors with locally adapted species all the way?


Given my speed (ha!) I'm aiming to be ready for quail in early fall (incl. cages & tractor (they'll be raised on wire with access to "field trips"), incubator/brooder, etc) and will start with commercially available feed with the intention of gradually producing more on-site. Everything will have to support everything else...


ok, this is book length and you're a trooper if you made it all the way to the bottom! Thanks for reading and creating a great community!







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Welcome aboard to APN!


AP can be a rather long term goal with up to  a year before harvesting your own fish.    I haven't got into quail yet, but have raised ducks and chickens and it's a much quicker return.   With the water issue there I think a wicking bed might a first place to start.   An IAVS system with  quail dung as the engine could be doable as well.   Those would be your more water conserving systems.  Wicking bed has the lower daily maintenance requirement , though IAVS is not much more.  I'm really enjoying my sand bed.


There are many ways to do a thing.  Good Luck and enjoy the journey.

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Thanks for the welcome, Ravnis!


I'd been thinking that my raised beds (wood frame) were problematic because of our hot dry climate (they dry out quite fast and a sunken plot seems to have better results in drylands type environments) BUT there IS the option of making them wicking beds, isn't there?! Now that's an interesting idea! I'd be curious to find out the lifespan of the various elements involved (pond liner? pipes?). 


I'll search the forums and other sites for tips on wicking beds (and any other type of sub-irrigated planters). Thanks for the idea!


I'm still working on reading the iAVs stuff - slow going because I don't have the AP background to make sense of all of it. That main thread seems to be locked but I suppose it's ok to post iAVs questions elsewhere, right?

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