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All right, this is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com. Today I have another exciting episode for
you and I love it when I'm on a field trip. And today I'm on a field trip actually...
I just got out of the big apple, the NYC, New York City from Grand Central Station.
Came out on a train here to Yonkers, New York, and man, this is nature. I kind of get claustrophobic
in big cities so I'm glad to be back out in nature here in Yonkers. And while we're here
in Yonkers today is right behind me. Right of the train station, just in the distance
here, you guys can see, there's a barge! With two greenhouses on it. So they're growing
food on a barge, they're collecting their rainwater to use for the watering systems.
They have solar panels and even, I think, like windmill on there to generate electricity.
So it's a fully self-contained unit. So if shit hits the fan, you can live on a barge
and just float to oceans and grow your own food. So this is totally gonna be a cool episode,
we're gonna head over there and we're gonna show you about this Science Barge where they're
teaching the kids how to grow food and hopefully you guys will also learn a few things at the
same time.
All right, so now we're at the site of the Science Barge. You can check out and learn
more about them at sciencebarge.org. I'm so excited to be here because, I mean, this is
literally a self-contained vessel, or a "wessel" if you're Chekhov. But, uh, they got all kinds
of stuff growing. They're growing food, they got composting toilets. They're actually catching
their own, uh, crabs. They got, man, solar panels, they got wind turbines, they got rain
catchment. I mean, literally, you could live on this barge if you needed to. Totally amazing.
So I'm really excited to share with you guys what they're doing there. So next let's head
on to the barge.
I'm walking the plank over to the barge here. As we walk across here, you're gonna get a
welcome sign it says "The Science Barge is a program of the Groundwork Hudson Valley."
And the Groundwork also puts on a whole bunch of different community gardens and other projects
in the area. So it's definitely really cool. I'm glad they were able to accommodate me
today on a short notice. And, uh, normally during the week the barge is only open to,
like, school kids. So actually they take school kids, which I think is very important and
critical to teach the children of today where the food comes from and how it's grown. So
during the week they have programs for kids and, uh, take school kids. So if you want
to visit the barge otherwise, you gotta come on the, uh, Saturdays and Sundays between
noon and six. That's when they take the public and will give tours and you guys can check
this place out for yourselves.
So I think what I'm gonna do now, because there's so much here to show you guys, the
first part of this video is gonna be showing you the sustainability aspects of the barge
and then I'll get more into, like, the actual food growing that they're doing here. So I
think first what we're gonna do is we're gonna go and check out the rain catchment actually
inside the greenhouse.
So as you guys can see here they got some big tanks here. It's 400 gallons and they
got three of them so that's 1200 gallons of rain catchment. What they're doing is they
have gutters on the top of the greenhouse structure here, they come into one common
pipe, they feed here, uh, this... And they store all the water that they need to use,
because they are growing in hydroponics, it re-circulates the water and they save a lot
of water so they don't need to catch as much. After they catch the water, just to be safe,
they're actually also filtering it and then actually running it through a UV system, which
is really cool. I haven't seen a UV system used on rainwater before. So besides the rain
catchment, they have another back-up system, just in case, and this is a reverse-osmosis
system, this tank holds up to 300 gallons, and you can see the whole reverse-osmosis
system here. What they do is they can literally take the river water, pull the river water
out of the river, run it through their reverse-osmosis system, and then run it into their tank here
so that they can be fully sustainable with all their water needs.
So besides the water, what's also very important is the electricity, or power, to run some
of the hydroponics systems and all the systems on board here. So what they got is two major
ways they're actually generating their own electricity here. The number one way is the
solar panels. And these solar panels are really cool. And they go to the back of this guy
so you guys can see it. These guys are on a special system that actually self-compensates
and adjusts so that it follows the light. It's actually a passive system. So this is
really cool. There's chambers on the end that, it's actually filled with gas, and it actually,
as the temperature changes, the light moves, it actually moves on its own. So that's definitely
really cool.
So the other way they're generating electricity is by the wind turbines up above. So those
are actually humming pretty loud, making a lot of noise, and they're definitely generating
a lot of power. Now, they do need a way to store the power, so they have some batteries
on board. So let me go ahead and show you guys where they store the power in the batteries,
and all that kind of cool stuff.
All right so check it out, this is where all their batteries are held. This is about seven
thousand dollars in AGM batteries. These are special batteries for use in, you know, solar
power and wind power applications. They got the converters up here that convert the DC
power into the AC for use on the ship.
(knocks) Anybody in there? All right, I think it's clear, let's check it out. (door creaks
open) All right, check it out! This is their sustainable bathroom here. What they do is
they got a waterless urinal. So this is gonna save water. You know, most urinals may flush
like a liter, two liters, every time you flush it. But with this they're just taking the
pee and they're collecting it. And they're looking for a way to dispose of that pee,
and I recommended hey, why don't you, like, dilute it with some water and put it on some
landscape trees? 'Cause your pee is a very valuable source of nitrogen that you can feed
the plants with. But, you might not want to feed the plants the nitrogen fertilizer if
you're eating them. But we'll leave that one up to you. I tend to use my nitrogen fertilizer
on, um, trees and shrubs, or fruit-bearing crops instead of, like, leaves that I would
eat. And then of course right here they got a toilet. And yes, this toilet looks like
a standard toilet, but this is not a standard toilet. This is what's called a "composting
toilet." And here's a very simple diagram of how it works. Basically the, uh, the waste
is collected into a composting chamber, they add some peat moss and it's actually heated
up and it's composted out. And then what they're gonna do is they're gonna take the compost
and generate it and then put it off site on some landscaping trees. Once again, in general,
you should not use human waste directly on vegetative crops that will be eaten, just
in case. So next, what I want to show you guys is some ways they are composting. So
besides composting the human waste, you can also compost fruit, vegetable and plant materials
that's collected on board or brought on board. And they're doing this in two ways, by composting,
either worm composting or standard thermal composting. So they have a worm compost bin
and also a tumbling composter that I'm gonna show you right now to show how they generate
composts on the Science Barge.
So another way they're composting here on the barge is with worms. And they got the
can of worms here, and this is a nice worm composter, I actually have one of these myself.
And they're filling up the food scraps in here and all the worms are all inside here,
going to town, making a lot of good compost. Now I definitely wanna recommend you guys,
worm compost. Worm composting is the best way to bring microbial activities in your
garden. Whether it's fungi, the microryza, and the worm compost can be used to make compost
teas. It's just so rich in nutrients, you just gotta do it.
Now the other way they're composting here on The Barge is just a standard tumbling composter
or thermal composting. Many of you guys may have seen composters like this, where you
just like, put the compost inside and you kinda let it sit. You can't really turn it
that well. You know, these guys definitely work but I would recommend you guys upgrade
and get a tumbling composter. I found they just work that much faster and I have several
videos reviewing different kinds of tumbling composters. They have a tumbling composter
here that's actually kinda big and heavy and a little bit heavy to turn. (laughs) But,
uh, we're gonna go ahead and open that and show you guys inside. It's very important
to compost your food scraps. You know, most food scraps get sent off into the landfill
where they actually don't compost, they generate more methane gas and they're not being reused
in an appropriate way. You know I want everyone out there to take some responsibility for
the food scraps they generate by composting. Composting is super simple. Whether you're
gonna get a tumbler like this or whether you get a worm bin, you can even put it under
your sink, in a little box and have your own worm bin inside. But this way they're just
composting thermally. They're adding their food scraps plus a carbon source. They're
tumbling it... And guess what? Compost will happen. Once it's done take this out to grow
your plants and vegetables in it and they'll be healthy as ever.
Now I'm so excited we're gonna get to show you guys the greenhouse. I mean this is where
all the growth happens, the majority of it anyway, and they're growing many different
styles of growing food in here, and hopefully you guys are gonna get some ideas to let you
guys know how you may wanna start growing your food. So the first part about any growing
system, when they're growing food, is to start your own seeds. So what they're doing here
is actually they’re showing kids and actually the kids will start some of these seeds. They
got a little collection of seeds here that the kids will actually put into the rock wool
and then they'll water these guys and then they'll get the little plant. So here's the
little lettuces that they started, in a little rock wool. And once they got the little plants
here with the roots coming out, they're gonna take it over next-door to the system to grow
it. So let me go ahead and show you guys how they grow the lettuce.
I mean this is beautiful. I mean, you guys could have a head of lettuce a day for like
a whole year with this table right here. There's so many different plants. How this basically
is working is that they're starting the plants over on this side, and you can see all these
little baby lettuces in the first two rows. As they get a little bit bigger, then they
kinda move these over to the next rack, which are spaced a little bit further apart. And
they get them growing a little bit bigger. Then as they grow on, they maybe grow a little
bit further and then they get really large and that's when you can start harvesting the
lettuce and eating them.
So this way they're continually rotating the crop and they're making new seedlings to put
in the first couple rows and then letting the other ones grow out, and they'll start
harvesting lettuce and be able to eat it. Man, I love my lettuce. And besides the lettuce,
they're growing other things like some bok choy, which I really love, and some arugula
it looks like right here. And how they're growing this, they're in hydroponics. So they're
using their catchment water that they've sterilized over here and they're adding a nutrient solution
to. And this is simply called the thin film technique. And you can see here if we pull
this guy out, ...
(background/greenhouse noise)
... you can see all the healthy roots underneath there, they're growing in some rock wool here.
And this is standard hydroponics. You guys could do this easily at home, whether you
buy a system like this, or whether you just, you know, make it yourself out of some rain
gutters that you buy at home depot. So how this works is simply, they have a nutrient
bin here that's filled with water, a little water reservoir that they add the nutrients
to and there's a little pump in here, what happens is the pump comes on, it comes out
this blue pipe here, and it runs all the way up this little, uh, gutter system, all the
way to the other end, and it's pumped over to the other end, and then what happens is
the water flows down through gravity because it is on a slope, and then it runs all they
way down through the little gutter so all the water with the nutrients hit every root,
and then it comes down to the bottom here, into another gutter, where the water is then
drained back into the main tank here, where all the nutrient solution storage is. I mean,
this a super simple system. Anybody could do it. Now besides this hydroponic system,
they're growing a few other ways in hydroponics. So let me show you that next.
So here's another way besides that system. They're growing in this method as well. And
now this is very similar. Once again they have their nutrient solution here in the big
tank and the pumps come on and then they run it into each little pot. The nutrient solution
runs through the pot and then back into the collection tank. As you guys can see here,
they're growing many different things, including some cucumbers. There's a nice little cuke
right there on the vine, almost ready to get eaten. In addition they have some beautiful
pepper plants, I mean these pepper plants are looking lush and gorgeous, and look at
all these ripe peppers on here. Nice and red. I wanna remind you guys when you are harvesting
your peppers, you wanna get them as dark red as possible. You know, many times you may
buy green peppers in the store, but the green peppers will ripen to red. And here's a good
example here, this is an unripe pepper, this pepper's still kinda green but it's starting
to turn green, and now here's one that's fully ripe and just about ready to be harvested.
And besides the peppers, they're growing eggplants, here's a little baby eggplant right here.
Now because they are using hydroponics, you know you can't grow everything under hydroponics.
You know, I've seen that many crops will do well under hydroponics but some may not. So
the ones they're doing here seem to do very well. Next let's take a look at their tomato
garden, which is huge.
So check it out, now I'm standing in the middle of their hydroponic tomatoes, if you guys
can see me here. These guys are huge! They're tearing up. And by the end of the season,
in November when they pull them out, these guys are gonna probably be like twenty-five
feet long. Can you say your tomatoes are twenty-five feet long? And look at all these nice little
cherry tomatoes. Tons and tons of food to pick. I like that they're growing cherry tomatoes
because they seem to put out for a long period of time, instead of the determinate varieties
that put out all at once. So they can have tomatoes throughout the growing season to
show the kids how food grows.
Now over on this side, they're using another form of hydroponics, a vertical hydroponics.
This is known as the vertigrow system. I've had this in my videos before. The system's
from Florida actually, using some Styrofoam containers. And this is a way that you can
actually maximize the use of your space. Literally in the space of one pot that we just saw,
like one tomato plant, they could have, you know, four, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty,
twenty-four collard plants. And, uh, these collard plants are all producing leaves and
if you just had this one stack of these plants you could just come off and just pick one
collards off every plant and you'd definitely have enough for a whole meal. Back over here,
they got more stuff growing. Wow, this is really cool, they got some purslane growing,
it's actually an erect version of purslane so it's actually growing nice and tall and
they've been doing a good job and cutting it back and let's see how this purslane tastes.
Mmm, best hydroponic purslane I've ever tasted. Hey, I think it's the only hydroponic purslane
that I've ever tasted. Now I want you guys to grow and eat your purslane. For many farmers
it's just a weed, but in my opinion it's actually a really gourmet food. It's actually really
high in omega-3 fatty acids, and the other thing you wanna know is that once it's gonna
flower and drop seeds, it's just gonna keep coming back in your garden without you having
to replant it. And that's the kind of garden I wanna have.
All right so man, in every nook and cranny of the Science Barge, there's something for
me to share with you, and something for me to learn. I've never seen this before in all
my travels all around growing food. This is really cool. What they're doing here is deep-water
culture. And this is deep-water culture that you've never seen before because what they're
doing is they're literally using this little, like, cartons I think that microwave food
comes in or to-go cartons that food shops and like delis would sell. But they basically
put a hole in the top and they're putting little pots in it like this and they're just
have the nutrient solution in the bottom and they're bubbling it. And these plants are
alive! So think about it, you guys can just get some of these pots, put some nutrient
solution, get a little pump like from a fish store, or pet store, and grow your own food!
And these are just a little small ones from takeout places, but check it out; you could
even get larger ones like they've got over here in a little air pump. I mean, this one
they got six plants, look like they've got six fairly healthy basil plants in, and this
is just one those little shoeboxes that might cost a dollar at the dollar store. And they're
growing food in it. I think this might be a good video for me to make in the future,
how to make one of these. I mean, how easy is that, man? Just get one of these little
boxes and fill it up with some water, some nutrient solution. Get a pump, pump some air
through there, bubble it and, man, you'll have some instant food to eat. Amazing.
So up 'til now I've showed you all the different hydroponic systems they're using. Now what
is hydroponics? That means literally growing with water, they're adding some nutrient solutions
to basically feed the plants, but that's not quite as sustainable because what happens
when you run out of nutrient solution? Well, then you might not be able to grow any plants
unless you have enough compost, and you're making compost teas, and yada, yada, yada.
But another system they're using here on board the Science Barge is actually the aquaponics
system, so I'm excited to show you guys that. It actually looks like a thriving aquaponics
system. So let me show you guys how they're doing it. Just on top of this large table
here, and this table is huge, it's probably like, I don't know, at least eight foot by
four foot, they have a big table filled up with the hydroton balls, which actually act
as a medium to hold the roots of the plants. And they got all kind of stuff growing. Over
here they got some corn here, they got mustard greens here, they got some sorrel here, they
just put in some baby arugula here, they got some mighty healthy Swiss chard over here.
And check it out, they even got one of my favorites, the okra, it's producing some okra
right over there for you guys. And they got a whole bunch of different basil, and they
got purslane growing in here as well. Oh and check this guy out man this is a vine, it
comes out from right here, it grows all the way in here, and then actually just comes
out and vines all the way out. They gotta kinda like, tie it up and tie it back. And
it grows up over here, and this is a huge squash plant, or butternut squash. And there's
a nice big butternut squash right there, being grown in their aquaponics system. So I mean,
this is definitely working. Now with the hydroponics and the aquaponics, it is, in my opinion,
more challenging to get up and growing than a soil system, so I'd recommend growing in
soil first, but if you have an application for hydroponics, you know, jump right in because
I think growing your own food is much better than buying it from any grocery store. So
you just saw the grow table, how this aquaponics system works is basically they have this big
tank right here with fish. And yes, they've tried to use tilapia and catfish and different
kind of fish but they started using the goldfish and the goldfish know that I'm here because
as soon as I came up, they started biting and now we're gonna give them some fish food.
Now the reason why they're using the goldfish is because you can feed the goldfish a hundred
times a day and if you wanna make a kid happy, go ahead and let them feed the fish, and,
you know, get them involved in the whole growing process. Because now they can literally explain
to the kid, you know, "we feed the fish, the fish poop and pee in the water..." "eww, gross!"
and the poop and pee water gets run up to the plants and then the roots basically filter
the poop and pee water and take out the nutrition to grow the plants and then the clean water
comes back down to keep the fish happy, so the fish is not living in their muck, or their
poop and pee water. I don't think you'd like living in your poop and pee water, and neither
would the fish. So I'm glad they got this system here that's under aquaponics to show
kids how it can be done.
So besides just growing under the hydroponics and aquaponics, they're growing in the standard
soil right here. So as you guys can see, they got these things called the earth grow boxes,
these are very similar to an earth box, and these are on wheels, so that's very convenient
if you live in New York City or an apartment and you can just wheel these around where
you need them, you can just plant these out, you fill in the soil, you gotta make sure
you have a nice soil mixture that's gonna do some wicking action, because what you're
gonna do is you're just gonna water these pots, do a little pipe here, and you fill
the water in here, there's a reservoir, down to the bottom. And it's gonna keep the water
down in the base, about this much. And it's just gonna, the plants are gonna suck the
water up as they need. So this is a very useful way to grow in a container, if you don't have
a lot of land, or if you just don't wanna grow in the soil 'cause it's contaminated
or something like that. Actually I like to grow in these kinda boxes during the wintertime.
I find it very easy and convenient and easy to move around so I can keep them warm when
I need to.
So besides the standard earth grow box or self-watering container that you guys saw,
you could literally grow plants in anything. Anything that'll hold dirt that you put some
holes in, so that they can get some drainage so that your plants don’t get flooded out,
it's like us trying to like, you know, like dunking us under water in a swimming pool
and it's drowning, right. We need to have holes in the bottom. They literally just took
one of these storage totes that you can get at a big box store and they popped holes in
it, filled it with dirt, and now they have a huge area where they can grow a lot of food
in, for like a little, not a whole lot of money. So, you know, no matter where you live,
you can just buy one of these, pop some holes in the bottom with a drill, or even like a
screwdriver, fill it with some dirt, and plant and grow. I mean, it's simple as that! Everyone
can do it! And I want you guys to start growing some food today! To start eating out of your
garden, instead of the grocery store.
So now we're gonna show you guys another experiment thing that they're kinda running in the background,
that's not available for public display yet. It's actually called the "flow pot." And how
this works, it's actually just a standard storage tote here that's from like a big box
store, they got it filled up, you know, like this much with the nutrient solution and right
here they have a hole stuck in it with a tube, and it's all silicone up. And what happens
is, the gravity takes the water, the nutrient solution, down into this little container
here, which is no more than a concrete mixing pan, and it takes it down to this little valve
here, this is actually called an aqua-valve, it's autopot.co.uk and what this little valve
does is it only allows enough water in to align the bottom of the container. When the
water level goes down, this will let the gravity feed, flow more, and bring more water in.
So what this does basically is, self-regulates, and automatically waters your plants so that
you don't have to. This is totally amazing, I like it a lot. You can do this without any
power! Just by using the powers of gravity that's here on earth to, you know, put water
from a higher location to a lower one. Unfortunately the intern that was working on this actually
left for Idaho to pan for some gold, and never came back. So it's not a fully developed concept.
But I surely hope they get this concept working properly and on display to kids to show that
you can still grow food without any electricity or without any power, and still have your
plants watered automatically.
So every time I take a field trip, I always learn a few new things. I've definitely learned
a couple of things here, on the Science Barge, including about this product right here, this
is actually called the pure organic clay pebble soil enhancer. It says "an intense hydroponic
growth". And what these guys are, these little pebbles here, instead of using the hydroponics
system that you saw earlier, these are little clay pebbles to use as your growing medium.
And yes, these are all fired and they will hold their water, some water weight, and they're
made right here in the U.S.A., where as the hydroton is actually imported. So I'm excited
to see them testing these little grow pebbles and hopefully I'll learn more about them in
the future and see if they're any better, or worse, than the hydroton.
So instead of using pesticides, they have a few different ways they can attract beneficial
insects and predator insects here on board and I wanna show you guys a couple of them
right now. Number one is they have a ladybug hotel. So this ladybug will attract the ladybugs
so that the ladybugs could inhabit the hotel and then go out and then prey on things like
aphids and white flies that may negatively affect the plants. The next ones are really
cool and I've actually never seen anywhere else before either, so I'm glad I'm here to
share with you.
Another way they can deal with pesky insects is by having a device such as this, and I've
never seen such a thing and I think it's totally ingenious. Because I get garden spiders in
my garden all the time and they just make webs wherever and they're inconvenient. You
know, I like the spiders but their webs are inconvenient. This right here is actually
called the Garden Spider Web Frame. Totally crazy. So it's designed so that the spider
can have a perfect place to spin its web. You can then put it above your plants so that
when the insects come by, they get caught in the web and then the spider gets to eat
them. That’s definitely really interesting especially if you got kids, so they can watch
So another way that you can manage bad insects is by catching them or trapping them. So they
have these very simple sticky traps, that are effective, non-poisonous, easy to use,
and you just put them up and the insects land on them. And once they land on them, they
can't fly off, so they're no longer gonna affect your plants.
So that's about it for me today on the Science Barge. Definitely had a fun time showing you
that stuff, but I can't leave New York without going crabbin'. So also on the Science Barge
here they've got these strings hanging into the water... Check it out! I caught a crab!
So yes, they even can go fishing from the barge and that's just yet another source they
can be sustainable and catch they're own food, instead of buying it at the supermarket. As
for me, I think I'd rather stick to the greens. (laughs) In any case, I hope you enjoyed this
episode learning more about the Science Barge, some of the technologies they're using here
to grow food sustainably on a floating boat. I mean it's totally amazing, you guys gotta
come out if you're in the area, in New York City, you wanna take a trip up on the weekend,
check them out, support them so they can teach more kids about where the food comes from.
And, you know, you guys can grow from this experience as well, because maybe it'll give
you ideas and create that creative spark under ya so you can start growing some of your own
food today. So hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode. Once again, my name is John
Kohler with growingyourgreens.com. We'll see you next time and remember, keep on growing.


Aquaponics System Grows Food on Boat Using Rainwater & Solar Power

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