Plants thrive in the greenhouse

An ingenious couple in Mesa turned their old swimming pool into a closed system where they raise tilapia fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs and chickens. When people first hear about this, they laugh. It’s crazy! But this is real, and the family of four is well fed from their swimming pool. They have also formed a non-profit to teach others this closed loop food production system.
Dennis McClung was a guest on IgnitePhoenix last week, and you can go online and hear him speak about his project. Or you can go to his excellent website, and see pictures, check out online classes and read about the science behind the system.
The website outlines seven easy steps to setting up a Gardenpool. Start with an empty pool. Build a wood frame across the top and arch PCV pipes in a dome overhead, cover with UV plastic and install a simple solar set up for energy. Presto, you have a greenhouse. Just add plants, chickens and fish.
McClung grows tilapia in his Gardenpool, and his chicken coop is positioned above the water. Waste products from both provide nutrients to a hydroponic system growing fruit trees, vegetables and herbs along the sides of the pool. This system is called aquaponics, and plenty of information is provided on how it works. Basically, through biofiltration living material (plants) capture and biologically degrade pollutants, preventing water borne diseases and improving water quality.
There are a few humble heroes around the Gardenpool, including black soldier flies, experts at breaking down waste products, especially in compost and manures. The larvae of these handsome workers provide meals for the chickens. How handy is that?
Bright green duckweed plants grow at a rapid rate on the pond at the bottom of the pool, purifying the water, sheltering the pond creatures, reducing evaporation and providing a high protein, high fiber food source.
McClung states that his chickens provide about 5 eggs a day, the family enjoys unlimited tilapia, and there is ample organic fruit, vegetables and herbs to harvest 356 day a year.
So you can lounge in your chlorinated pool on your floaty and sip a margarita or set up a Gardenpool system that will be putting food on your table in less than one year. I know, its crazy! But, how brilliant.

Photos courtesy of


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