Aquaponics Gardening – Aquaponics combine two systems: aquaculture which is farm fishing and hydroponics which is a method of growing plants without soil. Plants can be grown using other mediums like perlite (volcanic glass) and hydroton. Aquaponics work because the plants and fish benefit from each other. This method is also an organic way to grow food plants and raise fish.
The aquaponics system basically works this way: the fish produce waste which is broken down by microbes and worms and converted to plant food. The plants are nourished and in turn filter the water that returns to the fish.
Any type of fresh water fish can be grown in an aquaponic system but tilapia is the choice of most aquaponic farmers. Other fish that works include catfish, trout, bluegill, red-claw crayfish and even pet fish like goldfish and koi.
Regarding plants, almost anything can be grown in an aquaponic system: root vegetables, leafy greens and herbs. Even trees like mango, guava, papaya and banana are grown (in controlled environment) by aquaponic farmers in the northern hemisphere. Tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, shallots, celery, capsicum, chilli, snow peas, red salad onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, beans, eggplant and bok choy are successfully grown using this system. You can also grow herbs like herbs like basil, parsley, watercress, coriander, sage, lemongrass, etc. Flowering plants like roses also thrive.
The benefits of aquaponic gardening are many:
– use up to 90% less water than conventional growing methods
– no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other toxic chemicals
– no weeds and minimized pests, diseases, viruses and pathogens for both aquatic and plant life alike
– applicable method in any climate
– up to 75% less energy than almost any other farming method
– up to 10X more food production in the same amount of space and time
– require approximately half the labor of almost all other food production methods
– systems are applicable in Urban, Suburban and Rural settings
Aquaponic system makes growing food seem like a breeze but could be problematic in winter. The best solution many employ is putting up a greenhouse just big enough to cover the system. The fish are replaced with cold tolerant kinds over the winter, same with the plants.
Many proponents of this system say that they prefer it to conventional planting or farming method because they get more yield in terms of produce, they spend less time tending to the system than they would in a garden and they get fish!
How about you, is aquaponic gardening something you’d like to try?
If so, find out how you can start your own aquaponic garden here.