What comes to your mind when you read this word?
I am sure most of you are reminded immediately of land with fertile soil, plants, fertilizers, watering, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Isn’t it?
Have you ever thought that you can grow plants without soil and as a bonus you can rear fish too in the same setup?
How do you like the idea of catching fish for your dinner and pluck vegetables for your lunch from your garden?
Doesn’t it sound tempting? If your answer is yes, you are welcome to know the innovative method of gardening – the aquaponics gardening.
What is aquaponics gardening?
Aquaponics gardening refers to the conventional gardening that is entirely different from the traditional gardening method.
It refers to the art of growing plant and fish together without soil. It involves a simple but impressive cycle in which nothing is wasted.
The natural resources are getting depleted day by day. Water is becoming scarce. Energy has to be conserved. In this situation it is important that we go for conventional methods like aquaponics gardening where everything is used.
How is everything used in aquaponics? Have a look at the cycle given below and you are sure to get an idea.
Fish —> Waste produced by fish —> Bacteria and other microbes convert waste into fertilizers —> Plants —> Nutrients from the water are absorbed by the plants and the purified water is sent back to the fish.
There are three main components involved in aquaponics gardening and they are fish, water tanks to grow fish and beds to grow plants.
All these three are easy to set up. You have to buy fish from your local market or you can look for online sources. You can use your old bathtub to grow fish or an old container or barrel to grow plants.
With simple and inexpensive things you can create wonders in your backyard. I can hear you sigh and I am sure that the reason for it is that you don’t have a backyard. Here is some good news for you.
You can have indoor aquaponics gardening. So everyone interested in gardening can give it a try.
There is another easy plan where you don’t need a separate bed to grow plants. You can grow both of them in the same media.
In this system the plants are grown over the water with the roots hanging under the water.
In this system you have to grow fish in a tank. Then you can sow seeds. The plants act as cleansing agents for the fish and the fish act as nutrient supplying source to the plants.
They are interdependent on each other and they are not dependent on you. Combine them both and they are going to benefit you in many ways.
Why should you go for aquaponics gardening?
There are some people who love tradition and are reluctant to try conventional methods.
Are you one among them? If so, you should know that there are many valid reasons for shifting from your traditional farming to aquaponics farming.
1. Saves money – Budget is very important these days. The world economy is declining and it is important to save money in all possible ways. You need not break your banks to start aquaponics. As seen earlier, all you need is a base for growing fish and plants and a system to keep the water oxygenated. You can use cheap recycled materials to start the setup. You can also get DIY kits to start your own system.
2. Saves time – Time is very precious. You have to save each and every second if you want to survive the growing competition. When you go for aquaponics you can save time taken to prepare soil, water the plants manually and apply fertilizers. All you have to do is to sow seeds and buy fish in the beginning. Now you just have to wait to harvest the crops and catch the grown fish.
3. Flexibility – There are no strict and rigid rules. You can have them anywhere. It could be your backyard, basement or garage. You just have to make sure that the light and temperature are the right for the fish and the plants. You can plant almost all types of vegetables and grow a wide variety of fish. There is a never ending list on the plants that can be grown and the fish that can be reared.
4. Protects health – You should be definitely aware that you can stay healthy and fit if you eat organic food. Is it possible for all to afford to buy organic food? The answer is a big NO. You can eat organic food without burning holes in your pockets if you have aquaponics farm. Nutrition is very important to protect your health. The preserved and packaged foods stored in the shelves of supermarkets and departmental stores harm you in all possible ways. Organic food from your aquaponics garden is the right step to improve your health.
5. Reducing stress through the best hobby– Modern life is under a constant stress. Stress could affect your mental health, physical health, relations and performance levels. The best way to reduce stress is to indulge yourself in a hobby. Aquaponics gardening is a wonderful hobby suitable to all ages.
Children today are glued to TV or video games or computers. Aquaponics keeps them entertained. When you give them the responsibility of feeding the fish or making sure that the motor pump is working properly and to check that it is not clogged, they become too interested. It makes an excellent hobby that improves their knowledge and responsibility.
Elderly people who have retired from need to keep themselves busy. They need to do some physical activities that are not very strenuous but are interesting. It is an enjoyable activity for the retired people.
It is a good part time activity for working people. They need not spend much time for aquaponics. It is a perfect hobby to reduce work stress.
6. Financial independence and extra money – Extra bucks earned can surely help you in many ways. You can think of many investments, overseas holidays, higher studies, expanding business and you can spoil yourself with new additions to your wardrobe. Home makers and stay-at-home moms can be financially independent. It is the ultimate option to help you to save money as well as earn money.
7. More yield – You can get almost 5 times more yield per square foot when compared to traditional farming. What is the reason for this? There are two reasons. One is you can pack plants closely in water. The other is that the plants grow 2-3 times faster in water than in soil.
8. No toiling and soiling– There is no need to toil in sun. There is no need to soil your clothes with mud. No weeding, no watering and no fertilizing – This is definitely one of the important reasons for why you should go for aquaponics gardening.
9. Expandable – The same basic system of aquaponics applies for a 10 gallon backyard and for a commercial operation spreading for thousands of gallons. It is easily expandable if you are able to understand the basics of aquaponics.
10. Environment friendly – Once you fill the tank with water it keeps on recirculating. You just have to replace the water lost due to evaporation. Aquaponics gardening consumes just 2% of water consumed by soil based gardening. This is really amazing news that is a very friendly gesture to the environment.
11. Attractive – Plants and fish are always beautiful. A small fish tank with colorful fish and a small potted plant in the living room bring life to your home. They add to the beauty and looks of your home. If a small fish tank or flower pot can bring to your home, aquaponics gardening, a combination of both of them can make your backyard or garage or basement or terrace attractive. Your home is sure to become your pride and your neighbors envy.
The list of reasons why you should go for aquaponics gardening is quite long. It is enough to temp you to start one. If you are prepared to start an aquaponics gardening system there are a few factors to be considered.
What are the factors to be considered before starting aquaponics gardening?
Location – The first one is the location. The place you choose should receive enough light. The temperature should be favorable to the plants and fish.
Too high temperature and too low temperature can affect the growth and health of the plants and fish. The temperature should neither be too high nor be too low.
The location should not be affected by abnormal weather conditions It should be well protected from storm, heavy rain and others. The location should not become polluted.
Water – Light, heat, water and soil are the essentials to grow plants. You can forget about soil in aquaponics gardening.
Light and heat are discussed in the previous paragraph. Water is the next thing to be considered. The water should not contain any harmful chemicals. It should be oxygenated for the plant and the fish to survive and grow.
The pH balance of water should be perfect. The right pH balance of water is 7. Water with pH balance below 7 is said to be acidic and water with pH balance above 7 is said to be alkaline.
Both acidic and alkaline water may harm your plants and fish. It is essential to check the pH balance at regular intervals. You should also monitor the temperature of the water. Sudden changes in temperature could cause damages.
Sometimes the nutrients from the fish may not be sufficient for the plants to grow. For example, fish waste may not supply sufficient iron. In that case you may have to enrich the water with iron.
Choosing the fish is very important factor. The fish should be suitable to the size of your tank and the weather in your place. If you are planning to grow many varieties of fish, you should make sure that they get along with each other.
Some species are very ferocious in nature and may attack the others. There are some carnivorous species that may eat smaller fish. Moreover, you should consider the rate of growth and multiplication of fish.
Choosing the plants is also important. There are plants that prefer acidic environment and there are plants that grow well only in soil. Avoid these varieties. Apart from them all other plants can be grown in aquaponics garden.
What are the steps in aquaponics gardening and when to start them?
Once your system is ready the first thing you should do is to add fish feed to the water before you buy fish and let them in the tank. This reduces the chlorine content in water and helps the good bacteria to grow. If the chlorine content is excessive, the chances of death of the fish are high.
The next step is to add fish to water.
When to start sow the seeds? This is very important question to be answered. Most people commit a common mistake. They sow the seeds on the same day they let the fish inside the water.
This is absolutely wrong. It may take at least 3 months for the waste from the fish to turn into nutrients. If you start growing fish and plants on the same day, the plants may not grow healthily and quickly. The plants may become lifeless in due course of time.
To avoid this you have to wait patiently for at least 3 months. The ammonia in the fish waste is converted into nitrogen needed for the plants by the bacteria. You should give some time for the bacteria to grow and multiply. Otherwise the plants will not get enough nitrogen needed for growth.
Create the right balance between bacteria, fish and plants. More fish may lead to cloudy water. Less fish may lead to shortage of nutrients.
Select the right number of fish and plants needed for your aquaponics garden. Get all the benefits and enjoy a financially independent and stress-free life.
Aquaponics gardening has endless opportunities. Once your system is set, you need not worry about it. It can take care of itself. All you have to do is to make sure that you lay the right foundation without any blunders.