Aquaponics – how to get a setup running and producing. This is probably the most pertinent question raised when we think of growing fish and vegetables side by side. Aquaponics is indeed the art of growing vegetables as well as fish with the use of very few resources – mainly water that is already available in your fish tank. In short, it is the practice of utilizing the waste coming from your fish tanks to provide nutrients for your vegetables.
It is a fairly simple as well as a completely organic way of growing your favorite vegetables without having to worry about soil cultivation or fertilization, not to mention the use of harmful synthetic fertilizers. In an aquaponics system you only need to feed the fish and you could even make up your own fish food.
Aquaponics – How to make use of your existing fish tank?
Before delving into the details of Aquaponics, let us see how the water from your fish tank comes in handy for growing vegetables. We all know that fish produce a lot of waste, which creates ammonia, which is harmful to the fish if allowed to build up, (a major reason why we need to replace the water at regular intervals in a normal setup unless there is an effective filter system in place) In an aquaponics system the plants do the filtering. However the plants cannot make use of ammonia. What happens is that bacteria will grow naturally in the tank water and they change the ammonia into nitrates. The nitrates work as a natural fertilizer for all types of vegetables thus providing a unique opportunity to grow fresh vegetables with the help of the natural waste produced by the fish.
Research has revealed that the process of growing plants with the help of water from fish tanks helps the vegetables grow at a 50% faster rate than normal. Thus you get the opportunity to see your favorite vegetables grow within a very short period of time. This is not all – now the same water can be recycled back to the fish tank filtered and so keep a clean environment for the fish to live in. .
Aquaponics – How to get started with:
The fundamental practice of starting off with Aquaponics is pretty simple. You need fish tanks and tanks for plants to grow in. There are ready made kits available in the market, though you can easily design and make your own system. Whatever you do, the basic answer to the question of how to get started with aquaponics is that you need to know
1. What you hope to achieve,
2. The available space,
3. The type of system you want to build.
Aquaponics once established do not take much of your time to look after. Whatever system you opt for, the fish tanks are always at a lower level than the grow beds as then the water from the beds can naturally flow back into the fish tanks. Remember that the water is recycled and because of that aquaponics uses only about 2% of the volume of water that would be used in your home garden.
You will need a pump to put a fixed amount of water into the beds so that the plants always get an adequate amount of water with their required nutrients and to send it filtered back to the tank. In some systems the roots of the plants remain submerged in the water, while in another the water is pumped to the plants and allowed to drain.
Aquaponics is beneficial in three ways
- You get fresh vegetables,
- You get fresh fish and
- It will save you quite a bit of money.
There are many of us who would love to try out our gardening skills but we don’t have access to a garden. Never fear, because there are other options we may wish to consider.
If you live in an apartment building, how about window boxes? If your building has a courtyard area, contact the person in charge and see if you might be able to plan and take care of a portion of the courtyard. You may want to scout the surroundings first and see what is available. If you have a plan in mind before you talk to someone about creating a garden space or a beautifully crafted flower display, then you may have a better chance of success.
If you share a house or flat with other renters, you may want to see what yard space is available for your use. Many times owners will jump at the chance to have the occupants take care of the yard work, as that saves time and money for them. If space allows, you may be able to grow some food as well as a variety of eye-catching flowers and foliage.
Rocks, bricks and pebbles can be used to contain and highlight small spaces used for planting. These look good left in their natural colors or you can try adding contrast by painting them in coordinating colors to show off your gardening space. Be creative here; you are only limited by your own imagination.
Small spaces can also be conducive to hanging baskets. Look for places where a hanging basket could be very appealing visually and yet not in the way of walking spaces.
When planning the variety of plants you would like to plant, make sure you do your research as to what grows well in your climate, when the flowering times or harvest times are, and how much water and tending they will require. If you have acquired special permission to use apartment-owned space, make sure that you keep your spot tended, well-kept and looking magnificent. This will create the biggest impression. Remember, this is likely a very public place which will be seen by many people. It is the perfect way to show off your gardening skills.
Don’t forget about using your indoor living space as well. There are many plants, ferns, flowers and even herbs which grow well indoors, in full natural light from a window. If you have a balcony, they can be set outside on nice days. Keep in mind that pots dry out quickly so don’t set them out in the hot sun without checking their water level periodically.
Even without your own garden, there are ways to be a gardener and hone your gardening skills by growing plants, vegetables, flowers and foliage for all to enjoy.