Thursday, March 22, 2012

Aquaponic Gardening

     What is aquaponics? Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.

     What is aquaculture? Aquaculture is the farming of fish and shellfish. The term aquaculture refers to the cultivation of both marine and freshwater species.

     What is hydroponics? Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution in gravel, mineral wool, or coconut husk.

     So what is aquaponics? Basically, in aquaponics, the vegetables and the fish work together in a sustainable loop. The fish waste provides fertilizer, which feed the plants, which filters the water for the fish. Aquaponics is a new way of growing plants organically and dirt-free using fish waste as plant food.

      Hydroponic gardening is the most productive way to grow all varieties of plants, with growth rates of 30-50% faster than those of a soil grown plants, under the same conditions. Those plants raised in a hydroponic system also exhibit maximum yield, flavor, vitamin and essential oil content.

      How? Scientists believe that there are several reasons for the drastic differences between hydroponic and soil plants. The extra oxygen in a hydroponic system helps to stimulate root growth. Plants with ample oxygen in the root system also absorb nutrients faster. The nutrients in a hydroponic system are mixed with the water and sent directly to the root system. The plant does not have to search in the soil for the nutrients that it requires. Those nutrients are being delivered to the plant several times per day. The hydroponic plant requires very little energy to find and break down food. The plant then uses this saved energy to grow faster and to produce more fruit. Hydroponic plants also have fewer problems with bug infestations, fungi and disease. In general, plants grown hydroponically are healthier and happier plants.

      But hydroponic gardening still requires the use of some sort of fertilizer, whether it is organic or not, while aquaponics makes it’s own organic fertilizer, aka fish poop.

      Fish poop makes good vegetable? We decided to try it.

     After a considerable amount of researching, designing and building on Mr. Chickadee’s part, we have our very own Aquaponic Garden! We will be growing vegetables and fish together in our backyard! The only work we will need to do is feed the fish once a day. No weeding, no watering, and the plants will grow at a higher level for easy access.

The garden is in the top portion and the fish are in the bottom portion.
We decided to plant lettuce and radishes as a start.
(planted them as seeds a few weeks ago)

A bit of nettle..
And some bees visiting our garden :)

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