Aquaponics is a system that lets you use fish waste from a pond or fish tank to grow vegetables, with the plants providing purification for the water in which the fishes live. You can use aquaponics for just growing vegetables or for growing vegetables and farming fish. Aquaponics is a form of container gardening.
Step 1 - What Can you Grow?
Aquaponics is an ideal system for growing leafy green vegetables. This includes lettuce, spinach, arugula and many others which will grow excellently. However, most vegetables will thrive from aquaponics. If you grow fruiting plants such as peppers, you might not obtain as high a yield as you would if you were just using hydroponics because aquaponics use lower levels of phosphorus and potassium.
Step 2 - When To Plant?
Once you’ve established your aquaponics system, you shouldn’t plant in the grow box for a month. This gives ample time for the system to establish itself. Similarly, you shouldn’t introduce fish into the tank of an aquaponics system for 48 hours so the water can dechlorinate.
When you plant in the grow box, you can either plant seeds or put in plants that you’ve started in a greenhouse. The latter will give a faster yield.
Step 3 - Growing Medium
There are a number of possible growing mediums as you’d also find in hydroponics. However, expanded clay pebbles are ideal for an aquaponics system. You can find them under several different brand names and they can be bought at most hydroponics stores.
Step 4 - Maintenance
There’s very little you have to do in the way of maintenance for aquaponics farming. The plants receive their nutrients automatically through the feed tube that run from the tank or pond using the submersible pump. Make sure the pH level is right. For aquaponics, it should be right around 6.8 which is lower that water direct from the faucet. Check weekly, but only adjust the pH level if it’s above 7.0 or under 6.6.
When you add dechlorinated water, make sure it includes a supplement with hydroponics bloom solution to make a 1/4 strength solution. Every month, you need to use the siphon cleaner on the bottom of the fish tank or pond to remove excess fish waste. Don’t throw this away. You can use it as fertilizer on other plants and you’ll discover it has an excellent effect.
Step 5 - Harvesting
Harvest your vegetables just as you would if they’d grown in any other medium, being sure to wash them thoroughly before you eat them. You’ll find that even a small aquaponics garden will be able to provide ample in terms of vegetables and herbs to feed your family.
If you have an indoor aquaponics system with grow lights, you’ll be able to grow and harvest vegetables all year round. Outdoors, you’ll be subject to the seasons, but you’ll be able to re-plant all through the spring and summer.