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stroke of luck
water consumption
hydroponics
good sense
greens
crops
vegetables
What Is Aquaponics And Why Should I Care
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What Is Aquaponics And Why Should I Care

Not that long ago I didn't know Aquaponics even existed let alone what it was. And when I look back it was really just a stroke of luck that I found out about it.

I was becoming more interested in being better prepared for the worsening economy and was entertaining various ideas that would make my family and I more self sufficient. One of the things I knew we were going to have to do was get serious about growing some of our own food. I have grown gardens of all different sizes over the course of my lifetime and can do pretty good but finding the time and motivation is becoming increasingly more difficult the older I get.

My sister in-law was telling me about her gardening techniques that made the work a lot easier and produced more in a much smaller area. She loaned me a book she faithfully followed called "Square Foot Gardening". The author describes how to raise lots of vegetables and greens in a limited area using raised grow beds that were 4x4 feet. All you needed was a couple of these grow boxes planted as instructed and you could raise two to four times the crops in small areas and spend a lot less time doing it. I have read this book several times and am implementing the techniques in my own garden with good results.

Anyway, back to the original topic, Aquaponics. I was explaining over the phone about using raised bed gardening to a friend of mind and he said that is sounded similar to the grow bed method used for Aquaponics. "For what?" I asked. "Aquaponics" he said. I thought he was talking about Hydroponics at first, something I was not interested in, however when he started describing it I became very interested.

I spent that night (until morning) watching Youtube Aquaponics videos and the more I viewed the more enthused I became. Raising fish and vegetables together in a natural closed system without any chemicals (not like Hydroponics) just made good sense. Only 10% of the water consumption of a conventional garden and 2 to 4 times the production. No tilling the ground and very little weeding.

I spent the rest of the winter planning out my own Aquaponics system and put it together early this spring. It took about a week for my water to stabilize and then I added my fish. To start out I am using goldfish since they are so hardy but plan to change to something edible once I get things going.

It took about 3 weeks more before my grow beds were able to support plant growth. Natural bacteria needs to be established in the substrate to break down the ammonia from the fish into usable nutrients for the plants. The grow beds are filled with small gravel and they are flooded and drained a couple times each hour using the fish tank water. The Plants in turn filter the water which is returned cleaner and oxygenated to the fish tank where the process starts all over.

I can plant either seeds or started plants in the Aquaponics grow beds. Since all the nutrients are delivered to them in the water that floods their roots several times per hour they do not waste energy growing a large root base this causes more top growth and more production. Plants can also be placed closer together because of this.

As you can tell I am sold on backyard Aquaponics and I will never go back to conventional gardening again. If you are interested, one more word of advice, stay away from hybrid and gmo seeds, plant only heirlooms and save your seeds for the next year. Remember, sustainability.


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