If you want to grow your own food, but feel overwhelmed by the size of the task and the time it will take, consider Aquaponics. Aquaponics is the easiest form of gardening you will ever do.
Aquaponics is the marriage of hydroponics, growing plants without soil, and aquaculture, raising fish. There are inherent problems in both of these systems that are eliminated when they are combined.
In hydroponics, expensive liquid nutrients are administered to the plants often to provide them with the nutrients they would otherwise get from soil. These nutrients are expensive, and must be administered at the right times. The plants are also much more susceptible to disease than any other form of gardening.
In aquaculture, fish tanks must be cleaned frequently, which becomes a large expense to the fish farmer. All that clean-out must be disposed of.
In Aquaponics, you simply filter the fish tank water through the grow beds. The fish fertilizer feeds the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish! The plants grow much bigger and much faster. However, the plants can be planted closer to one another than in traditional gardening because they do not need to develop extensive root systems. The nutrients come to them.
The plants are anchored in a grow media, such as round river stone, expanded clay, sand, or expanded shale. This media allows the water to get to your plants, and gives them a sturdy footing, but does not contain weed seeds. You never have to weed in Aquaponics!
Aquaponics gardening can utilize worms for added benefit, creating an ecosystem for your plants. Simply place worms on your growing media (where your plants grow, instead of soil). The worms will easily wiggle their way down into the media. They consume organic material left from the fish tank water and plants. The worms turn this organic material into “black gold” worm casting that your plants use for nutrients. They require no upkeep, but benefit your system in a big way!
What you feed your fish will ultimately give you the nutrition from your vegetables. If you feed your fish standard pellets, your plants will have less nutritional value. You can optimize the nutritional value of your vegetables by feeding your fish several alternative diet selections:
Duckweed: Duckweed is a rootless plant that grows in water. You can order your starter plants online, or forage for them in a local pond. They need clean, clear water, sunlight, and warmth to grow. You can harvest it and feed it to your fish.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae: This concept changes a lot about residential food waste. Black soldier flies do not carry disease like other types of flies. They are slow-flying, and only live 5-8 days. Their larvae are voracious eaters, and can consume large amounts of food waste in a few weeks. BSF larvae can be ordered online, or if you are in a southern state, you can try to attract pregnant females. You need a container for food scraps, and a shelter or shady, level spot to put your container. You can harvest the larvae for food for your fish, and harvest the castings for fertilizer for your garden. You can also put the castings and organic matter from your container into your worm-bin for further breakdown.
Worms: Worms can also provide great nutrition for your fish. Worms reproduce readily, and create wonderful fertilizer for your garden in the meantime. Just put composted matter in a bin, place the worms in the bin, cover with a loose cloth, and let them go to work. You can add sweet food scraps and sugar to help them reproduce faster.
There are many options when considering what you feed your fish. The most important thing to remember is, ‘you are what you eat.’ If you feed your fish grain-based pellets, you will get poor fertilizer. If you feed them varying live foods, they will be much stronger and healthier. The fertilizer they produce will have many more nutrients, feeding your plants what they need. And when you consume the fish, you will have a much more nutritious meal.
Farm-raised fish are among the top foods that nutritionist’s caution against. This is because of the pelleted food that farm-raised fish usually eat. If you avoid this, and feed your fish live (or frozen) duckweed, BSF larvae, worms, and many other nutritious foods, they will benefit you in many ways.
If heating your greenhouse in the winter is a concern, then cover it with highly insulated Solawrap greenhouse plastic and build a mass rocket heater to keep the temperatures at a safe level so your fish will not die.
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