Urban farming using the aquaponic method is becoming widely recognized as an exceedingly viable method of food production. Growing plants without soil effectively allows homes, regardless of environmental factors, to grow organic vegetables and raise organic fish varieties. Unlike seasonal gardens, aquaponic aquaculture allows for year round use. Aquaponics have not yet become a widely used food production source yet, but as we look to meet environmental needs and limited land issues, aquaponics has the means to meet these needs.
In a typical urban home, aquaponics stands to drastically replace, or at least ease, the extensive labor requirements of agricultural farming. A typical urban farming system requires about 15 to 20 minutes of daily maintenance. This results in an ecologically sound food production system, especially when compared to a family farm which requires several hours each day of ongoing maintenance (including land irrigation and pest control).
While aquaponics systems can be developed indoors using an aquarium, or the like, outdoor systems may also be developed within a planting pots, small pools, plastic barrels or natural ponds using either troughs with floating rafts or using vertical tower methods. An urban family home can reap the benefits of their standard garden as well as edible water garden. Many choose to develop their aquaponic water garden in their backyard. Not only will this provide food, but also serves as an aesthetically pleasing water feature providing a serene setting. Though typical ponds are known to attract mosquitoes, the fish within your garden happily control these unwanted pests. The ecological symbiotic relationship between fish and plant is the “key” to its success.
Different varieties of fish and plant life will require different depths and temperature of water. Therefore, several water gardens may be created to allow for an expansive harvest of vegetables and fish. Floating, or “rafting” plants like lettuces and herbs can provide shade which can help keep algae under control. As well, by incorporating plants these floating plants into your garden you are creating an effective water filtration system by way of the plants’ rich roots.
An outdoor aquaponic system attracts a variety of garden friendly bugs such as ladybugs, which also promotes a further self-sustaining quality. Plant life known to thrive in a shallow and wider environment includes tuber vegetables, including arrowhead and Chinese arrowhead, roots, as well as taro and violet-stem taro. Ideal species of floating plants and vegetables may include the water lotus, water mimosa, water celery, water spinach, and watercress.
Having a combination of both submerged and shallow vegetables in the arrangement of your garden is suggested. Additionally, the edge of your pond provides an ideal habitat for the many species of plant that prefer the constant wet soil. This will lead to a beautiful garden, and all of this is possible in an urban environment.
While community gardens are a popular method in growing organic vegetables, aquaponic gardening provides an additional earth friendly option for the urban resident. The versatility and sustainability of aquaponics provides opportunity for even the busiest of communities to maintain a water garden with sure success. As the majority of maintenance is required only in initial setup of an aquaponic water garden, and
continued maintenance being minimal, many families have the opportunity to now take part in urban farming.
Aquaponics information is constantly changing, in addition, so much of it is location specific … we try to give you ideas and spark your imagination along with your vision!
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)