Common aquaponics questions
One of the things we love most is the opportunity to talk with our visitors about aquaponics. We’d like to share a few of our most frequently asked questions about what we do and why we think aquaponics is such a great way to grow.
What is aquaponics, anyway?
While we hear this question less often than we did a year ago, we are asked frequently enough now that we thought we’d offer a basic explanation. At its core, aquaponics is a farming technique that cultivates plants and fish in a symbiotic relationship. The fish fertilize the plants and the plants filter the water that returns to the fish. It’s one big, beautiful, symbiotic circle!
Unlike its near relative, hydroponics, aquaponics isn’t a new growing technique. The same fundamental relationship of fish and plants was propagated by the Aztec civilization, which cultivated a system of islands for agricultural use.
Why should I buy or grow aquaponic produce?
Aquaponic produce is more nutritious. It’s safer. It’s better for the environment. And it’s tastier! Check out our post titled “Aquaponics is better! Here’s why.” for detailed information on why it’s the very best produce you can feed your family.
What are the advantages of aquaponics?
Like all growing methods, aquaponics has its good and bad components. But in our climate, there are many positives: the plant roots are bathed in fertilized water all day long so that there is no heat stress; there are no growth spurt cycles; plants don’t compete for nutrients, and can be planted more densely; and the growth time for plants can be cut by over a third. With our brutal Texas summers, this is important! Between the heat and scarce rain you just can’t put enough drip sprinklers on a standard garden in July.
What can you grow in an aquaponics system?
It turns out that you can grow just about anything. We grow a lot of lettuces commercially, but we also grow many other things: greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, strawberries, and most of the things you’d find in a Texas garden. We also use our aquaponics system to nurture fruit trees. All of this can be done with deep water culture beds, which rely on floating foam rafts, or ebb and flow media beds, which are filled with gravel.
Can you use soil with an aquaponics system?
Absolutely! We’ve just completed two greenhouses that rely on wicking beds. These growing beds have a reservoir of water underneath that allow you to grow in soil. They “wick” the aquaponic water from below, much like when you put a potted plant in a water-filled link to rehydrate. In this type of system, you can grow the root vegetables and any truly heavy feeding plants that just can’t get enough of a mineral or fertility from exclusively aquaponic water.
Can I set up my own aquaponics system to feed my family?
This is our favorite question! We love working with people to help them find economical and effective ways to grow using aquaponics. Check out our Events tab to find out when you can see our systems in action. We hope you’ll join us virtually or in person to see what you can do in your own backyard to create a garden that never needs weeding, tilling, or watering. Let’s grow together!
Richard & Sharon