Aquaponics – A Brave New World

I know that at this point I’m supposed to make a bunch of lame excuses for why I’ve been MIA for so long… but honestly, I’m not going to. If you really want to know why I haven’t been around, then, I don’t know, you will need to live in curiosity and wonder for the rest of your life about where I was… why I didn’t write… what happened to me…

On to what I’m doing now. Or at least, one of the many things that I’m doing now. One of the big things is a system called aquaponics. Now I’m going to hope I don’t lose the few people who are reading this, but I need to explain what this is and why it’s fascinating me so much.

Very quickly, it’s a combination of growing fish (aquaculture) and growing food in water (hydroponics). The fish filter the fish waste out of the water, leaving it squeaky clean and perfect, while that same fish waste is exactly what they most desire to live off. (Now if only I could find a plant which automatically cleans my house!) End result – happy fish, happy plants. Not only that, because it is in a soil-less system, no fighting with soil to make it work for your plants – a huge issue here in Cape Town which is a)basically a giant beach with horrific soil quality, and b)in the middle of a really awful drought so everyone’s veggie gardens are dying anyway. This method of gardening uses about 10% of the water that traditional gardening methods use – which is incredible!

Now, however, I can hear you ask – why are you interested in this? Well, once the initial set up is done, you get amazing fresh organic vegetables (they have to be organic as any pesticides kill your fish) with very little effort or energy. Amazing organic veggies with little cost or effort? Yes please! However, this is a fairly new system, and with any system, it takes some time to get right and get all the information. So after about 2 years of research and research and research, we started putting our little system together at the beginning of this summer (October-ish). Finally got all the plumbing etc in place and switched on our system a little over 4 weeks ago. Put in some bought seedling and started some seeds I had floating around. Start cycling the system (more on this in a future post if anyone is keen!) and two days ago we put 6 goldfish in! Now my system is working beautifully and no fish have died yet so on Sunday we will probably put about another 20 koi in. As you can see from the photos, the growth has been nothing short of amazing already… and I’m really excited that I can already start harvesting some basil leaves and a couple of spring onions. The watermelon has a good few flowers so I might get some before summer ends, and the peppers are also looking good so hopefully we get something out of there soon too.

I hope that this is as interesting to you all as it is to me… and here’s to successful gardening adventures!


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