Words by Andrea Abbott
Aquaponics is a method of growing fresh produce based on a system of reciprocity between fish and plants. Beautiful in its simplicity, it’s not limited to commercial growers but is something you can do in your own back yard.
Here’s what makes this method a winner
- Minimal maintenance. Says home aquaponics practitioner, Carmen Brunette of Everton in KZN, “Sometimes a pipe might get blocked but it takes a few seconds to unblock it.” Other than that, Carmen says she cleans out the plant basins and replaces the growing medium (perlite) every two years.
- Labour saving. The method requires no crop rotation; no digging; minimal weeding; no stooping in the ground to harvest or tend crops; no dragging about the hose pipe to water your plants. Says Carmen, “It’s the least labour-intensive way to grow vegetables.”
- It’s a self-sustaining system that requires no artificial fertilisers or chemicals because the fish waste feeds the plants and the plants purify the water for the fish.
- No pesticides needed. The system operates in harmony with nature. Carmen explains: “Once we had an aphid infestation. I planted marigold which seemed to sort out the problem. Occasionally I have an adventurous slug but since I’ve allowed the guttural toads to move in, the slugs usually get eaten before they reach the plant basins.”
- No unnatural substances or chemicals means you can grow truly organic produce
- Once you’ve set up your system and the fish and plants are in place, the only regular expenditure will be on fish food.
- Low water consumption. The water is constantly recycled between fish and plants. The only new water that’s used is to replace evaporation and transpiration
- High yields of fresh, top quality food produced in a small area.
- Constant production of the freshest, tastiest produce possible – from farm to table in a few moments.
- A chance to be creative. Carmen says, “I recently started re-growing vegetables from kitchen scraps and the onions are doing very well. I also use the aquaponics to germinate seeds and to root cuttings.”