Having lots of fresh produce is the healthy choice. Organic is better, but it is also very expensive. The obvious choice is to grow it yourself, but gardening can be a lot of work, require a lot of space, and can yield smaller amounts than your family needs. The answer can be found in aquaponics.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics takes a lot of its ideas from hydroponics. It is growing your food right in the water that it needs for life. However, instead of using chemicals and lots of completely not organic growing options, aquaponics uses a pond full of fish (usually edible ones). The fish eat food and leave waste behind. This waste is the perfect fertilizer for plants.
What Makes Aquaponics Better?
There are a large number of reasons that aquaponics is a great system. First of all, it is easy to do. You don’t have near as much work as you do when you have to weed and water the plants. The system is set up to take care of those issues much easier for you. All you need to do is feed the fish. It’s healthy and organic. You don’t have to worry about any chemicals. You can also produce a lot of food in a very small space because the water can be pumped up to the level of the plants. Many aquaponic gardeners have two or three levels of plants and a pond of fish which means a lot more healthy food in a smaller space.
Top 10 Aquaponics Plants
Aquaponics is a great way to get a lot of great food. It even tastes better than other foods because the plants are healthier and there are no chemicals. Additionally, they tend to grow more than their planted in the garden counterparts. Here are the top 10 aquaponic plants:
Lettuce is a fantastic crop for an aquponics grower to start with. It is fairly easy to grow. Has a grow cycle of 40 - 90 days (depending on variety) and is great to have in the organic form because the kind you buy at the store is packed full of nasty pesticides. If you are going to turn your bountiful crop into a salad it is a great base, and will taste better and be healthier for you because it is organic. It is also something that can be rafted in the tank for a very low maintenance crop.
2. Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers are extremely ideal for aquaponics. they are fairly pricey on the market and each plant will have multiple productions. They are one of the worst vegetables when it comes to pesticides and organic bell peppers can be expensive. They like well drained soil and a steady supply of water to produce at their best. Aquaponics can provide both especially in a flood and drain type setup.
Celery are another excellent crop. The pesticides used on this crop are almost impossible to wash off. They are a fairly difficult crop to keep, but if you create the right environment you should be able to pull off a great crop year after year. Initially a wetlands plant celery will love your aquaponics system even if it is not extremely well drained, they also like a consistent supply of moisture. Both of these an aquaponics system will provide them.
4. Bok Choy
Bok choy is an asian vegetable that loves well-drained fertile soil with consistent moisture. Another plant with no outer skin that your body will thank you for growing organically. Cooked in traditional Chinese fashion bok choy is a delectable leafy green that is both delicious healthy. Comes both in full size and "baby". It can also be added raw to salads and similar mixings.
Tomatoes are a fantastic crop for aquaponics. Most of the tomatoes consumed in the US are hydroponically grown and the use of aquaponics will not only yield you a healthier tomato it will taste better as well. While not the easiest crop they are well suited for the aquaponics environment and will mix well with other crops when your huge harvest comes in and it is time to can.
6. Chili Peppers
While you are growing everything else why not mix in some heat with your cool veggies. Home grown chili peppers are not only a great choice, but look fantastic in your garden. Add them to tomatoes for spicy sauces and salsa's.
No, not the kind you buy at the store. They haven't grown proper radishes since the 70's. They have a spicy kick to them that makes them more than just the bland fare you find at the store.
Watercress is really easy to grow because it will raft and is almost a pond plant in nature. Watercress grows naturally in an Aquaponics environment. Can hardly go wrong there in the aquaponic system. Once you have watercress in the house you are likely to enjoy it very much. While it isn’t the most common vegetable, it is believed to be the oldest leaf vegetable consumed and cultivated by people. It has a peppery taste that goes great for added flavor in salads and it can be added to almost any dish. Plus it’s really healthy for you!
There a lot of herbs to be grown and they grow very well in a aquaponics setup. They don’t take up a lot of room but they will give you a constant supply of fresh herbs at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in the store. Fresh herbs are a great way to season your food and can also be used around the house in a number of ways! You can grow parsely, rosemary, thyme, basil, and many more.
10. Almost Everything Else
Okay, so while almost everything else isn't really a "plant" of its own, aquaponics works for almost everything, especially if you set yourself up with rafts and drained beds. You can even grow carrots, beats, onions, and garlic. Almost every vegetable you can think of will do well and taste better at the same time.
While you are enjoying all of these great plants you can also enjoy the fish that are grown in the pond. There are a number of small, freshwater fish that are used in the aquaponics system. Talapia is a hardy cichlid that is commonly used, but it is not allowed in all states so you will want to find out your local laws before proceeding with your new adventure.