A Greener Indiana

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So I have had this question several times asked to me. "Ernest, what can you grow in aquaponics?"

In this blog post I will not so much create a master list of what can grow aquaponically, but I would like to quickly discuss some key principals that helps when learning about aquaponics and doing any kind of farming or gardening.

The easy answer to the question, what can you grow in aquaponics is this question: What can you grow in the space you have decided to grow in? I say this because it all comes down to that simple question, are you growing in a field, in a greenhouse, a backyard, a spare bedroom, or an abandoned industrial building.

Once you found your place the next question is: What is your climate? Indoors your the one creating a climate. Either with lights, a thermostat, or a south facing window.  If you are outside it all comes down to your hardiness zone, wind conditions, and the time of year you want to grow. Once you know your space and your climate, then determining what can grow in your space and climate comes down to the materials you have on hand, time, and money (or lack there of), in short once you know what can grow in your climate and the space you have allotted it is all about personal resources. 

Now if you have not read my discussion thread in the aquaponics group "What is Aquaponics?" you should do so know so that you understand fully what aquaponics is. Aquaponics is in short Fish + Plants. And fish and plants need more or less the same things. Sunlight (I say sunlight for humane reasons, these fish and plants are our brothers and sisters) Water, Air, Food, Space, & Shelter. 

Before I go any further, allow me to share a few principals with you that may help you see that there is no limit to what you can grow aquaponically. The only thing that limits what you can grow aquaponically is imagination and resources.

  • Aquaponics is about using and valuing renewable resources. You can use tap water or water catchment. You can use a swimming pool, a fish tank, or a pond. If you have an abundance of water it makes sense to grow vegetables that thrive in water, if you have a lack of water it may make sense to have a fish tank connected to a drip irrigation system that waters your plants outside in your Arizona landscape.
  • Integration not segregation. If you have plants that like full sun and some that like shade grow them together so that the ones that like full sun shade the ones that don't. You could have an expensive greenhouse with a shade cloth or you can put your lettuce north of your tomatoes.
  • Produce no waste. The only waste that I have found so far (and I have some crazy solutions) is using plastic for tanks, raised bed liners, pots, and PVC. Few of us soil gardeners can even escape this angle. But for the most part, aquaponics lets nature (bacteria) turn fish waste (compost) into plant nutrients (NPK). Then the plants filter the nutrients out cleaning the water as it is returned to the fish home. Even the solids that build up over time can be removed and used as a great fertilizer for soil systems. The unused parts of the fish and plants that don't get eaten can even be returned to the compost pile.

By now you should start to be able to see how the only limits to what can be grown are our own limits. Once you know your space and climate everything else is an engineering task. With creative solutions like wicking beds, drip irrigation, or a good old watering can <----this is a cuul Pinterest page) dipped into your fish tank there is not much limit to what one can do. The only caution I would add is that if a plant changes the acidity of the water that is returned to the fish and if the acidity is beyond what the fish you choose can tolerate you are setting yourself up to stress out your fish and potentially kill them.

So be a good steward, ask questions, share your thoughts, support other's ideas, and try something new; try aquaponics!!  All this being said here is a list of what we at Fresh Taste Aquaponics hope to be growing this summer.

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Tags: aquaponically, aquaponics, association, bed, can, drip, fresh, grow, illinois, in, More…indiana, irrigation, lotusdog, permaculture, taste, watering, what, wicking, you


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