Deciding to set up an aquaponics system can be a big decision for someone who has never looked after fish or plants in their lives before.
It can all seem a bit daunting once one realises there is a little bit more involved than simply feeding fish.
But with a little organisation and a lot of reading it quickly becomes apparent aquaponics isn’t quiet as labour intensive as we first thought once the system is set up and matured.
Far from it.
Take your regular soil garden for instance. Once all the hoeing and tilling has created the perfect friable growing media for your plants, and the plant are safely ensconced in your carefully created vegetable garden, its a full-time, ongoing job to make sure the weeds, which also find our veg patch irresistible, don’t manage to take a hold and establish themselves too.
If they do manage to get a foothold in your garden it can take days and weeks of backbreaking work to make sure every last trace of the weed root is removed from the garden so it can’t grow back.
Believe me it will try and it will bring some friends along also.
Obviously with our aquaponic garden we are again creating a habitat in which our plants can & will flourish and that means the weeds are going to like it too.
But weeding your aquaponic vegetable garden is a lot easier if you have set your system up right with the growing beds at a comfortable waist height.
With a cup of coffee in one hand its possible to quickly remove all of the weeds which have shot up from our nutrient rich grow tank with a single light pull.
As the roots live in a loose heavy aggregate the weed roots find it difficult to hold on and can be removed easily, leaving no broken pieces of root to re-establish and grow back.
In fact aquaponics as a whole is a far less labour intense method of growing food if you set up and manage your system well.
Done right, maintenance of our aquaponic garden can be pigeonholed into three main categories.
They are daily tasks, weekly tasks and monthly tasks.
Obviously once your garden is fully cycled and matured there are some jobs which need to be done every single day. These are generally life-support issues for the fish and as such are quite important to make time for.
Those tasks include the more obvious things like feeding the fish and checking the fish tank itself is operating within the correct temperature parameters.
But we should also find a few minutes daily to go over the plumbing and irrigation fittings to make sure there are no leaks and that any valves and pumps deployed in the system continue to operate and function without blockage.
One of the fundamental issues with keeping fish is the ecosystem in which they live. At least once a week we need to make sure that habitat is conducive to happy healthy fish stock so we check the pH, which tells us the acid/alkali ratio of our tank water, and we need to check the levels of ammonia and nitrates in the system.
An unexplained ammonia or nitrate spike can be the first sign of trouble on the horizon so this is good information to have in your armoury.
At least once a month we need to find time to disconnect some of our irrigation fittings for a cursory clean out to make sure no solids build up and cause a blockage.
The truth is, for the sake of getting your system operating right first time, there really doesn’t need to be any great extra work commitment as a result of growing in aquaponics.
So come on in. The water is fantastic.