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Best Winter Vegetables To Grow in Pond Filter (Aquaponics)
Grow Winter Vegetables in Pond Filter:
The beauty of aquaponics is that you can grow different type of crops all year around without worrying too much about maintenance. In order to successfully grow food, 6 hours of direct sunlight is enough in cooler months of the year. In today's article i will discuss how to grow vegetable and fruit in aquaponics during winter in a diy backyard pond filter.
Those of you who have been following me around recently would have seen my diy pond filter that i have built using buckets, if you haven't read the article then please check it out now. I have used 2 buckets as part of pond filtration system. The pond pump carriers water from basin up to 1.4 meter high and then it pours through a fountain kit attached to the top bucket. Water then cascades down the second bucket and finally back down into the fish pond in a continuous cycle. Water nutrients are absorbed when water flows through both buckets, fully loaded with plants and bio media. Water also receives oxygen during the gravitational lift, water fall through fountain kit and the buckets creates more oxygen for the pond.
Apart from adding some mechanical and biological filtration, both buckets are topped up with CANNA Aqua clay pebbles. These clay balls have both high porosity and air content and are best suited for strong root development. These 2 features makes clay pebbles the best media for both aquaponic and hydroponic systems. Clay balls are inorganic and have a neutral PH and are rot and fungus free. Other required nutrients for plant growth are provided by fish waste, excess food, decaying of organic matter in the fish pond. Rather than placing the plants directly in the bucket, i have put them in netted pots. Net pot are made from rigid plastic mesh and promote drainage and air circulation. It help in healthy development of root systems as roots can get moisture and nutrients through the water flowing through the mesh. It will also make it easy for me to remove winter plants after season ends and plant some summer vegetables.
Let's great straight into growing winter vegetables and winter fruit in aquaponics in uncontrolled environment in harsh weather of Melbourne, Australia. When i say environment is not controlled then it means that it is not located inside a greenhouse. I am growing them in a pond filter located directly outside under clear sky. The winter plants i have selected are snowpea, baby spinach, Italian parsley, multileaf lettuce and strawberry. The best aquaponics plants to start with are those that are easy to grow. Mostly herbs such as parsley, mint, coriander and basil would grow well. It will take roughly around six weeks for Italian parsley to grow from seedlings and eights weeks if grown from seeds. Multi leaf lettuce, spinach and strawberry are all suitable for either channels or growbeds.
To grow all above winter plants best in the aquaponics, the 3 main requirements are sunlight, humidity and nutrients which are all available in this aquaponic system. Plants would get direct sunlight and continuous running water will keep them all hydrated. Nutrients from the fish pond will be carried directly to the plants, since they are potted in the filter buckets. Before adding these plants to the pond filter, i have removed all the dirt and rinsed them thoroughly in the tap water to ensure external anomaly doesn't enter the pond system.
1. Italian Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum Neapolitanum):
A biennial, flat leaf variety that has a slightly stronger flavor than curled parsley. Best grown in full sun and is ideal in soups, casseroles, fish, chicken and egg dishes. Parsley is rich in iron and vitamins.
2. Snowpea (Pisum Sativurn):
A tasty snowpea producing flat, sweet, crisp, edible pods. Requires support and are ideal for the home vegetable garden.
3. Lettuce Multileaf (Lactuca Sativa):
A multi-leaf variety of lettuce that provides a continuous supply of leaves throughout the season. Best grown in rich damp soil and in a sunny position during winter. Pick leaves as required and use in salads.
4. Spinach - Baby Leaf (Spinacia oleracea):
A vitamin packed, nutritious leaf crop which is best when eaten on the day they are picked, picking the outer leaves first.
5. Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa):
An abundance of conical shaped berries that are sweet tasting are produced steadily over 3 months throughout summer and autumn. It has compact growth and outstanding vigor, beautiful dark green and glossy foliage and will produce fruit for almost a month if kept indoors by a well-lit window.
Winter plants listed above are not just the only best plants to grow in aquaponics, there are lot more. I will list some more plants that have been successfully grown in harsh winter of Australia.
- Broad beans
- Chinese broccoli and cabbage
- English spinach
- Silver beet
Environmental Benefits of Aquaponics:
Aquaponics offers a lot of benefits to a backyard grower, however it has many environmental benefits no matter who uses this system.