As part of the Sustainable Living Festival Geelong people across the Bellarine Peninsula opened their homes so that others could explore their edible gardens.
My Dad was super keen to show us one of the houses, a man that he knows opened his home to show off his aquaponics system.
Frank once travelled around the country for months at a time in his motor home, but recently at the ripe old age of 80, has had to stop these adventures due to his health. So finding himself with too much time on his hands, he decided to set up this system in his back yard.
The whole system cost Frank over $3000 to set up, but he bought all of it from a company in Melbourne, who also delivered it to his door. For him, this was the most practical option, but for those of us without $3000 spare, I think it can be done on the cheap, with recycled parts.
The greenhouse is necessary for two reasons, to extend the growing season of the produce and to protect from birds. During summer, he pulls shade cloth over the top of the greenhouse to prevent too his vegetables from burning.
The picture above shows that the garden bed is nearly full of water, once it fills, it simply drains back into the fish farm in the middle, then begins the filling all over again. Bacteria converts fish wastes into plant-available nutrients. The plants use these nutrients as their main nutrient supply. The fish also benefit from this process , as the water is filtered by the plants, giving the fish clean water to live in.
Then as the fish grow throughout the year, they get to a size which is perfect for eating. To me is seems like the perfect symbiotic relationship, that we would benefit from constantly.
Frank also had to install a water tank as during the summer he found the water was evaporating and needed to top it up.
We chatted with Frank about the different vegetables he chose to grow. He said he’s had beans growing right up to the roof of the greenhouse and along wires that he had to install specifically for the purpose. There were succulent red strawberries, cantaloupe vines running across the ground and tomato plants reaching the roof.
I’m so excited to look more into aquaponics and find out more about building it in our back yard, although J thinks we should wait until we’re living in our own home, so that we don’t have to move it. I’m not a fan of waiting.
Are you a patient waiter? How do you feel about the symbiotic relationship between the plants and the fish?