Intro to Aquaponic Gardening with Sylvia Bernstein

by: Sara on 04/14/2019

Aquaponics is a revolutionary system for growing plants by fertilizing them with the waste water from fish in a sustainable closed system. A combination of the best of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponic gardening is an amazingly productive way to grow organic vegetables, greens, herbs and fruits, while providing the added benefits of fresh fish as a safe, healthy source of protein. Today's excerpt is from the introduction of Sylvia Bernstein's bestselling book, Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together. In it Sylvia speaks of the joys of this fascinating hobby that allows you to feed yourself and those around you without the restrictions of soil and sunlight.  

After breakfast Luna, my nine-year-old Tibetan terrier, runs to the door that leads to the back deck whenever I approach it. She knows that soon we need to go feed the fish. After several false alarms, the moment finally arrives when I open the door. She races down the stairs, banks around the corner and skids to a stop in front of the greenhouse. When I finally join her, I open the door and we are both momentarily overwhelmed by the sights, smells and sounds that greet us every morning.

The winter aquaponic garden in my greenhouse is alive in a way that the cold, still outside garden can’t possibly aspire to. The warm, moist air smells slightly like freshly turned earth after a spring rain. The sound of

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flowing water tells of life and energy. The vibrant green plants in various stages and sizes are bursting with promise and productivity. A ladybug flies by. But the best part is the fish. I glance down at Luna, who has pulled herself up on the rim of my 300-gallon stock tank with her front paws to peer at the community within. She never tires of watching them, forever hopeful that someday, if they get just close enough, and she is just fast enough, just maybe…

Welcome to aquaponic gardening. With this book I hope to take you on a journey through an entirely different way of gardening. You will learn how to grow plants in rocks using only fish waste as the fertilizer source and bacteria and worms as the bridge between barren toxicity and harmonious fertility. It sounds simple, and in many ways it is, but it can also have a profound effect on your ability to feed yourself and those around you.

With this technique you will learn how to grow edible fish to supplement your family’s diet with safe protein you raised yourself. You will learn to grow fruits, vegetables and greens using less than a tenth of the water and without the weeds of a traditional soil garden. And you will be able to grow food anywhere, without the restrictions of soil and sunlight.

Aquaponic gardening is a fascinating and enjoyable hobby, but fair warning — it can be very addictive. Yes, it is a healthy addiction, like yoga or salads, but an addiction nonetheless. For some, this means expanding from time to time to keep “the itch scratched.” I’ve seen systems start with a 30-gallon aquarium and one small bed, then become 300 gallons and four beds. Pretty soon the addicts are raising bass and trout in a newly converted backyard pool.

My personal experience has been a tale of expansion as well. I started with a 70-gallon pond liner from Home Depot. When that sprung a leak (I didn’t puncture it, I swear), I replaced it with a 120-gallon version — the fish were getting bigger and needed more room, right? Now I’m up to 120 tilapia and assorted goldfish in five tanks — four 60-gallon and one 300-gallon. Sad but true. Save yourself while you still can.

Receive a 40% discount on this and all other New Society books until April 15th when you use code Spring19 at check out.

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