One of the things that we love about our neighbors is that we both like to garden. We try to get together for backyard cookouts on a regular basis and enjoy providing the majority of the meal from our gardens. I can remember earlier this spring showing off our vertical garden but then they went ahead and took gardening to a whole new level with the addition of a DIY greenhouse that is based on an ingenious concept called Aquaponics.
I found the clearest detailed definition of Aquaponics at Mother Earth News:
At its most basic level, Aquaponics the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water and without soil) together in one integrated system.
The fish waste provides organic food for the growing plants and the plants naturally filter the water in which the fish live. The third and fourth critical, yet invisible actors in this symbiotic world are the beneficial bacteria and composting red worms. Think of them as the Conversion Team.
The beneficial bacteria exist on every moist surface of an aquaponic system. They convert the ammonia from the fish waste that is toxic to the fish and useless to the plants, first into nitrites and then into nitrates. The nitrates are relatively harmless to the fish and most importantly, they make terrific plant food. At the same time, the worms convert the solid waste and decaying plant matter in your aquaponic system into vermicompost.
We have never been competitive in the garden, but recently I noticed that our neighbors are beating us by miles in quality and quantity with their aquaponic greenhouse. Just check out the size of their green onions (they measure at least 3 feet tall!!)
Since our yard is so tiny we could never create the same type of system :( but pretty soon I’ll be able to boast about my mini tabletop aquaponic system with the EcoQube.
The EcoQube works the same way as our neighbors Aquaponic Greenhouse but on a much smaller scale. Aqua Design Innovations, an undergraduate UCSD (my alma mater!) startup designed the EcoQube as a compact aquarium that uses plants like basil to keep the water clean, which is great because I usually grow basil in our window sill anyways. BONUS: I never have to clean the fish tank again! No water changes, filter replacements or algae scrubs.
Kevin Liang and Eric Suen, founders of Aqua Design Innovations, believe that this is the future of organic gardening and after seeing the EcoQube and the neighbor’s greenhouse garden, I have to agree. The EcoQube even comes with a K-12 curriculum about the science behind aquaponics and self-sustaining ecosystems.
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