You may have experienced the butterflies of excitement in times past. When you begin the garden on that patch of land with the seeds and plants you want to see if you can grow and harvest. All of us who garden have felt that world full of joy, excitement, and reward for at least one growing season. For those of you who are just beginning to garden, we at ThatAquaponicsGuy give you a hearty, “Welcome! You are going to make a ton of mistakes… Enjoy your mistakes, learn from them.”
The basics of gardening are the same for everyone, but we all have our own way of gardening that we like to do. And you won’t quite know what they are until you actually do it! Don’t be afraid to try and fail, learn and implement the lessons in your next garden. This goes doubly for the Aquaponics System you are looking to build, cultivate, and maintain, indoors or out. Because the methods and processes of the Closed Ecosystem haven’t been as widespread as permaculture or regular backyard gardens have been in the past, you will definitely have a few mistakes and obstacles that you will have to overcome.
There is a great deal of information available to you, especially with the Internet, and specifically here on this very site! But like everything that is new to you, things in gardening and specifically with Aquaponics can be kind of daunting. I suggest staying with a resource or two that you can identify with and trust – ahem… like ThatAquaponicsGuy-. The best thing to do is to find a local aquaponics farmer and learn from them, consult with them and move your Backyard Farming goals and efforts forward. We are here for you and are happy to share our knowledge with someone who truly wants to learn.
Gaining Your Aquaponics Road Map
I was fortunate to grow up around a backyard farm, even though I grew up in the asphalt-laden suburbia. I was even more fortunate to marry a wonderful woman who was raised on a farm. When we are raised in a certain way, wherever that may be, we tend to forget that not everyone knows what we know. Expecting a beginning gardener to know what we have learned over a lifetime, is like expecting someone who just picked up a guitar to do a rift from Led Zeppelin. With that in mind, there are a few tips I have learned that I would like to share with you. Hopefully, these will enhance your overall gardening experience.
Have a “go-to” resource person, site, or book – especially as you are first starting out, you will need a sounding board to be able to check if the ideas you have are not too crazy and the things that you are doing with your Garden in Aquaponics is on the right track.
Keep a record of what you do – This is two-fold, for some reason writing things down seems to help solidify the thinking processes, giving it a reality not had before AND also you will have an already written process down if what you are doing works so you don’t have to recreate it each time, just follow your “recipe” from before. In a spiral-bound notebook, write what you plant, where you plant it, and when you plant – to start the seed and transplanting it over to the grow bed. Keep track of what you ordered (seeds, equipment, tools, etc.) and from whom you ordered or purchased it. From personal experience, this is a handy tool to reference when you need it.
Save your seeds – While some people say this isn’t necessary, I strongly disagree. Finding a reliable seed company that has heirloom, non-GMO seeds, is not as easy as it used to be. If we don’t have our own seeds for something, we want to plant in your grow bed, where can you turn? It isn’t a hard task to save seeds from most of your plants. See our post on seed saving.
Prevention vs. cure – You have to “visit” your Aquaponics System every day – Some days may not take more than 10 to 15 minutes. On other days, you may spend an hour or more, depending on the size of your system. You should maintain it at the highest optimal status as possible; check for signs of bugs (yes Aquaponics can get infesting bugs too) check the health and color of your plants in the grow beds. Feed and check on your fish, and for the first few weeks of starting and cycling your system, check the pH levels daily. Deal with each of those and the problems as they arise, Your system will incrementally get worse or better, and it is the best practice to take the small steps of prevention than have to take large steps to find the cure.
This isn’t a complete list of course, but these are food for thought. You can find more information on our website, or you can always get in touch by email, or the Contact Me page on the site. The most important thing I want to say is, “Enjoy your Aquaponics garden today.” Be sure to share some of your own lessons, tips, and tricks in the comments.