A Self-Sustaining System

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jun 26 2021
Home A Self-Sustaining System

With the new ban on imports for chemical-based fertilizer, I’m pretty sure all you home gardeners have realised something pretty important. Yes, that’s right. No more bright blue or purple pellets to feed your plants with special nutrients needed to bloom well. If you already have some in stock at home, make sure to use them wisely. 

Even so, eventually, we are going to run out of chemical fertilisers to use for gardening. That includes any special liquid fertilisers you use for any aquaponics system you have rigged up at home. The big question that pops up then is, ‘how am I going to provide adequate nutrients for my plants?’ Going completely organic is an option for the most part.

 It might even be the healthiest option. However, you can’t ignore that chemical fertilisers disperse the most nutrients into the soil in the shortest period; essential if you are growing food at home in the form of vegetables and grains such as corn. Your compost mixture releases nutrients at a slower rate but has plenty of beneficial bacteria to help improve the condition of your soil. 

Needless to say, if you want to get the best results in your gardening, you need to use a mix of both organic and chemical fertiliser at the right time. But with no more chemical fertiliser, how are you going to provide those quick doses of nutrients to your plants? We have a solution that can answer that problem. All it takes is some ingenuity, a dash of hard work and an aquarium stocked with fish (or at least someone you know who has one). 

How does it work? 

If you know anything about fish keeping, you would know that before any fish can be introduced into an aquarium or fish pond, it needs to be ‘cycled’ which means you have to wait it out a little. This is because the nitrogen cycle needs to be established within the environment before any fish can go in. If you didn’t know, fish excrement is very high in ammonia; a very potent chemical. 

If too much ammonia builds up in the water, it could poison the fish. By establishing a nitrogen cycle within the environment, you ensure that the ammonia is constantly cycled into a less harmful state for the fish. Not only for Nitrogen, but the same can also be said for many nutrients the fish ingest with fish food. 

Therein lies the genius of this concept. A thriving aquarium or fish pond is basically a mini-ecosystem created by us. Now, all you need to do is a place in a few extensions. This is done through what can be explained as an aquaponics system, where the water from the aquarium or pond is circulated through substrate filled containers and recycles back where it was pumped from. 

Because of the somewhat ill-smelling water where the fish reside, there is a never-ending source of nutrient-rich water to provide what every growing plant needs. Planting your garden on the substrate can help you cultivate healthy, chemical fertiliser-free crops without even needing to use actual soil. 

What substrate? 

There are various types of substrate you can use. The most popular option at the moment is clay balls, which provide a lot of surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow on as well. Not only is that, the clay balls are somewhat hollow, therefore lightweight and easy to handle especially when dealing with large containers. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to follow the trend. With a little research, you can easily find the substrate that is right for you and your growing needs (not to mention your budget). 

Is it expensive? 

If you’re resourceful and have an eye for design, you don’t need to spend a massive boatload of cash on building your system. Needless to say, your rig will completely depend on the situation and requirements of your own home, not to mention your vision for a system such as this. Maintenance wouldn’t cost a lot either, since the system operates on its own.

 You’ll never have to worry about finding enough fertiliser and you’ll also be increasing the water quality of the fish stock that you have, since going through all that substrate enriches the water with oxygen and filters out any impurities, which are caught and absorbed by the substrate and roots. There are plenty of tutorials and guides on how to rig up such a system for yourself online. Why not give it a try while we all are at home and experiencing travel restrictions?

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Jun 26 2021

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