On Monday I had an aquaponics unit arrive.
The reasons behind why will be shared at some point, but I think it's fair to say I am excited to have the opportunity to try to grow in this soilless system, if only because it seems so alien to me. Growing for me is about compost, mulching, watering and weeding, but here I will be focusing on bacteria levels, ammonia, nitrates and pH levels, testing these things daily with little chemistry type kits and keeping a diary of all the results.
So Sara, I hear you ask, why? Well here is the answer.
We want people to grow.
We want people to learn and engage with where their food comes from.
We know many young people have an issue with traditional gardening and growing being fuddy duddy and the thing that old men do on allotments and grannies do in their gardens.
We know lots of people have no space to garden in.
Surely then aquaponics, which can be a tiny unit that can be bought as a kit, is far more techy than an allotment could ever be and grows fresh, leafy greens, salads and herbs which are often quite expensve to buy, could be the begining of the answer?
So I do not have all the answers to these questions but I am working on them. In the meantime I have basil and coriander growing away madly, and possibly proving that I need the grow lights sooner rather than later as they do appear to be stretching rather than growing much leaf! I will soon be sowing a selection of leaves into coir pellets as the next crop and will spend some of my time over the summer working out what grows and what doesn't, whilst panicking about how the fish, which are arriving in a couple of weeks, are on an almost hourly basis, whilst wrangling with the chemistry of the whole system.
I have to say a huge thank you to my pals at Grow Bristol for providing the system, setting it up and responding quickly to every minor panic so far.
And for further information you can check out the British Aquaponics Association, whose website may become my bible equivalent in the next few months.