As plots get smaller and homes get greener we seem to be demanding more and more from our shrinking outdoor spaces.
At the same time there is growing awareness about sustainability and the advantages of growing your own food.
But how do you get a small garden to perform the multiple functions of producing edibles and providing a place to relax, maximising space and giving you bang for your buck?
One solution is aquaponics, a system that combines aquaculture, raising aquatic animals in tanks, with hydroponics, cultivating plants in water.
The idea behind it is very clever and surprisingly simple, and can be used in the average garden to create a self-watering vegie and herb bed.
It’s easy to retrofit an aquaponic system to an existing pond, adding a new dimension to your landscape.
Install the system
To turn a basic backyard pond into an aquaponic system for growing edible fish and greens, all you need to do is build a raised planter, called a grow bed, and connect a few pipes.
The grow bed is filled with gravel then planted and pond water is pumped in to fill it before draining back into the pond.
Natural bacteria colonise the gravel which works like a big biofilter to break down waste from the water so it returns to the pond filtered.
The edible plants thrive on the nutrients that are in the pond water and made available by the bacteria.
And if you choose edible fish over ornamentals like koi for your pond you won’t just be harvesting vegies.
As long as a pond is deeper than 600mm and has a volume of over 2000L, converting it to an aquaponic system means it can house edible fish such as silver perch or barramundi.
TIP Ensure you select fish that are suitable for your local climate.