Summer is in full swing, and the outdoor aquaponics system is growing lots of goodies. There are some really great things associated with growing outdoors, like Mother Nature intended. Living in Colorado, we enjoy growing indoors in the cold weather months, then move the system outside during the warm weather. It takes an hour or so to break the system down and get it moved, but really, it’s well worth the effort.
Things to consider when growing outside:
- Soaking up the sunshine – Plants obviously love the sunlight. While indoor lighting options have become very good about mimicking the sun, plants respond differently to natural light, photosynthesizing and producing lots of plant energy. Also having longer day length in the summer, means lots of growth time.
- Natural Predators – Aphids, caterpillars and thrips often show up when temperatures get hotter, but mother nature also brings the predators to eat them all up. Good bugs like lady bugs, lace wings, and aphids wasps show up and take control when they have an active food source. You can always bring the good bugs into a shed, garage or greenhouse to manage and control your pests.
- Plant nutrition – In aquaponics, nutrients come from fish food, source water, and any additions that are put into the system to adjust pH or add iron. Since plants are growing for longer day lengths, they often need additional iron, calcium, potassium or phosphorous to maintain their nutrient density. If your plants show yellowing in the leaves, especially iron rich greens such as kale, collards and mustard, your system should run between 1 – 3ppm of iron. You can always eyeball it, and guess if you need more iron, but using an iron test kit will help you know when it’s time to make an adjustment.
- Oxygen in the water – When temps rise, there is less oxygen that can be held in the water. Oxygen is critical for fish health, so it is important to provide as much as possible. If you notice your fish gasping at anytime, then it is probably necessary to ensure they have enough aeration. Start with a big enough aerator with enough air stones for your system, make sure that the stones are cleaned regularly as they can become clogged with bioslime and algae. And if you really want to know, check your dissolved oxygen levels to ensure they are at least 4ppm, preferably at least 6ppm.
- From tank to table – Finally, one of the best things about aquaponic gardening outdoors is being able to pick fresh veggies to make a salad, or pulling a fish right out of the tank and putting it onto the BBQ grill. Impress your friends (or freak them out, depending upon who your friends are), by having the freshest food in town, fishing off your patio and taking it right to the table.
Try out on our favorite summer recipes:
For all recipes gut, clean, descale and cook tilapia, cool and flake, removing all bones. Cooking tilapia full body provides a lot more meat than trying to slice off fillets.
- Just like tuna salad but with tilapia instead
- Mix tilapia with pickles, celery, red onion, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, parsley all to taste
- Fix on toast or crackers for a wonderful summer lunch
Curry Tilapia Potato Salad
- Hard Boil eggs and cook red potatoes similar to preparing for potato salad, cool and chop to desired size
- Chop and mix in red onion, celery, and apple
- Mix with mayo, mustard, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, turmeric and curry power
- Enjoy as a side dish or main meal
- Gut, clean and descale bass (this also works with tilapia), leave the head on or remove
- Place on aluminum foil
- Apply olive oil inside and out as well as salt and pepper
- Stuff the body with any of the following:
- Lemon slices and fresh dill
- Mangos, tomatoes and slices of peppers
- Onion, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and green peppers
- Mustard greens and onions
Happy gardening and bon appetite!