Getting started with aquaponics can seem daunting. Once you’ve got your system set up, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that it was actually one of the easier parts of the process, because now it’s time to work out what to plant and which fish to keep.
Luckily, we’ve got our very own plant expert on staff (she’s been gardening for years and has her own successful aquaponics set up) who happily recommended the below options as great starter plants for new growers and systems.
Fruit and Veg for Aquaponics
Classified as a ‘marshland plant’ celery is the ideal starter plant for those new to growing food in aquaponics systems. Not only is it one of the easiest edible plant varieties to grow in this type of set up, it is also quite versatile.
Most famously known for the token expression that consuming celery alone actually burns more calories than it contains, it is also a great snack, garnish or soup ingredient and carries a range of health benefits.
Not only is each stalk packed with a selection of vitamins and minerals, they also contain a decent amount of antioxidants which are great protective workers within our bodies.
Another great thing about celery is that when you harvest it, if you leave the root system and base intact within your aquaponics set up, there is the possibility that it will simply grow back again and again as long as the plant is healthy.
Plus, it’s a fast grower so is a great indicator of whether your initial set up has gone to plan.
Leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage, kale and spinach are particularly well suited to being grown in aquaponics. They happily thrive in wet environments and they’re easy to look after which makes them beginner friendly. Plus, the extra nutrient provided in aquaponics systems means your leafy greens will be even happier and healthier.
Just remember that these little guys aren’t the biggest fans of super hot and sunny weather so make sure your system receives at least some shade during the day.
Did you know that spring onions are closely related to garlic? Also, much like celery, they can be regrown by preserving the lower section of the plant within your aquaponics system while harvesting.
These long green stalks are a great source of fibre, vitamin C and calcium to name just a few while also aiding digestion and possibly even helping to protect against infection.
Chives are the often-underappreciated cousin of spring onions. Smaller and crisper, these guys have a flavour that presents soft tones of both onion and garlic.
Not only do they provide a great boost to the taste of your dinner, chives are also associated with improved sleep quality and bone health – two things that should definitely be on your win list.
Plus, they make great companion plants for those prone to attack from aphids as they are toted as a wonderful way to repel these pests. Just keep them away from your leafy greens and plants like peas or beans as they don’t tend to play nicely together.
Tomatoes are 95% water so it makes sense that they would grow quite happily in an aquaponics system.
The consumption of tomato has been linked to eye protection and healthier skin, and may even help prevent the development of cancer.
Herbs for Aquaponics
Basil is one of the most commonly used herbs and it is also quite easy to grow.
Plus, basil has properties that can help relieve stress and depression, lower blood pressure in some instances, promote gut health (and help fix upset stomachs), and more. This makes it wonderfully versatile in both health benefits and applications.
Coriander will happily grow in an aquaponics setting but should be monitored to ensure it doesn’t try to take over the system. This happy little herb has a habit of spreading and once it’s everywhere, it can be hard to get rid of.
Packed full of carotenoids, and featuring medicinal qualities, parsley is often touted as a great promoter of good vision.
Although this herb may not be the best choice for those who are allergic to bees (as it does a great job of attracting them), those who don’t mind having some buzzing friends in their backyard with benefit from increased pollination if their aquaponics system is located outside.
Oregano is small but mighty. Packed full of antioxidants, this herb is known for its ability to add an instant blast of flavour to dishes, but did you know it can also help strengthen your immune system?
Oregano can also support your digestive system, up your energy levels and improve bone health so this simple herb should definitely be hanging out on your plate more often. And what better way to make that the case than by growing your own in your aquaponics system?
Thyme is full of vitamins C and A and has even been linked to improvements in mood.
Like most herbs, it will happily grow within an aquaponics set up and has a variety of applications within your diet.
These ten plants should get your system off to a great start while also providing you with a variety of home grown options for whipping up a storm in the kitchen but they’re not the only things you can grow.
Most plants can be successfully grown within an aquaponics system if your knowledgeable and dedicated enough, these are simply wonderful *starter* plants.
We advise planting seedlings, rather than seeds, when first establishing your system so that they can start filtering your water immediately (otherwise things may not end so well for your fishy friends if you don’t have backup filtration).
It is also important to remember to keep the planter portion of your system at a minimum of 50% capacity to ensure adequate filtration is available for your fish. If you are at all concerned, we recommend running a biological filter in conjunction with your aquaponics system to promote the health and safety of your aquatic organisms.
Head over to this blog next if you need help selecting your fish and let us know what plants you’ll be adding to your system in the comments below!
P.S. Our plant expert has warned us against planting mint in an aquaponics system. Mint will grow VERY happily in this type of set up, a little too happily, in fact, for anything else to live in there… So unless you love mint, and don’t mind it entirely taking over your system, please don’t plant it.