Which is best real soil or aquaponics for growing vegetables and fruit?

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Mark, Apr 21, 2014.

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Which medium do you prefer soil or water to grow your food crops?

  1. Soil

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  2. Water (Aquaponics)

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  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I've been thinking about this question and wondering what others thought about the growing trend in aquaponics (small scale) as an alternative to real soil for growing vegetables and fruit.

    Personally, I think both are great and as long as people are growing food I'm happy; however, I do prefer soil over water because I think the minerals and micronutrients in soil give backyard vegetables their subtle taste "edge" - I guess similar to how different regions produce different tasting grapes for wines.

    What do you guys think - what's better, soil or water (aquaponics) for growing fruit and veg?
     
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  2. David Trees

    David Trees Active Member Premium Member

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    Geoff Lawton recently said in one of his videos that an acre Aquaponic farm dam produces more protein than 30 acres of land. So it definately has merit for certain types of self sufficiency food production. 100%!

    He was talking purely about growing fish and other water protein source food (yabbies etc).

    I am personally still out to lunch on the whole Aquaponics as a growing medium for crops. Rob Bob from YT seems to love it and swear by it. He also uses wicking beds too to grow produce for his families table.

    My feeling is as you say Mark. There is something powerful that I think can only happen in organically composted well mineralised soil, that I venture to say isn't possible in a Hydroponic or Aquaponic system. Of course, I might be wrong about the later.

    When we return I will be starting by creating compost/buying organic mushroom compost to start our IBC raised bed gardens and container gardens. I've used it before with excellent results before moving to the U.K.

    I would also most likely buy Quail as a start to raising fowl for food production. I will be making mini Quail Tractors to allow them to also forage on soil to add depth to their diet and help me process small areas before sowing the next crops in each bed...

    Which is something else I cannot with an A.P system. I think A.P has real merit once other systems are in place and for production of a specific protein source like fish/yabbies etc.

    Just my thinking at this stage. Who knows... When I finally get to visit Rob Bob in Ispwich and see his set up, I might change my mind. :) Thanks!
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Well put David! Mini quail tractors sounds great - geez those birds will love that (I'm not convinced about keeping quail in raised cages simply for production purposes).

    Yeah, I'm also a fan of Rob Bob's YT channel and I think his use of fish to grow crops is excellent. He makes aquaponics tempting to try but I (like you) have good success by growing vegetables in soil whilst using fertiliser from my poultry to help with extra nutrients - I see no reason to change my set-up or introduce hydroponics into my patch. Interestingly, Rob Bob still does grow plenty in soil himself so he's not just an aquaponics guy...

    I guess technically there's also a difference between aquaponics and hydroponics but I am grouping them together just for the purpose of this thread and really mean growing crops in water (however the nutrients are sourced).
     
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  4. David Trees

    David Trees Active Member Premium Member

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    Here is the latest and one reason why I would use Aquaponics for everything. I think that there would be a real taste difference between the two methods because the interaction between roots, soils, micro-organisms and the sunshine... Just my take.

    Here is a taste test done this past week. It was for sweet potatoes rooted in an AP grow bed and then rooted soil below it.

    Same vine... Two different locales.

    For those who might not know Rob Bob, he is from SE Queensland. He tries all sorts of growing methods.

    Video One - The Result of trying to grow Sweet Spuds in an AP grow bed -

    Video Two - The Taste Test -
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I saw them ^^^ and thought about posting the vids here myself - great minds think alike! :p

    Yeah, this was a good experiment and shows how important soil is for some plants.
     
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  6. David Trees

    David Trees Active Member Premium Member

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    I think leafy vegetables, which are very highly water based might work well in AP or HP systems. I would like to see a taste test done between same lettuce varieties and something like Rocket or Mustard Greens. Something with some zing. Just to compare the taste and especially the zing content. I also think that things like water chesnuts and other similar plants would boom in an AP system. I am not against it. Just not sure about it nutritionally...?
     
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I reckon you're right - these systems seem to grow salad greens really well but my suspicion is even salads grown HP/AP vs soil will differ in taste - probably not too dramatically though. And, to be fair many people don't like a strong rocket or lettuce so these leafy greens grown hydroponically with a subtle light taste probably suits the market better.
     
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  8. GlennoFromKenno

    GlennoFromKenno Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Most importantly for me (being a poor-student) is the $$. I save a ton of money growing some crops at home, particularly herbs (hooley dooley the store prices for herbs are insane!). AP needs a fair investment, I'm curious at how long it takes to pay off, particularly in comparison with the very cost effective way I grow in soil.
     
  9. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Ditto the above for me...love the idea of aquaponics, but have also heard it doesn't take too much to go wrong and foul the whole system...and then you're back to square one, with a load of dead fish!
    I agree there seems something more "natural" about growing stuff the way it's always been grown ie in dirt...and I like planting into soil, rather than "medium" - though I suppose some would argue adding all the soil enrichment is no different than adding nutrient to water (or in the case of AP, fish poo). Maybe I'm just old fashioned :)
     
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  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Veggies grown in soil always taste better to me. Same grapes grown in different areas have different qualities and in my opinion vegetables are no different even though the taste factor might not be as dramatic as wine I still reckon soil is the best medium.
     
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