Aquaponic farming
Aquaponic farming Image Credit: Supplied

Since our balcony in the office was unused we thought of doing some gardening, and due to its small size we could accommodate only a few potted plants. Then my colleague Peter Stanly had this idea of doing hydroponic system for gardening which would accommodate maximum number of plants in a small area. Hence we installed the hydroponic system for gardening.

Moving from a hydroponic system to aquaponic system

This hydroponic system requires chemical nutrients but aquaponics system gets nutrients naturally, it is cost effective, helps in the growth of useful bacteria and is easy to maintain so we thought of converting the hydroponic system to aquaponic system.

Traditionally aquaponics can be used to sustainably raise fresh fish and vegetables for a family, to feed a village or to generate profit in a commercial farming venture. But we just started with our little balcony to satisfy our quench of going green and now enjoying every bit of it.

Criticism and challenges

In the beginning by seeing the whole set up the other staff wondered how can a plant grow in a small sponge, and they completely disagreed with this idea for gardening. But Stanly strongly believed that this plantation would succeed and hence we continued.

The first challenge was for the seed to turn into a sapling which it did and it grew for about an inch, but most of the staff said that this would be their only growth as the staff had their own apprehensions about these saplings growing into plants as there was only a small pipe with water supporting them. Which is so unnatural for plants to grow they mocked.

Days passed by and they were saplings for quite some time. But like a sports car waiting to get fuelled later jumpstarts and speeds off, our little saplings also in a very short time span shot up and miraculously turned into plants. Also, within two months the plants started getting flowers and now it has started giving fruit like tomatoes. We are currently waiting for them to turn red.

Inspiring story

Now all the same staff and friends who once dissuaded us against the whole attempt are completely flabbergasted but happy at the same time to see this. In fact they want to learn more about doing this as they want to start doing this in their own balconies.

The best compliment came from Stanly’s friend Saleem Jamal who was the first to say: “Things like these should go public and everyone should follow ideas of making our spaces greener.”

This is how we contacted Gulf News as I remember reading something like this by another reader and hence approached Gulf News to share it with all the people across the globe.

Future plans

We are now working on how to keep these plants alive for a longer time and how we can get more flowers and fruits from them, we are also trying to see how early we can yield flowers and fruits.

After this season we plan to completely exploit our balcony area very effectively and turn it into a big aquaponic farm yielding regular fruits and possibly make it commercial. We even plan to rent a bigger area later this year.

We would certainly want to pass this information to all the green loving people that no matter how small a space we have, we can grow plants.

— The reader is based in Dubai

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