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Has anyone tried companion planting in an aquaponics system? It seems like an interesting concept that is better able to utilize limited grow-bed space.

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Companion planting  is usually based on the premise that different plants might compete/deplete nutrient availability from one or other of the plants...

 

As aquaponics is delivering the nutrient requirements to all the plants.. all the time... it's not really applicable...

 

But there's no harm in doing so...  and the other reason for companion planting... attracting beneficial insects.. and/or pest deterrent... remains just as valid in aquaponics...

Apparently some plants takes in nitrogen in the air and excrete micro-nutrients from their roots. Although AP delivers nutrient to all the plants during flood cycle or DWC, was interested in comparing the effects of different plants grown together in an AP system. Also, different plant roots typically grow to different depths, although I assume in AP systems these are much shallower, assuming that the foliage was not over-crowded, perhaps companion planting concepts could be used to grow more plants in the same amount of space. Another interesting aspect is for some plants acting as a natural trellis for other plants such as the example of the three sisters. Your point on pest control is also very relevant, a book I have been reading recently suggests that such benefits of companion planting often takes 1 - 2 years or growing cycles to show significant differences, and is highly dependent on local conditions.

Not sure about the statement that plants "take in nitrogen in the air"... or "excrete micro-nutrients from their roots"....

And as far as plant spacing is concerned... with a variety of plant types... I've never seen anything that beats aquaponics...

I'm not an expert on the subject, the information is from "The complete guide to Companion Planting - Dale Mayer". While the book does tends to deal more with soil-based agricultural methods, I was interested to see if anyone has used these concepts in AP before.

Nitrogen fixation.. from the air... is primarily done by bacteria... not plants...

And is bound into the root nodules... onlty released when the plant dies, or is composted...

I stand corrected. Perhaps companion planting for purposes of nitrogen fixation would not be so relevant, but other benefits may still be realized.

I have been using companion planting and square foot gardening and so on for years.

With my AP system, I started with some of that and now have volunteer plants showing up all over the place and can not even think about what is growing by what.  It is interesting that in nature you have no bare ground and plants are competing (and completing) for sun, surface and soil. What are they competing for and how can they be grown together. 

What plants can use the shade of the tomatoes?

I am interested in other perspectives, but don't get lost in the "rules" of gardening.  Mimic nature

The basics of nutrients (taken care of in aquaponics), water (taken care of in aquaponics), and light are the things to most worry about. So, try to keep tall plants where short plants need them and vice versa.

And beneficials. My son has been telling me what to plant for repelling baddies and attracting the goodies. We recently pruned back a huge haystack of an aquaponic nasturtium, and I was surprised to see the large number of black aphids. Closer inspection revealed hundreds of ladybug larvae, and pupae, and hover flies too (both beneficials). The nasturtium was very healthy, not bothered by the aphids. And completely absent of white flies and spider mites, which seem to plague everything else I've grown. After researching, it turns out that nasturtiums are extremely powerful WF and SM repellents, and just as powerful a an aphid magnet. So much so, that nearby plants are spared from aphids, and the aphid predators boom as a result. Pretty cool.

I thought I remember hearing some bean plants are nitrogen fixing and permaculture uses them to build up the soil for other plants.

Beans, and other legumes.... do not fix nitrogen....

The symbiotic bacteria that live in the legume root nodules... fix the nitrogen....

 

And it's fixed... only released.. when the plant is "turned" back into the soil... or composted...

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