Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Lounge Spotlight | Underwater symbiosis

“Plants don’t necessarily need soil to grow," says Shaleen Khurana, a Chandigarh-based aquaponics gardener, explaining that plants can extract nutrition directly from water. This method of growing plants, known as hydroponics, is catching on in the country’s ever experimental gardening community. But even as hydroponics gains popularity, Khurana talks of another innovation, aquaponics, in which aquaculture, that is raising fish, snails, etc., is combined with hydroponics.

“The plants use nitrates derived from the waste by the fish while the fish benefit from the oxygen let out by the plants," says Khurana.

His company, India Aquaponics, trains people in aqauponic gardening and also sells equipment (ranging from 1,800-2,000 per sq. ft) for your home.

“We grow all kinds of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers and pak choi. These are 100% organic because even if we add minerals to the water it is done in the natural form so as to not harm the fish," he says, citing the example of eggshells that are thrown into the water to add calcium. Growing plants in water requires less space and the yield is four time more than those grown in soil, says Khurana.

“Varieties of edible fish, like tilapia, can be raised to be eaten in the same set-up," says Bella Gupta of the All India Kitchen Garden Association (Aikga), which will be hosting Khurana for two talks as part of a Spring Festival in Delhi organized by Aikga. The net result is organic vegetables, and fresh edible fish from a pond in your home.

The talks will be held at 11am and 3pm today as part of the Spring Festival organized by Aikga at the Gulmohar Park Club, New Delhi. Entry fee for each talk, 100.

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