Aquaponics vs General Gardening – Which is Best for You?

Gardening has transitioned from the times your grandmother had a large backyard garden full of a variety of vegetables and berries. Today, gardeners have options.


The two primary methods of gardening are traditional soil gardens and aquaponics. Choosing the best method for your own garden can confuse a new gardener or someone who has no knowledge of gardening processes.

Traditional Soil Gardening


Traditional gardening is a great option for people who have access to nutrient-rich soil or can create a container garden on a balcony or rooftop of a high-rise apartment. Dirt is relatively inexpensive to purchase, and plants know how to grow in it. Dirt has nutrients that can be supplemented by adding specific nutrients your plants require.

Strengths of Soil Gardening. Soil gardening is inexpensive to begin because if you have a yard, you have nothing else to purchase to grow your plants. The expense comes from purchasing seeds, seedlings, and additional nutrients to supplement the soil. If your soil is already nutrient-rich, the expense is low.

Weakness of Soil Gardening. Soil loses its nutritional value and holds onto the potential of disease that can be transferred to the next crop. Field farmers counteract disease potential by rotating crops, but a small gardener with a yard or greenhouse may not have the luxury if they grow a cash crop. Rotating to a less popular choice affects the farmer's profitability. If you do not like getting your hands dirty, if you don't want to track mud into your home, or you have an aversion to dirt in general, soil gardening may not be your choice.



Also known as hydroponics, plants grow in a water-based medium. There is a misconception that all hydroponics uses nothing but water to grow the plants. Various non-soil medium can be used to secure the plant and roots. Though there are those who state aquaponics is more effective and efficient than soil gardening, but studies and gardeners have not found a remarkable difference. Water-based nutrients are added to the aquaponics system to feed plants.

Strength of Aquaponics. Every new crop gets its own water supply. This reduces the potential for disease. Aquaponic systems are enclosed rather than subject to elements and nutrition drain that occurs in soil gardening. Additionally, though many choose to use substrate, it is not required for growing many cash crops like leafy vegetables. This reduces overhead costs. You can grow plants anytime of the year in controlled environments. It is a clean method of growing fruits and vegetables, too.

Weakness of Aquaponics. Continuously pumping water through an aquaponic system can become expensive. The medium used, though not prone to disease, must be replaced every cycle. Depending on the gardener's personal environment, aquaponics may become disastrous without proper drainage. Aquaponic system is expensive when beginning.

When Should You Choose Soil Gardening?


If the land is fertile, well-aerated, and the gardener can afford to rotate crops every season, soil gardening is an appropriate choice. Greenhouse gardeners have found soil gardening easy to manage and maintain. Dirt is a medium that most gardeners are familiar with. Nutritional supplements can be included in the soil to assist plant growth.

When Should One Choose Aquaponics?


If the gardener has a small greenhouse or facilities with little to no soil, aquaponics is a viable alternative. Water is easy to acquire, and most hydroponic distributors can assist in choosing the best medium for the chosen crops, whether substrate or slab. Substrate is a porous medium that holds no nutritional value. Its purpose is to secure roots.

Which Plants Work Best in Which Medium?


Plants. Any plant grows in either medium, soil or aquaponics. Investigate which plants are the most profitable or provide the most nutrients for the family. If new to gardening, hearty plants should be the first crop. Consider bell peppers, strawberries, leafy vegetables, carrots, and beans. These fruits and vegetables withstand experimentation for the opportunity to learn how to use whichever method chosen.

Germination. Whether choosing aquaponics or soil gardening, germinate seeds before putting them into their final growing location. Once a seed has rooted, it is stronger and more capable of withstanding many of the changes in nutrition level and temperature.

Soil Germination. Soil germination can be done a few ways. Put seeds in damp paper towels in a dark area for several days until the seeds split open and the roots begin to emerge. Small peat pots that can be planted with the seedling help to protect the delicate roots if choosing to germinate in them. They are relatively inexpensive and organic.

Aquaponic Germination. Depending on the aquaponic medium chosen, germination is a little different though the actual process is similar. Be sure to check the amount of water because a seed can drown and not grow. pH levels must also be between 5.5 and 6. Use a pH kit to ensure you are not giving your seeds too much or not enough acidic content. Soak them for about an hour before adding them to the medium you have chosen to grow your plants.


Whether you choose to use soil or aquaponics, you can get the same yields of crop. Regardless of which style suits your needs, you must be sure to keep measure of pH levels and other nutrients that are necessary for your growing plants.

Both aquaponics and soil growing have benefits and problems, but an informed gardener is a successful one. Do your homework. Neither growing method is foolproof, nor are they self-maintained. You need to be available for your plants to ensure you have the highest yield.

About the Author Laura Bennett

Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.

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