Today's New York Times has a very interesting story on aquaponics, an integrated indoor gardening system that uses fish as a means to feed plants, which in turn clean and aerate the fish's water.
The urban ag pioneer Will Allen at Growing Power in Milwaukee uses these systems, and they have tremendous potential in areas where water is scarce. They also result in mind-blowing yields:
What feeds [Rob Torcellini’s] winter crop of lettuce is recirculating water from the 150-gallon fish tank and the waste generated by his 20 jumbo goldfish. Wastewater is what fertilizes the 27 strawberry plants from last summer, too. They occupy little cubbies in a seven-foot-tall PVC pipe. When the temperature begins to climb in the spring, he will plant the rest of the gravel containers with beans, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers — all the things many other gardeners grow outside.
In here, though, the yields are otherworldly. “We actually kept a tally of how many cherry tomatoes we grew,” Mr. Torcellini said of last summer’s crop. “And from one plant, it was 347.” A trio of cucumber plants threw off 175 cukes.