NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Water is the key ingredient for one New Hanover County man who says his garden doesn't need any dirt.
Jim Tinker was tired of wasting water in his greenhouse garden, so he looked for another option and discovered Aquaponics.
"I love it - I can't tell you how great it is," said Tinker. "These tomatoes are only a month and a half old and they're growing about twice as fast as a dirt garden."
Here's how Aquaponics works:
Water from the fish tank gets pumped through pipes into the grow beds. Once the water hits a certain level it siphons it, drains it, and then it pumps it back into the fish tank. According to Tinker, the fish provide nutrients for the plants and then the plants clean the water when they take in the nutrients.
"With this system we can become more self sufficient by growing our vegetables and fish protein for ourselves," said Tinker. "With the cost of foods and everything going up people are going to have to start building a system in their backyard."
Tinker's design sparked the interest of local businessman Michael Tarter with Mike's Gravel. He donated the lava rock and river rocks for Tinker's garden.
"The new idea sounds very interesting," said Tarter. "I've heard of hydroponics growing, but taking it to the next step aquaponics with the fish involved sounds real organic and probably will catch on real quick."
Tinker said he hopes the idea does catch on, because he says like the garden he wants to become more self efficient.
Tinker said the garden will save him thousands of gallons of water a year.