Aquaponics systems commonly involve raising freshwater fish because they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and pH…
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One of the most common concerns in setting up an aquaponics system is its capability to withstand cold weather conditions. It would be necessary for regions with non-tropical climates to build a climatically adaptable structure to grow a variety of crops year-round. This can be done through proper insulation, heating, and ventilation. It is also an advantage to know the best aquaponics winter plants to avoid system loss.
Several plant varieties can be strategically planted in an aquaponics system to maintain a significant crop yield throughout the winter season or in areas with a freezing climate. Here are some of the best aquaponics winter plants:
- Swiss Chard
In this article, we will be focusing on the best way to grow aquaponics plants during colder climates. We will also discuss the best plants to grow to guide aquaponics practitioners and other interested growers.
Aquaponics in cold weather
When setting up an aquaponics system, it is crucial to think ahead and prepare for the weather conditions that may affect your fish and plants. You can either build your system indoors or outdoors, depending on your local climate.
Some aquaponics practitioners prefer setting up indoors since they have a vast space inside their home, and they have complete equipment to run their system. For areas with warmer climates throughout the year, building the system outdoors is highly suggested so the plants can access natural light necessary for photosynthesis. However, constructing an acclimatized greenhouse is recommended in case of colder temperatures. Below are some of the things you should consider in building a greenhouse to ensure that the plants thrive during cold seasons.
Ordinary greenhouses have the same temperature from outside, so some growers have to shut down their system during harsh cold seasons. Through using insulation, the greenhouse temperature will be kept at a level that is suitable for plants, so you won’t have to worry that they would freeze. For instance, an insulated South wall that is the same height as the grow beds can protect your crops’ root systems, which are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Heaters are also necessary during cold seasons. Aside from heating the fish tank, it would be best to regulate the plants’ temperature through electrical, gas, or fuel-powered heaters. You may put any of these heaters on the floor of your greenhouse to moderate the temperature. If you are cutting the system cost, solar-powered heaters are considered to be more energy-efficient than other electricity sources. Using this kind of heater will also help avoid problems in case of power outages.
Proper ventilation is still needed in cold weather aquaponics installations. This will address the stale air inside the greenhouse and ensure that the air is moving. Air movement is vital for flowering plants to pollinate and to avoid dampness. One of the best alternatives to using a circulating fan to facilitate ventilation is attaching the greenhouse to a house wall. The heat coming from the house is enough to temper the air.
Best plants to cultivate during cold climates
Along with constructing the greenhouse properly to accommodate cold weather, knowing the best aquaponics winter plants will also help significantly in ensuring harvest during the winter. Most farmers take time to research and create a list of crops to grow per season to ensure a continuous harvest despite different weather conditions. Here are some plants that you can cultivate even in low temperatures.
Lettuce is known to be cold tolerant and grows best in a moist atmosphere. It thrives in a temperature range of 60° to 75°F, but some varieties survive even 20°F. It can also manage light frost, but its growth will not be as fast as compared to tropical temperatures. Some of the most common Lettuce types suggested for low-temperature conditions are the romaine and butterhead lettuce.
Click here to see our in-depth article on how to grow Lettuce in aquaponics.
Kale is suitable for cold temperatures since it doesn’t taste good when grown in hot weather. It is considered a hardy plant because some of its varieties thrive even at 10°F. Some of the best cold-weather types of Kale are the lacitano, dwarf Siberian, vates blue scotch curled, premier, red Russian, and white Russian. Even though Kale is considered very winter resistant, it would still benefit from being given the right care during winter. Adequate heating and continuous temperature tracking are suggested for faster growth.
Click here to see our in-depth article on how to grow Kale in aquaponics.
Swiss chard is another cold-hardy crop that can tolerate frost. Some practitioners suggest that it tastes even better when grown in cold weather conditions. The recommended growing temperature for swiss chard is between 61-75 °F, but it can also manage as low as 14°F.
Click here to see our in-depth article on how to grow Swiss Chard in aquaponics.
Spinach is an easy to grow leafy green, which is also one of the best aquaponics winter plants. It requires the same growing conditions as the Lettuce but is considered more nutritious since it has a higher iron and calcium content. It can build up sugar to protect itself from freezing temperatures, so it tastes a lot sweeter during winter. One of the best varieties of this plant is the Giant Winter Spinach. It is cold-hardy and high yielding despite cold temperatures.
Click here to see our in-depth article on how to grow Spinach in aquaponics.
Parsley is an herb that can survive harsh winters. It grows best between 59 to 77°F, but it can survive at 10°F. It is important to note, however, that Parsley’s growth is stunted during cold weather. You will only be able to harvest a significant amount of this plant if you have grown in many of your grow beds.
Click here to see our in-depth article on how to grow Parsley in aquaponics.
Thyme came from the mint family and is considered as more flavorful than oregano. The optimal growing temperature for this plant is 70°F, but it can also thrive during cold winters. The German Thyme can manage hard frosts or temperatures under 28°F. Like the other winter plants mentioned above, its growth rate is relatively slower than growing it in hotter temperatures.
Click here to see our in-depth article on how to grow Thyme in aquaponics.
Managing an aquaponics system over the winter is easier when you have appropriately planned the location of your set up. In areas that experience harsh cold temperatures, building the unit indoors, or creating an insulated greenhouse is highly suggested to maintain the plants’ best-growing condition. Knowing the types of crops that thrive over freezing weather is also an advantage since you would be able to plan out what you will plant every season. Some of the best aquaponic winter plants that you can grow are Lettuce, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Parsley, and Thyme.