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Berries can be one of the most useful plants to have growing in your backyard. Aside from the joy of eating handfuls of them straight from the garden, some of the best mouth-watering pie and cobbler recipes include a cup of fresh berries. In addition, one of the best aspects about them is that they can be grown in an aquaponics system. Strawberries are among the most common and easiest berries to grow in aquaponics, but other berry types can thrive if you invest a little more time and effort. Nevertheless, growing berries can be a highly rewarding experience. So what are the best berries for aquaponics?
There are varieties of berries you can grow well in your aquaponics system, and each one belongs to a specific genus. The following genera of berries and their examples are the best ones to grow in aquaponics:
- Fragaria (strawberry varieties)
- Rubus (bramble berries like raspberries and blackberries)
- Vaccinium (blueberries, cranberries)
This article will discuss the different types of berries that do well in an aquaponics system.
What Are Berries?
Botanically speaking, berries are fleshy fruits formed from one ovary of an individual flower. Based on this definition, cucumbers, bananas, and tomatoes are technically berries. Except for blueberries, this makes the berries that people come to know and love classified as false berries. For clarification purposes, this article will still refer to these “false berries” as berries in the culinary sense.
Complexities aside and whether they’re true berries or not, these plants are worth having in a garden. They can be picked and enjoyed fresh or saved up for later to include in various dishes, particularly desserts and pastries.
When the right cultivar is picked based on your area’s climate, growing berries can be easy. While you can start them out with seeds, most gardeners recommend cultivation via stem cuttings as plants tend to grow faster.
Before you purchase your berry cuttings or seeds, it helps if you take the extra step of researching the best one that can grow in your area without issues. In the next section, we will discuss the different genus of berries suitable for growing aquaponically.
Different Berry Types For Aquaponics
Most berries require more time and effort to reach their optimum growth. While they can be relatively easy to care for, it’s still important to put in hard work when growing them. Generally, berries are better placed in media beds, except for strawberries, which can thrive using nutrient film technique.
Below are three genera of berries you can choose from for your aquaponics system:
Strawberries are easily the most popular choice of berries to grow in a backyard. They’re easy to grow, and they provide bountiful harvest, especially when given proper care. It will take a year for a strawberry plant to start producing, so patience is still a must. For a more detailed guide in growing aquaponic strawberries, click here.
The Rubus genus of berries includes raspberries and blackberries, two popular ingredients when making pastries. Also called brambles, these berry plants tend to thrive on their own once established.
When growing raspberries and blackberries, pruning is required to remove old canes.
They also enjoy full-sun, so if you want them to produce a lot of fruits, place them where they can receive 6-8 hours of direct sun.
The vaccinium genus includes the popular cranberry and blueberry, both of which are considered true berries. They typically love acidic environments, so carefully consider balancing its pH requirements with that of your chosen fish.
Blueberries and cranberries are birds’ favorite too, so make sure you protect them with netting if you want to save your harvest. For a more detailed guide on growing blueberries, click here, and for cranberries, here.
Quick Tips For Choosing The Best Berries For Aquaponics
With attractive options of berries, it can be difficult to decide which type you should grow in your system. While you can always grow several types simultaneously, the more important thing to consider is to know the requirements of your chosen berry crop.
Below are some quick tips to help you choose:
- Look for varieties and cultivars that are winter-hardy or those that are suitable to your area
- When looking for stem cuttings, purchase from reputable nurseries to make sure you have disease-free plants.
- If space and location is a factor for you, keep in mind that some berry bushes can grow taller and wider. Others come as dwarf varieties
- Some types of berries like blueberries require pollinators; others can self-pollinate. Keep this information in mind when purchasing a berry plant.
Harvesting berries can be a truly rewarding experience, and that makes them a wonderful addition to your aquaponics garden. No amount of store-bought berries can compare to the quality of freshly-picked ones.
Berries and their bushy appearance can add to the aesthetic appeal of your backyard. But more importantly, they produce fresh harvests that you can use to make pies, jams, and ice cream.
Strawberries may be the most common type of berry crop that’s fairly easy to cultivate, but others should not be overlooked. The key to successful berry cultivation in aquaponics is knowing the different requirements and growing conditions of each berry type.