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If you are a big fan of leafy greens, growing all-natural Watercress in your garden might be a dream come true. This nutritious herb has a bit of a spicy taste that is often mixed in soups, salads, or sandwiches. Buying the herb pre-packed in your local market can be costly, thus, the option to grow watercress in aquaponics gardens is a nifty idea.
The herb is one of the best aquaponics plants to add to your garden since it loves water. It is a popular choice among commercial growers not only because it is nutrient-packed, but because it is fast-growing as well. In this article, we will discuss how to grow Watercress in aquaponics gardens.
Why Grow Watercress in your Aquaponics Garden?
Nasturtium Officinale or Watercress is a perennial plant that is part of the Brassicaceae family or more widely known as the Mustard family. This family includes plants like Brocolli, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, and Kale. As mentioned earlier, this herb is simple to grow. You can cultivate it by planting seeds or you can grow it with cuttings if you want.
Cultivating Watercress in your Aquaponics Garden
Once you have decided on the method to use, you must maintain the following parameters to make sure your Watercress thrives:
This nutritious crop prefers to flourish in a pH range between 6.5 to 7.5. It favors a mildly acidic and mildly alkaline growing environment.
Watercress enjoys a temperate climate. It will grow in an environment between 50°-60°F but not in freezing or frigid conditions. Check out this video below about one aquaponics practitioner’s experience with watercress in cold temperatures.
A good location for your herb garden is an area where it can catch the full sun. In case you have an indoor garden, you can likewise use a standard fluorescent lamp or grow lights to fulfill its lighting needs.
When positioning your plants, see to it that the herbs are 9 to 12 inches apart. This is essential due to the fact that plant overcrowding can lead to lesser yield and can also result in low quality of the herb. Providing sufficient spacing is vital so that the plants will not compete for nutrients.
The best fish used in Aquaponic systems are Tilapia, Carp, Catfish, and Trout. These species are best for Aquaponics since they are relatively accessible worldwide and have traditionally shown amazing growth levels in Aquaponic units. When planning your system, remember that utilizing healthy fish are critical in commercial production. Thus, it is essential that you strictly buy from trustworthy or credible local suppliers.
Here are ways to know your fish are healthy:
- Bright shiny eyes
- Straight tails with outstretched fins
- Not restless. Fish swims in natural, smooth patterns.
- Fish does not swim away when the feeder arrives. It has a healthy appetite.
- The fish do not swim on the surface to breathe air.
- It does not display blotches, scrapes, lines, or scratches along its body.
- Healthy fish do not rub or scratch their sides on the wall of the tank.
As growers, you must observe and assess your fish daily. The perfect time to do this is when you feed them. Take note of their physical appearance and behavior before, during, and after their feeding.
Beginners with Aquaponics should buy whole feed fish pellets in the beginning. This type of fish feed contains the right balance of Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Proteins, and Minerals to ensure your fish grow well and healthy.
It is possible that in some areas you may have a challenging time finding the right feed, however, you can likewise produce home-made feeds. Other examples of alternative fish feed that you can briefly use in case whole feeds are not available are Azolla, Duckweed, and Moringa.