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For many of the hardcore salad lovers out there, a bowl of greenery isn’t truly complete without a healthy serving of artichoke hearts mixed in. While the vegetable isn’t exactly an everyday staple food for most people, there are countless recipes that benefit from them. Due to this, growing Artichokes in aquaponics gardens has become a growing curiosity among those looking to cultivate organic foods in their own backyard. So, if you want to make sure your salad and other meals never have an artichoke shortage, aquaponics may be the perfect solution.
In this article, you will be guided on the various considerations to make when growing artichokes in aquaponics gardens.
Why Grow Artichokes in your Aquaponics Garden
The Artichoke plant belongs to the Asteraceae group, which includes other plants such as chamomile, lettuce, and safflower. They are short-lived in warmer climates but normally grow annually in cooler places. As early as 1767, reports said that Thomas Jefferson had raised artichokes in his home in Montecillo, Virginia. Today, California has one of the largest commercial artichoke industries in the United States.
Artichokes are known for their tender and edible flower buds, which are harvested before they open. Artichokes make a great addition to one’s diet because they contain iron, folate, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin K – nutrients that are all beneficial to boosting one’s health. On top of it all, artichokes also contain high antioxidants that help reduce the risks of cancer diseases.
How to Grow Artichokes in your own Aquaponics Garden
Below are the guidelines you should consider when growing artichokes in an aquaponics system:
Growing media used in your aquaponics setup performs the following critical functions:
- It functions as a surface area where bacteria can reside inside the grow beds to give nutrients to your plants
- It serves as a base structure for your plants to keep them in a stable upright position
- It serves as a filtering element for solid wastes that are removed from the fish tank
Growing media like Clay Pebbles, Expanded Shale, Growstones, Lava Rock, and Gravel are some suitable media you can use.
Water and Air Temperature
Artichokes enjoy mild year-round climates between 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Try maintaining a neutral temperature level because scorching weather can cause their buds to quickly open to turn into flowers.
Artichoke plants must not be planted too close to each other because they can consume a lot of space as they grow and expand. So, the large ones can shade the smaller ones, thus hampering their growth. Therefore, direct sunlight is often needed for artichokes to achieve optimal growth.
Warm water fish like tilapia are suitable for growing artichokes in aquaponics gardens. Tilapia can tolerate changes in temperatures, a sudden change in pH level, and can survive in a temperature range of 74-78°F. Not only does it help provide nutrients to the plant, but it also can be harvested for consumption within 6- 9 months.
Artichokes are ideally suited for a pH range between 6.5 – 7.0
Planting and Harvesting
Planting artichokes from seed can be quite tricky, and it certainly takes some time before they can grow. Usually, artichoke seedlings need to be at least 60 days old before they should be moved into your aquaponics garden to ensure that it has deeply rooted. A more comfortable option of planting artichokes is through root division.
When harvesting artichokes, the center artichoke bud is usually the part that is first harvested because it is what grows the largest and matures the fastest. A utility knife is all you need when cutting the stem that is estimated between 1-3 inches from the bud.
You may encounter pests when growing artichokes, and they can certainly cause damage to your plant. A few common pests that can cause damage to your artichokes are Plume Moth, Slugs and Snails, and Young Earwigs. Slugs can be damaging to artichokes, especially when the leaves are still young and tender.
Aside from pests, you should also keep a close watch on Botrytis Blight and Curley Dwarf as these are diseases that can damage the leaves and flowers of artichokes, turning them into grayish and brown color. Immediately remove the affected leaves to stop the disease from spreading into the entire plant.
Here are some quick tips on the best things that you can make out of artichokes.
- Artichokes can be used as ornamental plants. They can look beautiful when planted as decorative borders in your landscape area
- Artichokes are not suitable in freezing temperatures like winter season.