Aquaponics systems commonly involve raising freshwater fish because they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and pH…
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Fruiting plants like bananas are a delight to have in your garden. But being able to grow up to 20 ft, this should make you wonder, will growing bananas in aquaponics gardens work? You’ll be surprised that bananas are actually one of the best plants to grow in an aquaponics setup. And the best part is – they can produce fruits much quicker than regular ones planted on the ground.
In this article, you will learn how to prepare your aquaponics system to allow bananas to thrive.
Why You Should Plant Bananas in Your Aquaponics Garden
Besides getting an abundant supply of tasty bananas, growing bananas in aquaponics gardens means you also get to enjoy these benefits:
- They can provide shade, especially when planted on the west side of your house
- The leaves can be fed as treats for pets like rabbits and guinea pigs
- Leaves can also be used as an eco-friendly food wrap.
- The stem can be woven into mats or used to create craft materials.
Getting to Know Bananas
To the uninitiated, bananas are thought of as trees that bear fruits. However, they are not. Botanically speaking, a banana is considered as a herbaceous fruiting plant that grows from a large rhizome, which produces several buds.
Bananas usually thrive in regions with tropical and subtropical climates. But that doesn’t mean it won’t do well in colder temperatures and it certainly doesn’t mean they won’t thrive in a controlled environment such as in an aquaponics system. Given the right requirements, a banana plant can grow healthy in your own garden.
Health Benefits of Bananas
A banana makes for a convenient and nutritious snack. Not only are they tasty, but they are also associated with plenty of health benefits, which are enumerated below:
- Bananas contain high levels of potassium, which is good for heart health
- It is rich in pectin, a form of fiber, which should help keep your bowel movement regular
- Bananas are rich in antioxidants, which can protect you from cancer
- They are an excellent energy source for high-intensity workouts
The fleshy banana fruit is not the only part of the plant that contains nutrients. It may not be common in the West, but you can eat banana peels; they’ve been considered a superfood as well. They’re not poisonous as some would think. You can prepare the peels in different ways, including boiling and frying. Some have even used them in smoothies, blending it with other fruits.
Which Banana Variety To Choose
While it’s a fact that bananas love warm climate conditions, that shouldn’t discourage you from having a tropical feel in your aquaponics garden. Growing bananas in aquaponics gardens is still possible since there are varieties that are cold-hardy or able to survive winter.
Musa Basjoo and Musa Sikkimensis are two cold-hardy varieties that can survive winter, especially if you take proper precautions. While they can still bear fruit, most gardeners plant them for their bright foliage that makes for a perfect outdoor decor.
Meanwhile, if you like a dwarf banana variety for your garden, you can consider planting the dwarf Cavendish, which is well suited for USDA zones 7 to 11. This is the more popular variety as it is a prolific fruit-bearer. Plus, they can grow well in containers, which also makes them ideal for aquaponics.
How To Grow Aquaponic Bananas
Depending on the variety, bananas can grow well in hardiness zones 7 through 11. Below are the requirements to ensure the success of your aquaponic bananas.
The optimum temperature for growing bananas in aquaponics gardens is within 68 deg F to 70 deg F. Although the plant loves warm conditions, it should still be protected from the scorching heat, which will burn the leaves and fruit. That said, the temperature shouldn’t exceed 80 deg F.
Maintain a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 to help your bananas grow. Make sure to use a quality pH meter.
Bananas thrive well in full sun, so let your plant get 10-12 hours of sunlight every day.
You can use a standard hydroton clay-filled bed for your aquaponics banana. Just make sure you put one mother plant for each container as banana roots can grow crazy. Some aquaponic gardeners have had success growing their bananas in a barrel.
Fish Type to Consider
The best fish to match your aquaponic bananas has to be tilapia, simply because it’s an extremely hardy species that can tolerate within and even outside the temperature range of 82 deg F to 86 deg F.
Quick Tips for Growing Aquaponic Bananas
- Protect banana plants from wind, frost and cold temperatures
- You can put your growing bed in a sheltered spot
- Once the mother plant dies, you need to remove your banana plant
- At the base of the plant is a rhizome that will bear pups or suckers, which you can transplant