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Growing Beets in Aquaponics Gardens
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A staple in many home gardens, beets are fairly easy to care for as they don’t need much to thrive. Given the right conditions, beets (also called beetroots) can grow quickly from seed and provide you with an abundance of fresh and tasty roots in no time. These vegetables are great for desserts and for many other savory dishes. If you want a bountiful supply of this root vegetable in a sustainable way, then growing beets in aquaponics gardens should be a fantastic idea.
In this article, you will learn about setting up your aquaponics system to help beets grow and thrive.
Why Grow Aquaponic Beets
Beets (Beta vulgaris) resemble turnips when it comes to appearance. They may share similarities such as being root vegetables but they are not closely related. In fact, beets belong to the family of flowering plants called Amaranthaceae and is more a relative of swiss chard and spinach, while turnips belong to the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli. When it comes to taste, beets have a more earthy taste with a hint of sweetness while turnips can be likened to cabbage but with a peppery flavor.
Compared to some of the other vegetables you can grow in your aquaponics garden, beets are relatively low maintenance. Because they have gained a good reputation for being highly nutritious, home gardeners have once again turned their attention to growing them.
Another reason for growing beets in aquaponics gardens is that there’s nothing to waste. You can eat the green tops like spinach, and of course, the roots, which can be harvested immaturely to use as tender baby beets.
Health Benefits of Beets
As mentioned, beets are being recognized as a superfood by many experts and so has also become popular among athletes. Below is an overview of the major nutrients you can get from one serving (100g) of boiled beetroot:
- 43 calories
- 87 per cent water
- 1.6 grams of protein
- 9.96 g carbohydrates
- 7.96 g sugars
- 2 g fiber
- 0.18 g fat
Besides being low-fat, low-calorie, and fiber-rich, beets are also packed with substantial amounts of vitamins (Vit. C, Vit. B, folate) and minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and iron). Another interesting information about beets is that they were found to boost brain health, thanks to their nitrate content that enhances blood flow to the brain.
All these, alongside mounting evidence from studies on beets, make them a delight to have in your kitchen and garden.
Beets Varieties For Your Aquaponics Garden
Most people would immediately think of beets as the reddish-purple root vegetable, but there are other varieties that come in different colors. The betalain pigments give the beets their red tint. Lack of betalains will produce white and golden beets.
Below are types of beets you might want to grow in your aquaponics garden:
- Red varieties – these are classic types known to many. Cultivars include Red Ace, Detroit Dark Red, Ruby Queen, and Bull’s Blood
- Striped variety – characterized by bright pink to pale red outer skin but with mottled pink rings on the inside. Only one is commercially available and it’s Chioggia or Candy Stripe.
- Gold varieties – This type has the lowest germination rate and so is less common than other varieties. Cultivars include Touchstone Gold and Golden
- White varieties – They are least known but they have the sweetest and mildest flavor, and they don’t have much of that earthy taste of the crop. Cultivars include Avalanche and Baby White
Based on the several varieties of beets, you can just imagine how fun and exciting it is when you have colorful harvests straight from your aquaponics garden.
Growing Aquaponics Beets
Below are some tips on how you can help your beets thrive in an aquaponics setup.
Aquaponics System Types
A media-filled bed is best suited for growing aquaponic beets. Consider growing them in wicking beds, which is an ideal setup for root crops.
Beets need an optimum pH range between 6.5 and 7 to thrive. As always make sure to use a quality pH meter.
For your media beds, you can use clay pebbles or gravel.
Water and Air Temperature
Beets are well suited for cool regions, making them a perfect spring and late summer crop. Maintain a water and air temperature range of 50 deg to 85 deg F to keep your beet plants happy.
Beets grow well in full sun so be sure to let it receive at least five hours of sun every day.
Fish species that thrive in cool water are a perfect match for growing beets in aquaponics gardens. Examples of fish types you can use for your system include rainbow trout, yellow perch, and walleye.
Beets don’t like crowding so when sowing seeds, plant them about one inch deep into the media and keep them three to four inches apart. Most beet varieties are ready for harvest within 55-70 days. However, some roots are edible by day 40 to 50.
Beets generally don’t get affected by serious pest problems. You can, however, check the roots for boring insects. Leafminers may also ruin the beautiful foliage by tunneling inside leaf surfaces and leaving streaks.
Common Problems When Growing Beets
Although it’s generally easy to grow aquaponic beets, you might encounter problems that can affect the quality and size of the crop. Sometimes, harvested beetroots may appear too small or malformed, which is a result of inadequate sunlight or overcrowding. Most problems can be alleviated by providing the proper growing conditions, like providing the right amount of sunlight and spacing them properly.
- Beetroot seedlings establish best when planted on a cool weather.
- To enjoy beet harvest all season, plant successively with a three- to four-week interval.