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The thought of getting a free supply of cabbage every 3-4 months can be exciting. After all, this delicious, nutritious vegetable has a variety of culinary applications. You can either steam them, cook them as a side dish, eat them raw or even ferment them into sauerkraut for a healthy digestive system. The beautiful thing about growing cabbage in aquaponics gardens is that it’s relatively easy to do and pretty much a hands-off process.
In this article, you will learn how to grow cabbages in an aquaponics system by understanding its growing requirements.
Why Should You Grow Cabbages in an Aquaponics System?
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) belongs to the mustard family, just like its relatives – the collard greens, and turnip greens. Because cabbage isn’t fussy and requires little maintenance, many aquaponics gardeners pick this crop as one of their favorites to grow.
Cabbage is used to make sauerkraut, which is a fermented form of the vegetable. Studies have shown how eating fermented vegetables can help boost your immune system and support the growth of good bacteria in your digestive system, resulting in better digestion and better overall health.
Nutritional Content of Cabbage
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Data, one cup (89g) of chopped cabbage contains the following:
- 22 calories
- 16 mg sodium
- 5.2 g carbohydrates
- 0.1 g fat
- 2.2 g fiber
- 2.8 g sugar
- 1.1 g protein
Just like its other cousins from the Brassica family, cabbage is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and manganese. Cabbages also contain iron, but the red variety contains twice the amount of that micronutrient compared to the green variety. In addition, the red variety has more vitamin A but only half as much vitamin K as the green cabbage.
Choosing the Right Variety of Cabbage For Your Aquaponics Garden
When growing cabbage in aquaponics gardens, it’s important to choose the variety wisely based on the conditions of your local environment. For instance, if you live in a cool-climate region, you can go for varieties that mature slowly and produce big heads. On the other hand, it is best to go for cabbage varieties that mature quickly and are ready for harvest by springtime when you live in a region with warmer climates.
Generally, cabbages are ready for harvest in 80 to 180 days, depending on the variety. Below is a quick guide on some of the cabbage varieties you might want to try growing in your aquaponics setup:
- Go for Stonehead and Primo varieties if you need to harvest early
- January King – one of the best winter cabbages known for its hardiness; it is colored green and purple with semi-savoyed leaves
- Late Flat Dutch – a late-season harvest (approx. 100 days), which produces large heads that could weigh 10-15 pounds; the leaves are pale green
- Brunswick is a popular variety that stores well long into the winter; heads can weigh 6-9 pounds and have a diameter of 10 inches
- Earliana, as the name implies, is a variety that matures early
- Golden Acre, heirloom variety – well-suited for zones 3-12
- Mammoth Red Rock – well-suited for Zones 1-10; harvest should be ready by 90-100 days.
How to Grow Cabbages Aquaponically
Knowing how to provide the right growing conditions for cabbages will reward you with a fantastic vegetable perfect for stir-fry, salads, and other various recipes. Below are the requirements to help your cabbage thrive in an aquaponics system:
The cool-season cabbage thrives best within 45 deg F and 75 deg F. Cabbage can withstand frost briefly and still survive when temperatures go as low as 20 deg F. Be careful not to let the temperature rise to 80 deg F as this will result in bolting and seeding.
Cabbage loves full sun, so plant it in a sunny location that gets at least 6 hours of sun every day. The more hours, the better.
Maintain a pH range of 6.2-6.6 to help your cabbage thrive. Make sure to use a quality pH meter.
Fish Type to Consider
Since cabbages love cooler climates, choose fish that thrive in cold water as well. A good match for your aquaponics cabbage is trout, specifically rainbow trout. They’re easier to grow but don’t require a lot of maintenance, which is helpful for aquaponics farming.
Common Problems When Growing Cabbages
One of the most common problems with growing cabbages is when the heads split. Splitting occurs due to different factors – one of which is uneven growing conditions. Splits can catch disease and dirt and make the yield unappealing. To fix this, just keep your growing conditions consistent and don’t wait around too long before you harvest your cabbage.
Cabbage is also susceptible to usual pests like aphids, as well as fungal disease and black rot. Check your system to make sure your water flow remains consistent.