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For many of us, reminiscing of beautiful summer days sitting outside with a handful of delicious red cherries are among our favorite memories. Whether due to their high price at the local grocery store, or their short seasonal nature, it never seems like we get to truly enjoy the nutritious sweets on a regular basis. Many people are now Growing Cherries in Aquaponics gardens as a sustainable way to obtain a steady source of the fruit year-round.
In this article, we will show you how to cultivate Cherries in your Aquaponics system and turn your backyard into a fruit-producing machine.
Why Grow Cherries in your Aquaponics Garden?
A native of the Northern Hemisphere, Cherries belongs to the Rosaceae family which includes other fruits such as Plums, Peaches, and Apples. The name of the fruit originates from the French word “Cerise” that comes from the Latin name “Cerasum.”
Since ancient times, the Cherry fruit has played an important dietary role in European, Asian, and Mediterranean cultures. While the fruit boasts numerous culinary uses, Cherries are likewise known for their health benefits. Today the largest commercial producers of the fruit include countries from the Middle East, Europe, North America, and Asia.
Common Varieties of Cherries
There are two primary types of Cherries, Sweet and Tart. We listed below their differences and the specific varieties you will find under each type.
Sour or Tart
The Sour or Tart Cherries are often juicy with low sugar content. These varieties feature a bright tart flavor that is good for cooking. Having said that, Sour Cherries are not usually eaten fresh because of their rich acidity. Common varieties of Tart Cherries are Morello and Montmorency.
Ideal as a fresh snack, Sweet Cherries offer low acids and rich sugar content. You will see these varieties in a wide range of colors, such as yellow, pink, and dark mahogany, or as others refer to as black. Sweet Cherries are soft, therefore, are not suitable for cooking. Popular varieties of this type are Bing, Tulare, Chelan, Royal Ann, and Rainier.
How to Serve the Cherries From Your Aquaponics Garden
When it comes to Cherries, there are innumerable ways to serve them. Besides eating raw, you can cook, caramelize, preserve in syrup, or macerate the fruit. Take a look at possible ways you can serve your Aquaponic Cherries.
- Although Sweet Cherries are not suitable for cooking, you can add them to fruit salads, ice cream sundaes, and yogurt.
- You can use Sour Cherries for jams, sauces, desserts, and jellies. While these Cherries are available in the local market in jars or cans, it does not offer the same tart flavor compared to the fresh ones.
- Also, you can leverage any Cherry to turn into Maraschino cherries perfect for garnishing cocktails, desserts, and baked goods. Choose the Cherry you want to use, then remove the pit, macerate in sugar syrup, and bitter almond.
Health Benefits of Cherries
Again, Cherries are known to pack substantial vitamins and minerals. Though all types of the fruit are nutritious, to give you an idea, one cup of (154 grams) fresh sweet Cherries will provide you the following nutrients:
- Fiber – 3 grams
- Protein – 2 grams
- Carbohydrates – 25 grams
- Calcium – 20 milligrams
- Potassium – 342 milligrams
Research also suggests that since Cherries contains enormous anti-inflammatory properties, the fruit is beneficial for those suffering from gout.
Cultivating Cherries in your Aquaponics Garden
Below are easy guidelines you can follow in growing Cherries in Aquaponics gardens.
Growers usually leverage the Media Bed method in cultivating Cherries.
Some of the suitable media you can use are Coconut Coir, Perlite, and Lava Rock. When using Lava Rock, do not forget to soak it first in water for several days then rinse thoroughly. Doing this step will help ensure your media is free of contaminants before you use them.
The seasonal fruit loves sunny weather. Though it will tolerate partial shade, however, it could limit your yield. See to it you position your Cherries in a spot where they will receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day.
Water and Air Temperature
For optimal growth, the fruit requires around 45°F water and air temperature. Cherries thrive in dry and cool conditions. Too much heat will minimize fruit size.
When planting Sweet Cherry trees, provide space between 20 feet to 30 feet apart. Sour cherry trees will need approximately 20 feet of space between trees.
The perfect time to plant Cherries is during the fall season when the weather is cooler. Place a few seeds in the media bed since some of them may not germinate. You will notice the pits growing sprouts during springtime. In bearing fruits, you will need to be patient as your Cherry tree will start producing fruit roughly in its fourth year.
Cherries prefer a mildly acidic pH range of 6.5.
Trout is an optimal fish to use when growing Cherries in Aquaponics gardens. Though the fish prefers a temperature range between 56°F to 62°F and a pH range of 6.5 to 8, trout is a hardy fish that can survive fluctuating temperatures. Apart from being compatible with cool-season crops, trout are excellent tasting fish.
Common pests that you may encounter in cultivating Cherries are Black Cherry Aphids, Moth caterpillars, and Japanese beetles. Birds likewise will pick on ripening Cherries. Monitor your Cherries for diseases such as brown rot, black knot, bacterial canker, and powdery mildew.
Common problems growing Aquaponic Cherries
It is best to cut Cherry stalks with scissors. In hand-picking the fruit, there is a possibility to damage the shoots and trigger infection.
Lastly, here are a few quick tips in selecting, storing, and preparing your Cherries.
- See to it you choose Cherries that are fresh, plump, and with vibrant color. If you prefer the sweet ones, remember darker colored Cherries have a more delicious taste. Also, the fruit does not ripen after harvesting, so make sure to select Cherries that you can readily use or consume.
- Avoid placing Cherries at room temperature because they will spoil quickly. Frozen pitted or whole Cherries will last up to 6 to 12 months. You can even coat them with syrup or sugar before storing them in the freezer.
- When preparing the fruit, remember to wash them thoroughly and do not soak. Before you cook Cherries, do not forget to remove the pits.