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Growing Cranberries in Aquaponics Gardens
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During the holiday season, you will likely come across large displays of canned cranberries at your local market. While most people typically associate the fruit as a sweet addition to a Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner, the berries can provide a lot more than just a seasonal treat. Packed with nutrients and various culinary uses, it’s easy to see why more gardeners are looking to diversify their grow-beds with the fruit. With proper conditions, growing cranberries in Aquaponics gardens will give you year-round access to this superfood.
In this article, you will learn more about Cranberries and how you can cultivate this powerful fruit in your Aquaponics system.
Why Grow Cranberries in your Aquaponics Garden?
Cranberries are homegrown and commercially produced throughout Chile, Canada, and the United States. Traditionally, Native Americans have relied on this fruit as an ingredient for their beverages, medications, and food. Fur traders for centuries used cranberries in an energy-bar like mixture called “Pemican” to provide nutrients when traveling during the cold winter months.
Besides its nutritional value, Cranberries are used in a variety of recipes and can bring zest to your stuffings, puddings, salads, muffins, and cakes. Alternatively, you can drink it as a refreshing juice or mix it in other cocktails or punches.
Common Varieties of Cranberries
The two most common types of Cranberries are the North American ( Vaccinium Macrocarpon) and European (V. Oxycoccus) varieties. The most noticeable difference between the varieties is that European flavor tends to be less robust in size compared to its North American counterparts. Presently, there are approximately 100 different varieties of Vaccinium macrocarpon grown across North America. Here are a few of the more commonly known types of Cranberry:
- Early Blacks – This variety boasts a sweet taste and deep red color. Growers love this kind of Cranberry because they can harvest the fruit ahead of the frost period.
- Howes – Gardeners can harvest this variety approximately three weeks after the Early Blacks. Howes features plumper, bigger, and tangy berries. You can slice this variety, and still, it can retain its form.
- Ben Lear – This type of Cranberry is one of the most popular varieties. It acquires its red color shortly around mid-September.
Cooking with the Cranberries From Your Garden
As we all know, Cranberries give out a sharp, tangy flavor. You can neutralize this taste by adding sugar to your dish. Keep in mind though that one cup of Cranberries already contains nearly 4 grams of sugar. To lessen your sugar level, when cooking, you can try mixing ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to counteract the acid.
It is best to cook fresh Cranberries in your saucepan if you’re not planning to use the mixture for baking. To avoid overcooking, once you notice them split or pop, remove from the heating source. This ordinarily happens after 10 minutes on a medium setting.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
The advantages that Cranberries bring transcends to your kitchen. In fact, according to the USDA Food Central, one-half cup of Cranberries will supply you the following nutrients:
- 4.4 milligrams of Calcium
- 44 milligrams of Potassium
- .25 grams of Protein
- 7.7 milligrams of Vitamin C
- 2.75 micrograms of Vitamin K
It likewise carries a wide range of essential B vitamins such as:
- Vitamin B-6
- Thiamin or Vitamin B-1
- Riboflavin or Vitamin B-2
- Niacin or Vitamin B-3
Furthermore, research suggests that the Polyphenols found in Cranberries can aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study asserts that including the fruit in your diet may help control risk elements like systolic blood pressure.
Possible Health Complications
While the fruit is highly rewarding, consider consulting with your doctor first before intensifying your Cranberry intake. This is because some people experience side effects when consuming the fruit or drinking the juice. For example, individuals who drink Warfarin, a blood-thinning drug, should avoid Cranberries. Reports claim that drinking Cranberry juice may possibly lead to an increase in the anti-clotting effects of the drug and bleeding.
Cultivating Cranberries in your Aquaponics Garden
Although growing cranberries in aquaponics gardens is a rewarding feat, it’s not the easiest compared to other aquaponic plants. Read the following guidelines on how you can cultivate quality Cranberries in your own backyard.
Gardeners typically grow Cranberries using the Media bed technique.
When cultivating Cranberries, the growing compatible media to use are Coco Peat and Clay Pebbles.
You can position your Cranberry growing bed in an area that receives the full sun but not a spot that’s scorching hot. At least four to six hours of sunlight every day will ensure your fruit thrives.
Water and Air Temperature
Remember to refrain from planting Cranberries in a dry and hot climate. It is safe to cultivate the fruit when frost passes. However, it will require three months of cold weather at 32°F to 45°F to guarantee fruiting and flowering in Spring.
The fruit approximately grows 1 foot in height. Provide Cranberries space roughly 1 to 2 feet apart to give it enough room to grow.
The fruit prefers an acidic environment. Thus, for optimal growth, provide a pH range between 4.0 to 5.5.
Commonly, gardeners cultivate Cranberries by using stem cuttings. Growing it by seed is possible; however, it will require roughly three weeks to a month to start germinating. When you notice your fruit featuring a deep red color, they are fit for harvest. Those with white or pink shade are not yet ripe fruits.
Bass is an excellent fish to raise in your Aquaponic setup. Not only are these fish tasty to eat, but they are also sturdy and can survive low water temperatures. The suitable water temperature for Bass is 65°F to 80°F.
The ideal pH range is between 6.0 to 8.0. This fish practically lives on worms, insects, or pellets. Bass do not require much protein on their diet, giving growers lots of food options.
Gardeners usually encounter fruitworms and spotted fireworms that eat the fruits.
Common problems growing Aquaponic Cranberries
When growing Cranberries in Aquaponics gardens, you will discover it develops runners spreading around 1 to 6 feet long. You can eliminate these runners by trimming or pruning to keep your Cranberries bushy and dense.
And finally, remember you can keep fresh Cranberries in your freezer for about 2 to 3 months. Pack the fruit in a sealed container or a plastic bag and stow in the freezer to retain its freshness.