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Most culinary herbs thrive well in an aquaponics setup. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is no exception. And if you love growing herbs at home, you know you cannot ignore fennel and the many benefits it can bring. Not only does fennel flavor your dishes, but it also works as a medicinal herb. With such a versatile plant species, why not have a steady supply of fennel by growing fennel in aquaponics gardens?
In this article, you will learn more about the conditions and requirements needed for fennel to thrive in an aquaponics system.
The Flavorful Fennel
With its licorice-like flavor, fennel is a popular ingredient among chefs and homemakers. All of its parts – from roots to leaves – are edible. While popularly incorporated in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, it’s now widely cultivated around the world for its distinct flavor and aroma.
There are several ways to include fennel in your dishes. You can slice or dice them to add to your healthy salad or saute, roast, or add to your soup. Growing fennel aquaponically, is, without a doubt, an excellent idea.
Nutritional Benefits of Fennel
Besides its culinary purposes, fennel bulbs and leaves are found to be nutritious, according to several scientific studies. Fennel is a good source of vitamins A, B, and C – with vitamin C being the most abundantly found in bulbs. For every 100-gram serving of fennel, you’ll get 12 milligrams of vitamin C.
Fennels also contain manganese, which plays an essential role in different body functions, including bone development and cellular protection.
Other health benefits of this wonder vegetable include better heart health, potential antibacterial properties, and weight loss. In this study, drinking tea from fennel seeds has been found to suppress appetite.
Fennel as a Medicinal Herb
Fennel’s medicinal properties have been established since ancient times. For generations, this herb has been used to treat infant colic and other digestive problems like flatulence or bloating. The essential oils have also been shown to help with hormone health in women, as detailed in this monograph.
Requirements for Growing Fennel in Aquaponics Gardens
With plenty of culinary, nutritional, and medicinal benefits, you can say stocking up on fennel is very helpful. So if you decide to grow fennel in your aquaponics garden, check out the requirements of a thriving fennel plant.
Fennel is a sun-loving plant, so make sure it receives six hours of unobstructed sunlight daily, with a maximum exposure of up to 12 hours per day. If the area doesn’t receive enough sunlight, grow lights can be used.
Medium for Growing Fennel in Aquaponics Gardens
Hydroton is an ideal media choice. Coco coir also works great as it holds moisture very well and has a neutral pH. Hydroponic growers commonly use Rockwool plugs for fennels. However, Rockwool plugs shouldn’t be used in an aquaponics setup as it poses the risk of your fish swallowing fiberglass.
Planting Seeds and Seedlings
Fennel has a germination rate of 60-90 percent, so planting the seeds is the best way to grow this culinary herb. Sow the seeds on your growing media of choice, allowing a space of 12-18 inches apart. In 8-12 days, you should be able to see some sprouts.
Another method for growing fennel is by transplanting seedlings. Seedlings can start indoors and then transferred to your aquaponics system once they reach 3-4 inches in height and have true leaves.
Fennel thrives in water with a pH range of 6.4 to 6.8.
The ideal temperature range for growth is 60-70 degrees F
Fish Type to Consider
Crappie is one fish you can consider when growing fennel in aquaponics garden. This hardy fish species can tolerate temperature changes, but best thrive in temperatures between 60-75 degrees F. Water pH should also be maintained within 6.5 to 8.5.
Fennel is ready for harvest by 6-8 weeks and can be done twice. Growers usually harvest the greens first and allow them to regrow. The second harvest should include the bulb and the tops.