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Growing Lemongrass in Aquaponics Gardens
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Now and then, you will find growers combining ornamental plants with edible crops. This strategy dramatically enhances the aesthetic appeal of the garden while also supplying gardeners fresh delectable fruits, herbs, or vegetables. Amazingly, one of the plants that you’ll want to see in your backyard that fuse tastiness and beauty is Lemongrass. If you love lemony herbs, consider growing Lemongrass in Aquaponics gardens because nothing beats the citrusy flavor of this herbaceous plant.
In this article, we will show you how you can quickly cultivate Lemongrass in your garden using Aquaponics.
Why Grow Lemongrass in your Aquaponics Garden?
Lemongrass or also known as Cymbopogon is a member of the grass family. This herb is originally from the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Australia. Generally, Lemongrass has many functions in the field of cosmetics, culinary, and medicine. For instance, folks in Sri Lanka and East India commonly use the herb in curries, soups, and a native beverage known as “fever tea”. The tea supposedly not only alleviates fevers but also remedies stomach aches, diarrhea, and skin infections as well.
People in China, India, and Thailand also leverage the zesty Lemongrass taste in desserts, main dishes, and beverages. Today commercial producers of the crop include countries such as Sri Lanka, China, Guatemala, and Africa. However, India is the primary producer of Lemongrass. The nation produces roughly 2 million pounds of Lemongrass per year.
Common Varieties of Lemongrass
The herb Lemongrass has more or less 50 species. Even so, below are the three common varieties of this plant.
- Cymbopogon Citratus – The variety is likewise known as West Indian Lemongrass. It is typically an ingredient in cooking and simmering teas.
- Cymbopogon Nardus – This variety is where the citronella oil originates. You can blend it with vegetable oil to produce an improvised insect repellant.
- Cymbopogon Flexuosus – Similar to Citratus, this variety is mainly also an edible herb found in popular cuisines.
Cooking with the Lemongrass From Your Garden
As mentioned earlier, Lemongrass is a staple among Asian cuisines. The herb is a favorite, especially in Thai dishes. The bold citrus taste pleasantly complements pork, chicken, lamb, seafood, and beef. One of the popular dishes that take advantage of the lemon flavor of this herb is Tom Yum Soup.
Besides using the herb in cooking, Lemongrass is likewise a popular ingredient in tea mixtures. You can either choose to break into pieces the dried leaves or mince fresh leaves. An excellent ratio in preparing Lemongrass tea is essentially one teaspoon of the herb leaves per every cup of simmering water.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
Lemongrass, as a culinary herb, is highly valuable in the kitchen. Understand, though, that the herb’s success is not only because of its culinary use but also because of its medicinal rewards as well. Here are some of the widespread health benefits of Lemongrass:
- The herb is an excellent addition to a nutritious diet. According to the USDA Food Central, 100 grams of Lemongrass contains 99 calories and 0 cholesterol.
- The main component that brings Lemongrass its lemon odor is Citral. This element is known for its antifungal and antimicrobial qualities.
- Lemongrass stems and leaves are rich in Folate. This vitamin plays a crucial role in DNA synthesis and cell division.
Possible Health Complications
Similar to other herbs, it is best to consult with a physician first before consuming Lemongrass or applying its oil form. Some documented side effects of the Lemongrass oil include possible burning of the skin because of its strong Citral content. Others report experiencing discomfort, skin irritation, and rashes.
Moreover, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) advises keeping away the plant from animals. Reports say Lemongrass can lead to breathing problems in horses and stomach issues in cats.
Cultivating Lemongrass in your Aquaponics Garden
Fresh Lemongrass may not be instantly available at your local market. Hence, rather than continually hunt for the herb in various stores or Oriental markets, growing Lemongrass in Aquaponics gardens is ideal. Here are simple guidelines you can follow in cultivating the plant in your system.
Growers commonly use the Media Bed method in growing aquaponic Lemongrass.
A few of the suitable growing media you can leverage are Coconut coir, Perlite, and Vermiculite.
For optimal growth, Lemongrass prefers a pH range between 6.5 to 7.0. As always make sure to use a quality pH meter.
Since Lemongrass is a native of tropical regions, the herb loves the hot weather. If your herb garden is not in a place that receives the full sun, make sure your Lemongrass absorbs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day.
Water and Air Temperature
Remember that Lemongrass is frost intolerant. The best time to plant the herb is during Spring once cold passes. The ideal water and air temperature for the plant is 65° to 85°F.
The plant usually grows 3 to 5 feet in height. It is best to position your herbs 24 inches apart to ensure your plants will not compete for nutrients.
Most growers prefer planting Lemongrass from cuttings. Growing the herb by seeds can be a little challenging because it will require warm temperatures, which can result in fungal problems.
Once you notice your plant is roughly a foot tall, you can begin eating your Lemongrass. Be careful when harvesting the lower part of the stalk since it is the delicate part of the plant.
Perch is one of the best aquaponics fish you can use in your system. This type of fish is vegetarian, and growers can teach the fish to eat pellets. The optimal water temperature for Perch is between 67⁰F to 77⁰F. It prefers a pH range between 6.5 to 8.5. Aside from being a tasteful fish, Perch are exceedingly tolerant types of fish.
Some gardeners experience rust fungus when growing Lemongrass in Aquaponics gardens. Signs your plant is suffering from this disease are streaks on its foliage or brown spots. It is possible to see more than a hundred scattered rust spots on a single leaf.
Common problems growing Lemongrass
When Lemongrass thrives, the root sometimes creates a restrictive clump that is tough to separate. You can use a hatchet or spade to release pieces of roots free and to make sure you have a healthy root system.
Lastly, consider these quick tips when storing your fresh Lemongrass.
- You can tightly-wrap and store your top-quality Lemongrass in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
- Keep in mind that Lemongrass freezes nicely. Though it will lose a bit of its freshness and aroma when frozen for prolonged periods, however, it will retain its pungent flavor.