Aquaponics systems commonly involve raising freshwater fish because they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and pH…
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Citrus fruits like limes (Citrus aurantifolia) can be a source of heavenly aroma in your garden. This sun-loving plant can be the perfect alternative when you don’t have lemons around. Or better yet, you can have both, so you have options for your kitchen recipes. Lemons may be considered the more popular citrus fruit, but growing limes in aquaponics gardens will also reward you with versatile fruits perfect for tacos, desserts, delectable Asian recipes, and other non-culinary purposes.
In this article, you will learn about the different uses of limes and how you can grow them in an aquaponics setup.
Why Should You Grow Aquaponic Limes?
Provided with the right growing conditions, a lime tree can be relatively easy to grow. Growing limes in your aquaponics gardens will let you enjoy fruits all year round, which means you get a steady supply of this versatile fruit.
Limes, like lemons (and other members of the citrus family), are also known to have extreme longevity, being able to live up to 50 years. And during their lifespan, they continue to bear fruits – plenty of them. A mature lime tree can produce approximately 30 to 50 pounds every year. That means you’ll have plenty to use in your recipes and still have enough to share with everyone.
Lime trees can also grow large, able to reach a height of 15 to 20 meters. However, you can keep them from growing too tall by pruning them every year or two.
Health Benefits of Lime
Limes not only make your drinks, desserts, and meals taste more interesting, but they also offer a plethora of health benefits. Just like other fruits in the citrus family, limes provide different vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which is essential for nerve function.
They may be smaller in size compared to lemons, but limes are packed with nutrients, particularly vitamin C. In fact, limes were historically used by sailors to prevent scurvy, a disease resulting from severe vitamin C deficiency. This citrus fruit provides 32 per cent of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C.
Another great thing about limes is that they are low in carbohydrates, fats, and calories. As stated in the USDA Nutrient Database, one serving (or 67 g) of lime can provide 20 kcal of energy. In addition, the fruit’s peels and pulp are rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber.
Other health benefits of lime include:
- Great for Skincare
- Healthy digestion
- Protection from infection
- Weight loss
- Anti-cancer potential
- For heart health
All these impressive health benefits that lime can offer show how this citrus fruit can be another healthy addition to your plate.
Choosing Lime Varieties To Grow
There are several varieties of limes – all of which have different characteristics and provide unique flavors for your culinary needs. But if you’re considering growing limes in aquaponics gardens, you might want to consider the three more popular types listed below:
- Key Lime – also called Mexican Lime, this variety is a true type of lime that has a stronger aroma compared to other varieties. They are also more yellow in color rather than green. It is used in the famous Florida dessert, Key Lime pie.
- Persian Limes – also called Tahitian or Bearss Lime. This variety is larger in size and has a rougher skin texture compared to Key Lime.
- Kaffir Limes – also called Makrut, this variety is unique for its bumpy skin. Kaffir lime is preferred for southeast Asian dishes. If you have a penchant for Vietnamese or Thai cuisine, then Kaffir lime should be your top choice.
Requirements for Growing Limes In Aquaponics Gardens
Below are some factors to consider when growing limes in your aquaponics garden:
Aquaponic limes will thrive best when the water pH range is between 5.5 and 6.5.
It is good to note that limes are the most frost-sensitive of all the citrus fruits. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 deg F. A water and air temperature range of 75-86 deg F is required for optimum growth.
Limes are also sun-loving plants, so they should ideally be planted where they will get full sun, 6 to 8 hours daily.
It would take 3 to 6 years for lime to start fruiting so you may need to be patient. If you want a shorter waiting time, you can visit your local nursery to purchase seedlings. Keep in mind, though, that you need to gently rinse off soil from your seedling’s roots before placing them on the media bed.
You can use hydroton or gravel on your media bed to grow your aquaponic lime.
Limes are usually harvested before they ripen, and while they are still green. On the other hand, limes that are allowed to ripen and turn yellow before harvesting will be less juicy and have a bitterer taste.
Fish Type To Consider
A hardy fish like tilapia, which easily adapts to its environment, is an excellent fish to consider when growing your aquaponic limes. Besides tilapia, catfish is also a great match since it can thrive well in water temperatures of 75-86 deg F.
Common Problems When Growing Lime Trees
While they may love the sun, lime trees, particularly vulnerable young ones, are susceptible to sunburn, which results when they are exposed to intense sunlight. Sunburn in limes will result in stunted growth and rotting fruit, as well as make your plant susceptible to diseases. When you begin to observe bark peeling from the tree, you should take immediate action to increase shading.
To protect growing lime trees from extreme sun exposure, you can use a commercial tree wrap or use some of the tips explained here.
Lime trees can also experience pest problems. Some of the common pests to watch out for when growing limes in aquaponics gardens include scale insects, leaf miners, aphids, and citrus mites. Other than insects, lime trees can also be susceptible to bacterial and fungal problems. Check out this guide on how to diagnose problems in your citrus fruit.