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Any amateur chef knows that having the right peppers on-standby can often turn an ordinary meal into a memorable culinary experience. And for those looking for variety, peppers come in a wide range of flavors, including everything from a mild sweetness to spicy heat. With so many options available to upgrade your next meal, coupled with their unique health benefits, it’s not a surprise that growing peppers in aquaponics gardens has become the next big thing in sustainable gardening.
In this article, we will examine the different requirements you’ll need to grow your peppers aquaponically.
Why grow peppers in aquaponic gardens?
The cooking possibilities surrounding peppers are endless, as they can make an excellent chili sauce when incorporated with garlic and onion or a scrumptious dip when mixed with soy sauce. If you prefer flaming hot food, add the peppers first. Otherwise, add them last for a mildly spicy dish.
Health Benefits of Peppers
Like other fruits and vegetables from the nightshade family, peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture- Food Central, 100 grams of pepper will give you the following nutrients:
- Calcium- 7 milligrams
- Potassium- 211 milligrams
- Iron- 0.43 milligrams
- Copper- 0.017 milligrams
- Zinc- 0.25 milligrams
- Manganese- 0.112 milligrams
- Selenium- 0.1 micrograms
A study on hot peppers showed that eating them can help reduce your weight as it speeds up your metabolism. Results also indicated that people consuming food containing capsaicin were less likely to become overweight or obese. Additionally, black peppers are proven to reduce damage caused by free radicals due to the presence of the antioxidant piperine.
Types of peppers
Peppers are classified into three general groups which are:
- Capsicum- hot peppers like cayenne
- Piper- black and white pepper
- Pimenta- allspice peppers like pimento
If you’re just starting in aquaponics, you may want to begin with the traditional bell pepper, as they are easier to maintain, and they can flourish in aquaponics setups. As you become more experienced, you can mix it up by growing different colors of bell pepper, later on moving to capsicums and pipers.
How to grow peppers in an aquaponic garden
The secret behind growing any plant is knowing all the requirements it needs to flourish. Here are some tips you should know when growing peppers in an aquaponics garden:
Choosing the right media is essential to produce healthy peppers. The best media to use is expanded shale or clay pebbles because they are pH neutral, and they give ample support to the plants until they reach full maturity.
Peppers grow well with their roots in water that is at least 60°F, but you can keep the temperature as high as 75°F. Take note that the peppers may be deformed if the waters exceed 80°F. If you choose to plant hot peppers like cayenne, they may be more tolerant of warmer temperatures.
Aquaponic peppers grow fast under full sunlight and a warm environment of up to 80°F. Make sure your plants get 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. If you live in a mild to cool climate, you may have to place your aquaponic garden inside a greenhouse for warmth. You can cultivate your peppers outside if you live in warmer climates.
Peppers are resistant to acidic pH levels, but it would be best to maintain pH levels at a moderate acidic level of 5.5 to 6.5.
Because peppers thrive best in water temperatures above 60 degrees, you have multiple fish options available that would work well in your aquaponics environment. Tetras are great as they come in many different colors and survive well in water that’s 70-75°F; however, they aren’t edible. Tilapias are great because they are resistant to diseases and can be eaten later on; however, you may have to invest in tank warmers during the colder seasons.