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Pomegranates are known for being deliciously sweet, being rich in antioxidants, and having several key nutritional benefits. For these reasons alone, pomegranates tend to be pricey when bought from grocery stores. Many home gardeners now turn to growing pomegranates in aquaponics gardens as a sustainable way to produce the delectable fruit all year-round.
In this article, we will discuss the health benefits and different varieties of pomegranate and how you can set up your aquaponics system so they can thrive.
Why Grow Aquaponic Pomegranates
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) make an excellent plant to care for in an aquaponics system. Naturally, the trees can grow from 20 ft to 30 ft, but they can also be grown as a hedge with pruning.
Some gardeners grow them for their fruits, which are characterized by red-yellow skin with red, shiny, juicy arils that contain the seeds. Others, however, need them around primarily for their bright flowers. So, if you want a beautiful flowering hedge in your property, pomegranate trees are also an ideal choice since they tend to become dense when planted next to each other.
Pomegranate trees have a long lifespan, able to live for over 200 years, given the right conditions. However, the fruit-bearing capacity of this tree will decline after about 15 years.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate
The edible pomegranate arils are loaded with nutrients. As shown on the Data Sheet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 g of pomegranate arils contain the following major nutrients:
- 72 calories
- 27 g of carbohydrates
- 89 g of sugar
- 3 micrograms vitamin K
- 205 milligrams potassium
- 33 µg folate
- 9 mg vitamin C
- 5 g fiber
More importantly, several peer-reviewed studies on pomegranates show that this fruit is one of the healthiest in the world. They have been known to lower cholesterol, treat certain cancers, diabetes, and improve heart function – thanks to their antioxidant properties.
Pomegranate Varieties For Your Aquaponics Gardens
There are different varieties of pomegranates to choose from for your aquaponics setup. Your choice should depend on your local climate. Note that aside from appearance and growing conditions, varieties also differ according to the hardness and softness of arils.
Below are common varieties of pomegranate that may be suitable for your aquaponics garden:
- Angel Red – this variety is known to be a prolific fruit-bearer. Arils are remarkably juicy, which makes this variety ideal if you are fond of juicing pomegranates.
- Kashmir Blend – It is also a heavy producer, but instead of juicing, it’s more suitable for cooking. Kashmir Blend tends to be smaller, so it’s also good for growing in small spaces.
- Sienevyi – This has got to be one of the most popular pomegranate varieties because of its large, juicy arils. They are best eaten fresh with a taste as pleasant as a watermelon’s.
- ‘Nana’ – This is another popular species, especially for gardeners with small spaces. The dwarf Nana variety can only grow to two to three feet tall – plus, it’s more cold-hardy than other types.
- State Fair – Another small variety that grows to about 5 feet. It also produces small fruits, around less than 2 inches in diameter. It is a very cold-hardy species.
Requirements for Growing Aquaponic Pomegranates
Below are the requirements needed to help your aquaponic pomegranates survive and thrive:
Aquaponics System Types
Media-filled beds are best for trees like pomegranate
A water pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 should keep your pomegranate tree thriving.
Water and Air Temperature
Pomegranate trees thrive best in warm and hot climates, so keep your temperature range between 73.4°F to 89.6 °F for optimum growth. While it prefers warm environments, the tree can tolerate frost well and can survive temperatures as low as 15 deg F. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, however, can kill the plant.
Pomegranate trees require at least six hours of sunlight daily.
You can cultivate your aquaponic pomegranate in media such as gravel or others.
If you want to save time, grow your pomegranate from cuttings rather than seeds. Seeds can still be successfully grown but won’t guarantee you’ll get a variety that matches the mother plant.
The trees can generally bear fruit after a year of planting. However, you might only get one or two fruits. After three years, the tree may start to bear well. Looking at the color alone won’t tell you that fruits are ready for picking.
A better way to tell is the fruit’s weight. If it feels heavy, then that means it’s ripe enough and juicy. Note that pomegranates are non-climacteric fruits, which means they don’t ripen further once harvested.
Generally, pomegranates are not affected by pests, but possible species that may harm your plant include thrips, scale, pomegranate butterfly, and mealy bugs.
Generally, pomegranate trees won’t give you too much trouble, as long as you provide the proper growing conditions. The most common problem, however, is the failure to fruit, resulting from a lack of pollination and inadequate light. To ensure fruit set, plant two or more trees to encourage pollination and make sure it receives sufficient sunlight every day.
Pruning is recommended if you want to tame your pomegranate’s growth. Naturally, they take the form of a shrub and develop suckers, which are new shoots or branches that grow from the base of the trunk. To make a pomegranate plant look more like a sturdy fruiting tree, remove suckers each time they develop. It’s best to do this when your plant is at least three to four feet in height and two to three years old.