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If your family was anything like ours growing up, then you were no stranger to eating Rice for many of your childhood dinners. These little kernels are beloved around the world largely because it’s delicious, mixes well with almost anything, and can feed large quantities of people on a budget. As more families start to examine the sustainability of their own food supplies, growing Rice in aquaponics gardens becomes an even more attractive and strategic idea.
In this article, we will share with you some of the guidelines that can help you grow your Rice in an aquaponics system.
Why Grow Rice in Your Aquaponics Garden?
Rice is the seed of the grass species, Oryza glaberrima, and Oryza sativa. It is known as one of the oldest cultivated crops in Asia, dating back to 2800 B.C. Today, it is the world’s third-highest agricultural export, next to sugarcane and maize.
In 2012, more than half of the world’s population relied on Rice every day. Because of its versatility and health benefits, it continues to be one of the staple foods across Asia. Rice has the ability to be stored for up to 30 years, making it an ideal crop to grow and save for personal consumption.
Types of Rice
Rice can be differentiated based on its shape, texture, and color. Below is the list of the most popular types of Rice to help you identify which variety is perfect for your needs or recipes:
This is a medium-sized grain with a dot at its center. It has a creamy texture and is perfect when you are making Rissoto. Without much of a surprise, its name came from a town in Italy.
These are long and dry grains with a nutty aroma. You can typically pair it with Asian and Indian cuisine like curry. You can either add herbs or coconut to intensify the flavor.
Brown Rice is rich in nutrients, and that’s why a lot of health-conscious people choose this option over other types of Rice. It’s perfect if you are cooking stir-fry dishes and casseroles.
This type of rice is mainly cultivated in Thailand. It is commonly used for Asian dishes where it can easily absorb all the exotic flavors. As the name has it, this Rice gives that Jasmine aroma when cooking.
White Rice is the most popular in traditional American recipes. You can also pair it with Mexican dishes. It has a milder flavor compared to other varieties of Rice from this list.
How to Serve Rice From Your Aquaponics Garden
There are thousands of dishes that you can create with Rice. You can make soup, add fish, poultry, or even make desserts.
Before you start cooking your favorite menu, make sure that you rinse your Rice. This is so you can remove the excess starch. Another trick is to soak your Rice first for 30 minutes to lessen the total cooking time.
However, the use of Rice can extend beyond food consumption. In fact, in some cultures around the world, Rice is used as a facial cleanser or as an adhesive glue.
Health Benefits of Rice
According to research, Rice holds a number of health benefits. It’s one of the best sources of energy, and is filled with essential nutrients such as Vitamins B, E, and proteins. These are responsible for removing toxins from our body. Some of the other health benefits can be found below:
- Prevents obesity by improving metabolism
- Improves blood pressure
- Promotes good heart health
- Has anti-cancer properties
- Prevents chronic constipation
- Cures skin condition
- Reduces the risks of Alzheimer’s disease
However, experts suggest that consuming Brown Rice is healthier than White Rice given its high fiber content.
Cultivating Rice in Your Aquaponics Garden
Here are some of the general guidelines to follow when growing rice in your aquaponics setup:
Aquaponic System Types
There are two aquaponic systems that will work best for growing Rice. These are media bed and deep water culture. For deep water culture, this is more ideal if you are located in regions where the climate is warmer.
Specifically for home aquaponics gardens, a pH of 6.5 is recommended for your Rice.
To reap the maximum benefits of your crop, you can use peat, perlite, or pumice as the grow medium.
Water and Air Temperature
Since Rice is considered semi-aquatic, it will require more water. That means you have to ensure that the soil is always moist.
As for the air temperature, you should keep it around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your seedlings should be spaced out by 4 inches apart in rows. Once it reaches 5 inches in height, you can transplant it and leave a space of 1 foot in between.
A minimum of 6 – 8 hours of sunlight every day will provide you with optimal results.
Tilapia and catfish are some of the best types of fish for your Rice in aquaponics gardens. Since the plant thrives in warmer temperatures, it is only fitting to choose fish that works well in the same conditions.
It’s best to start planting during the fall and spring season. But before you plant your Rice, you can soak it in water for about 12 hours.
Once the color of your stalks changes from green to gold, your Rice can be harvested. This should take 3 to 4 months from planting. After cutting the stalks, wrap it in newspaper and dry it for 14 days.
There are several pests and insects that could prey on Rice. This includes armyworms, whorl maggot, and leaf folder. The good news though is that your crops can still recover from the damages during its early developmental stages.
Like most crops, Rice can be infected with various diseases. If possible, choose a variety that is resistant to bacteria and fungi. In the long run, this could be more cost-efficient and easier to manage.
Here are some final words of wisdom and general tips about Rice.
- Although unusual, there are people who are allergic to Rice, so make sure to check with your physician first
- Separate the kernels by using a mortar and pestle
- Your uncooked Rice must be kept in an airtight container
- Once your Rice is cooked, you can store it in your refrigerator for three days