Aquaponics systems commonly involve raising freshwater fish because they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and pH…
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Often during a cold and rainy afternoon, a steaming bowl of creamy squash soup can be just the treat to bring a ray of sunshine into your day. This mildly sweet and silky veggie is not only rich in flavor but can also be low in calories. Regardless of your reason, growing squash in aquaponics gardens gives you the flexibility to cultivate this amazing veggie right from the comfort of your own backyard.
In this article, we will show you how to grow squash through an aquaponics setup.
Getting to know squash
Traditionally grown in regions of Mexico and Central America, Squash (Cucurbita), belongs to the gourd family of flowering plants. For centuries, indigenous communities have used squash as a cornerstone dietary plant, along with other “Three Sister” crops such as beans and corn.
Health benefits of squash
Squash can come in different shapes and colors, but most varieties like the summer squash have a distinct yellow color due to the presence of carotenoids, which the body converts into vitamin A. According to the USA Department of Agriculture, Squash is rich in the following nutrients:
- Calcium – 9mg
- Iron – 0.17mg
- Magnesium – 10mg
- Phosphorous – 12mg
- Potassium – 205mg
- Zinc – 0.0mg
- Copper – 0.017mg
- Manganese – 0.027mg
- Vitamin C- 4.5mg
- Thiamin – 0.02mg
- Riboflavin – 0.02mg
- Niacin – 0.17mg
A 2010 study cited that squash is an effective ready-to-eat snack for both kids and adults. Squash is also known to help prevent spikes in one’s insulin levels after consumption, as it has an abundance of polysaccharides.
Types of squash
There are many squash varieties worldwide, but they are typically classified as either being a summer squash or winter squash. The difference between summer and winter squashes are evident in their skin. Summer squashes tend to have thinner skin and have softer flesh, while winter squashes have thicker skin, which makes it a good vegetable to store during the colder season. In aquaponics, it is recommended to start growing summer squashes like zucchini, which are easier to maintain and thrive in nitrogen-rich environments.
How to grow squash in an aquaponic garden
The key to growing squash in an aquaponic setup is to know about the different requirements that it needs to flourish. Here are the following tips that are recommended to grow squash aquaponically:
Like other vine crops, squash grows well in warmer temperatures. It is recommended to maintain a water and air temperature of 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Squash will flourish under full sunlight. Make sure your plant gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
Like other members of the Cucurbitaceae family, squash grows well in pH levels between 5.5 to 6.5.
Due to large root structures, it is recommended to grow squash on media beds as there is a risk of clogging if you use rafts and grow pipes.
Squash can grow to full maturity from 55 to 65 days after flowers start to bloom.
Due to squash requiring more moderately higher water temperatures, a versatile environment fish like Tilapia may be a great option for your setup.
Quick tips on growing squash in aquaponics gardens:
- Watch out for mildew, as this may cause a bad yield due to prematurely killing the leaves of your plant.
- The three common pests of squash plants are the squash vine borer, anasa, and cucumber beetle. Always check the underside of the leaves to be sure that your plant is pest-free.
- To check if your squash is ready for harvest, check the toughness of the flesh by pressing down using your fingernail. If it’s too soft, then it’s not yet ready to pick.
- Your plant may get deformed due to the weight of its leaves, so it is advised to cut some leaves off as your squash grows.