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Can you imagine eating sushi without that additional burst of Wasabi flavor? Throw a little slice of ginger on top, and now you have a meal worth remembering. However, while you can easily find Wasabi packed into tubes on supermarket shelves, few people have actually experienced the plant fresh from their own garden. If you are looking to have a fresh stash of this spicy plant on standby, growing Wasabi in aquaponics gardens is a worthwhile activity.
In this article, you will learn the basics of how to grow Wasabi in your aquaponics system.
Why Grow Wasabi in Your Aquaponics Garden?
Originating in mountain river valley’s of Japan, the Wasabi plant belongs to the Brassicaceae family, along with other plants such as cabbage, kale, and arugula. It is considered a prime ingredient by world-renowned chefs, and having genuine Wasabi is already a treat of its own. Although many people would agree that the Wasabi plant isn’t the easiest to manage, it hasn’t stopped Aquaponics enthusiasts from growing it in their systems.
Historically, there was a time period when Wasabi was only available to the ruling class of Japanese society. The paste, which is made from its rhizomes, is used as a condiment for various foods. The taste can be compared to a robust hot mustard, and felt through the nose rather than the tongue. Apart from its distinct flavor, Wasabi is also known to have several health benefits.
Health Benefits of Wasabi
According to research, Wasabi can stop the growth of bacteria and fungi that can cause food poisoning. This probably explains the reason why Wasabi is best partnered with sushi. It is believed that the plant can reduce the risks of diseases associated with eating raw fish. But there is more to love about this plant. Here are some of the health benefits commonly associated with Wasabi:
- Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
- Keeps the signs of aging at bay
- Helps maintain a healthy circulatory system
- Cures arthritis
- Avoids hypertension
- Stops formation of cavities
- Improves respiratory condition
- Minimizes the risks of certain types of cancers
- Keeps the digestive system healthy
Types of Wasabi
There are two different types of Japanese Wasabi. The difference can be attributed to how the plant was grown.
Sawa-wasabi grows wild in the cold and can be found in stream beds. It uses the water that naturally flows from the mountain stream.
The word literally translates to field Wasabi. It’s the type of Wasabi wherein the seeds are sowed in soil and are cultivated for harvesting purposes.
How to Serve Wasabi From Your Aquaponics Garden
You can serve Wasabi in different ways. The most popular one is its green paste, where it used as a condiment. Other uses include making Japanese pickles using its flowers, leaves, and sliced rhizomes soaked in saltwater. The plant has also commonly used as a decorative garnish in meals. Lastly, its stem and roots can be processed and converted to a powder.
Cultivating Wasabi in Your Aquaponics Garden
You can find more helpful information on how you can start growing Wasabi in Aquaponics Gardens in the succeeding sections:
Aquaponic System Types
Using media beds is the best aquaponics system for growing Wasabi. It’s cost-efficient, simple to construct, and is perfect for smaller-scale production. It’s also the recommended aquaponics system for root vegetables.
Wasabi requires a pH level of 6 – 7. It basically needs neutral or slightly acidic soil.
We suggest that you use clay balls for your Wasabi. These are porous, lightweight, and they have the biggest surface area for the bacteria to grow. However, be careful in choosing your clay balls as there are some which are extremely light. These can float and your plant would not be able to grip properly.
Pumice rocks are also a good option as they are also porous. But make sure that it does not contain calcium. You can do a simple spot test first using vinegar. Check if there are bubbles forming. If yes, you shouldn’t use it to grow your Wasabi.
Water and Air Temperature
Wasabi needs to be watered frequently with cool water. You should also mist it to prevent wilted leaves. The perfect environment to grow Wasabi is humid with a temperature of around 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since the Wasabi plant can grow up to 24 inches, we recommend that you provide a space of 12 inches in between your plants.
Wasabi does not grow well in direct sunlight. If you are going to plant it in your own backyard, make sure that you have a shaded area dedicated to your Wasabi plants.
As mentioned earlier, Wasabi requires colder temperature or water. Having said that, it is logical to get fish that thrive on lower temperatures too. Trout and bass are some of the best options. However, if you choose trout, you should not keep it with other fish. And if you choose bass, always monitor its potassium levels.
Ideally, you should start planting during the colder months. It’s best that you start planting during late fall as winter can help in growing healthier roots. But if you plan to do it in summer, be diligent enough to water the plants and to keep it most.
To get its distinct flavor, you have to wait for your Wasabi to mature. This can take about 24 months.
Wasabi can suffer from different pests and diseases. The common pests are the Diamond Back Moth and Aphids. Slugs and snails can also damage your Wasabi. The best precautionary measure is to protect your plant with the right pesticides and insecticides. And as always, maintain optimal conditions and temperature because Wasabi is a high-maintenance plant.
Planting Wasabi on a larger scale, without the right knowledge and tools can make the plant more susceptible to diseases. So if you are an amateur, start by planting the Wasabi in small quantities.
Where to Buy Wasabi For Planting
While generally healthy, please serve Wasabi with caution:
- Do not serve Wasabi to people with gastritis and hemorrhoids
- Confirm with your doctor if you are allergic
- Do not eat a large amount of Wasabi as it can damage the liver