Aquaponics has multiple advantages, and one of them implies growing most types of plants – from lettuce and spinach to strawberries and carrots. Aquaponics seeds require a bit of work though, but the final result will be totally worth it.
If you are new to this system, planting in aquaponics might feel a bit challenging. After all, you plant everything in water, rather than soil. However, as you become familiar with the basics, the system is actually straightforward and easy to understand.
What could grow in aquaponics
There are more aquaponics seeds you can rely on, and different types require different living conditions. At this point, you have to determine the most appropriate grow bed for your system. Certain plants will grow faster and larger in a floating raft – leafy greens like lettuce make an excellent choice then. On the other hand, you can also rely on media beds – common for fruits and root vegetables.
It pays off choosing varieties that will also match your climate. The temperature is impossible to control. Sure, you can rely on a greenhouse, but your plants will grow much faster if they feel like in their natural environment. From this point of view, you should stick to cold weather crops when the weather is bad and warm weather alternatives throughout the summertime.
A bit of a mixture will also help. You can have lettuce and other fast-growing plants, but mix them with slow-growing varieties – peppers, kale, or tomatoes. It may seem a bit challenging to find a balance between all these plants at once, but succession planting allows having ready crops year-round. Some plants are harvested, while others are growing fast behind them. In other words, there are always some plants maturing up and ready for harvesting.
What to think about before planting aquaponics seeds
There are a few general considerations regarding aquaponics seeds.
Most importantly, you need to pay attention to the actual design. There are more types of grow beds out there, and each of them comes with specific considerations. Decide on the plants before you decide on the type of grow bed. Also, consider the space required by each plant. Consider the nutrient requirements, access, and compatibility. It helps having everything drawn on a piece of paper, only to ensure you do not make any mistakes.
In terms of diversity, keep in mind that plants can be attacked by parasites, which cause various diseases. If a single crop gets infected, the whole system can be ruined. This is why most experts recommend a bit of diversity – various species of plants.
Staggered planting is also a brilliant idea. You want consistency when it comes to harvesting and replanting. Not only do you have fresh food at all times, but you also maintain the balance in terms of filtering the water and grabbing enough nutrients.
Last, but not least, try to get as much as possible from the grow bed. For instance, you could invest in a vertical system. Then, you can also mix longterm and short-term plants. You harvest the short term options like greens, leaving more room for longterm plants like tomatoes. By the time the tomatoes mature, the greens will catch up from behind. If they all mature at the same time, you will not gain too much from the actual space, as they all require it.
Short guide on germinating aquaponics seeds
Germinating aquaponics seeds may seem complicated, but the process is quite intuitive. As you may already know, plants require oxygen, water, and the right temperature in order to germinate. Oxygen and water are taken in through the coating. Embryos will change the overall composition of the cell system, while the coat will break and make some room for roots. Later on, stems and leaves kick in as well.
Some seeds are harder than others, and the coating will not really allow oxygen and water to get in. You can also scratch such seeds or soak them in water. Such procedures will soften the shell, helping the seed germinate much quicker. Exaggerating with the water will not really help if there is not enough oxygen to compensate for it. Dry conditions or planting the seeds at a high depth are contraindicated too.
Aquaponics seed starting solutions
There are a few different ways to start seeding in aquaponics.
Some plants or seeds can go straight into the grow bed. Such options are more common in media-based environments, which support the actual growth. Seeds should be thrown evenly. Push them slightly in – just under the dry layer of the media. Let them germinate in a natural manner. This option is great for herbs or leafy greens. Get more seeds than what you need, as some of them will not germinate. The benefit of this option is not having to transfer the plants to the grow bed later on.
Certain plants can simply be cloned. Get some cuttings, stick them into the actual grow bed and let nature do its job. This option is more suitable for easy and mild herbs, as they grow relatively fast. You can forget about aquaponics seeds then, which take longer. Rooting hormones are often used in this practice.
The last common option involves starting aquaponics seeds in a completely different media plug. You can then transfer them to the grow bed. Start plugs are more suitable for difficult plants – the ones that germinate slowly. Tomatoes make excellent examples. Once the seeds made it to the optimal size, transfer them. Dig small holes, throw them in and cover them with the grow media.
Starter plugs are quite diversified – rock wool, paper towels, or compressed peat among the top choices due to their low prices and availability.
Bottom line, dealing with aquaponics seeds is not as difficult as it may seem. Of course, just like anything else in an aquaponics system, they require proper care and consideration before starting the process, but a little attention to small details will ensure a good final job.
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