Fennel belongs to the same family as carrots and dill and is a popular culinary ingredient. It can be caramelized, sautéed, roasted, or used as a garnish. The herb has two main varieties; the sweet or “leaf” variety and the Florence Fennel. Good News! You can grow these varieties of fennel in aquaponics gardens. Aquaponics is a trendy farming system that has gained prevalence worldwide. It is suitable for herbs and that is why it is excellent for growing fennel.
Essential factors and considerations
The aquaponic setup
You may grow fennel indoors or outdoors. A Flood and Drain method, Drip System, Ebb and Flow, or the Nutrient Film Technique are suitable for growing fennel. For your fish tank, you can use crappie. The grow mediums you can use include hydrotons and coco coir. Rockwool plugs should not be used as the fish can swallow fiberglass.
Fennel’s germination rate is about 60-90%. You can raise fennel from seeds, seedlings, or using root or crown division. Planting from seeds is easier and they will sprout in about 8-12 days. You must take care during division as fennel roots don’t like disturbance. You will need to leave a 12-18 inch spacing.
If you opt for transplantation, transfer the seedlings into the system once they reach a height of 3-4 inches. The plant may reach a height of 5-6 feet. Fennel will do well where soil EC is between 1-1.4. Do not plant fennel near dill because they can readily cross-pollinate.
Have the system’s pH range between 6.4-6.8.
For optimal growth, fennel will need temperatures within the range of 60-70 degrees F. The plant can tolerate heat and cold but, it is not frost tolerant.
Fennel is a sunlight lover. Have your system in a location that can access sunlight. Fennel will need at least a 6-hour exposure daily and maximum exposure of up to 12 hours. If your plants are not receiving adequate sunlight, grow lights can be used for supplementation.
You can harvest fennel plants as soon as you want them, 6-8 weeks after planting. Fennel can be harvested twice. Once for the greens only and once for both the greens and bulbs. You may harvest the seeds or leave them for future growing.
Note: Fennel produces fruits upon maturity and the matured fruits are what we incorrectly refer to as seeds.
Why choose fennel for your aquaponics?
The leaves are aromatic and due to its flavor, it is used for many cuisines by chefs and homemakers alike. The herb is also used for medicinal purposes; it has been used to treat digestive issues like bloating or flatulence and also for infant colic. Fennel essential oils have been shown to help with women’s hormonal health. Fennel can be used as an ornamental plant.
With several culinary, nutritional, and medicinal advantages, you can see why having readily available fennel is important. Therefore, if you decide to grow fennel in aquaponics, check and control the requirements accordingly for a thriving plant.
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