Aquaponic Gardening

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Wondered if anyone had some interestign crops they have tried growing.

 

I am in Rochester NY  (limitted growing season).

 

Much success with Legend tomatoes and Matt's wild cherry tomatoes (blight resistent/immune).

 

Wheat was a pain, probably will not do that again.  Pain to harvest and process.  Tastes good addign to normal flour to make it mroe whole wheat.

 

Odd crops I will be trying in 2011:

 

Quinoa- it's like rice. 

Wild Garlic- like it's name, a wild smaller garlic

Lemon balm and lime balm (people might like tea?)

Barley- hopefully not as bad a wheat to harvest.

Dill- I love this, grows great inside too.  Excellent on fish.  Too expensive at the store.

 

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I've not done it myself.  But I think I've seen it done in trays like shoots so a shelf with wicking mat over liner and trays might work.

We grow wheatgrass, but we do it in trays, not in our AP systems.  I think you might be able to do it with a wicking irrigation of your effluent, but it does need some special treatment in the beginning (soaking, covering it to keep light out).

 

I'm sure that it would grow well in alternate systems, but most of the people we are selling wheatgrass to want full trays of the grass so that they can cut it fresh to order for juicing.

 

There's a great PDF on ATTRA's website -

attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/wheatgrass.pdf


 

Sahib Punjabi said:

Need your help please :-)

 

Has anyone grown wheat grass via Aquaponics?

 

If yes, could you please explain your method of growing, time frame and post any photos and any other helpful information. I have a good friend who owns a Natural Health Food store who has requested me to supply him this as well as curly parsley. I am fine with the parsley but growing wheat grass on a mini commercial scale will be the first. I have checked You Tube and read blogs about growing it in Hydroponic systems but did not see any good post re growing in Aquaponics.

 

God bless

There is some good info in that PDF especially about sprouting and the dangers there and the fact that sprouting is thought of as food processing rather than agricultural and therefore falls under different regulations than simply farming.
Yeah, i agree with TC.  I was going to start a mini sprout/mircrogreen farm, but the bureaucratic red tape made me shy away from it.  I was going to have to buy and build a $4,000 plant procceseing room that would have to be inspected and cetified yearly; i said F that.  Look into sprout regulations before you invest; each state may have slightly different guidelines.

Thank you guys...certainly something to think about.

 

So what is the difference if I cut the wheat grass at 5 or 6 inches and supply like micro greens? Are we not "sprouting" the seeds...or am I getting confused with words?

 

God bless,

Sprouts are when the seed and roots are eaten so there is more danger from the seed borne pathogens.

 

Shoots are what is cut above the soil line (no seed or root attached to product) before the plants get their second set of leaves (usually first true leaves) at around 8 days.  I don't know if shoots count as sprouts or as produce when it comes to food handling/processing.

 

And in that PDF there is reference to soil or field grown wheat grass and I expect the rules and handling of that would be different yet again.

 

I wonder what happens if you sell the whole tray live and un-cut?  do you then need a nursery license instead of the food processing?

See the dilemma!

 

No way am I going to sell the whole tray. I was given the buy price of $6.50 per 8oz sprouts (for 1st cut), and $5.50 for 2nd cut. I thought that would be the same as me supplying cut lettuce or micro greens. What do you think?

The sprout rules probably came in because of the E. coli found in alfalfa spouts a few years back.  This will happen to aquaponics if there is ever a cas of E. coli picked up in a commercial system. I just hope this never happens.  It shouldn't qualify as a sprout if you cut it.  The public just needs a warning "Wash all food before you eat it."

yea issues with sprouts are often if the seed is contaminated with e. coli or salmonella or whatever to start, the sprouting environment is just too conducive to multiplying those and being that sprouts are generally very fragile and hard to wash well seeing as the source of the original contamination isn't removed (the seed) then they are a high risk item.

 

You will have to look into regulations if doing the wheat grass as a multi cut item.  I know green acres said they are already good to do the single cut "head" lettuce but that doing a micro greens mix is a "leaf" product and would require the food processing capabilities. 

 

Anyone know what regulations might apply to watercress?

 

The real only way to find out for sure, is to call the certification/inspection people.  In WI it is the DATCP, if you call the your local Ag extension service they should be able to direct you to the people you need to contact.  I will warm you, (at least in WI) they take forever to call you back (sometimes up to 3 weeks) and they will most likely tell you things you dont want to hear lol; but it is the law.  Each state is different though; WI just has a bunch of slacker public/state workers; read the news if you dont know what im talking about.

Did you end up growing quinoa?  If so, how did that work out?

Quinoa, I doubt will work that well in Aquaponics. However, if you are going to try I will watch with interest!

The problems you will encounter that I am pulling from memory, so may vary slightly are;

1) Needs to be raised above atleast 2,000'. The plant is a high mountain plant that requires more intense UV rays to thrive. You would be best served to hunt down a "sea level variety" of Quinoa. I have heard they do exist but have not seen any for sale.

2) It is a cold weather plant. So it would definitely need to be a winter crop. You will have to check your zone and time it accordingly.

3) It prefers soil that is not extremely fertile. Usually Aquaponics systems are pretty fertile - but I don't know if this would restrict anything.

Just make sure you read up on it a lot. There is a reason why you don't see many gardeners growing it.

Amaranth would make more sense, and is very much similar but not as restrictive in its growing conditions.

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