Growing Microgreens in Aquaponics – a Full Guide

Introduction to growing microgreens in aquaponics

The biggest problem of the present age is to get the right nutrition in our plates half of the world is dealing with malnutrition due to poor food habits and mainly due to the poor availability of nutrient-rich vegetables.

A step by step guide to growing microgreens in aquaponics

We always aspire to acquaint people about various cultivation processes on their own and we are constantly working to enrich you with the right knowledge about how to grow microgreens at your own place so that you can have your share of nutrition effortlessly in your own space

So a way different from conventional indoor home gardening, today we will talk about another technique for having a perfect mix of nutrients complete guide on Growing Microgreens in Aquaponics.

Microgreens are the first true leaves developed from a seedling of vegetables and herbs that are about 2-3 inches in height. The tiny leaves of most of the microgreens are all set for harvest in 12 to 14 days and are filled with nutrition and intense flavors imitating their mature counterparts. For example, if you are eating the microgreen shoots of radish, the taste and flavor will be quite similar to radish. Microgreens, though, comprises of a variety of edible immature greens, simply harvested using scissors within less than a month from their germination, when the plants are up to 2 inches tall. The stem, cotyledons (or seed leaves), and the first set of true leaves are all edible. These are the immature greens, harvested following their sprouting stage, typically within 10-15 days when the first two seed leaves, also known as cotyledons, have appeared.

Microgreens have many benefits:

  • Microgreens make an amazing winter substitute for lettuce or other cooking greens.
  • Microgreen with sprout salads makes a power-packed breakfast material.
  • You can also use them on sandwiches or in salads.
  • Over the past several years, microgreens have been showing up in fine dining restaurants
  • They traditionally were used as a flavourful edible dress or garnish for a dish, but now it’s not unusual to find them as the dish.

Best microgreens for growing in the aquaponics system

There is a range of different vegetables that can be called microgreens; these are some of the most common, most profitable microgreens and the best ones to start off your microgreens aquaponics system:

  • Amaranth, Garnet Red
  • Carrot
  • Garden Cress
  • Radish Purple
  • Green Mustard
  • Wheatgrass
  • Coriander
  • Alfalfa
  • Clover
  • Peas
  • Kohl Rabi Purple
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Basil Purple
  • Basil Green
  • Kohl Rabi Green
  • Beet Root
  • Pak Choi
  • Amaranthus Red
  • Radish Pink
  • Onion
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Fenugreek (Methi)
  • Red Chard
  • Red Cabbage
  • Red Kale
  • Rocket
  • FAST-GROWING (2 WEEKS):
    • Arugula
    • Watercress
    • Pea Shoots
    • Kale
    • Mustard
    • Radish
  • SLOW-GROWING (3-4 WEEKS):
    • Chard
    • Cilantro
    • Parsley
    • Basil
    • Lemon basil
  • Celery

The aquaponics best method of growing microgreens

Due to the small nature of aquaponics greens and the fast growth time, there are two main alternatives for growing them. The basic principle is that you require a large, flat surface as this will permit all the seeds to grow and receiving light and nutrients equally to grow and attain a few inches of height before you harvest and enjoy them.

Grow Beds

Grow beds are ideal aquaponics equipment for creating a large surface. However, it doesn’t matter which media you utilize seeds are to be simply broadcasted keeping the density in mind. To deal with this issue you can make use of a hemp grow mat on top of the grow bed. This will provide a flat surface, particularly if your grow bed is a tray. The hemp grows mat will be just about an inch deep and will take up the water, through the tray. This will keep your microgreens moist, allowing them to grow well.

Floating rafts

The choice is to use a floating raft system; this keeps the seeds separate from the water however with instant access when they require it. The best idea for your microgreens aquaponics system is to utilize netting pots lined with the hemp grow mat mentioned above.

The netting pots will permit the water to flow around the roots while they grow mat will put a stop to the seeds from being flooded. The bottom of the pots should be just touching the water to make sure that they are always staying moist

Important considerations for growing aquaponics microgreens

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Considerations for growing aquaponics microgreens.
Considerations for growing aquaponics microgreens.
  • Dampen the growing medium so it is saturated but not waterlogged.
  • Mist the seeds equally: Large seeds are more demanding and difficult to grow in stabilized media. Make sure the whole seed stays moist.
  • They can be grown in growing media such as potting mix such as coco peat, perlite, and vermiculite these are the known best-growing medium for microgreens. Shallow trays of 2 inches deep are enough. You can invest in capillary or burlap mats and place them on the trays to plant seeds. If mats are not available paper towels can also be spread on the trays. Cover up the trays after sowing with paper towels or microgreens in tissue paper until germination.
  • The soilless microgreens germinate effortlessly on a felt mat with the right humidity (90%). To attain this humidity you can cover the seeds or you can make sure to put them in a room with the accurate humidity. Take off the cover as soon as you see that the seeds have germinated. The ideal germination temperature is approximately 72°Farenheit. Provide a moderate temperature of around 24 C until germination and then reduce it to 16 C to 18 C. High temperature inhibits germination and also can increase disease after germination.
  • Avoid direct lights until germination takes place. If using LED lights prefer the moderate intensity of around 30 W and place the lights about 30 cm above the tray. Provide the lights for 12 to 14 h per day especially in indoor aquaponic systems.
  • Sufficient air circulation must be provided with fans to prevent pest and disease issues
  • Add raw water for the first three days until the seed germinates; be careful and pour water slowly along the edge of one end of the tray so that the seeds do not start floating. Experienced growers can either install a drip watering system or implement a mist spray to provide even moisture.
  • After germination and when seeds have grown into the paper towels or mat (usually 3 days), start using a dilute nutrient solution (half the normal suggested strength when growing the same plant for full growth
  • Seeding: make use of a 10 x 20 sheet, and plant the seeds across the top, to achieve a ratio of roughly 10 seeds per square inch with smaller seeds and about half of this with larger ones.
  • Seeding densities should be thick as much as it can cover the tray, but not to the point of hampering airflow. Both small and large seeds should be sown thickly, and then gently packed into the growing medium/mat/towel. As a rule of thumb, plant small seeds at a density of approximately 10 to 12 seeds per square inch of the tray surface, and larger or medium-sized seeds at a density of 6 to 8 seeds per square inch.
  • If you are planning to plant different seedlings combined in the same tray in the aquaponics indoor garden, choose varieties of plants having the same growth rate. Do not combine seeds that germinate earlier with those that germinate slowly. For example, radish is all set to harvest in 5 to 6 days, whereas some lettuce and other greens may take 7 to 10 days.
  • The ideal temperature to grow microgreen is around 70° F (68 to 72)
  • Maintain the moisture of growing medium until harvest
  • Purchase seeds particularly listed for use as microgreens, since they are not supposed to be treated with fungicides. Since they are not treated, they can have fungal spores and/or bacterial spores on their surface. These pathogens have to be eliminated simply by surface sterilization to avoid death and spread of infection to the germinating seedlings.

Harvesting

Microgreens can be harvested somewhere between 1 to 2 weeks based on the variety or plant. They are generally harvested a couple of days after true leaves start to appear. They generally reach a height of ½ to 2 inches. The majority of vegetable varieties developed as microgreens are ready for harvest in less than 2 weeks, although the brassicas mustard and radish have a faster growth rate and therefore mature faster than beets, chard, or carrots. Herbs are grown as microgreens be likely to moderately slow-growing, maturing in 16 to 25 days. Depending upon crop, varieties, and environmental conditions, a production cycle can be prolonged up to 4 weeks and beyond. They should be cut at the shoots as the roots are not consumed. Make use of clean sterilized scissors to cut and prevent any disease infection.

Step by Step guide for growing microgreens in the aquaponics system

Prepare your water

Microgreens seeds are sensitive to pH. Use pH test strips and instructions to regulate the pH of your water. Most microgreens will do best at a pH of 6. A range of 5.5 to 6.5 is the ideal range. Make sure to only water your crops with water you have balanced to a satisfactory pH range. Also, use filtered water to remove any chlorine from the water since it won’t be suitable for the fishes in your system hence test your water and adjust accordingly.

You can’t just fetch and use distilled water or rain since aquaponics aquaculture is also there so use purified water that suits the aquaculture component as well.

Soak your grow mat

Cut the grow mat to fit it in the growing trays. Then place the grow mat in the water or nutrient solution to get it wet, and then permit most excess water to drain off before transferring it to your 10″ x 20″ grow tray.

Add your seeds

Sprinkle your microgreen seeds evenly across your entire grow mat but do not overcrowd it. Each kind of microgreen requires a different seed density, so refer to your packaging or research to find the optimal density for the crop. Most seeds do not have to be pre-soaked and can be spread dry directly onto the saturated grow pad. For smaller size seeds (such as arugula, broccoli, mizuna, etc) sprinkle about 2 tablespoons. You can experiment with up to 3 tablespoons of the smaller seeds for a denser crop. For larger seeds like radish, you may want to employ as much as a quarter cup.

Cover your seeds

You will have to cover the seeds with a lightproof cover so they are incomplete difference till they germinate. A second tray flipped upside down also works great. Once you have achieved good distribution of seed on the saturated pad, make use of the spray mister to spray the seeds. Use about 10 to 12 sprays with the mister to make sure that every seed is well planted and wet. Now your newly sown seeds need humidity and dark to thrive. The crop should be uncovered after 4 or 5 days. You can review this by watching for when the baby leaves (cotyledons) of your crop first appears. It is vital to keep your crop in the dark for the first 4 to 5 days this is done to force your crop to grow in the struggle for light. Once you uncover the tray, ensure that your crop gets an ample amount of light. We recommend LED grow lights. Direct sunlight, fluorescent, or incandescent lights are also suitable. Rotate the angles for light; be sure to rotate the tray regularly.

Harvesting

Move your trays to a cool, shady place since if your greens are harvested when it is too hot, they will wilt very rapidly after the harvesting. If harvested when cool (during the late evening, early morning), they will tend to stay fresh and crisp. Most microgreens will be all set to harvest in 10 days. Some crops can be harvested as early as 7 days.

Suitable fishes for aquaponics

  • Tilapia
  • Bluegill/brim/sunfish/crappie
  • Catfish
  • Carp
  • Koi
  • Fancy goldfish
  • Pacu
  • Various ornamental fish such as angelfish, guppies, tetras, swordfish, and mollie.

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