Planting Trials Results
Results of our system test plantings from Dec. 2007 – April 2012 are contained in the downloadable PDF file SuperchargedVegetables.pdf, which you can download by CLICKING HERE. We can’t really put it in the blog post here, because it’s 24 PAGES LONG! And full of color photos! (Get the idea?).
WARNING! Remember, if you have a pest attack, YOU CANNOT USE POISON; you can’t spray bug sprays! If any of this stuff gets into your water, it will kill your fish. Even things as mild and organic as Neem oil spray have killed all the fish in one of our student’s systems. See the blog post “How To Win The War On Bugs” for more information on safe aquaponic pest control using USDA organically certified methods.
(Below) Photo of a small planting trial involving only 22 different vegetables; we eventually tried out over 150! And foo to anyone who says aquaponics “just grows lettuce”!
Many things grow VERY well in our aquaponic systems. They are detailed in bold in the download. Anything that did not do so well is in normal print, and not bold. What generally does well is any leafy plant where the whole plant is harvested and used, such as lettuces, cabbages, oriental stir fry varieties, kale, chard, silver beets, kohlrabi, culinary herbs, green onions, chives, leeks, and the like; fruiting plants such as melons, cucumbers, squashes, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, okra; and many different kinds of legumes including peas, sugar snap peas, purple beans, green beans, and French green beans.
You will have to determine what grows well in the system where you live, as that is highly dependent upon your elevation, the amount of sun and wind your system receives, the type of greenhouse you have or can afford, and so on. In other words, you need to think about all the same considerations you would give to that location if you were planning a garden in the ground.
Although we don’t have specific production volume information on the vegetables here, we conducted a planting trial when we first began aquaponic operation with these 135 varieties of vegetables. The vegetables you want to use as “target” vegetables for your trials are the ones that grew the best during your test grow, had the least bug problems, had the best weight, had the highest market price, or a combination of all these qualities. You should talk also to produce buyers and brokers, markets, and other outlets in your area to get an idea of current market price and amounts of produce needed per week to find additional possible products as well as trying things on this list.
It is a REALLY GOOD IDEA to plant AT LEAST three or four varieties of each vegetable type you’re considering. Here’s why: we’ve found that one or two varieties of a vegetable will do quite well in our specific location, one or two will do poorly, and the others in between somewhere. If we accidentally select the one that grows poorly when we’re ordering seeds, and don’t ever try the others, we’re running the chance that we will conclude that “so-and-so doesn’t grow well”, and miss a bet, when what really happened is that we just picked the wrong one.