Guest Post by SAHIB.
Sahib is one of our Instructors for our upcoming Orlando 4 day Practical Aquaponics & Planet Stewards Training. Sahib lives in Florida and has extensive Aquaponics gardens and amongst other interests he is very involved in community charity work.
A question that I am often asked is “Other than the lettuces and leafy greens, what else can you grow in Aquaponics?” That is then followed by, “Is it profitable?”
During the last two years or so, I have found that you can grow almost any vegetable and plants that you choose to in Aquaponics. You may need to adapt the grow beds and practice hybrid aquaponics as I do to increase your range of products. I have successfully grown broccoli, carrots, eggplants, daikon and radishes, fennel, fruit trees, kohlrabi, herbs, okra, onions, pumpkins, marrows, gourds, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers – hot & sweet just to name some. I have also seen others grow corn and some even sweet potatoes via wicking beds. One really needs to expand their horizon and realize that there are really very few items that will not grow well in Aquaponics systems. Yes there are a few items that are just not cost effective at present such as grains and rice. There is research being done on these products and I am sure that very soon these too will become economic to grow via Aquaponics means.
How about growing Cayenne Peppers!
“Is it profitable?” Really!
Let me answer the question “Is it profitable?” first in pure economics terms. According to recent articles (April 17, 2012), “The Top Ten Fastest-Growing Industries in America”, and and “The Hot Sauce Treadmill”, Hot Sauce Production is part of this group! I use a variety of chili peppers (also known as “Mirch” in India), especially Cayenne, in virtually all my cooking and will always have hot sauce handy. Today there are numerous hot sauces on display at various eating establishments. Just look at the supermarket isles when you next visit. This trend is expected to increase as our tastes change and adapt to more of an international cuisine and we build a tolerance to the capsaicin-rich foods. The market is expected to grow close to 5% annually, so yes, growing Hot Peppers can be economically profitable. Growing them by aquaponics means ensures that you are assured the best natural taste. As I was quoted in the recent article in Cornell University Small farm Program Newsletter – the Urban Gardening section “This was a far superior way to grow it locally, grow it naturally, without having to resort to harmful pesticides and fertilizers and such, because if I did, my fish would die.”