Growing herbs in an aquaponic system allows growers to have a year-long supply of herbs like mint and basil which are popular for their culinary and medicinal uses. Mint in particular is good to use for aquaponics because it requires little space to thrive and it grows quickly. However, special care should be practiced to avoid uncontrolled nutrient depletion in the system.
Why is mint good to use for aquaponics?
Mint is good for aquaponics because the flavor of herbs like mint is stronger due to the clean water and controlled hygienic conditions in an aquaponics system compared to those planted in soil. This makes herbs such as mint a common plant choice for aquaponics enthusiasts.
Cultivating mint with the aquaponics system requires little space and you can cultivate it even if you only have a medium-sized water tank and a basic setup. It also requires minimal maintenance and given the right conditions, mint will grow quickly and abundantly with the use of aquaponics.
Here’s some vital information when cultivating mint in an aquaponics system:
- recommended pH level is 5.5 to 6.5
- plant spacing should be 15 to 25 cm or 8-40 plants / m2
- seed germination time is 6 to 7 days
- germination temperature should be 20 to 25 degrees Centigrade
- growth time is 5 to 6 weeks and it can be harvested once it reaches 15cm
- the growing temperature should be 18 to 30 degrees Centigrade, the optimal temperature is 20 to 25 degrees Centigrade
- mint should be placed in a sunny or slightly sheltered space
- minimum height is 30 to 70 cm
- minimum width is 30 cm
- recommended methods to grow mint are through media beds, nutrient film technique, and deep water culture
Mint requires a stable temperature for germination and once it’s transplanted it grows well in warm conditions and ideally loves sun exposure although it also thrives well in a spot with slight shading. For temperatures reaching 27 degrees centigrade, it should be covered with shading nets to avoid tip burns in the leaves and stems. It struggles less with pests compared to other herbs but also prone to be attacked with verticillium wilt and powdery mildew so it’s advisable to closely monitor the plants to prevent fungal growth.
While mint has been commonly used, some aquaponics advocates don’t recommend the use of mint for the farming system. Some gardeners attest that it’s an invasive plant, its roots can grow out of hand and may choke the system. However, some aquaponics enthusiasts refute this by recommending that mint can be planted or placed in pots to contain and control the growth of the roots.
What are the benefits and uses of mint?
Mint or mentha comes from a genus of plants from the Lamiaceae family and it has an estimated 13 to 24 species that are existing today. These are some of the commonly grown varieties of mint:
- basil mint
- corn mint
- chewing gum mint
- licorice mint
- grapefruit mint
- lavender mint
- orange mint
- chocolate mint
- red raripila mint
- horse mint
- ginger mint
- apple mint
- pineapple mint
The taste of mint is considerably sweet and produces a cool effect on the tongue that lingers. Peppermint has a stronger and more mentholated taste. The fresh leaves provide the most scent and flavor as opposed to dried mint leaves.
Common uses of mint
Here are some of its many uses:
- it’s used in many culinary recipes and salads
- it’s added to tea, lemonades, and other drink cocktails
- it can be used as a hair rinse
- it’s commonly used for mouthwash
- it can be used as a facial astringent
- it can help ease sunburn pain
- it’s a potent breath freshener
- it can make your rooms nice-smelling
- it can be a moth and bug repellent
The nutritional content of mint
A two-tablespoon serving of fresh peppermint provides .12 g of protein, 2.24 calories, .48 g of carbohydrates, .03 g of fat and .26 g of fiber while a half an ounce of spearmint contains 6 calories, 1 g of fiber,12% Vitamin A of the recommended daily intake (RDI), 9% iron RDI, 4% folate RDI, and 8% manganese RDI. Mint also contains trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C, and phosphorus.