Aquaponic farming and self sufficient seed collection
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”
Robert Louis Stevenson
Most of us are into aquaponics to produce food independently, a big part of that is collecting and using our own seed. The last thing a plant does in its life cycle is to produce seed.
So I always collect from the first, biggest and the best plants. in the picture above is a lettuce I let go to seed, the base of each flower contains many tiny seed in fact two plants can give me all the seed I need.
How I collect lettuce seed is simply leave the lettuce UNTIL the flowers are dry then I cut the head off with a scissors and place it in a paper bag for a week or two at most. At this time a vigorous shake will bring all the seed lose, I then will place them in a small zip lock bag with a half tea spoon of uncooked white rice to maintain the moisture level if I am storing long term.
However I usually plant them at this time.
Expecting Barbados food sources to transform from export to domestic is a very mighty task. This is compounded by the fact that we get up to five times our population in tourists annually. The result: the demand for food fluctuates too quickly for farmers to accurately judge what the market will be like when the crops are ready to harvest up to four months away. Our previous agriculture model of exporting sugar had numerous advantages for our small island. The fact the sugar takes a long time to expire and has excellent shipping and handling properties means that the farmer was almost guaranteed that his crop would be sold.
If agriculture is to survive given our small population, and benefit a greater number of people, not just the few that can afford the protection of the large greenhouses required if you want to grow vegetables for profit. We either have to find a more suitable export crop or promote the kitchen garden again.
Baird Village Aquaponics has done some interesting research into finding an export crop. We researched rice, tobacco, grapes and soybean – all good – but Quinoa as a food crop for Barbados is showing the most real life potential, international research suggests the plant does not do well at low elevations, but Barbados has a very interesting environment that I personally believe can grow any crop.
If you don’t know what Quinoa taste like you should take a trip to a health food store, it is listed as a super food and a replacement for rice, although not known culturally, it is one of the most complete staples you can get, and it stores, ships and handles very efficiently. The seedling stage is very difficult to master until you realize that the plant needs little or no nutrients in the soil so basically sand will do, and because that is a relatively new crop Monsanto has not got a hold of its seed and altered it genetically.
The product sold in the health food store is unprocessed, cheaper per pound than rice, can be cultivated in pots and is a colourful, beautiful plant. It is technically a seed but is actually used as you would a grain and is about half the size of a rice grain the plant itself was found to be hardy and has little predators, you should try it, if not to grow to eat.