Written by Carolanne Wright
Create a micro-spirulina farm as an alternative to maintaining a full-fledged aquaponics garden and grow your own superfood to maintain good health, detox and provide nourishment during tough times. Economical and easy, growing spirulina is one of the best ways to ensure food security when times are rough. Exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals and protein, spirulina can enhance the diet and even prevent starvation when food is in short supply.
One of Nature’s Most Powerful Plants
Prized by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, spirulina has also been used throughout the world to fend off starvation when famine hits. As a complete protein, spirulina contains all eight essential amino acids in a form that is five times more easily digestible than meat or soy. Abundant in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll and beneficial fatty acids, spirulina is truly a wonder food. Not only is it exceptionally health enhancing, spirulina can also be grown easily at home for pennies on the dollar.
DIY Spirulina Micro-Farm
With a bit of experimentation and a few supplies, you too can grow your own spirulina – even if space is tight. Here’s what you will need to get started:
– 10 gallon glass tank
– Aquarium air pump and heater
– Thermometer and pH strips
– Baking soda
– Organic fertilizer and chelated iron
– Size 50 micro-mesh straining fabric
– Spirulina culture
– Syphon tubing
– Small food-grade bucket
Once you have the materials on hand, find a sunny southern facing window to set up your tank. Fit the aquarium with air pump and heater.
To create the growing medium, fill the tank with 2.5 gallons distilled water plus one cup baking soda. Next, dissolve one cup total pre-mixed nutrients (equal ratios of ammonium phosphate, sea salt, potassium nitrate). Add a few drops of chelated iron. Test the water pH – it should be 8.6 or higher.
Adding the Culture
Now add the spirulina culture to the growing medium. Cover the aquarium with either plastic sheeting or glass lid. Place 2-3 self-adhesive thermometer strips on the exterior. Spirulina grows best between 86ºF and 92ºF. Always keep an eye on the temperature as spirulina dies at 103ºF. Spirulina also likes a cooler environment at night – adjust the heater accordingly. Turn on the air pump to keep the water continually circulating.
Populating the Medium
As the spirulina begins to grow and populate the medium, watch for a slight yellow shade which indicates an iron deficiency. Add a few more drops of chelated iron to correct the issue. Depending on growing conditions, the spirulina will turn a bright emerald color within a few days to several weeks. Once the water has reached a rich shade, add another 2.5 gallons of growing medium to the tank. Allow the spirulina to grow again and repeat the process until the tank is full.
When ready to harvest (up to 90 days), clip the mesh fabric over a small, clean bucket. Syphon out about a quarter of the tank onto the fabric. The water will strain through, leaving a layer of fresh spirulina paste. Unclip the fabric and squeeze out excess water. Pour water back into the tank and consume room temperature spirulina within an hour. It can also be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for six months. Unlike dried varieties, fresh spirulina has a neutral flavor and excellent texture.
Instruction manuals, spirulina culture, supplies and complete kits can be found here http://www.algaelab.org/kitsandpartsstore/
(Photo credit: Music4thekids)
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