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First-timers Read this first…

February 20, 2012
Duckweed Lunch

Duckweed Lunch

Considering growing your first duckweed crop?

With over seventy uses for it, ranging from using it as fresh chicken or fish feed  to more artist endeavors, deciding to grow a little or a lot is the first question you’ll consider.   How many applications will you want to use it for? You can always toss your excess onto a compost pile so you can’t really go wrong in growing more than you think you’ll need. Just remember that harvesting duckweed daily will be the norm in the height of the summer.  If you go on vacation, you might consider having someone check your duckweed production at the same time they are checking on the cukes and tomatoes.

Once you’ve decided on whether you want to grow a little or a lot, then decide on how many containers to rustle up OR decide to go ahead with a mini pond or two. Ponds for aquatic gardening need only to be 10-12  inches deep. If you go with in-ground duckweed ponds, be sure to line it with clay, cement, bentonite, or plastic to prevent leakage.

Try to locate your pond on a slight slope just below your nutrient source of wastewater- be it garden run-off, compost bin seepage, vermiculture liquid tea, or chicken coop, etc… Try to place your growing containers in semi-shade and protected from the wind. Last but not least, insure that you can drag a garden hose to your pond or container should you need to top it off occasionally when the weather gets hot and dry.

Suitable containers… I’ve used kiddie wading pools, wooden staved half-barrels, buckets of all sizes, a galvanized animal trough, and even a big piece of plastic held up with 2×4’s set on cement blocks around the perimeter. You can use plastic containers as long as they are food-grade. They’ll work for a season or two but have a shorter lifespan as they are inclined to degrade in sunlight.

If you feel a bit overwhelmed, just start with a bucket or two as growing containers. Before long, you’ll get hooked on how prolific, how beautiful, and how nutritional duckweed is. Your chickens and fish will fight over it. Your earthworms will rave. Your vegetable garden will flourish from your freshly made duckweed compost. Best of all, you will at last, be gardening in a truly sustainable way. Wonderful!!!

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