Spirulina is a blue-green edible micro-algae that is about 0.025 cm that grows in a warm environment and is mainly produced for its nutrition value. The algae naturally grow in alkaline lakes rich in soda bicarbonate, salt, and a PH level of about ten; thus, when growing, you should consider these conditions for high production.
A culture medium is a must-have when growing the spirulina to support its growth. This is because it is the leading food for algae.
For a crop to be considered organic, it needs to be grown in a system that only uses natural nutrients. Organic spirulina takes around 3-6 weeks to mature. If the algae thicken and turn green, then it is ready for harvesting.
The growth rate of spirulina is determined by factors such as temperature, pH levels, and sunlight. The micro-algae is easy to grow since it does not require a growing farm space or soil.
Advantages of Growing Organic Spirulina
|Health benefits||Other benefits|
|Fight bacteria through the production of white blood cells and antibodies.||Easy to digest. Contain antioxidants Require little water compared to other vegetables.|
|Contain Vitamins such as A, C, D, E and B12||Improves the economic value of a country since they are grown locally.|
|Has minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and selenium||Farmers can use it as a natural fertilizer.|
|Rich in protein, where one tablespoon of spirulina is equivalent to four grams of protein.|
|Healthy fats, for example, gamma-linoleic acid.|
|Spirulina uses inorganic fertilizer like the one used from nature that is phosphorous, atrium, and nitrogen. These are the main natural foods for the plants.|
|Spirulina helps in weight management.|
|Have high nutrients which help in pain relief, brain, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory.|
Spirulina Requirements for Growth.
The algae require adequate but indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight may damage the spirulina in its early stages. Therefore, the use of a shade that is temporary is advised to control the amount of sunlight during its growth period.
Use of a growing medium such as a tank or container with enough space. Plastic containers are more durable since they are difficult to break than glass containers, while pots are advised since they are easier to handle and replace in case of breakage.
The aquarium should be transparent to allow sun rays to penetrate since light intensity affects protein concentration levels. Ensure the container is enclosed to avoid contamination of the algae.
Water is the main requirement when growing microalgae. Spirulina can grow from any water source, be it drinking, rain, or water body because it has a high PH level of its culture medium.
Ensure to maintain the PH levels of the water around 8 to 11. For photosynthesis purposes, control the water levels because the sun’s rays will not penetrate if the water is deep.
Temperature levels should be between 30°C to 35°C for high protein levels. If the temperatures are low, the organism will struggle to grow. Addition tools such as a litmus paper, agitation device, and harvesting tool, for example, a scooping container, and gloves, are also used in the growing and harvesting process.
Good fresh spirulina is required for it to double to more spirulina when farmed. Fertilizers are also necessary when growing organic spirulina. It is advised to use soluble or crystallized fertilizer and not granules. Fertilizers used mainly are Magnesium sulfate, sodium chloride, potassium nitrate, and sodium bicarbonate.
Process of Growing Organic Spirulina.
Preparation for growing organic spirulina
First, acquire a good-sized aquarium with enough space for the spirulina. Then purchase a spirulina culture which is a mixture of nutrients to boost microalgae growth.
You can also purchase a premixed bag with essential minerals such as salt, urea, calcium chloride, Magnesium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, and ammonium sulfate.
Steps of growing an organic spirulina
Prepare a growing medium by adding water, sea salt, and baking soda. Stir the solution until all the products dissolve fully. Prepare the culture with rich composition of minerals. Add nitrogen phosphorous, Potassium, Iron, and magnesium as the primary source of food for the spirulina.
Add fresh unwashed spirulina to the solution in the container. One has to stir a few times a day since spirulina cannot grow in stagnant water. The algae start to multiply in the container within 3 to 5 days.
Ensure the water is fresh and check for the nutrient content value regularly. If the container is open, evaporation might occur; thus, it is vital to maintain the water levels.
Spirulina changes color from light to dark which determines whether the algae is ready for harvesting. The algae are collected and drained water using a filter and cleansed with water. After filtration, moisture is removed by pressing on large weights.
Algae is sent in the processing machines to reduce them to small noodle-like stripes. The strips are dried under the sun for a few hours. After drying completely, the algae is crushed into powder form, examined, and tested in laboratories for final consumption.
Factors That can Damage Organic Spirulina
Temperature levels-Spirulina cannot survive when exposed to temperatures of below 20c and high temperatures of more than 38c. Heating the algae will lower its nutritional protein levels.
Nutrients imbalance-If the culture are producing a lot of bubbles probably it’s the imbalance of nutrients. The solution would be the addition of water and baking soda. If the bubbles continue, add more water and a nutrient solution until they stop—absorption of toxins, radiation, and heavy metals from the environment.
PH levels- pH levels affect the thickness of the spirulina. If the algae do not thicken in a few weeks, one should check the pH levels of the water. Spirulina grows under a pH of 10, mainly achieved by adding a nutrient solution or baking soda. If the pH exceeds addition of vinegar to the solution lowers its level since it contains acetic acid.
How to Tell If Organic Spirulina Is Healthy
- The dissolution process should not be too fast or too slow.
- An unpleasant smell indicates it is damaged spirulina with a high oxidation rate.
- Check the color of the spirulina. The dark green colour indicates that the algae are healthy. If the spirulina is not good, the surface would be shiny or contain dust.
Spirulina is a micro-algae that can easily be grown at home provided the right conditions are met. It takes around 3-6 weeks to grow fully, and it’s ready for harvesting when the color changes from light to dark green.
Farmers mostly grow the algae for its nutritional value when consumed. For maximum yield, a culture medium is developed to support the growth of the organisms, such as the addition of phosphorous and nitrogen.