Spring is that time of the year when your first Betta fish should be starting to die back in the fish tank and when you are ready to add the prized live fish to your aquarium. As with other live plants, you need to water the Betta so that they can acclimatize to their new environment. This is best done before the plants start to bloom - preferably during the fall or winter months. Some experts say that you should wait until after the first frosts have disappeared to plant seeds.
So, let's talk about watering your Betta fish and how you can best go about getting your Betta fish to accept and get used to your new propagation house. If you're lucky, you might find some in your local garden store from early winter, however if not you will likely have to purchase them at a nursery or directly from a supplier of houseplants. Obviously don't take any chances in getting your fish to adjust to their new environment so don't wait too long between sowing and laying the seeds. Time to raise the little guys, maybe, but only when you've got plenty of free space in your tank for the few weeks it takes until the plants begin to bloom and you can actually water them!
Many species of tropical fish love kale and other cool-season grasses. You may already have these in your garden and your aquarium. In either case, you'll want to start to introduce those plants to your Betta fish as soon as possible, especially if you live in an area where there's a lot of late-season grasses and kales are available. When you do, be sure to use cool-season grasses, not summer grasses. They are not as readily accepted by your fish because of their slow growth rates and tendency to stay below the surface of the water. The slower growth rate means that your Betta fish will take longer to acclimatize to their new surroundings.
To begin acclimatizing your new propagation house for your Betta fish, mix in some medium grade fish pellets and turn your newly arrived greens into pellets for your seedlings. This will serve two purposes. For one thing, PSB is less soluble in water than most soil layers so it won't pass down easily from the leaves. For another thing, pellets contain complete plant protein which is vital for Betta health. (To understand why this matters, keep in mind that Betta pellets contain all of the plant matter a Betta needs to survive-blood, food, oil, waste products, and other secretions). The less soluble PSB levels are what make it less likely for seeds to get stuck in their root system.
After mixing the pellets and turning them into pellets, it's time to move on to your seedlings. Since PSB is insoluble, it won't dissolve into the soil for the seeds to take root and grow. However, if you combine cabbage with water (something you'll have to do for your seedlings), it will break down into a soluble substance and be able to pass through the soil to your seedlings. In fact, PSB will bind with almost every nutrient in the soil, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron. The best way to overcome this is to simply mix some mud into the water so that you can water down the plants without the risk of PSB affecting the plants.
You'll need to mix a tablespoon of white vinegar, a quarter cup of black mustard seeds, and a quarter cup of cabbage leaves with a half inch of fresh purple sprouting cabbage per 5-inch pot. Once you have your mixture ready, simply let your seedlings grow in the mixture for about four weeks. When you re-pot them, they should have grown root systems that are strong and healthy. Once the plant has established itself, there is no need for you to mix any additional soil for your seedlings.
For those who prefer to skip growing their purple sprouting broccoli in the garden, you can purchase bunches of this at your local nursery or seed store. Just remember to trim the stalks. This will help keep the plant from becoming too woody and make it easier for you to feed it. Make sure to water your newly purchased bunches of broccoli promptly, especially if you live in an area that is consistently cold. Once the plants have established themselves, you can put them right into your salads.
If you find your new plants turning purple, don't be alarmed. They will usually grow back. As long as you follow these guidelines, you will be able to enjoy your new purple sprouting broccoli until it begins to flower and produces baby blooms.