Many years back, I received a gift of duckweed. I put it into my aquaponics tank, where it was quickly gobbled up by hungry tilapia. I didn’t give it a second thought.
Fast forward to the past few weeks, where I saw Leah of Posy and the Bee keeping a good size tank of it near her quail pen. “They love this stuff,” she said of quail. Then, a few days later I attended a plant exchange where the leftover plants included duckweed. I took it home.
This time, I’m actually going to try growing it. I fed some to the quail and they loved it. I also know the fish will eat it, and it’s easy to grow as long as it isn’t being eaten faster than it grows. The plant I was given is technically not duckweed, but azolla. However, most people call it duckweed in Hawaii. It’s supposedly a miracle food, with some entrepreneurs trying to figure out how to make meatless meat out of it.
Its current uses are many, including animal feed, biofuel, mosquito control and wastewater remediation. There’s even an Azolla Foundation set up by two scientists who have studied the plant extensively. Interestingly, one of the pair is a paleontologist who studies climate change over time.
Growing duckweed shouldn’t be too difficult. Just put it in unchlorinated water and let it grow. You can add a bubble stone for aeration, but it doesn’t seem to be necessary: a manual stir once a day seems to be adequate.