I think I have a nutrient deficiency but I can't figure out what it is.
Most of my system is full of tomatoes and cayenne peppers. My leafy greens grow just fine in the cooler months but I give up on them in the summer.
But I'm having a problem with tomatoes. I grow two varieties: what I call a cherry heirloom (small, one inch diameter, sort of my own hybrid, comes in red/yellow/dark) and a standard size (I think the name of the strain was Abe Lincoln).
The regular sized tomatoes ripen slightly discolored and are mealy inside to where they aren't really edible. The cherry tomatoes are perfect perfect perfect and everyone that tastes them clamor for more.
My solution is going to be to get rid of the tomatoes that don't grow well, but that doesn't really fix the problem. Anyone have suggestions?
Do you have any pictures of the plants?
So the tomato plants need cut back but I think the foliage to growing totally healthy. They cherry tomatoes are exquisite but the bigger variety always crack, ripen a bit discolored, and then are mealy inside. It would be nice to have more yield, just wish I could figure out what I'm missing.
I'd say the problem is that your tomato plants have too much access to water. Not that you did anything wrong, it's just one of the issues with aquaponic tomatoes; there's just too much water. When tomatoes start to ripen, it's best if they have less access to water; it concentrates the flavors and helps avoid splits and cracks.
Honestly, I don't have a proven solution for your problem (my indoor tomatoes usually get hit with powdery mildew before I get bigger fruits), but try experimenting with the water coming into the growbed. Maybe lower your standpipe so there's a lower water level or isolate your bed with a timer based pump and water less often? Anybody else know of any good solutions?
Got to see the owner of Wild boar farms talk about how he does tomatoes at the national heirloom expo. He has some of the best tomatoes in California. He said that to get the tomatoes to be sweet, you need to get them to want to go to seed, meaning long hot days with not much water. Looking at your tomatoes, lots of foliage, a healthy plant, just never went to seed. How Bradley Gates from Wild boar farm said it was, "you have to be a sadist and really torture them". Thinking wicking beds or dutch buckets might let you do that.
See, the cherry tomatoes and hot peppers are great but the conventional tomatoes come through discolored and cracked.
I can totally dig the idea that too much water is doing this.
I'm moving at the end of the month and will have space to experiment with a new setup. I'll see what happens.
Thanks for replies.
Are you adding calcium to your system? Fruiting tomatoes take a lot of calcium and it controls the tomato's firmness. It does this by regulating how much water and salt are in the meaty part of the tomato.
I'm not adding calcium. Do people do that with shells? I'd think there's a lot of calcium and other hardness in the water already. I'll look into it, unless you have tips/recommendations. Thanks.
People usually use the need to raise their pH as an opportunity to add a little extra calcium via calcium carbonate. Also, annually salting your tank to 1ppt can be utilized for a bump in calcium if you use calcium chloride.
Other than that, there's eggshells and seashells (I'm not sure how much you need or if you can rely on them alone) and CalMag products. Most CalMag products contain nitrogen, however, I found a water soluble, slow release CalMag that contains no nitrogen (nitrogen is usually plentiful in an aquaponics system). You can buy that here: