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what do you have the most success growing?  what specific varieties to you recommend?  what should be avoided, in your opinion

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I also found some info on tomatoes. Sylvia you can edit this if necessary.

Side stems affect plant vigor
As a tomato grows, side shoots, or suckers, form in the crotches, or axils, between the leaves and the main stem. If left alone, these suckers will grow just like the main stem, producing flowers and fruit.
Suckers appear sequentially, from the bottom of the plant up. The farther up on the plant a sucker develops, the weaker it is, because the sugar concentration gets lower as you move up the plant. On the other hand, side stems arising from below the first flower cluster, although stronger, compromise the strength of the main stem. For a multi-stemmed plant, your aim is to have all stems roughly the same size, although the main stem should always be stronger, because it has to feed the entire plant for the next five or six months. Here's how I achieve this.
I keep tomatoes free of side stems below the first fruit cluster. When trained to one vine and left free-standing, tomato plants develop strong main stems. To encourage a strong stem, I trim all suckers and I don't tie plants to their supports until the first flowers appear.
Determinate tomatoes need no pruning other than removing all suckers below the first flower cluster, because pruning won't affect their fruit size or plant vigor. If you do any pruning at all above the first flower cluster on determinate tomatoes, you'll only be throwing away potential fruit.
Indeterminate tomatoes can have from one to many stems, although four is the most I'd recommend. The fewer the stems, the fewer but larger the fruits, and the less room the plant needs in the garden. For a multi-stemmed plant, let a second stem grow from the first node above the first fruit. Allow a third stem to develop from the second node above the first set fruit, and so forth. Keeping the branching as close to the first fruit as possible means those side stems will be vigorous but will not overpower the main stem.


Harold Sukhbir said:
Well now i am really envious! Haven' t you noticed how many AP'ers both new and old have had issues with growing these damn infernal tomatoes? Ranging from seed starting all the way up to harvesting? when all you do is to plant them and even give them away? You even call them pest and they still grow for you! I've treated them like babies(better than my own kids! HaHa!), and what do they give me? only pure heartbreak! At least i finally got one on the way(knock on wood!).Life is never easy for some of us...........Lol

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Oh Harold, you are a charmer. Not so sure about the wisdom thing, but I have a deep love for good tomatoes. And they grow like weeds in my AP systems. I don't really know why, except for a few simple guidelines. Keep the temps warm, the nutrient level high, the suckers pruned off (like in my video), and make sure you have lots of air circulation between the plants. And shake them every day for pollination if you are in a greenhouse. Just had the pleasure of giving away 5 beautiful heirloom tomatoes as a gift to a friend who took care of my dog over the holiday. They seemed to be much appreciated. My favorite varieties are Black Krim, Hillbilly Potato Leaf and Sungold cherries.
That sounds like what I do, except that I'm not clever enough to prune to more than one stem...but now I'm going to give it a try. I've always gone with the simple rule of just prune off all the suckers and, this article is right, you end up with a central stem that is about the 1 - 1 1/2 inches in diameter, very sturdy, and grows out to about 25' in a year. I tend to avoid determinates for 2 reasons. First, I love the taste and unusual varieties you find in heirloom tomatoes, and most heirlooms (not all) are indeterminates. Second, a determinate will usually only give you one, maybe two, flushes of fruit, then it is done. Indeterminates just keep on cranking.
As I think Popeye used to say " Well blow me down. I have raised tomatoes all my life and have no idea what an determinate and indeterminate tomato is. Please enlighten me. You can teach an old dog new tricks if they are on this site, Mahalo for the info.
Now I have "argh...shiver me timbers" going through my head for some reason...

The easiest way to think of the difference between a determinate and indeterminate plant is with a determinate plant the size is "determined", but with an indeterminate plant they just get bigger and bigger. If you ever see a size on a seed packet or potted tomato plant - "patio sized" or "3' - 4'" or something else indicating how big it will be at maturity - that is a determinate plant. They have a shorter life span, which usually isn't a problem here given the short growing season, grow in a bush-like fashion, generally require no pruning, and they put on a few "flushes" of fruit, then die. They also tend to be a hybridized plant (re: not heirloom).

The mega vines are indeterminates. These bad boys put on fruit on new growth only, and will grow and grow for up to a year. They require pruning to be most productive and manageable. The pruning instructions that Harold printed are a great guideline for pruning them. I think the best tasting fruit comes off of indeterminates, and they are worth the trouble.

Hope this helps :)
another thing one might think about when planting. If you want a huge harvest of tomatoes all at once (say for canning) then you might want to plant more determinate tomato plants since they tend to give a bigger harvest all at one time while the indeterminates are better for giving you a few fruit at a time (for those who just want a few for sandwiches and salads) over a much longer period of time.

I've had this odd tendency of planting mostly the indeterminates cause I like training them to grow up and out (I didn't really understand the note I made above) and I've been complaining that I never get enough tomatoes all at once to can tomato sauce or anything, then some one told me I should start planting some determinates if I want that.
In Murray's newest DVD Aquaponic Secrets he talks about tomatoes and pruning, plus the indiscriminate and discriminate types. I don't know if you have had the chance to view it (almost two hours long) but it is great as you would expect from him. I had a friend from out of state that had bought a copy and so I got to see it myself, in his visit. He also talks about many other things and one that is another topic in these blogs is the commercial side of aquaponics. I would suggest you get one as soon as you can, well worth it.

There is one thing that I have not understood though and that is: if duckweed is so good for tilapia, and they eat it in the wild why do you need to feed them pelletized food processed by man? Why will that not be good enough for them? Sorry I guess this isn't in the right discussion. :D
Thanks for the info.I really didn't pick that up in my reading on tomatoes, in fact i thought it was the opposite, because i saw a picture on the net of a GH with huge(looks like approx. 25 ft.) indeterminate's!

TCLynx said:
another thing one might think about when planting. If you want a huge harvest of tomatoes all at once (say for canning) then you might want to plant more determinate tomato plants since they tend to give a bigger harvest all at one time while the indeterminates are better for giving you a few fruit at a time (for those who just want a few for sandwiches and salads) over a much longer period of time.

I've had this odd tendency of planting mostly the indeterminates cause I like training them to grow up and out (I didn't really understand the note I made above) and I've been complaining that I never get enough tomatoes all at once to can tomato sauce or anything, then some one told me I should start planting some determinates if I want that.
+++++
Thanks Kobus, and more questions now. What about growing and feeding without drying, like in greenhouse setup? Having a larger tank and just "harvest" as you need to feed the fish out of that tank? What about the freezing that I have seen Murray talk about in his DVD's? Is this freezing with water like ice cubes or water removed? There must be something we are not seeing in the eco system to understand how to make it work better. I know in the biodomes here in Az they fed just like in native situation without additional food, but I have not been able to go or contact and find out what specially they did. I will try harder to find out on that and let you know also. Thanks once again.




Kobus Jooste said:
Ken - on your question about duckweed getting processed for fish (and poultry and other critters for that matter). I have done a lot of research and consider it something to achieve, but here is some basic problems: Lemna (duckweed) is around 80% + water. Its nutrient content is fantastic, but many drying methods on a large scale will damage it - especially the vitamin and pigment content. You need huge amounts of the stuff to make up for their typical pellet diet, thus until some bright spark comes up with the technology that will assist in the rapid and efficient drying of duckweed without loosing much of the nutrient quality, You will likely not see it in food. Dried lemna is very, very light, and you will also need to produce and handle tons of it to be effective. That can be done, but again, it is harder than dealing with the alternatives at this point in time. If you are interested in home production, I have an experimental system where 75 square feet of lemna beds gave me around 11 pounds of wet mass per harvest cycle (1 week). I use aquaculture to produce the lemna in a modified biofilter. Healthy duckweed populations can be maintained in aquaponic systems too, but nutrient levels must not be too low - above 2 mg/L nitrates for my experiments. I think people like us will produce and feed with the stuff unprocessed before anyone will crack the commercial feed.

Ken Richardson said:
In Murray's newest DVD Aquaponic Secrets he talks about tomatoes and pruning, plus the indiscriminate and discriminate types. I don't know if you have had the chance to view it (almost two hours long) but it is great as you would expect from him. I had a friend from out of state that had bought a copy and so I got to see it myself, in his visit. He also talks about many other things and one that is another topic in these blogs is the commercial side of aquaponics. I would suggest you get one as soon as you can, well worth it.

There is one thing that I have not understood though and that is: if duckweed is so good for tilapia, and they eat it in the wild why do you need to feed them pelletized food processed by man? Why will that not be good enough for them? Sorry I guess this isn't in the right discussion.
Kobus Jooste said:
You will need a fair amount of production, but it is not impossible. They love the stuff to bit in my system, but you will have to get to a point where you can quickly go from production to feeding. I use Lemna gibba, or fat duckweed. You will have to squeeze a lot of water out of it prior to freezing to save space, but the moment it is squashed it does not float as nicely, allowing the fish to feed at leasure. Not sure if the water problem is less with other species. I will try to find the papers on duckweed feeding in my computer and post it in a discussion for all to download. It is a topic that I am very serious about, but have not reached the capacity to research feeding results yet. Here is another great snippet for you. Duckweed is a bio-accumulator, scavenging for nutrients in water and concentrating them in their cells at far greater densities than what is in the water. They can absorb all the stuff we use in AP - also the things that are not in commercial feeds such as molybdenum and boron. It is possible to create a culture solution for duckweed that contains a good mix of nutrients for an AP system. Dwell on that one for a bit. Amazing opportunities right there.

Ken Richardson said:
+++++
Thanks Kobus, and more questions now. What about growing and feeding without drying, like in greenhouse setup? Having a larger tank and just "harvest" as you need to feed the fish out of that tank? What about the freezing that I have seen Murray talk about in his DVD's? Is this freezing with water like ice cubes or water removed? There must be something we are not seeing in the eco system to understand how to make it work better. I know in the biodomes here in Az they fed just like in native situation without additional food, but I have not been able to go or contact and find out what specially they did. I will try harder to find out on that and let you know also. Thanks once again.




Kobus Jooste said:
Ken - on your question about duckweed getting processed for fish (and poultry and other critters for that matter). I have done a lot of research and consider it something to achieve, but here is some basic problems: Lemna (duckweed) is around 80% + water. Its nutrient content is fantastic, but many drying methods on a large scale will damage it - especially the vitamin and pigment content. You need huge amounts of the stuff to make up for their typical pellet diet, thus until some bright spark comes up with the technology that will assist in the rapid and efficient drying of duckweed without loosing much of the nutrient quality, You will likely not see it in food. Dried lemna is very, very light, and you will also need to produce and handle tons of it to be effective. That can be done, but again, it is harder than dealing with the alternatives at this point in time. If you are interested in home production, I have an experimental system where 75 square feet of lemna beds gave me around 11 pounds of wet mass per harvest cycle (1 week). I use aquaculture to produce the lemna in a modified biofilter. Healthy duckweed populations can be maintained in aquaponic systems too, but nutrient levels must not be too low - above 2 mg/L nitrates for my experiments. I think people like us will produce and feed with the stuff unprocessed before anyone will crack the commercial feed.

Ken Richardson said:
In Murray's newest DVD Aquaponic Secrets he talks about tomatoes and pruning, plus the indiscriminate and discriminate types. I don't know if you have had the chance to view it (almost two hours long) but it is great as you would expect from him. I had a friend from out of state that had bought a copy and so I got to see it myself, in his visit. He also talks about many other things and one that is another topic in these blogs is the commercial side of aquaponics. I would suggest you get one as soon as you can, well worth it.

There is one thing that I have not understood though and that is: if duckweed is so good for tilapia, and they eat it in the wild why do you need to feed them pelletized food processed by man? Why will that not be good enough for them? Sorry I guess this isn't in the right discussion.
I am dwelling on that thought, very interesting. :D

Came across this article for pollinating Tomatos

 

http://www.instructables.com/id/Pollinating-Tomatoes/

 

Easy and potentially useful

And you don't have to touch each flower cluster to do the job.  Simply vibrating the whole plant a little will do the trick.  You don't even need a brush head on the toothbrush, just something to vibrate the plant and touch it to the stem.  Then again.  giving the entire support cage a few whacks a day could do the job for all plants at once if they are all tied together.
I've had my 29g system running about 2 months now. So far, I can definitely declare the cilantro a success. Tomatoes and lettuces are off to a good start, but too early to say how they'll do. Tomatoes will be transferred outside in a few weeks to a new system I'm building specifically for them.

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