Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi there, my IBC tote system is functioning well, fish are getting bigger(started with goldfish) and plant growth is amazing however fruit production is disappointing to say the least.  Several posts recommended hand pollination and i tried but almost no female flowers to pollinate squash,  peas or cucumbers and shaking tomato plants hasnt helped.  Tiny hot peppers are great as is rosemary and basil. I took a picture of the media which is building up a layer of "thatch" and roots to the point where water isnt penetrating in those areas.  I moved the water pipe to a "cleaner" area and that seems fine but

is the "thatch" something I need to remove(picture attached)?

how many plants in general for a 4 x 4 clay pellet media bed(I may have over planted)?

Which plants are best to produce aquaponically in a greenhouse?

Thanks to all who have been generous with responses in the past.  

My inclination is to remove the existing plants and start again.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Mike. I'm not the expert but I did over plant my media bed based on all the info I had received. Cabbages grew long stalks looking for sun ( I'm talking 1-2'). Next planting I will only plant 9-12 cabbages (or like sized veggies) in a single IBC bed. I heard somewhere that if you're trying to get blossoms and fruit you need to add calcium when the plants reach blossom size.

Thanks Jeff, appreciate the info.  Based on a previous topic post, I did add calcium carbonate but no affect.  Beautiful growth and hundreds of flowers but 3 tomatoes, 3 cucumbers(2 were too bitter to eat), several squash that never grew past 3", good hot pepper production but I only found 2 female flowers to pollinate in everything.  Also found a couple of hornets nests that I assume kept the bees away.  Any idea on the "thatch" issue?  The picture on my first post shows what about 50% of the bed looks like and not sure if I should remove it.  Looks amazingly healthy and "root bound" but not sure if it is a good condition for this or future plantings.  

Hi Mike,

I'm no expert by any means.  I will say I have had a similar issue with poor fruit production with tomatoes (haven't tried cukes or peppers yet).  Do you have composting worms in your media bed?  I would remove the thatch if it is to the point to prevent water penetration.  I clean any dead leaves and such build-up anytime I replant an area where items have been removed.

I blame my poor fruiting on not monitoring my system chemistry close enough to know if I have issues.  My guess is I need more micro nutrients.  I think if I try fruiting plants again I will add regular doses of seaweed to get those micro nutrients.  I already alternate between potassium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate (egg shells) to buffer my pH.


My first year I did tomatoes and bell peppers and had limited success. This year the tomatoes are doing great at least until last week when the one in the DWC bed wilted. 

Thanks Arthur and Jeff, I did add composting worms early on and cleaning the thatch, did see some in the bed.  The root system is amazing, you can lift whole sections of the media bed, clay pellets, roots etc.  Cleaned the plants out, cleaning the bed and will decide what to re plant this week but for sure it wont be as many as I put in this time.  Also cleaned out 3 wasp nests which may have been keeping the bees out!!  Thanks again and if anything else strikes you, please let me know.


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