Hello all together,
I want to grow tomatoes in the raft system, someone has experience. please share your experience with me.
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Being a commercial aquaponic grower, I prefer to grow tomatoes in media beds or wicking beds. From a commercial AND hobby standpoint I feel this is the only way to do it (just my opinion). Here's why:
1. Tomatoes take a long time to grow and fruit so lettuce and other fast growing crops bottleneck when they get to the stationary tomato plant. This slows down the efficient movement of plants. So I like to park long term plants that fruit or cut and come again plants like kale and herbs off to the side in a media bed and keep the rafts free flowing.
2. A tomato plant in a dwc raft cannot be moved, They need to be hung and supported. Rafts move constantly which increases the probability of damage to the tomato or its developing fruit.
3. A tomato plant is happier with two levels of support, foliage in the form of strings, netting or stakes and ROOT support. Tomatoes can have extensive root systems. They develop these roots primarily for seeking and taking up nutrients (not an issue in an aquaponic system) but the roots also give the plant great support; in full fruiting stage,they will need all the support they can get.
4.A mature tomato can have 20 -30 lbs of fruit in various stages of growth and have a vine upwards of 100 feet long depending on how you manage the vine (and if its determinate or indeterminate).
There are probably more reasons to plant tomatoes in media but these are what comes to mind based on my own experience. This past spring,summer and fall, I had a cherry tomato plant in my 4x4 media bed at home that produced constantly until a couple weeks ago when we received our first frost.When I finally tore it out, I had 15 foot vines.These would have been a nightmare in a raft. Just my opinion. Nothing out there says tomatoes wont grow in rafts, they will its just more work.
many thanks for your quick response. Makes sense what you say. By the way, I have understood correctly you doing Aquaponics in the Commercial way.