Aquaponic Gardening

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We planted our first aquaponics crop of tomatoes, spinach and celery. I would appreciate any feedback to the following outcomes. 

Aquaponics unit: "Barrelponics" built from 3- food grade 55 gal barrels, 15  very healthy gold fish occupy one barrel on it's side, wellwater with perfect ph, 300 GPH Marine AC pump, washed pea gravel media in 2 1/2's of a 55 gallon barrel.

Planted 3/15/2014:

  • Tomatoes: Pomodoro St Pierre Francais Sementi seeds planted in washed pea gravel mid March (about 80 days) with a steady flow of good ph water circulated through the fish tank. Days have been getting hotter but they have been gradually deteriarting from the bottom of the plant up except green leaves at the top of the plant,  Bottom leaves appear with some holes (ants? earwigs?) discoloration and begin curling under until they dry up. Greenhouse covered with 70% shadecloth.  Still no flowers.
    • Could they be too hot, getting too much/little  water, are they missing nutrients? wrong type tomatoes, should I not plant from seed? Better seed?
    • Do you plant from seedlings or seeds?

 

  • The celery at 75 days were 1" tall planted in pea gravel media opposite growbed of tomatoes. Why would they be small?  Wrong time of year? Wrong medium? Too much/little water? missing nutrients?

 

  • Spinach was a great success!  Occasionally we would find a few ants on the plant and when harvested there were earwigs.  We replanted spinach.

 

I really appreciate any feedback.

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I would guess that a deficiency of nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, or a even a combination of the three is the problem. That seems like a lot of tomato plants for a barrel system. You could maybe try thinning them to two plants and supplementing potassium and magnesium and see how things go? I have a 300 gallon system and struggle with the one tomato plant that I have in with the rest of my plants, so I totally get your frustration. Good luck!

I  attended a class about growing tomatoes a few weeks ago.  This is perfectly normal for tomato plants.  The instructor even has a name for it called "the harvest point".  The older leaves die off.  This instructor has been growing tomatoes since he was 10. It's a family business and he grow tens of thousands of tomato plants.  Sorry I could go look up his name but I can't remember it at the moment. 

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