How to Grow Tomatoes with Aquaponics
What is Aquaponics
Aquaponics is an increasingly popular growing technique that combines a hydroponic environment with fish to grow plants. A nutrient-rich growth medium is pumped into the chamber from an external source. The plants are encouraged and given nutrients to grow. Aquaponics systems come in a variety of sizes, from small hobby-enthusiastic gardens to large commercial operations. This system combines traditional vegetable gardening with hydroponics. The growing medium is generally made from expanded clay or sandy material, and it is often designed with aeration and nutrients and flow rate control in mind. Plants grown in aquaponics can produce healthy tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and other vegetables if kept in good conditions.
Here a few simple steps to get you started with growing tomatoes with aquaponics.
Setup your containers and adjust the pH
You should first rinse your containers and the aquaponic growth medium with water to get rid of any dust or particles that might alter the water pH. If you are using an air pump, first install a water pump, a stone, or a reservoir. Your growing medium should be well-drained so that any excess water can drain out of your system. Your tomato seedlings also require light as they rely upon sunlight to produce sugars. Add the medium until your container is about one-third full.
Check the pH level of the water to make sure it is between 5.8 and 6.8, I usually try to target a pH level of 6.0, since over time, nutrients and other environmental conditions, will tend to make the pH level wander up or down. So its a good idea to start in the middle. Once you have established which way the pH tends to move in your environment, you may want to adjust it either closer to 5.8 or 6.8 to give you longer periods between pH maintenance. If you need to adjust it, use a fish-safe pH stabilizer to adjust the pH. This can be purchased at any garden store that sells aquaponic supplies, or online.
Your system should be ready for use once you have completed cleaning and testing. It is time to feed the system with fish food pellets, or tablets. Because the nutrients are not used up quickly in your aquaponics system, they tend to buildup in the aqua tanks. Feeding your system with fish food pellets or tablets will help to prevent this from happening.
Plant your Tomatoes
Take the tomato seedlings out of their container and rinse them with water to clean the soil. To prevent root damage or breaking, be careful. To ensure the plant stays upright, spread the roots into the aquaponic grow container.
Red wiggler worms can be added to the growing medium in order to control algae and produce organic matter that is beneficial for plant and fish growth. The tubing system transfers the nutrients from the worms’ castings to the fish tank by transferring water. An 18-gallon container can house 1/2 to 1 Cup of worms.
Ensure that they have enough space so that they don’t overcrowd the area where they are growing. You should not allow your tomatoes to touch each other.
The pH level should be checked every day during the first month and then every other week thereafter. This will ensure that the pH is at an acceptable level. Low pH could indicate that phosphorus levels are low. As needed, adjust the pH using a fish safe stabilizer.
Water PH level plays an important role in the development of tomatoes, therefore, you should keep this level constant. Your plant might experience abnormalities or even starvation if the water PH levels are too low or too high.
There are several ways to control the water pH level in your system prior to planting. Aquaponic nutrient boosters can be used to raise the water PH in your system to a desired level. Another is to add an organic soil conditioner to the water to restore the PH level. After planting your tomato plants, you should inspect them regularly for signs of disease or abnormal growth.
For proper growth, it is important to keep in mind the water pH level. Make sure your pH is set to a minimum of 7. This is the lowest level possible that will allow the plant to grow. It is not a good idea to overfeed your plants as it will stunt their growth. A water supply with a pH level 6.0 is perfect for your tomato plants. Once your system has been established, you can continue to feed it fish food.