I understand the ratios between gallons:grow bed square footage (5:1 to start). My question is how many vegetables can be grown in that square footage? I have a grow bed that's approx 4'x14" (little over 4 ft sq) and a 55 gallon tank. In my bed, I have 5 tomatoes (3 that are thriving, 1 that's making a good attempt and 1 that could use some attention), 2 peppers, 1 eggplant, 3 herbs, squash and some seed sprinkles. Yesterday, my fish were gulping at the surface (after filter cleaning...) and this morning, I had lost several. My nitrate level is really high, so I am assuming my veg count is too high even though they're all doing relatively well. So, what's the magic number of veggies per square foot of bed to keep the water balanced? Do some veggies (tom, etc...) produce more nitrate than others (lettuces, peas, etc).
Thanks in advance. Happy eating.
Keeping in mind TCL grows big catfish of course, a goldfish would get lonely in 5gal of water :) She is right though about having more water than needed, the more the better. It will take longer for your system to reach the needed nitrate level, but when it does (assuming you have the right amount of plants for how much food you give your fish) the level should remain even.
Ideally you want your fish practically attacking the surface when you feed them. To get an idea for your nitrate needs, keep a record of how much you're feeding and what your nitrate levels at.
But that is good advice about tracking the feed and the nitrate levels. It should be noted that in a media based system where solids are left in the system, after the first season, the system may have something of a nutrient buffer as solids are slow to break down and act kinda like time release fertilizer as the worms do their work along with heteratrophic (sp?) bacteria.
So, a quick (and very late update)... I am excited for August and sowing new veggies... Enough said. All is (approaching) well. Fish are good. Mites are gone. Seasonal veggies are beginning to take off...
Back to the original question, in a different light, how many plants can you have in an aquaponic garden vs a dirt garden? As some of the reasoning behind dirt gardens is for nurtient uptake, and we are delivering them directly to the roots, can we squeeze in some more plant?
My bed is about 3x4. I'm sticking to indeterminate tomatoes (currently there are two cuttings), but how many plants could I realistically get into this garden? Right now, there are about 11 including 4 herbs.
You can manage somewhat closer spacing on aquaponic veggies than you might in a traditional row dirt garden. However, plants still need space and your humidity/pest issues will probably dictate how much space you need to still get robust plants. For instance, you might be able to grow multiple plants really close in aquaponics but if one of them is all laying over on top of and/or shading the next one, at least one of those plants is likely to struggle or be stunted. If you don't thin things to reasonable spacing you might have more plants but they are likely to be smaller. Aquaponic spacing is likely to be more akin to square foot gardening type intensive gardening spacing. We don't need to worry about plants competing for water or nutrients but the plants still need to have enough space to grow and have the light/air flow they need to avoid pest/fungus problems.
Dose that answer the question? If you can train the tomato plants out and away from the bed to allow the other plants enough light and air then you might be able to get much plant out of a bed until the thing totally clogs up with roots.