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Tomatoes are among the easiest plants for beginners, whether they are grown in soil or an aquaponics system. However, growing them aquaponically gives you more advantage as it lets you harvest fresh tomato fruits in less time and in a sustainable way. What’s even more exciting is that they come in different varieties. But what are the best tomato varieties for aquaponics?
Tomatoes come in different sizes and colors, as well as the levels of juiciness. Over 10,000 cultivars exist, and it can be hard to choose the best tomato varieties for aquaponics. However, if you aim to grow sweet-tasting tomatoes, you should grow the following types:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Plum tomatoes
In this article, we will discuss sweetness levels of tomatoes, the two types of tomatoes, and their different varieties.
Understanding Tomato Sweetness
It’s been made known that growing crops in aquaponics will reward you with better-tasting and high-quality yields. However, it’s not always true for tomatoes, and you can’t expect to have sweet tomatoes during harvest time just because they’re homegrown. The level of sweetness of tomatoes will still depend on the variety grown, the chemistry involved, and the growing conditions of the plant.
Chemistry comes into play when it comes to tomato sweetness, such that a balance of sugar and acid levels must be present in your crop. If tomatoes are acidic, they have lower sugar levels. In contrast, if tomatoes are low in acidity but are high in sugar, they tend to become sweet.
If they are both low in sugar and low in acidity, you will likely have bland tomatoes. That being said, you need to make sure your tomatoes have high concentrations of sugar and acid to enjoy sweet and great-tasting fruits.
How To Grow Sweet Tomatoes
If you want to make sure you’re growing tomatoes, the first thing to note is that cultivar matters. Some tomato varieties will simply taste less sweet because of their chemistry, while others are naturally sweet. When growing tomatoes, you also have to remember that smaller varieties are much sweeter than their larger counterparts, in general.
Besides variety, your local climate will also matter. You could choose the right sweet cultivar but still end up with less sweet tomatoes because of the climate conditions specific to your region. Generally, tomatoes are warm-season crops that thrive in warm and cool temperatures but won’t survive in frost. They are full-sun plants that need 6-8 hours of direct sun exposure.
Adverse climate conditions can affect the growth and development of tomatoes. Growing tomatoes below 50 deg F and above 100 deg F is not ideal and can lead to poor growth. Keeping temperatures just right, which is between 75 deg F and 85 deg F, should keep the plants happy.
As for the aquaponics system, the best way to grow tomatoes is by using media-filled beds. Grow beds should also have trellises for extra support, especially for indeterminate varieties of tomatoes like cherry tomatoes, which can grow into vines. For a complete guide on growing aquaponics tomatoes, click here.
Choosing The Right Tomato Cultivars
As previously mentioned, the key to growing sweet tomatoes is to choose the right variety. Smaller tomatoes are more delicious, in general, so if you want them in your aquaponics gardens, you have to go for cherry and plum tomatoes.
Most gardeners would like to add cherry tomato plants in their garden as they are fun to grow. They produce colorful fruits, including red, yellow, orange, and black, depending on the cultivar. Cherry tomatoes are the kind of tomatoes you wouldn’t want to miss adding to your bowl of healthy salad.
Most cherry tomatoes will start to produce flowers after a month. These flowers will soon turn into tiny green fruits. A couple of weeks after, you should be able to see your tiny cherry tomatoes.
Leaving the tomatoes on the vine to ripen also helps you have sweeter harvests. All in all, you should be able to enjoy cherry tomato harvests in less than 60 days. You will know that the tomatoes are good to go if they come off easily during picking.
Are you ready to grow cherry tomatoes? Below are some cultivars you can grow in your garden:
- Black Cherry
- Tiny Tim
- White Cherry tomatoes
Plum varieties are small, just like cherry tomatoes, and are specifically used in sauces or paste, or for processing in general. If you are a fan of pasta and you want your sauces to be homemade and fresh, then growing plum tomatoes would be a brilliant idea.
Looking at this type of tomato, they appear to have an oval or egg shape. They tend to have more flesh than juice, which is why they are best suited for processing. That’s not to say they can’t be added to your salads, though. Plum tomatoes may feel “dryer” to your taste, but they taste good, nonetheless.
When it comes to sweetness, plum tomatoes can be comparable to cherry tomatoes. If you want to grow plum tomatoes in your aquaponics garden, consider getting the following cultivars:
- Grape tomatoes
Tomatoes, in general, make excellent plants for aquaponics because they’re easy to care for. They also produce an abundance of fruits perfect for any recipe. If you are particular about cultivating flavorful tomatoes, remember that the smaller varieties tend to be the sweetest. In the end, success in growing the best tomato varieties for aquaponics will depend on choosing the right type that does well in your specific climate.