by on 16/08/10 at 5:52 pm
There are many ways to grow tomatoes. One of the most interesting is hydroponics, in which the plant is grown in a nutrient solution without any soil, sand, or other medium. This method helps produce the greatest possible amount of tomatoes from a crop.
Growing hydroponic tomatoes, is technology that uses solutions of water and fertilizers in order to grow crops. The plant roots do not get any other sort of support like soil or dirt. And the solution, once delivered to the plant, is not recycled back through the system. Hydroponic technology can be found in greenhouses, which control water, pests and temperature.
Plastic helped the development of hydroponics; it’d water proof qualities, durable, reuseable, lightweight and translucent. In the 60s and early 70s, plastic helped fuel the petroleum based technology that drives hydroponics. But with rising oil costs and increasing regulation on chemical pesticides, interest dropped for another 20 years or so until hydroponics again became a viable technology, especially in regard to protecting ground water and soil from pollutants.
A big advantage of these hydroponic growing systems is that they allow gardeners to grow tomatoes anywhere from cold climates to arid deserts to temperate zones. This is because hydroponic systems are usually incorporated into greenhouses.
However, a key disadvantage to the system is pests. It may be assumed that hydroponic systems would reduce the amount of pests and insects by being enclosed, as in a greenhouse, but this enclosure also encourages pests by shutting out their natural predators. Some frequent species of pests that can pose a problem in hydroponic systems include whiteflies, tomato fruit worms, tomato pinworms, leaf miners, cabbage loopers and two-spotted spider mites. A potential way to ward these off is by introducing their natural predators to the environment.
To build a hydroponic system in a greenhouse, you must first determine how much space will be required for the greenhouse and the financial investment it would require. Other factors like drainage, accessibility and sun exposure are also important to consider.
There are several different types of hydroponic systems to choose from. Deep flow hydroponics is the classic hydroponic system. Plants are supported in rectangle-shaped, plastic-lined tanks and their roots are allowed to hang down into the nutrient solution. This method works both for casual gardeners and large-scale production of crops.
Another method is the nutrient film technique. It is a modification of the classic deep flow system. For the nutrient film technique, plastic-lined containers are again used, but the plant roots are in the containers and the nutrient solution flows through containers. Gravity is used to draw the solution down a channel so it can reach all the plants. The roots will constantly be in contact with the nutrient solution, which is circulating, and the root surface will be exposed to the air. This method is particularly useful for planting tomatoes.
Aeroponics takes a different approach, spraying the nutrient solution as a fine mist instead of circulating it as a liquid. The roots need to be sprayed for only a few seconds every couple minutes. This method can be used for tomatoes, but isn’t preferred as it is not economically viable.
With a system established, it is time to let the tomatoes grow and ripen. Ultimately, the success of the system will be determined by the flavor, color, texture, shelf life and firmness of the tomatoes when they are finished growing.
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