by on 28/08/10 at 5:52 pm
Perhaps you have already grown tomatoes at home before or have become interested in hydroponics. Either way tomatoes are a great fruit to cultivate hydroponically. They are a forgiving plant and it isn’t too difficult to provide ideal conditions to accelerate their growth. Hydroponics is a method of gardening without soil where the plant is fed nutrients in a controlled environment. We will cover the main steps to growing hydroponic tomatoes here.
What do I need to start growing tomatoes hydroponically?
Ideally hydroponic tomatoes are grown indoors in a greenhouse environment where the growing variables can be closely controlled. If you don’t have a greenhouse you can still create a hydroponic setup outdoors or in your house with a growing light. If you are new I would recommend starting with a small hydroponics starter kit that uses drip irrigation – these can be purchased for under $100 and include a container, pipes and small pump. Drip irrigation is a process where your plant is fed its nuturient solution in drip form through a pipe. You will also need a nutrient kit to mix your nutrient solution that you will feed your plant with. If your plant isn’t receiving sunlight then you will also need a grow light. All these items can be sourced from specialist hydroponic stores by mail order if necessary.
How do I get my plants growing?
You start your tomato seeds in small “Rockwool Cubes”. Rockwool is a fiber made from mineral ideal for supporting roots and holding water and air to assist nutrient uptake. Once your plants are 2 weeks old they can be transferred to your final growing containers. Make sure you allow enough room between plants so they don’t overcrowd each other when larger – around 2ft is ideal.
Monitoring your system:
You will need to monitor the PH level of your nutrient solution continuously and maintain it in the correct range. Many starter kits come with a PH measuring kit – ideally tomatoes prefer a PH range between 6 and 6.5.
Tomatoes won’t bear fruit unless self pollinated. With your plants indoors you can’t rely on natural means to pollinate your flowers so will have to do it by hand. You will have to wait until your plant produces flowers before it is ready. A simple method simply involves pressing the petals together gently to transfer the pollen. Another popular method is to use an electric toothbrush placed behind the flower to distribute the pollen.
If your tomato plants grow taller than 2 feet then they will require some support. The easiest way to do this indoors is to suspend a string above your plant and secure it to the stem. You then wrap the plant around the string as it grows. By doing this you will increase your plants size and tomato crop by exposing the leaves to the light source.
Once you are successful at growing tomatoes with hydroponics you will be able to produce a fine crop of tomatoes all year round if you choose. You can find more useful detail on growing hydroponic tomatoes successfully at my site http://www.growingtomatoanswers.com
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