GROWING HYDROPONIC TOMATOES
Growing hydroponic tomatoes
Ripe juicy tomatoes! Everyone loves to grow tomatoes in their summer garden, but with the power of hydroponic gardening, you can enjoy these popular fruits year round. Tomatoes are highly nutritious, range in variety, and bring color and flavor to that favorite dinner staple... salad.
Tomatoes are probably the most popular hydroponic vegetable, and are usually very successful. Hydroponic tomatoes can ripen as much as 8 weeks earlier and produce more fruit than soil-planted plants. They also have superior nutrition and appearance, tender skin, firm flesh, delightful aroma and flavor, and surprisingly, they keep very well.
Growing hydroponic tomatoes
Temp: tomatoes can survive at 55-85 degrees, but do best in the seventies, with a RH (humidity) of 40-50%. They can handle high temps on occasion, but prolonged 90+ degrees can damage them. And they will die if exposed to frost. Tomatoes like lots of light.
Try Heirloom Tomato varieties like Brandywine for an adventure in culture and taste. We recently had an article on heirloom tomatoes in our free ezine, The Urban Farmer. You can sign up by clicking on "What's New" in the NavBar on the left. You will find the article in the archives.
Keep a constantly renewed batch of seedlings, plants and harvest going for cycling and year-round production of delicious salad tomatoes. Full grown tomato vines have a tremendous capacity for water and food, so watch your nutrient reservoir levels.
Tomatoes do best if you prune them to a single stem supported by a string or trellis. Choose one main stem and train it up, eliminating other side stems and snapping off the "suckers" (shoots which sprout between the main stem and each leaf petiole: see photo of suckers below).
Remove these suckers
Keeping the tomato plant nicely groomed and from getting too bushy helps the plant's energy go towards forming fruits instead of all foliage. It's also a good idea to allow no more than 4-5 flowers on each truss (or cluster of flowers). Pruning of some of the fruits results in more uniform and robust tomatoes. Remove yellowed leaves at the bottom to allow air movement. Once the fruits start ripening, you can even strip off the bottom leaves all the way up to the ripening trusses.
With a gently oscillating fan going, chances are very good that you will not have to do any hand pollination. I have never had to lend a hand to my tomatoes in this process. But if you find the fruits are not setting, read the pollination page.
For a nice troubleshooting guide to your tomatoes, see TOMATO WOES.
Staking tomatoes: Matusalah (rave reviews), Burpee Big Boy
Tomatoes (Bush or Patio): Cherry, Celebrity is also a good choice, grow about 6 foot tall
Got tomatoes coming out your ears? Try this healthy tomato basil soup recipe.
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