GROWING HYDROPONIC TOMATOES

Ripe juicy tomatoes! Everyone loves to grow tomatoes in their summer garden, but by growing hydroponic tomatoes, 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.

vine ripened tomatoes


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.

   Proper Growing Conditions for 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 have an excellent article on growing
heirloom hydroponic tomatoes here: Heirloom Seeds. (Also on that page are great instructions for drying and saving tomato seeds from your harvest).

Keep a constantly renewed batch of seedlings, plants and harvest going for cycling and year-round production of delicious juicy tomatoes. Growing hydroponic tomatoes feeds your salad bowl year-round.

Full grown tomato vines have a tremendous capacity for water and food, so watch your nutrient reservoir levels. Tomatoes also require high levels of nutrient concentration, So mix your solution on the strong side, or test with an EC Meter.

tomato suckers

PRUNING


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 above).

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.

More information on training and pruning vining crops here: Hydroponic Gardens.

oscillating fan

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.

DETERMINATE VS. INDETERMINATE TOMATOES


Ever wonder about those terms?

DETERMINATE: Determinate tomatoes only grow to a set predetermined size. The vine terminates in a flower cluster and the plant grows slowly once fruit has set. Staking and pruning are not required. The patio variety tomatoes are determinate.

INDETERMINATE: There is no predetermined maximum growth. Given the proper food and water, the vine can keep growing and producing more and more tomatoes. These are the vining tomato species, and require a means of support and proper pruning for best results.


GOOD VARIETIES FOR GROWING HYDROPONIC TOMATOES:

Staking (vining) tomatoes: Brandywine, Matusalah (rave reviews if you can find it), Burpee Big Boy, Giant Beefsteak

Tomatoes (Bush or Patio): Tiny Tim, Celebrity, others below. Cherry tomatoes are delicious! They make for an attractive salad bowl and are perfect for hydroponic gardens.



Patio Princess Hybrid Cherry Tomatoes icon
Super Sweet 100 Patio Tomatoes icon




Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Tomatoes icon
Brandywine Pink Heirloom Tomatoes icon
Burpee Big Boy Favorite Hybrid Tomatoes icon


Super Sweet 100

Brandywine

Mortgage Lifter



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