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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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Super Sweet 100. Cherry tomatoes are delicious! They make for an attractive salad bowl and are perfect for hydroponic gardens.
Popular Heirloom Tomatoes: Brandywine Pink, Mortgage Lifter
Super Sweet 100
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