Growing tomatoes hydroponically just may be the ideal way in which to cultivate perfect, juicy, sweet, and delicious tomatoes. This will not only save you money, but provide you with beautiful healthy food.
The tomatoes actually grow in solutions of water and nutrients and you are able to control various aspects of the growing conditions, such as lighting, nutritional value, and temperature, thereby actually controlling the taste and nutritional value of the tomatoes themselves. There are several tips to think about when growing tomato plants hydroponically, and we will discuss five of them in this article.
Selecting a Hydroponic System
This will require a bit of research on your part, but the selection of the perfect hydroponic system for you is crucial. The type you use will depend on what types of tomatoes you will grow, how big the plants are and will become, and the amount of space you have in which to grow the plants. Deep water culture systems tend to be the most common, while others, such as the drip irrigation system, nutrient film system, and aeroponic system, may be a better fit for you. Do some reading about the various systems to discover which system would work best for you.
Start With Seeds
Starting with seeds instead of with seedlings minimizes the risk of disease and pests. The seeds should be planted in soil with a pH of 4.5 and a temperature of between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as the seeds begin growing, they should then receive about 12 hours of light per day, but be careful not to expose the roots to light as this could stunt the growth of the plants or even kill them. When the seedlings begin to sprout new leaves, they can then be moved into their hydroponic environment.
Nutrients and Water Quality
These two elements are key to the perfect hydroponic system. The pH of the water should be maintained between 5.0 and 7.0 at all times, and the solution pH should always be between 5.5 and 6.0. You will need to adjust the nutrients in your solution depending on the growth stage of the plants and also the time of year it is. For instance, your tomatoes will require more nitrogen in the summer and more potassium in the fall and winter months.
Some elements that your tomato plants will need include, but are not limited to, calcium, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, boron, copper, and iron. Nutrient deficiencies can cause a large host of problems, including small or limited fruit, yellowed leaves, and delayed maturity, so be sure you read up on the various nutrients your plants will need as they grow.
Mature tomato plants will need and thrive upon about 16 to 18 hours of direct light per day. The plants need sunlight, or artificial sunlight, for respiration and to actually feed their fruit. LED lights are often used for this purpose, and they use less energy than other light sources and also produce less heat.
Pruning and Staking
Maintaining your growing hydroponic tomato plants is also an important part of cultivating healthy, delicious tomatoes. Be sure to take off all shoots and runners, as well as yellowed leaves. This will keep the plants strong and reduce the risk of infection. You can use plastic twine to support heavy plants and ensure straight, vertical growth of the plants.
This article was written by the team at Site Shade – shade cloth specialists in Australia.