Imagine the first taste of your sweet, luscious and mature tomato handpicked fresh from the garden. The juice runs through the chin as a pleasant explosion stimulates your latent taste buds. But, the tomatoes are available for short period of the year. Here comes the hydroponics system, a method of growing tomatoes in nutrient-filled water without the use of soil. Growing tomatoes without soil means no use of fertilizer, any pests or bacteria and no use of pesticides. Hence the tomatoes grown hydroponically are healthier and available for whole year. Scroll down to get complete detailed information on growing tomatoes hydroponically.
Start with the seed stage, you will require one-inch rock wool cubes, nursery tray and dome. Before using these cubes, soak the rock wool cubes into the water mixed with pH 4.5. Place the cubes into the tray covered with dome at a moist temperature of 20 to 25 degrees, you will see sprouted seedlings. Transferred the seedlings to a place where shoots is only exposed to fluorescent lights for a minimum of twelve hours in a day. Now, you can remove the dome and after two weeks, the true leaves become visible. At this time, the plants can be planted into the real hydroponic garden. Tomatoes are highly sensitive to brightness and light. Make sure that your plants get the correct amount of light or else your tomatoes will lose the flavour and colour. The perfect light for tomatoes is 1000 foot-candles for almost 18 hours in a day. Tomatoes do well when they are not directly exposed to sunlight.
Ideally, you can use three systems for growing hydroponics tomatoes- Nutrient Film Technique, Drip Irrigation and Ebb and Flow system. Through drip irrigation system, the nutrient is pumped from a reservoir via drip and it is circulated back to the plant by gravity. It’s a continuous process whereas the lights are completely on. Until your feeding is stable, your root system grows giving better and maximum produce. You can also try home grown system; in this, a single post is linked to a tube which provides the nutrients. You can use porous rock as the medium for this system. Another one is The Ebb and Flow system that uses tables to hold plants together. In this system, the plants are drain and flooded with water mixed with nutrient solution.
There are 13 mineral elements that plants required, the major elements are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulphur and magnesium, and micro elements are namely boron, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese, zinc and molybdenum. Make sure that there should be a proper concentration and ratio of the nutrients in the solution formulation. You should check the quality of the water and the nutrients solution before use and treat the solution, if you found any unwanted constituents. It’s a challenging task to maintain the nutrient element and productivity of the tomato. The composition, delivery frequency and volume of the nutrient solution affect the status of your tomato plant. Make sure to adjust the nutrients and delivery time as per the environmental conditions.
The preferable temperature for tomatoes is 55-85 degrees but you can try 70 with humidity of maximum 50%. The temperature more than 90 degrees can damage your tomato and will die if exposed to cold. Tomato has a capacity of water and food, so carefully watch the nutrient levels in the reservoir. You can trim down the tomato plant into main stem eliminating the side stems and sprouts that grow between the main stem. Keep pruning your tomatoes which results in more consistent and strong tomatoes. You can remove the yellow coloured leaves to allow more air movement. Once the tomatoes start ripening, remove the strip from the bottom leaves for ripening bind.
With a little knowledge and tolerance, you can produce unlimited rewards in hydroponic gardening. Tasting your juicy and luscious August tomato in January will be your biggest achievement in hydroponic adventure. Enjoy any vegetables and fruits any time of the year through the home grown way.