Tomatoes are highly delicious and nutritious fruits that you cannot afford to miss in your kitchen. However, ensuring a constant supply of tomatoes all year round can be an uphill task. Usually, tomatoes that are grown outdoors are affected by weather conditions. So how do you ensure a constant supply of fresh tomatoes regardless of the weather conditions? Growing tomatoes in hydroponics system is the answer. Here is the ultimate guide on how to grow tomatoes in hydroponics system.
Why grow tomatoes in hydroponics system?
In the hydroponics system, the tomatoes grow in a nutrient solution instead of soil. However, a non-soil material is used to support the tomato plants. Hydroponic tomatoes are grown in a controlled environment with fewer chances of diseases thus ensuring a faster growth and greater yields.
Setting up the hydroponics system for tomatoes
There are various hydroponics systems for growing tomatoes. However, ebb and flow system is easier to build and relatively cheaper. Fortunately, you can purchase a complete hydroponics system on a hydroponic store near you. Alternatively, you can build the hydroponics system if you have skills and experience in the same. You need to build your system in the indoor environment that is isolated from the outside environment.
How to grow tomatoes in a hydroponics system
Growing tomatoes hydroponically can be intimidating for many people especially beginners. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to produce the best tomatoes from a hydroponics system.
#1. Grow tomato seeds
This should be done inside the hydroponics system on nursery tray. Soak the special growing material on the nursery tray with pH 4.5 water. Then plant your seeds on the surface under a transparent plastic dome to encourage sprouting of seeds.
Once the seeds has sprouted, the covering should be removed and place your seedlings under artificial light source for about 12 hours a day. Try to avoid using incandescent light bulbs because they can damage the seedlings.
#2. Move the seedlings into the hydroponics system
This should be done when the seedlings are about 10-14 days old and have got the first true leaves. On the hydroponics system, place the seedlings at a spacing of 15 cm apart. Alternatively, you can transfer the seedlings to the individual plastic pots containing the special growing material.
#3. Set the water pump timer
Set the pump to run for about 30 minutes once in every six hours. However, you may need to increase the watering frequency if the tomato plants begin to wilt. On the other hand, the watering frequency is decreased if the roots become soaked. Also, it is important to note that tomatoes require more water when they have begun blooming and fruiting.
#4. Set artificial lights
The growing tomatoes should be exposed to between 16 to 18 hours of artificial light a day. This should be followed by 8 hours of total darkness.
#5. Stake and prune tall tomato plants
Tomato plants that grow indefinitely require staking in order to grow in an upright position. Moreover, you can prune the plants by breaking off the stems with your hands.
#6. Pollinate the tomato plants
Remember that there no insects to pollinate the plants, so you have to do it yourself. Use a soft paintbrush to transfer pollen from the stamens to the pistil of tomato flowers. The process should be repeated daily. After this, you will wait for the tomato harvest.
Growing tomatoes hydroponically is the best way to ensure all year round supply of this delicious fruit. In fact, tomatoes that grow in hydroponics system mature faster with greater yields.