How To Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes In 2020 | 101 Guide For Beginners
Are you thinking of learning how to grow hydroponic tomatoes in 2020, but don't know where to start? Then, put all your worries down the drain! Here is a 101 guide is for you.
In this guide, you will learn:
- Getting Started with hydroponic tomato techniques
- Best hydroponic variety?
- Hydroponic tomatoes light requirement
- Optimum temperature for hydroponic tomatoes?
- Tomato Nutrient requirement
- Ideal pH and EC requirement
- Growing media for hydroponics
- Ebb and Flow method
So, without wasting any time, let's get started.
Growing Hydroponic tomato
In every home, people love to add tomatoes either in salad or sandwiches. Fresh tomatoes are best in taste and have great nutritious value.
Tomatoes are hard to grow in winters because of severe frost attack. So, what should we do? Well! The best alternative is hydroponics. It is not only economical but also completely organic.
The best thing about hydroponics is you can have tomatoes throughout the whole year.
Note: If you are a beginner and growing tomatoes in hydroponics for the first time. Growing tomatoes indoors is entirely different from outdoor. I would recommend you not to start with tomatoes as your first hydroponic crop.
Tomato is a sensitive crop and vulnerable to many diseases, i.e., tobacco mosaic virus, fungal blight, etc. Hence, it requires great care.
So, it'll be better if you start with easy to manage crops like lettuce, kale, or basil. Ones you are familiar with the basics of hydroponics, you can handle tomato crops easily.
1. Getting started with hydroponic tomatoes
Most of the people get confused that either they should begin with saplings or seeds.
Sapling is a far better choice than seeds. These are easy to grow and timesaving.
Make sure that the saplings you bought were grown indoor else there are chances of contamination. The more secure way is to grow saplings in your own indoor garden.
Started from Seeds
Started from seeds is a time taking but safer than saplings. Because there are fewer chances of contamination or pest attack.
Seeds can be sown in-tray a filled with a growth medium. Using Rockwool cubes is the best idea. Water the growth medium. Keep the trays in a damp and moist environment.
Maintain the temperature between 21-26 degrees Celsius. The pH of the water should be 4.5. Sprouting of tomato seeds starts within 11-15 days.
2. Best Tomato varieties?
It may take a whole day just to count varieties of tomatoes. Native to South America, tomatoes were spread to the entire world by European colonizers.
Tomato plants fall into two categories, i.e., Determinate, and Indeterminate.
Determinate Vs. Indeterminate
Determinate or bush tomatoes have a shorter growth period and ripen early. Indeterminate or vine tomatoes have a longer period.
Determinate varieties have horizontal growth while indeterminate varieties have vertical growth.
Indeterminate plants have a variable height. If you do proper pruning, your plant will keep on growing fruit repeatedly.
Which one is best?
As determinate plants have a horizontal growth period, they are a great fit for indoor hydroponic tomatoes. On top of that, they have a fixed height. So, you can place them anywhere according to their height.
But you can grow vining varieties as well. They are easy to prune and far better to be grown in the trellis system.
Therefore, both determinate and indeterminate varieties have their own pros and cons. If you have an indoor setup, go for determinate or vice versa.
3. Hydroponic tomatoes light requirement
Light is directly proportional to tomatoes' growth; the greater the light, the greater its growth. That's why tomato production is optimum in summers.
Light is a significant factor in the process of photosynthesis. Greater the rate of photosynthesis, greater will be the output yield.
Tomatoes need 9-10 Hours of light per day. But it depends upon the variety you used. Some varieties require 18-19 hours of sunlight per day. The production of fruit can be increased with 15 hours of light per day.
The process of photosynthesis is as crucial as respiration. Tomato plants need 7-8 hours of darkness for respiration once they are fully mature.
What is the best artificial source of light?
There are many artificial sources of light available in the market for growing hydroponic tomatoes. You can use CFLs, metal halides, or LEDs. But the best option is metal halides as they have greater light intensity.
4. Optimum Temperature for hydroponic Tomatoes
As tomato plants grow best in summers, the ideal temperature is between 19-26 degrees Celsius during the daytime.
Make sure that the temperature is 13-17 degrees Celsius at night.
The temperature of less than 12 degrees can kill tomato plants as there are greater chances of frost attack. The temperature above 30 degrees may start causing the wilting of tomato plants.
How to maintain temperature:
If you want to maintain optimum temperature, grow tents is a great option.
5. Tomato Nutrient requirement
Adding nutrients in your hydroponic growth medium is the most important part. I will explain step-by-step how to add nutrients:
- Add Humboldt Nutrient Micro solution at the time of transplanting or sowing seeds. After mixing all nutrients, adjust the pH around 5-6.5.
- Add Humboldt Nutrient Bloom and mix both nutrients. Maintain the temperature between 23-24 degrees Celsius.
- You can add Humboldt Nutrient Proenzymes to increase the growth rate. It also catalyzes the enzymatic process in tomato plants.
- Once your plants have reached the flowering stage, add Humboldt Nutrient Oneness in it as well. It is 100 percent bio-degradable and triggers the rate of photosynthesis.
Avoid adding nutrients in their concentrated form. You can conduct a nutrient test with Hanna H19819-0 meter.
6. pH and EC for hydroponic tomatoes
Tomato plants require a significant amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Hence, the ideal pH for tomato plants is between 5.9-6.2. You can check the level of pH with a pH meter.
EC( electrical conductivity) of the hydroponic growth medium should be 1.99-3.49 millimhos. You can check EC with a waterproof EC meter HM Digital COM-80.
Deficiency symptoms of pH, Nutrient level, or EC
You can check the below-mentioned symptoms for deficiency of EC, pH, or nutrient deficiency:
- If the pH level is high or low nutrient level, the tomato leaves start turning yellow.
- Low pH level indicates curling up of leaves or red stems.
- A higher quantity of nutrients indicates the curling down of tomato leaves.
- The deficiency of potassium leads to Abscission or early falling of leaves.
7. Growing Media for hydroponic tomato:
Using an excellent growing medium can increase your yield manifold. It depends upon the type of hydroponic system you are using.
You have plenty of choices when it comes to hydroponic tomato. Most of the people get confused. But don't worry, I will tell you which one is best for you according to each type of hydroponic system.
- Clay pebbles are best for deep culture, NFT, and drip system.
- Organic Coco coir is best for passive hydroponics.
- Rockwool/Groden Grow Cubes are best for drip and Flood-drain system.
- NFT and drip hydroponic system works best in vermiculite or perlite growth media.
8. Hydroponic systems for Tomatoes: Which one is best
Choosing a hydroponic system depends upon the type of tomato variety you have grown. Tomato plants uptake nutrients rapidly, so they require a great level of nutrient management in hydroponics.
For example, tomato plants uptake plenty of potassium very rapidly at the fruiting stage. It can readily alter pH if you are using a recirculating system.
Therefore, constant maintenance is required to keep an eye on each and everything closely.
The most popular hydroponic systems are as follows:
- Drip system
- Deep flow technique
- Hydroponic Buckets
- Nutrient Film Technique(NFT)
9. Ebb and Flow system:
Ebb and Flow system is the most popular hydroponic system besides hydroponic buckets. Let's get started with step by step guide of growing tomatoes using Ebb and Flow.
- A large reservoir tray with a lid
- A smaller or medium-sized tray for firmly holding plants
- Net pots
- A water pump which should be submersible
- A timer
- PVC tubing
- The most important one: Growth media
- Nutrient mixture
- Fill the reservoir tank with water according to the plant requirement. 20 gallons for tomato plant
- Start making tinny holes in the lid for a fitting tube in it.
- Now, install an adjustable water pump. The water pump should be potent.
- Start connecting all the parts, i.e., reservoir, tray, and pump with a couple of tubes.
- Avoid using thicker tubes on incoming water channels as they can cause flooding and damage tomato plants.
- Install filters at both sides of tubes to avoid clogging
- Now is the time of putting your plants/saplings in the growth media with proper spacing
- Mix nutrients together. Avoid using concentrated amounts and attach the water pump with a timer.
- Turn on the artificial light source and make sure to do It for 15-16 hours.
- Monitor the growth of tomatoes. Check pH, nutrient, and EC requirements daily.
- Make sure to prune your plants if growing indeterminate varieties.
- Harvesting time depends upon the type of variety you used.
Making all the efforts to grow your tomatoes is a different kind of feeling. This beautiful journey of the homegrown tomatoes from pot to plate is worth remembering.
If you have followed our guide: How to Grow hydroponic tomatoes, then you are good to go.
Don't forget to share your experience of growing tomatoes hydroponically via comments. We are excited to hear from your side.