The tomato is an edible berry which belongs to the family Solanaceae. Originated in South America and Central America.
These luscious red berries are cultivated in late spring and early summer except in the regions where there is fall or winter, and this region is called zone 10. These fruits are grown in this season for a reason. Here are a few characteristics which are required for their fruitful growth-
- More sun means more fruit.
- Cultivated and nutritious soil
- Water deeply and mulch
- Using perfect compost
- Stack or cage
- Forget the Windowsill
Tomatoes take 60 to 100 days to harvest. Depending on the variety of the plant, this fruit is indeed a work of patience, hard work and consistency. Most gardeners plant small planters instead of ploughing seeds after the weather is warmed up.
The hydroponic gardening method uses no soil but instead grows plants in a solution of water and nutrients. This system allows the plants to grow faster and gives a good yield of crops, and this system can be used at any time of the year. The types of Hydroponic methods are-
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
- Ebb and flow
- Drip system
All the above methods do not use soil and do not require fertilizer. These plantations can be done during any season. All these methods are low waste generating and do not require much energy.
Tomatoes can be grown by using Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), Deep Flow Technique and Drip System.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Tomatoes Hydroponically?
Hydroponic systems are suitable only for indoor environments as they need a unique atmosphere. It is possible to set a particular temperature and humidity to accurate levels in a closed environment. For example, tomatoes can be grown hydroponically under glass or polyethene covering greenhouse roofs and in the open air.
Several hydroponic productions are carried out in a controlled environment. As a result, all the tomatoes have an intermediate morphology, as it continues to grow after the flowering stage.
As a result, hydroponic plants are cleaner and less contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers. The advantage of a Hydroponic plantation is that it doesn’t take much time to grow. Hence, tomatoes can be grown in a short period.
Within 1-2 days, you can see the germination of the seed and then within 4-6 weeks, and the plant starts proliferating. Within two months, the tomato berries will be seen. The quality of tomatoes is excellent and tastes good. Hydroponic harvest action is easy and does not require much hard work.
There are two main types of tomatoes- bush (determinate) and vining (indeterminate). If one has a small space to grow tomatoes, the growth rate slows down, and the fruit-bearing takes time. In a larger area, the growth rate is faster and better; hence, the fruit-bearing gets easy.
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These bushes grow up to 2-3 feet, and it is very rare to see bushes which exceed the height of 4 feet and above. Both types of tomatoes are best to grow, but determined tomatoes have a downfall. It is difficult for indeterminate tomatoes to choose the best part of the tomato and challenge it to prune, whereas indeterminates grow faster than determinants.
The Nutrient Fim Technique or NFT is the most convenient for a faster setup that takes less time. The benefit of this technique is the sheer volume to grow and limited to a particular area. It helps lower nutrient consumption and reduces salt buildup as the water constantly flows.
One of the most significant disadvantages of the Nutrient Film Technique is that water begins to flow and gets more nutrients than the plant. Hence, the plants won’t grow uniformly.
Also Read: How Deep to Plant Tomato Seedlings?
Here are a few main factors which will ensure faster growth of tomatoes Starting with saplings
One can start harvesting by saplings rather than seeds, and after 2-3 weeks, the plants start growing faster. When using saplings, one needs to be careful from whom you are purchasing as it needs to be disease-free. It is suggested to buy these saplings from a hydroponic store.
Next is to make sure that the plants are getting enough nutrients. The best way is to check by EC/PPM. Using a TDS meter, the ppm of the water should be 2.0-5.0 or 1000-2500 ppm. Tomatoes require many nutrients to grow, and as the plant grows, the number of nutrients will only increase. So when buying saplings, it’s better to be closer to the lower end of their growth. The plants will end up getting a burn.
Grow tomatoes indoor
Hydroponic means the environment is under control, and you can grow tomatoes at any time of the year. However, indeterminate tomatoes are better, and they should be grown more consistently. It is also a good idea to mix determinate and indeterminate saplings so that one can get a variety. This increases the chances of you getting a large crop.
Make sure they were getting enough light
It is essential to get enough light to the sapling 8-10 hours a day, which is ample. Some people also recommend giving 16 hours of sunlight. But it is necessary to make a proper balance as it is equally essential to transpire.
Keep the temperature perfect
The ideal temperature should be 58-79 Fahrenheit. But it should be between 60-90 Fahrenheit. When the temperature is too cold, the growth slows down, and if too hot, the plants cannot transpire. Overheating can affect the sapling’s change.
Hence, it is essential to check the temperature and fix it likewise consistently.
The pH should be between 5.5-6.5
Keeping this pH level is a great way to grow the saplings optimally. If pH falls on the other side, then the plants won’t get enough nutrients as they won’t be able to absorb them completely.
Buy disease-free Seeds
Last but not least, buying disease-free seeds is very important. While it is less likely in the hydroponic situation, it is not entirely impossible. If the plants are grown with some disease, it will affect the tomato quality.
Disease-free seeds are one of the easiest ways to reduce the risk. If you do not buy them, you might lose the crop, and it will take many days to grow the plant.
Also Read: How to grow tomatoes in clay soil?
History of Hydroponics
The hydroponic method originated in Babylon. Did you know that the hanging gardens of Babylon, which is one of the seven wonders of the world, is an example of soil-less plants, and this was around 600 BC?
Hydroponics has been around for a while, which keeps the medium porous to hold the oxygen and moisture that the plants require. Later on, in 1100 BC, Aztec Indians got creative and started creating gardens which seemed floating, these floating gardens.
These gardens had a potent combination of roots consisting of sediments and lashes that provide nutrition to these roots, making them stronger. Marco Polo in China discovered similar floating gardens.
The first scientific-based technique is soil-less, and it is attributed to the scientist Leonardo Da Vinci who observed the required minerals that were absorbed. Leonardo Da Vinci’s findings were published after he died in which it was written- “all the branches of a tree at every stage of its height when put together are equal into the thickness of the trunk”.
Also Read: What is Best Mulch for Tomatoes in Containers?
Hydroponics is the future to give a better yield and grow highly nutritious plants; the solution used in the hydroponic method contains nutrients like, Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium etc. are just some of the sixteen elements which are needed for a plant to grow. At present, the Rockwool system is used widely in open hydroponic systems.