Tomatoes are one of the most delicious fruits in a crop culture. Taking into consideration their hydroponic cultivation, they are also one of the easiest compared to other vegetables and fruits. You can grow them indoors without even natural light. Compared to the field counterparts, which are hard to find always with good quality or balanced nutritious levels, hydroponic products might be tailored per different sizes, shapes, and even the preferred taste. You are like a Mister Geppetto who builds its own Pinocchio in your garden. Such cultivation caters to growing these fruits with fewer risks for diseases. On the other hand, hydroponic cultivation might make you throw a lot of money down the drain if you approach it without preparation.
This guide will hint you at the culture of their growth, necessary setup systems and answer the frequently asked questions regarding this cultivating methodology.
What Are Hydroponic Tomatoes?
As was hinted above, tomatoes as fruits are one of the sought-after food cultures that people love adding to the variety of dishes and eat simply plain. When buying them with groceries, you cannot always come up with the best sort, so you can get tasteless fruit. When it comes to hydroponic cultivation, people have mixed perceptions of such technologies. Yet, they simply miss a high-quality product. Hydroponics stands for indoor growth of a number of crops that are fed by pH-balanced and nutrient-rich water. The hydroponic systems are designed with perfect lighting and temperature controls.
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The pH-balanced water is recycled through the channels, which structurally limit its usage. So, the result is the doubled amount of fruits compared to the field cultivation.
Another perk of such cultivation is high-quality pest control within the indoor environment. There are fewer hard chemicals that may somehow affect the taste or quality.
What Are the Best Tomatoes to Grow Hydroponically?
Regarding the varieties of tomatoes to grow hydroponically, potential gardeners have a vast choice.
- Cherry Tomatoes
This variety is sweet and crack-resistant. It also has a division into sub-varieties. For instance, you can turn to a sweet million cherry, which is super sweet. The sweet gold is a little bit larger. The sun gold is an orange color with a fruity flavor type. The sakura, a new variety to the cultivation, is limited in amounts of tomatoes but offers sturdy and firm fruits. The Conchita with a long shelf life. Finally, Favorita cherry is known for its perfectly round shape.
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Advanced gardeners also love to cultivate beefsteak tomatoes. There are trust tomatoes with high-yielding, Jelona with yellow fruits, Maxtrix beefsteak, known for large red fruits. Then, there is a Geronimo, also a newly introduced variety known for medium-sized fruits.
- Cluster Tomatoes
Cluster or truss tomatoes are known for deep red colors and extreme flavor. There are Clarance and Tricia sub-varieties with long shelf life.
- Cocktail Tomatoes
Last but not least option is cocktail tomatoes that are known for producing high amounts of fruits and having a long shelf life, and being resistant to cracking events. There are Flavorino, Picolino, Orangion, and Goldino sub-varieties. They are slightly larger compared to field counterparts.
How Do You Start a Hydroponic Tomato? – Tutorial
Now, when you are done with the selection of the best type of tomato for hydroponic cultivation, let’s proceed with the preparation.
BONUS: The crucial steps will involve the following Step-By-Step Guide:
Choosing the right hydroponic kits/system for your household
The main ones are the Kratky method, deep water culture, wick system, ebb and flow, nutrient film technique, drip system, and aeroponics.
Choose a good rooting medium
The roots of your tomatoes will grow better in a growing medium if not selecting aeroponics. In simple terms, you need an inert material like expanded clay pellets. They are cheap and available in most stores. Or, consider coconut coir, which promotes the quick absorption of liquids and air.
- Reservoir Bucket Connected to 4 Grow Buckets
- 400 Gallon/hour Circulating Pump
- Large 5 gallon square buckets, pre-drilled
Choose a fertilizer
To make it as simple as it’s, just sticks to the organic fertilizers with low nitrogen content and a ratio of 10-20-20, 5-15-15, or 15-30-20.
Choose the appropriate lighting control
The success of the yield greatly depends on the proper lighting control. If you grow tomatoes indoors, you have to possess artificial lighting. It particularly concerns the light that covers the blue and red spectrum plants. Blue light is needed for young leaves, while the red one is fully for blossoming fruits.
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Select a trellis
Most hydroponic systems come with a trellis, which will keep the plants right. It can be strings, designated tomato cages, hanging fences, among others.
Prepare the fertilizer
You need to feed your growing tomatoes with proper fertilizers. Buy one and read the manufacturer’s instructions. Prior to adding fertilizers, ensure it has room temperature.
Learn the pH and EC levels
Again, most hydroponic systems come with an EC meter and pH meter to overlook the cultivation. The basic recommendations fall for pH of 6.0-6.5, while EC should be between 2.0-5.0.
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Connect your kit.
Connect the kit to the mains.
Clean the rooting medium.
You need to disinfect the rooting medium before using it. You can use water and alcohol.
Put the rooting medium into the mesh pots.
After you disinfected the growing mash, put it into pots.
Plant the seedlings
It’s the same procedure as you do when planting the seedlings into soil.
- Base 18
- Propagating to catch the excess water that drains from seed trays
- Keep Seeds Grow Healthy
Set the timer
You have to set up the timer for irrigation. With kits, it can be automatically performed each 10-15 minutes on average.
Activate the system. Voila!
With the kits, you’ll find the manufacturer’s instructions or manuals that can help you connect and activate everything within moments. Just follow the steps without any kind of improvisation.
After everything is prepared, you can just proceed with overlooking the life cycle of your plants. And, when the time comes, you can harvest them for your consumption. Now, let’s dive in full into nutrients, the time frame for collecting tomatoes as well as requirements regarding the light control.
BONUS: What Nutrients for Hydroponic Tomatoes/Hydroponic Nutrients for Tomatoes?
You read before that tomatoes need some nutrient control, which will promote the high quality of the fruits. Normally, the recommendations can be given in designated stores where gardening specialists know better. Yet, you should be just aware of common and essential nutrients. First off, they are divided into macro and microelements. With macro elements that should be present at high concentrations, they are calcium, carbon, hydrogen, magnesium, among others. As for the microelements, it’s possible to speak of boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, and molybdenum. Logically to assume, you do not need to buy them each but find formulas that provide complex care for the hydroponic tomatoes.
Then, you should know that tomatoes need a low nitrogen level. While the microelement levels should be as follows – boron 0.44, chlorine 0.85, copper 0.05, iron 2.5, manganese 0.62, molybdenum 0.06, and zinc 0.09 ppm. You can try it out first with a tomato hydroponic nutrients formula.
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How Long Does It Take to Grow Tomatoes in Hydroponics?
It depends on several factors, such as light, the cultivar/growing method you picked. The same may influence whether you started from seed or seedling. Taking average calculation, around 10 days is taken for seeds to germinate. Between 4 and 6 weeks, the plant reaches the transplanting stage. Leaves are ready within 3 weeks. Overall, they can be ready between 6-8 weeks.
How Much Light Is Needed for Hydroponic Tomatoes?
On average, a minimum is 6 hours to produce the fruit; however, 8 and more hours will boost the chances of having more fruits on the plant. The more light they get, the more energy they get, and the more fruits you have on your table. When it comes to the ripening stage, tomatoes won’t need much light from you. They ripen faster in the absence of light.
How Much Space Do You Need for Hydroponic Tomatoes?
To have many fruits, a plant should have a lot of space to spread out. Everything will first depend on the variety of a chosen hydroponic tomato. Yet, on most occasions, you should always leave extra space for any type (taking into consideration the growth of leaves). Their plants should be spaced approximately 10-12 inches apart even when you prune the leaves. If you cultivate tomatoes with bubble buckets, it is much easier because the system itself predetermines much spacing.
How to Grow Tomatoes with a Hydroponic Deep Water Culture Method?
When it comes to the recommended hydroponic systems for growing tomatoes, you’ll see DWC or Deep Water Culture, also see our article Our Picks for the 5 Hydroponic Bucket Systems and the 5 Grow Tent Kits with Buyer’s Guides.
DWC it’s an active system where nutrients are pumped through the system. It has much space for large sizes of tomato plants. It’s a budget-friendly option, good for beginners. On the other hand, you have less control over individual plant care, and it’s most likely to be affected by root rot and pests. All you have to do is place the plant in a net pot found in the reservoir with the roots fully put in the water. The air pump will oxygenate the water to provide roots with the right amounts of oxygen.
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Dutch Bucket Hydroponic Tomatoes
Bato/Dutch bucket is a system where 2 or more growing containers are linked to the same irrigation and drainage. You have a reservoir with mixed water and nutrients, which will feed every bucket in your whole system. A pump will send water up to an irrigation line. Once the water flows out of the line, the nutrients will start feeding the buckets. There are no limits in the number of buckets – you can have 2 or even 100 of them. Then, such a system has a timer to run the pump from time to time. The main benefit of it’s that the whole system can be run unattended by you for a couple of weeks prior to changing the water.
How to Support Hydroponic Tomatoes?
You’ll primarily need to support the hydroponic system on a regular basis. Yet, it just takes a few minutes and effort. First off, you have to regularly check the trellis whether it holds the plant properly. Support the plant whenever it seems like fall. After that, ensure the lighting control is up to a point. When it comes to the ripening time, the light can be compromised. Check regularly the pH and EC levels (ideally, every 3 days). If there are glitches with the system, you need to check it for clogs and algae, among others.
We hope you liked this detailed tutorial on growing hydroponic tomatoes within your household. On most occasions, you can manage to set up the whole system faster than explained above. When referring to the fertilizers, please do ensure to check the manufacturers’ labels and instructions. Once you experience some hurdles with your tomatoes to flourish and so on, ask for help from professional gardeners. We ask you to leave a comment under this article to share how you find it interesting and helpful. Or, do not hesitate to share it with your friends or those who are interested in the hydroponic cultivation of crops.
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Are hydroponic tomatoes healthy?
There are many myths around the hydroponic crops, particularly tomatoes, on their healthiness. They are definitely healthy because they are cultivated by you in a designated environment. Then, they are cared for in terms of pest control, get proper lighting, and most importantly, necessary nutrients, which make them delicious and good for one’s health. So, compared to their field counterparts, they are worthy.
Do hydroponic tomatoes taste good?
Yes, they definitely taste good if you comply with hydroponic cultivation the right way. Together with the setup of the hydroponic system, you pay attention to the varieties of seeds, fertilizers, and just maintenance of the plants - that all cater to high-quality products. Beyond that, you can choose a particular variety of tomatoes with its character taste.
What is the best pH for hydroponic tomatoes?
The basic recommendations fall for pH of 6.0-6.5.
What ppm for tomatoes in a hydroponic?
The ppm for tomatoes in a hydroponic is 1400-3500.
Will hydroponic tomatoes keep producing?
If you continue caring for hydroponic tomatoes after the harvesting, they can keep producing fruits for up to a year.
Why would you use sulfuric acid in hydroponic tomatoes?
Sulfuric acid is commonly used by gardeners to reduce pH and alkalinity within plants.
At what temperature should I keep my tomatoes in my hydroponic garden?
The flourishing of hydroponic tomatoes is ongoing between 18 to 25 degrees Celsius during the day. Taking into consideration the nighttime, the temperatures should fall between 12 and 18 degrees.
What size net pots for hydroponic tomatoes?
Ideally, it should be 2 inches in diameter.