Hydroponic Tomato Gardening

How to Grow Hydroponic Tomatoes

Hydroponic tomato gardening basics. An introduction to basic hydroponics. Hydroponic kits, media and equipment. Tomato varieties best suited for hydroponic growing.

Close-Up of a Truss of Red and Ripening Vine Tomatoes on a Tomato Plant

Close-Up of a Truss of Red and Ripening Vine Tomatoes on a Tomato Plant
Garrett, Michelle
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Commercial tomato growers set up large hydroponic systems inside huge greenhouses. But you can set up a smaller version of one of these systems in your house or back yard and use it to grow great tomatoes without getting dirty.

Basic Hydroponics
Types of Hydroponic Systems

Sunlight Solutions 3040 Mini Mortgage Lifter  Hydroponic

Sunlight Solutions Mini Mortgage Lifter Hydroponic Grow Tent

Hydroponics is the science of growing plants in nutrient rich water. Sometimes this is accomplished with the aid of a soilless growing media like rockwool, gravel, or sand. This is known as an aggregate system.

A liquid system uses the nutrient solution alone.

Hydroponic growing systems can be open or closed. In an open system, the hydroponics solution is not reused after it has been applied to the plants' roots. In a closed system, the solution is recycled, replenished and reused.

Which Tomato Varieties Work Best?

Sunlight Solutions CAD1 Caddy Hydroponic Growing Cabinet

Sunlight Solutions Caddy Hydroponic Growing Cabinet

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Beefsteak Tomatoes perform well in a hydroponic tomato garden. If you are a market gardener, grow F1 hybrid beefsteak types. They are more crack and disease resistant.

If you are growing tomatoes for use in your own kitchen, grow heirloom tomato varieties like Brandywine, Black Krim and Mortgage Lifter which may not always produce picture perfect fruit but will never fail to delight your taste buds.

Bush tomatoes are easier to manage indoors as they do not get so tall and gangly. These are determinate tomatoes that don't need much support.

Indeterminate tomatoes can be grown hydroponically as well but they will need staking and pruning to keep them in bounds.

I do not mean to imply that only big tomatoes can be grown successfully by use of tomato hydroponic systems. Quite the contrary.

All types of tomatoes can be grown hydroponically.

Planting Tomato Seeds

First of all, you don't need special hydroponic tomato seed. Use the same seeds you would use to grow tomatoes in soil.

Some people like to use an AeroGarden to start the tomato plants and then transplant them into a larger system. The AeroGarden takes up little space and has built in lights. A tomato grown in an AeroGarden will develop a root system that will be used to growing in a hydroponic solution.

Another way to start the seeds is in rockwool cubesGardening). Use 1.5 inch cubes. Soak them in water to dampen them and place them into a normal plastic seed starting tray with a clear plastic lid.

Sow 1 seed per cube. Cover the tray and keep it someplace warm until the seeds sprout.

Once the seedlings emerge, move the tray into strong light. Tomato seedlings need 12 hours of light per day. Mature plants need 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness each day.

Once the roots are growing through the cubes, it's time to transplant them into the home hydroponics system. Place the seedling into the pot and pour the media around it.

Hydroponic Kits

Eco Grower Drip Hydroponic System with 17 Gallon Reservoir: J

Eco Grower Drip Hydroponic System with 17 Gallon Reservoir

If you have never grown hydroponic crops of any kind, my recommendation is that you start with an AeroGarden.

Watch the number of pods in the seed packet you order. It needs to match the number of pods in the growing unit.

You can grow smaller tomato plants start to finish in an AeroGarden and this is what I suggest you do if you are new to hydroponics.

This will save you time, trouble and money while serving as a good introduction to hydroponics. If, after using an AeroGarden for 1 season, you wish to go further into hydroponic cultivation; I would suggest you purchase a good book on hydroponic tomato gardening.

Hydroponic Home Food Gardens: J

Hydroponic Home Food Gardens

This book contains clear illustrations and makes hydroponic tomato production easy to understand.

I am not trying to discourage you but I recognize that this is not an inexpensive hobby. I just want you to be sure hydroponic gardening is for you before making a big investment.

Tomato Plant Requirements

Hands Picking Cherry Tomatoes, Close-up of Fruits on Plant

Hands Picking Cherry Tomatoes, Close-up of Fruits on Plant
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Tomato plants prefer the nighttime temperature to drop a bit. Daytime temps in the 70s and 80s F. are ideal. When temperatures climb into the high 90s, large fruited varieties may fail to set fruit.

Of course, this will not be a problem if your tomato garden is indoors. But air circulation might. Run a fan on low for the greater part of each day in the room where the tomatoes are growing.

The fan will keep insects (they find their way indoors when plants are stressed) at bay and help with pollination.

Tomatoes are self pollinating. The movement of the branches in the wind shakes the pollen into all the right locations on outdoor plants. When growing tomatoes indoors, give the plants a gentle shake during daylight hours.

Fruit sets most reliably when night temperatures are kept between 60-70 degrees F. Humidity levels which are too low or too high can also hinder pollination.

Hydroponic Tomato Fertilizer

Grow Big Hydroponic Liquid Plant Food Concentrate (3-2-6) 1 gallon: J

Grow Big Hydroponic Liquid Plant Food Concentrate (3-2-6) 1 gallon

For best results use a fertilizer formulated for use in a hydroponic system.

Hydrofarm Emilys Hydroponic Garden System

Hydrofarm Emilys Hydroponic Garden System

We offer easy to use garden systems which will give you a tremendous harvest of vegetables flowers or herbs faster than you ever thought possible.

Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Growing tomatoes upside down in buckets. Hanging tomatoes in an upside down tomato planter. Topsy Turvy tomato.

Saving Tomato Seed
Successfully saving tomato seed. How to save tomato seeds from your homegrown tomatoes. Harvesting, drying and keeping tomato seeds. Heirloom and open pollinated tomato plants.

Aeroponic Growing Systems
Aeroponic growing systems come in many sizes. Balancing size against price in aeroponics systems. How much food can an aeroponic system produce? Commercial aeroponic grow systems vs homemade aeroponics.

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