Providing a year-round supply of fresh, tasty fruit is a primary reason for gardeners to grow tomatoes indoors via hydroponics. When properly cultivated and maintained, hydroponically grown tomatoes produce taste that rivals those grown outdoors in the summer. The ease of growing tomatoes, along with the availability of commercial produced grow boxes that include growing mediums, nutrients and irrigation systems, can make this fruit an ideal introduction to indoor gardening for novices. Growing Systems Three systems are suitable for growing tomatoes hydroponically: ebb-and-flow method, nutrient film technique (NFT) and drip irrigation. Ebb-and-flow, which uses a water-tight growing bed and either sand or gravel for a medium, was the most popular method until the 1970s. NFT uses a germination cube placed in a trough, where a film of nutrients flows through lined channels containing plant roots. Rockwool and perlite are the preferred NFT growing mediums. The most popular system to grow tomatoes hydroponically is drip irrigation, where nutrient solution is delivered to the base of bags or buckets were seedlings are planted. Rockwool and perlite are the preferred growing mediums for NFT and drip irrigation systems. Seeding and Growth Avoid starting plants outside as transferring seedings sets the scene for pest and disease contamination. Start seeds indoors in a medium starter cube, then transfer seedlings to your preferred hydroponic system when roots show through the cube bottom and true leaves appear. Tomatoes are a warm season crop and need a moist environment with temperatures of approximately 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide sufficient light, from metal halide or fluorescent lamps, for at least 12 hours, particularly during winter months when natural light is weak. Ensure that your tomatoes have sufficient support via clips and twine when plants start bearing fruit. Nutrients Delivering the proper nutrients is essential to growing tomatoes hydroponically. […]
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