What a lovely, luscious fruit tomatoes are. Red and juicy with a variety of flavours and colors, tomatoes contain health-enhancing components such as lycopene, which helps maintain healthy cardiovascular systems.
Many tomatoes are grown hydroponically. Hydroponic tomatoes can taste as good as tomatoes grown in rich soil outdoors. The benefits of growing hydroponically include being able to control and extend fruit production, as well as being able to augment the supply of natural sugars and other components that plants use to produce especially tasty tomatoes.
Hydroponics growing in controlled environments gives growers ability to harvest produce year round. For commercial purposes, the ability to produce summer crops all year means being able to provide fruit, flowers and veggies out of season when they command higher prices.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find the amazing range of Advanced Nutrients plant growth products that will help you grow great tomatoes outdoors, indoors, hydroponically, and in greenhouses using modified or total hydroponics techniques.
Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow indoors or outdoors, but they have specific nutritional and environmental needs.
Here are some factors influencing tomato growth:
- Temperature - Tomatoes do best within a range of 55-85 degrees F. Tomato plants can be severely damaged or killed by prolonged cold or even a brief exposure to frost. Tomatoes can handle high temperatures, but are damaged by prolonged temperatures over 93 degrees F.
- Nutrients - Tomatoes need properly-designed nutrients that are easily absorbed, properly balanced, and rich in nitrogen and other components.
- Light - Whether grown indoors or outdoors, tomato plants need exposure to full, strong light for at least five hours each day.
- Pollination – If tomatoes are to bear fruit, they need to be pollinated. Unless growers are going to engage in artificial pollination, the plants must be accessible to pollinators, which can include insects and wind. Obviously, it is difficult to provide pollinator access to plants grown indoors or in greenhouses.
- Overall environmental conditions - Tomato plants suffer when there are windy conditions, extreme heat or cold, polluted air or soils, or presence of insects, blight or disease. Tomatoes need adequate water, but they do not need to be drowned. Avoid overwatering as much as you guard against drought.
GET A HEAD START ON GROWING HEALTHY TOMATO PLANTS
The easiest way to start to grow tomatoes is by purchasing seedlings or transplants. If you grow from seedling or transplant, you should treat your plants with Advanced Nutrients products such as No Shock. This products help plants grow faster and better survive the stress of early life.
It is of course possible to grow tomatoes from seed. This method adds a couple of weeks to the total growing time, but it has several advantages. One advantage is that there are many heirloom types of tomatoes available by seed that are not available as commercial seedlings and transplants. You can select specific varieties of seed tomato that are perfect for your growing needs and situation.
Growing from seeds is less expensive than buying seedlings and transplants. It is easy to plant hundreds of seeds and select the best sprouts for a price that costs far less than buying a couple dozen seedlings or transplants.
Experienced tomato growers use specialized techniques to ensure the success of seed-grown tomato crops. One of these techniques is called pre-germination. Pre-germination increases the rate of successful germination. If you intend to sprout tomato seeds for use as outdoor plants, the pre-germination process should begin approximately 7 weeks before the last estimated frost in your area.
One pre-germination technique involves putting a piece of paper towel in the bottom of a flat-bottomed container, and dampen the towel with warm water. Put seeds on towel, cover the container and place it in a warm, dark spot. Other growers use peat pots or miniature rockwool cubes to pre-germinate seeds in.
Growers who intend to grow their seedlings in soil often use an early root zone mixture that is lighter and more aerated than regular root zone media. This allows young plants to navigate the media with their delicate, beginning root systems.
During the earliest weeks of growth, it is very useful to feed plants with Advanced Nutrients Iguana Juice Grow, and Organic B. These all-organic feed formulas that create fast early growth and set your plants up to deliver huge, tasty, organic harvests.
If you are going to grow outdoors, transplant seedlings into larger pots with good drainage about three weeks prior to when the last spring frost is expected for your area. Plants should be kept in bright sunshine.
If you have been growing plants indoors or in a greenhouse or other protected area and you intend to move them outdoors, they have to be “hardened off” before they are placed permanently outdoors. “Hardening off” refers to the process of getting plants used to full sun and full outdoors conditions.
Hardening off consists of placing plants in an outdoor environment for incrementally longer and longer periods of time until they can handle being outdoors all day and night. Depending on your local climate, hardening off can take from one to two weeks to complete.
TRY THESE GREAT IDEAS FOR MAKING A PERFECT ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR TOMATOES
It’s important to properly set up the soil for plant growth. Soil to grow tomatoes in should be at least a foot deep, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic in pH. If pH is not ideal, it can be altered using various additives, including Advanced Nutrients pH Up or Down. Maintaining a proper pH is essential for plant health. The pH of root zone media greatly affects the way plants can intake nutrients, which of course greatly affects growth. Gardeners can buy pH testing equipment at most garden shops. pH is a more crucial factor in hydroponics growing than it is in soil growing.
Mulching is another soil alteration that benefits tomatoes. Mulch keeps pathogens from getting to lower leaves, retains soil moisture, and limits weed growth. Organic mulches are the best. Three or four inches of organic mulch should be applied about two weeks after outdoor planting or when plants have reached a minimum one foot in height.
As with all crops, tomatoes need proper nutrition to maximize growth rate and yield. Tomatoes have an interesting mix of nutritional needs: most crops require high nitrogen and low phosphorus/potassium fertilizers during the first 7 weeks of growth, but tomatoes benefit from high nitrogen and relatively high phosphorus during that period.
Tomatoes derive benefit from frequent feedings. Most fertilizer products don’t give you the flexibility needed to accommodate special needs of individual species. Advanced Nutrients gives you full range flexibility including a nutrients calculator, multi-part formulas, and specialized additives so you can give plants precise amounts of key growth and yield components.
For example, many growers give a ratio-graded mixture of Heavy Harvest Spring, Summer and Fall to tomatoes throughout the growing season.
It is very useful to give plants extra phosphorus, potassium and other fruit-boosting growth components during the weeks of growth when flowers are setting and tomatoes are being formed. This creates more flowering sites, more tomatoes, and larger tomatoes.
We invite you to taste the delicious difference in your tomatoes when you use Advanced Nutrients products such as Big Bud, Connoisseur, Sweet Leaf and other products that make more tomatoes, bigger tomatoes and tastier tomatoes.
Please note that you can contact our technical experts to find out exactly how to use our broad range of products to give you the most and best tomatoes you’ve ever grown.
Tomatoes are very easy to grow hydroponically. Growers use the same nutrient and additive inputs as they would when growing tomatoes in soil.
The indoor hydroponics grower can have a constantly renewed batch of seedlings, early plants, mature plants and harvested plants in cycle year-round.
Growing indoors means growers have to provide many of the environmental and growth components provided free by outdoor growing.
One of the main inputs that indoor growers have to provide is light. High intensity lighting with a balance of two High Pressure Sodium lights to every one Metal Halide light is best for producing bushy plants that give big yields of luscious tomatoes. You can safely give tomatoes 16-20 hours per day of high intensity light during their early growing season, and can give them 13-17 hours of high intensity light, perhaps with a greater emphasis on High Pressure Sodium lighting, during the bloom and fruit season.
As noted earlier, the pH of the nutrient solution is crucial for hydroponics success. Because hydroponics plants are most often grown in sterile root zone media that doesn’t contain any of its own nutrition, the grower has to provide adequate nutrition and maintain the proper chemistry of the nutrients water so plants are able to absorb nutrition. Having and using high quality pH and ppm (parts per million) meters is essential for growers who want to be successful at hydroponics.
WITH THIS INFORMATION, YOU CAN GROW THE TYPE OF TOMATO THAT’S PERFECT FOR YOUR NEEDS AND GARDENING SITUATION
There are many types of tomatoes. They are classified in the following categories: cherry, medium sized, large, paste, and unusual.
Within these categories are varieties that grow well in specific climates and garden types.
We are going to provide you a huge listing of most types of tomatoes, and it will help you to understand the following terminology:
Hybrid (H) vs. Open Pollinated (OP)
Older heirloom types of tomatoes are open pollinated. Hybrids are more recent developments with enhanced disease resistance and larger yields. Problem is, hybrids often have less taste than the OP heirloom types.
Tomatoes are classified as either “determinate” or “indeterminate.”
Determinate tomatoes have a maximum size that limits how big they will grow, no matter what growers do to make them bigger. Their vines terminate in a flower cluster and plant growth slows after fruits form.
In general, these types of tomato are lower-yielding than indeterminates, which do not have a maximum growth amount pre-determined. Indeterminate tomatoes properly grown can yield increasingly more and more tomatoes throughout the growing season.
Tomatoes with inbred disease or pest resistance are giving the following initials after the variety name: A= early blight resistance; C = leaf mold resistance; F = Fusarium wilt resistance, race 1; FF Fusarium wilt resistance for Fusarium races 1 and 2; N = nematode resistance; T = tobacco Mosaic virus resistance; V = Verticillium wilt resistance.
Check with agricultural experts in your area to find out which diseases and pests are most likely to attack your plants, and choose the type of plants accordingly.
Following is a comprehensive list of tomato varieties. The number at the end of the variety description refers to the length of time from planting outdoors to first harvest.
Bushy, determinate plant well suited to very sunny conditions. Bears yellow colored fruit. OP. 60 to 63 days
Compact determinate plants recommended for small pots and indoor windowsills. Op. 45 days
Less sweet, more tomato flavor. OP. 45 days.
Determinate varieties that can survive in cooler weather. OP. 56-60 days
Large Red Cherry
Can produce high yields despite summer temperatures that are too hot for many varieties, between 88 and 102 degrees. Determinate F. OP. 70 to 75 days
Tiny plants that bear clusters of fruit. Recommended for container growing, both indoors and out. OP. 63 days
Small Fry VFN
40 inch tall determinate that grows well in cages or hanging baskets. H. 60 to 72 days.
Sugar Snack NT
Bears long clusters of sweet fruits on indeterminate vines. Can survive more direct sun, heavy foliage protects fruit from sunscald. H. 65 days.
Super Sweet 100VF
Produces indeterminate fruits with a very high vitamin C content. Plant as amazingly high yields. H. 60 to 65 days
Sweet Chelsea VFNT
An indeterminate with larger, almost 2 inch fruits. Crack resistant. Plants reach about 3 feet in height
Sweet Orange FT
An indeterminate with brick red, firm, round fruit, crack and disease resistant. H. 60 days.
A sprawling indeterminate that produces clusters of sweet, cherry-sized red fruit. Not hybrid, seeds can be saved, an open-pollinated alternative to many of the hybrids available. Can be troubled by diseases. OP. 65 to 75 days
Toy Boy VF
A determinate excellent for small gardens, pots, or hanging baskets. Plants grow to about a foot and bear plenty of fruit. H. 68 days
Medium Size Tomatoes
(Fruit weight 2 to 10 oz)
Produces good crops despite drought and hot weather. OP. 85 days
Indeterminate vines can bear fruits as large as 8 oz. OP. 70 days
A favourite where summers are short. OP. 62 to 65 days
California Sun VFN
Indeterminate, but dwarf, ideal for containers or small gardens. H. 70 days
Early ripening tomato with outstanding flavor, yield, and disease resistance. H. 70 to 72 days
Short, indeterminate. Good production in cooler climates. OP. 80 days.
Produces high quality tomatoes in varying climates. H. 70 to 76 days
Tolerates hot, humid weather. Resistant to Fusarium wilt and blossom end rot. Op. 78 days.
Early Cascade VF
Early production of bright red fruit. H. 55 to 65 days
Early Girl VFF
Good early production. H. 52 to 64 days
Three inch oval fruits. One of the first tomatoes to have resistance against bacterial speck. H. 68 to 70 days
Early fruits, bears heavily throughout season. H. 70 to 72 days
First Lady VFFNT
An early determinate that is disease resistant. Very flavorful. Recommended for growing in greenhouses. H. 60 to 65 days
Tolerance or resistance to 15 diseases and disorders. High yielding, flavorful fruits. Adapted to wide range of growing conditions. H. 70 to 75 days
Good plant in cool weather. OP. 62 days
Heat tolerant determinate. H. 70 days
Johnny’s 361 VFFNT
Does well in areas where summers are cool. H. 64 days
Grows well in the prairies, produces big crops of 6-7 oz fruit
Miracle Sweet VFFNT
Outstanding flavor and tremendously productive plants. H. 67 days
Oregon Spring V
Does well in coastal locations. Cold tolerant bears fruit early and in good quantities. OP 58 days
Indeterminate with inbred pest resistance. Very dependable, excellent producer. Op. 82 days.
A disease resistant variety ideal for indoor and hydroponic growing.
Another variety suited for coastal weather. OP. 60 days
Tolerant to cold weather, and windy conditions. OP. 55 to 69 days.
Great for greenhouse environment, highly disease resistant. OP. 81 days.
Wonder Boy VFN
Nematode resistant variety. H. 80 days.
Fruit weight 12 oz or more
Ace 55 VFA
Strong growing determinate adapted to places with hot dry summers. OP. 80 days.
Produces mass quantities of large fruits.
Better Boy VFN
Vigorous indeterminate with good disease resistance and continuous yield. H. 78 days
Big Beef VFFNTSA
Boasts almost total disease resistance. Indeterminate vines bear more fruits than most large fruited varieties. H. 73 days
Famous for its delicious taste. OP 74 to 80 days
Good taste, but susceptible to crack and fungal diseases. OP. 85 to 90 days.
Hy-Beef 9904 VFT
Semi seedless and recommended for fresh eating. Resistant to cracking. H. 70 days
Slow growing, suited for areas with long seasons. No known disease resistance.
Big fruits that are disease resistant. H. 80 days.
One of the earliest ripening big fruited tomatoes. H. 80 days.
Small sweet fruits that do best in damp conditions. OP. 79 days.
Produces a large crop of meaty fruit in a short period of time. H. 70 days.
Disease resistant. H. 68 days
Tomatoes look like bananas, long and thin, and yellow in color. OP. 75 to 90 days.
Heinz 1350 VF
Bright red fruit with uniform ripening. OP. 70 to 75 days.
La Rossa VFF
Thick fresh tasting tomato with small seed cavity. H 75 to 78 days.
Indeterminate vines produce tomatoes high in pectin, produce naturally thick sauce. Plants are tall and resistant to bacterial speck. H. 70 days
High sugar content fruits, suitable for sauces and fresh eating. H. 75 to 80 days.
HERE’S SOME PROBLEMS THAT CAN REALLY HARM YOUR PLANTS
Diseases caused by Fungi
Tomato seeds and seedlings are susceptible to diseases caused by soil-borne plant pathogens. These microbial pathogens thrive in cool damp soil; the best way to prevent infection is to apply a microbial amendment.
Disease caused by pathogenic fungi living in soil. Seeds and young seedlings are vulnerable. Prevent infection by boosting beneficial microorganisms in the rhizosphere using Piranha and other Advanced Nutrients products.
Similar to damping off, but may occur in more mature plants. Increasing plant health and following proper watering techniques is the best prevention.
Classified into early and late blight, based on when it is likely to hit plants hardest. A fungus that infects leaves causes them to turn spotted, and eventually die. Late Blight also infects stems. Splashing water from soil onto leaves is usually what triggers infection. Practice careful watering, and apply mulch to the soil.
Wilting of leaves that progresses from the bottom of the plant and moves up. May not kill plant, but exposes fruit to environmental stresses.
A common cause of fruit rot. Fungal spores often enter wounds caused by pests or physiological problems.
Preventing Fungal Infections
Applying a microbial amendment to the soil can prevent fungal infections that occur or spread from the roots. When applied to the soil environment beneficial fungi out-compete pathogens for space and nutrients. Advanced Nutrients makes a premium product called Piranha. Piranha can be applied to the soil or foliage, to fight foliar diseases.
Plants grown indoors are susceptible to fungal infections unless the hydroponics climate is carefully controlled for proper humidity. You can also stop pathogens and insects using non-toxic biological methods such as Advanced Nutrients Barricade, Protector, and Scorpion Juice. These products enhance immune systems while providing beneficial bacteria, physical barriers or other services that stop pathogens and predators.
Problems Related to Nutrient Deficiency
It is extremely important, especially in hydroponics, to provide proper nutrition. Most commercial fertilizers, especially those found in “Big Box” stores and amateur garden shops or nurseries are poorly designed and can often do more harm than good.
Advanced Nutrients formulas have superior components that are easily absorbed, growth optimized, and properly configured so your plants will grow faster and produce bigger yields.
Here are descriptions of some problems related to inferior nutrient programs:
Misshapen tomato fruits with scars and holes at the blossom end. Caused by cold weather during blossoming stage, or perhaps high levels of nitrogen in the soil.
Blossom End Rot
Aggravated by calcium deficiency during fruit formation. Lesions develop on blossom end of fruit. Common in hydroponic environments when too much water puddles in the root zone, leaching calcium.
If stressed by environmental conditions such as drought, heat, wind, cold or other factors, tomato plants may drop their blossoms or have inferior fruit.
Severe fluctuations in moisture (such as overwatering) and temperature can cause fruit to crack externally.
Tomatoes appear gray and discoloured on the outside. Inside, there are brown lesions on the wall. Caused by water stress or too high levels of nitrogen in the growing media.
Leather-end Roughness, and Scars
Visual diseases induced by high levels of nitrogen in growing media.
Walls of the fruit turn white and harden. May be the result of potassium deficiency, water stress, or too high temperatures.
Fruit that puffs out more in one portion than the other. More common in hydroponic environments. Usually caused by too much nitrogen, too little potassium in growing media.
WATCH OUT WHEN PESTS WANT TO TAKE A BITE OUT OF YOUR HARVEST
Pests and diseases are a huge problem in outdoor growing environments, and are far less a problem when growing indoors hydroponically.
Tomato plants are easily attacked by many types of insects, including aphids, flea beetles, leaf miners, stinkbugs, mites, and fruit worms. Some insects attack foliage; others attack tomatoes themselves. Insect attacks result in slower growth and lower yield.
Using toxic insecticides is unethical when you are growing plants to be consumed by humans. There are numerous non-toxic methods of controlling all the pests that attack tomatoes. For example, smart growers treat plants with Barricade, Piranha, Tarantula, Scorpion Juice, and Bug Away to provide systemic and external resistance to bugs that attack tomato plants.
Call Advanced Nutrients technical advisors toll-free to find out specific products that will help you have the healthiest, best-yielding, best-tasting tomatoes.
These products help plants defend themselves against fungi, diseases, extreme heat, drought, and other problems that can slow growth and decrease yields.
Growers have also found that using beneficial insects and beneficial microbes offer natural, safe, organic ways of protecting crops to produce non-toxic tomatoes.
Whether you grow tomatoes outdoors in soil, in greenhouses, or hydroponically, the use of proper cultivation techniques and Advanced Nutrients products will result in larger harvests of better-tasting tomatoes than you have ever experienced before.