Outdoor hydroponic tomatoes

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Texan, May 19, 2017.

  1. Texan

    Texan Well-Known Member

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    I am having a quality issue with my tomatoes as well as a quantity issue. I am asking for advice on possible future solutions.

    My current setup is single stem pruning planted in the ground trellising up twine. My soil pH is poor at 8.2. Rain events has caused splitting. Plant growth is anemic and fruit set on bloom is not what I want it to be and in a few more weeks temps will stop fruit set completely.

    Financially there is no chance of putting up a high tunnel, so my questions are;

    1) can I use grow bags outside on a hydroponic system without having a high tunnel? I understand and accept the effect rain events will have on nutrient solution.

    2) assuming the answer to 1 is yes, would I be better served with a 3 or 5 gallon grow bag?

    In essence, can the same system used by many in a high tunnel be used outdoors accepting the replacement of nutrient solution after rain events?
     
  2. Texan

    Texan Well-Known Member

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    Gosh, that was silly of me and no human can figure out how to edit a post in this new app, so I will reply.

    I realize I confused two systems. Grow bags with soil which do not recirculate and BATO buckets which recirculate. Add a third question.

    3) would you use grow bags or BATO buckets outdoors?
     

  3. Bellyman

    Bellyman Well-Known Member

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    Is there a reason not to improve the soil that you have? It may be a little late to do so for this growing season, but could you work on a plot of ground such that you bring the pH and other soil nutrients plus organic matter back to the place where it would be really good soil for your tomatoes?

    Just wondered.
     
  4. Texan

    Texan Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I could change the pH of clay soil from 8.2 to 6.8 using elemental sulfur, but it would be an unreasonable annual cost. It is not something you can permanently change.
     
  5. Clem

    Clem Realist

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    I used bubble buckets, and also the Kratky method outside. I dug bucket sized holes to set the buckets in, because above ground in (often)hundred degree weather couldn't possibly be good for the roots. It worked out great EXCEPT I didn't keep an eye on my PH. So, over a period of time, while the plants were producing, the ph built up, and killed the plants. Of course I learned from that, and now have bottles of PH up and PH down.

    I might add that nutrient are used at different rates during different stages of a plants life, so if you used a standard nutrient mix, at later stages in the plants life it will be getting too much of something. With the systems I was using, I had no way to get the nutrient out to completely replace the fluid. Which, I'm sure was a big part of th problem.
     
  6. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    For outside you use a drain to waste system. Basically you make a huge tank and fill it with nutrient. You pump the specified amount of nutrient to the plant daily. Then you just let the excess run out. This is how 99% of the commercial systems are done with tomatoes. regardless of if they are inside a greenhouse.

    The type of system you use, buckets v/s grow bags is up to you. They make no difference really. Excepting that the buckets are more expensive and last longer. You big concern is media type. I'd use promix instead of grow stones or other "hard" media. The promix will hold a bit more water for the plants. The irrigation can be a simple drip system and very cheap. I would not do a return system outside. One rain event will ruin your tank mixture.

    Get a good tomato nutrient. Get one in powdered form. They are very inexpensive that way. For how much to order.. A tomato plant needs about 50oz of nutrient a day. So weekly it's about 3 gallons. Monthly it's about 12. 8 month growing season 96.
    So each plant uses about 100 gallons. To make 100 gallons of nutrient requires about 1.25 pounds of dry powder. A common 3 part mix is .5 pounds fertilizer, .5 pounds of Calcium nitrate, .25 pounds of epson salts. So a 25 pound bag of tomato formula, 25 pounds of calcium nitrate, and 12 pounds of epson salts. Enough to fully raise 25 plants costs just short of 200 bucks delivered. For your efforts, you should easily grow 1000 pounds of tomatoes. 20-25 cents a pound. Not bad at all.
     
  7. oneraddad

    oneraddad Non-Known Member

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    If you want to grow a lot of tomatoes that taste like water and chemicals hydro is the way to go.
     
  8. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Nonsense,

    That's like saying if you want tomatoes that taste like manure, grow them with manure.

    Like I told you in the past. If you want tasty tomatoes, grow tomatoes with good taste. Grow them with lots of sun for flavor profile. Use the proper fertilizers. The taste of a hydroponic tomatoes is always superior to field grown in taste tests.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  9. Bellyman

    Bellyman Well-Known Member

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    Really? I wish I knew where some of those tomatoes were. Seriously, I've never tasted a hydroponic tomato that was anywhere near as flavorful as anything I've grown myself, ever.

    Then again, if the taste test is between a hydroponic tomato that tastes so-so and a commercially field grown tomato that's generally crappy, I guess I'd understand. So-so beats really bad, no argument with that. Neither has shown me flavor that I enjoy.
     
  10. Clem

    Clem Realist

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    I grew Sun Gold, a variety that splits every time it rains. The hydroponically grown tasted better than the split ones I grew in ground beside them to compare, and the few in ground that I got that didn't split, I mixed an equal number in a bowl, and gave 4 different people a chance to try them out. Not a single person could tell any difference at all.
     
  11. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    First, you can't expect a store tomato to be as good as something you grow. It isn't as fresh. Period.

    You can grow the same varieties regardless of method. The big issue with growing regular varieties is the general lack of disease resistance. But if you don't care about that old favorites like Purple Cherokee can do very well. In confined spaces most of the heritage types grow too much foliage. The growth would be silly really. Imagine a 50' tomato plant. You can't expect a shipping type to be a flavorful as a fresh market type. Also picking time... Don't pick before the blush stage for full flavoids. I bet you pick when they are red. right? Yeah If a commercial grower did that it would be mush before it gets to market.

    If your getting poor quality professionally grow tomatoes, I suggest your buying the cheapest on the shelf. Tomatoes varieties available today are unmatched in flavor. If your local super market stinks... Check out a local farmers market. I supply my market with top quality truly vine ripe tomatoes that explode with flavor. ;)

    The heritage tomatoes I grow... Not the green rocks your getting at the store. 13537630_1223071444423744_6425767765796782317_n.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  12. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Sungold are really good.. They are a bear to train indoors tho. Much too much growing point vigor. The are as sweet as candy tho.
     
  13. Texan

    Texan Well-Known Member

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    Ok, stan, for costs sake let me say it looks like I would start with grow bags. 3 or 5 gallon?

    I will likely go with the Master Blend formula. I have looked for Promix locally and never found it. Shipping it is very uneconomical. Perhaps a better effort can find a dealer in driving distance.

    Thanks for your input.
     
  14. Texan

    Texan Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and I had planted 4 varieties. Big Beef, Lemon Boy, Sun Gold, and Sweet Million.
     
  15. stachoviak@msn.

    stachoviak@msn. Well-Known Member

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    Most store bought tomatoes are picked green and "ripened" artificially ..
    did you know that when a tomato is picked, it stops growing at that stage,
    for instance, if you pick a tomato that is almost ripe and let it turn red on your windowsill, it is not ripening, it is merely turning red. It won't compare to the vine ripened ones in your own garden..

    I plant my tomatoes with a post hole digger.
    I put manure in the bottom of the hole, cover it with about 3 inches of dirt and plant the tomato as you would normally. I use compost to fill in around the tomato plant.

    after the tomato is about 2 to 3 feet tall, I trim off about 6 to 8 inches of leaves on the bottom. this gives it better air circulation.
    I have never had blight.

    .......jiminwisc.....
     
  16. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Some truth, some not so..

    Stage 1... A tomato picked green will never ripen. It will fade to white and rot.

    From hear on are considered USDA Vine ripe.
    Stage 2... A tomato picked with a bit of pink on the blossom end is called a "green". These will eventually ripen. Once a tomato reaches this stage it has taken all it can from the mother plant.
    If you leave a tomato past this point and have a rain event it will cause splitting. The other big issue is they will send ripening hormone into the plant. Stalling growth until all fruit are complete. This can take 6 weeks or so. So this is the big reason tomatoes are picked prior to fully ripe. In a small backyard garden a brief respite is welcome. On a market farm it's weeks without pay.
    Stage 3... A pink. A pink is a tomato that is mostly starting to change and can have a bit of green on the shoulders. These should be picked asap. They are most in peril from excess watering. The skin is no longer flexible but the tomato can still get water from the plant.
    Stage 4... A red ripe. These can sit on the vine and they are no longer getting moisture from the plant. So they can stay till they are picked or rot.


    P.S. Gassing tomatoes mostly stopped in the 80's. It simply isn't necessary with the modern cultivars. I will agree when they gassed the tomatoes were awful.
     
  17. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Look again. :p

    Promix , sunshine mix, biotin, ect. Google "greenhouse supply" I'm certain there is one within a few hours drive. Our agway carriers a few different brands of soilless mixtures.

    You can also use perlite/vermiculite, river gravel(not crushed the round stuff), clean natural sand. Nearly anything... plastic chips unless they float. The key is lots of flow and sterile. (You don't want crushed stone materials because it can release lots of minerals... )

    I get my nutrient from Chem gro. The shipping isn't too bad... which is most of the cost. Ignore the shipping quote in the cart. They will email you telling you it didn't cost 50 bucks.. just 25. Then they are right in line with the rest. I get the Calcium nitrate on amazon. it's 30 bucks for 25 pounds. epson salts from walmart 2 day. finally you will need a little potassium nitrate. I get that from Duda Diesel, they have a web presence and ebay store. They ship quick and are very responsive. :)

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  18. Texan

    Texan Well-Known Member

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    Grrrrr. 3 gallon grow bag or 5.
     
  19. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    You click on "edit", just like in the old software.

    It's at the bottom left of your post:

    Edit Delete Report + QuoteReply
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  20. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I grow full season 2 plants in 2 gallon pots. So there you go.

    The thing is the tighter the parameters the less flexibility. For outside.

    Make it small. the 3 gallon for 2 plants. be sure to make the top holes as small as possible to let in the least rain possible.

    Get ready to prune... They will grow like weeds. :)