Tomato is a popular addition to just about any type of cuisine imaginable, but it can be difficult to procure fresh options year-round. That’s because tomatoes don’t thrive in cold weather, so their growing season is limited. If you’d like to ensure you never run out of this delicious fruit regardless of the time of year, the good news is that it’s possible when you opt for an indoor, hydroponic garden. Before you get started with growing tomatoes in your iHarvest®, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Most tomato varieties are simple and straightforward to grow from seed. Simply consider using our Seedling Starter Kit, or using the paper towel method discussed here for best results. You can also consider sowing your tomato seeds directly in the iHarvest, although propagation may be slightly slower and less successful.
Tomatoes need plenty of light to grow well. When growing tomatoes with your iHarvest®, they will perform best when receiving 16 hours of artificial light. The iHarvest’s full-spectrum lights are terrific at mimicking natural sunlight. They also produce a light that is pleasing to the eyes. And because LED lights are high efficiency, they will not have a significant impact on your electric bills.
Your iHarvest® comes with a PPM tester. PPM stands for ‘Parts Per Million’ and it is a measure of the nutrients in your water solution. When growing tomatoes, you will want to keep your PPM range between 1400 – 3500 for optimal growth. Tomatoes grow great with other plants that grow well in these PPM ranges, such as cucumbers, eggplants and peppers. Your tomato plants will remain healthy at PPM ranges below 1400, but will not produce fruit as quickly.
Your iHarvest® comes with a pH tester. Adjusting your pH allows your plants to absorb the nutrients they need, as efficiently as possible. Keep your pH between 5.5-6.8 for optimal growth.
Tomatoes are a flowering/fruiting plant. When they are young, before they begin flowering, your tomato plants will thrive with the MaxiGro nutrient solution, which have an N-P-K ration of 10-5-14. When they begin to flower and fruit, they will do better with a nutrient solution that has more Phosphorus (P). When your tomatoes begin to flower, you may want to switch to Maxibloom nutrients, which have an NPK ration of 5-15-14. By doing so, you will get more tomato fruit, and it will ripen faster.
Pruning and Harvesting:
Tomatoes can take up a lot of space, and that’s not always easy when growing indoors. So, focus on growing dwarf varieties of tomato plants, like Tidy Treats tomatoes. They will be easier to grow and maintain in your iHarvest®. As your tomato plants begin to outgrow the space you have for them, you can prune them by following our guide here.
Tomatoes are self-fertile and need very little help to fruit. Simply giving the flowers (or even the branches) a little shake or tap when you are walking by will do the trick.
Harvest your tomatoes when they become a beautiful red color, and enjoy.
Time to Harvest:
Tomatoes take ~3 months from the time that you start from seed, to when you are able to begin harvesting. It can take slightly less time if you are experienced and follow the optimal practices perfectly. It can take longer and you will receive less yield if you follow the practices less precisely. But, everybody can grow tomatoes in their iHarvest®!
Tomatoes are a lot of fun to grow, and they are a forgiving plant. You don’t have to be perfect to grow and enjoy your own tomatoes in the iHarvest® Indoor Garden. The more closely you follow the directions, the more tomatoes you will have. But even without following the direction perfectly, you will be able to grow tomatoes successfully in the iHarvest®. And remember, IGWorks® and our online Facebook community are always here to help!