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Greenhouse Tomato Growing Techniques and Ideas

Greenhouse Tomato Growing Techniques and Ideas

Greenhouse Tomato Growing Techniques:

The following information is about GREENHOUSE  TOMATO GROWING.

Introduction To Greenhouse Tomato Growing

A greenhouse sometimes referred to as a glass house is a structure where its walls are made of transparent material like glass, polyethylene, and nets where plants are grown under very well-controlled climatic conditions. Greenhouses can be built in various sizes from small sheds to large structures that spread over hectares. Greenhouses are equipped Heaters, Sodium Lights and coolers to control the conditions inside the greenhouse.

Greenhouse Tomato Farming.
Greenhouse Tomato Farming.

Farmers prefer Green House as a viable option for Organic Farming. The main challenges in organic farming are pests, diseases, and climatic conditions. Greenhouses are best in addressing all these challenges. Pests cannot enter Greenhouses as they are enclosed and contains nets to protect from pets. Conditions inside the greenhouse can be controlled with heaters and lights. Some plants will grow in only some seasons due to lack of suitable climatic conditions required for their growth. But in the greenhouse the crops can be cultivated throughout the year as we can control the conditions inside the greenhouse, the productivity of Yield is very high in Green House. We can produce more yield in a small unit area of Green House.

Selection of Proper seeds for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Picking proper seeds is the First success in farming as it reflects the productivity of the crop. The crucial features we look for related to cultivars include high yields, disease resistance, a high number of fruits, freedom from cracking, good shelf life and TSS.

For picking the variant that is resistant to diseases, look for the letters VFNT and A after the name. Depending on the space in the greenhouse pick the variety among “Indeterminate” or “determinate”.”Indeterminate” variety tomatoes grow and produce fruit indefinitely, taking advantage of the space inside a greenhouse. If you’re short on space inside greenhouse pick a “determinate” variety, that usually stops at a certain height.

Get seeds that are specific to greenhouse farming and usually seed suppliers clearly label greenhouse farming on their seed packing. Some of the varieties which have performed exceedingly well in greenhouses are Roma VF, Tumbling Tom, DARL – 303, HT – 6 Sun – 7611, NS – 1237, NDT – 5, NDT – 120, Shirley.

Hybrid Tomatoes Growing In Greenhouse.
Hybrid Tomatoes Growing In Greenhouse.

Preparing Greenhouse and soil for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

A healthy greenhouse is key to a healthy crop. Tomatoes should be placed in a greenhouse that is healthy. If the greenhouse has any pre-existing problems with disease or pests, treat those problems before placing tomato plants inside the greenhouse. Any pests, insects or bugs present inside must be cleared and proper nets should be placed to stop any bugs from entering the greenhouse.

Greenhouse soil can be fine-tuned with a nutrient balance to meet the needs of your crops. Test the soil before planting and occasionally in the middle of the season. Nutrients must be supplied in at some intervals as per the requirement rather than dumping huge amounts one time.

Tomatoes need adequate phosphorus .Add compost rich in phosphorus .Provide potassium, calcium and nitrogen with compost .

Adding organic matter will provide a slow release of nutrients that help the plants to get nutrients for a long time with adequate supply. Green material like fresh hay will act as organic matter. Leave culled tomato leaves on the soil. This can fulfill some part of the nitrogen needs of the tomato plants. Compost tea can be sprayed onto the soil. The objective of the spray is not to add nutrients but rather stimulate soil life, which can then make soil nutrients more available to plants. Make sure the leaves are healthy before leaving on the soil.

The soil pH inside the greenhouse can change easily the intensive use of compost and other organic fertilizers. Supply hydrated lime whenever the coil become more acidic. This will reduce the acidic nature. If the soil pH level is good, just choose a fertilizer that contains calcium and apply every fortnight.

Planting  in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Tomato planting should be done in 2 steps. First tomato seeds should be grown into seedlings and then transplanted.

Planting seeds for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Tomato seeds can be placed in small containers like starting trays. Any diseases or related bacteria present on the tray can infect the present seeds. So the first step is to clean the tray thoroughly to disinfect it.

Fill the tray with potting mix. You can use soil but if you use soil, make sure it is sterile and free from any problems. The other option is to use the soil-less mix but if you use a soil-less mix, you need to add a seedling nutrient solution to provide sufficient nutrition. The soil-less mix is more preferred as it doesn’t carry any bacteria with it.

Make a small  hole into each compartment of the starting tray and drop a single seed in each hole. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix. Plant some extra seeds so that you can retain healthy seedlings and discard the less healthy seedlings.

Water the seeds with plain water for normal soil and use seedling nutrient solution with a proper proportion of calcium and magnesium solution for soil-less mixes. Always keep the soil damp until the seeds grow into a clump.

Seeds can be grown outside greenhouses and it is always good to have proper sunlight at this stage. Once the seeds grow enough or transplanting they can be shifted to the greenhouse. Move the starting trays to the full sun once all seedlings have sprouted.

It usually takes 10-15 days to proper sprouts. It takes around a month time from planting seeds to get the plants ready for transplant.

Transplanting in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Greenhouse Tomato Plantation.
Greenhouse Tomato Plantation.

One the seedlings grow about 10 cm transplant, transplant them to larger pots or containers or bags inside the greenhouse. Plant the seedlings with around1  -2  square feet of space between them. Planting too close can reduce airflow and encourage diseases. Before bringing plants to greenhouse check for any infections or insects on the plants. If plants with any diseases are brought inside the greenhouse it can spread to the rest of the plants

Before the final transplant, check for soil acidity. If your soil is too acidic, add hydrated lime to the potting mix. 

Suitable Conditions for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Growing Conditions for Tomatoes In Greenhouse.
Growing Conditions for Tomatoes In Greenhouse.

The conditions for growing Tomatoes inside greenhouse are:

Tomatoes grow well in warm temperatures. Fruits do not grow well in both higher temperatures and lower temperatures. Humidity should be around 60-70%. Soil must be damp but excess water must be drained as it may invite diseases and insects Conditions inside greenhouse should be adjusted accordingly.

Lighting Requirement in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Tomatoes will grow well under light Tomatoes are not cultivated during the winter as they will not grow properly without sufficient light. In the greenhouse, we can overcome this challenge by supplemental lighting on the days when there is no proper daylight. High-power sodium lights will come into play in such conditions. These lights provide a bright and warm light to the plants that encourage flowering and fruiting. For best results, keep the lights on for around 10-12 hours per day.

Temperature Requirement for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

If sufficient temperature is not maintained within the greenhouse, the tomatoes will not develop. Tomato plants need day time temperature must be around 20 – 30 °C and night temperature around 15-20 °C. If the temperature is below 15 °C or above 30°C fruits may not develop. Get the greenhouse equipped with heaters to increase the temperature in cold climate conditions and coolers to bring down the temperatures during hot summer days.

Watering Requirement for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Tomato plants love damp soil with a good amount of water supply at regular intervals. It is challenging to provide water in summers. You need to balance providing an adequate supply of moisture while avoiding a build-up of excessive humidity and moisture. A good drainage system is crucial and in fact critical both in the greenhouse. Poorly drained soil leads to high humidity, which in turn can increase bacterial growth. Install drainage pipes in the beds and outside the greenhouse to avoid this problem.

Tomato can be cultivated with irrigation. Many people use drip which irrigates a strip of soil. Drip pipes can be split into sections and it is better to split irrigation into different sessions rather than have one long sessions on same plants.

Begin watering when the plants are active, that is a few hours after sunrise, and stop a couple of hours before sunset. Watering at dawn can lead to fruit cracking and drops on leaves. Watering at sunset can leave excessive water in the greenhouse.

Overhead misting systems can be used in summer to cool down the greenhouse environment. Misting can lower the temperature by around 10ᵒC. It also can increase the humidity levels which is good during summer days.

Pollination of Flowers in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Tomato Flowering In Greenhouse.
Tomato Flowering In Greenhouse.

Tomato is a self-pollinated crop that can pollinate itself provided it gets some support. The pollen grains of tomato flower will be inside a tube, and gets released by some moment or vibration in the plant.

Bees are the natural pollinators. When bees collect nectar from flowers of the plants, some pollen sticks to the hair of their body. When they visit the next flower, some of this pollens transfer to that flower. Strong winds will vibrate the plants and the pollens get released from the flowers which may land on other flowers and pollination happens.

For the plants growing outside, there will be the presence of bees and high winds that help the pollination. Greenhouses are closed and controlled environments that are a lack in bees and high wind, we need to act as the pollinator once flowers are ready and fully open with pollens.

Here are some options to stimulate pollination inside Greenhouses.

Electric plant vibrators are a widely used option. Touch each plant with electric vibrator every other day between 9 AM to 3 PM. This helps the pollens to get released from the flower and get distributed.

You can place fans inside the greenhouse that generate winds inside the Greenhouse and distributes the pollen. 

Fertilizing in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Fertilizers For Growing Tomatoes In Greenhouse.
Fertilizers For Growing Tomatoes In Greenhouse.

There are different compost product available in the market. Depending on the stage of the plant, we change the fertilizer.

In the first phase that is when we plant seeds, we use seeding compost. The Seeding compost is light on nutrients that are enough at seeding and sprouting stage. Once we transplant the seedlings we supply potting compost. Potting compost has the nutrients that plants will need as they grow. Multipurpose compost is another variant that can be used for both seeds and plants. But the ideal approach is using the separate compost for each stage of your plants’ development. You can also use the compost that comes with grow bags. If you have your own compost pile, that is one of the best options and it is practiced by many tomato farming experts.

Use a fertilizer rich in nitrogen and potassium once the plants are transplanted into final pots. Dilute and apply the fertilizer according to label instructions and supply to the plants. Reduce fertilizer usage as the final fruits start to ripen. 

Plant Care in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

There are a few important things to do during tomato farming.

Once the tomatoes start growing bigger stake up any tomato plants before they collapse under the weight of their own fruits. This is very simple. Drive a cane into the soil next to the plant and away from the roots. Tie the stems to the cane in one or more places, depending on the support needed. Liquid fertilizer leads to an accumulation of salts in the compost. Skip feeding and give lots of extra water, to wash out some of the salts. Make sure the excess water is drained with excess salts.

Crop Rotation for Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Whether it is greenhouse farming or external traditional farming, It is advised to practice crop rotation. Crop rotation is incredibly crucial, as it optimizes the nutrients in the soil, and helps in growing delicious tomatoes

Growing tomatoes in successive years in the same space might land in uneven ripening due to low soil nutrients, increased pests attack, recurring diseases which all together bring down the productivity of the crop in successive years.  We can plant other crops in alternative seasons which is called crop rotation that will help in controlling the recurring problems. Alternatively, we can practice collective farming of different plants. Keeping tomatoes as the main crop, we can add some more variety of plants that will not be dependent on the same nutrients as the tomato. Else both crops will not yield properly.

It is a simple rule to remember what to grow as an alternate crop. Grow an above-ground crop and then a below-ground crop. Its even better is we can rotate four crop groups. They are “Solanaceous crops”, “Cruciferous crops”, “Root crops”, “Leguminous crops” .

Legumes and then the cruciferous crops, including brassicas, are good for growing after tomatoes. Legumes trap nitrogen in nodules that form on their roots, adding nitrogen to the soil. As nitrogen is good for tomatoes we are adding natural nutrient to the soil without any additional cost along with growing other vegetables. To get this benefit we need to get the whole plant goes back into the soil after harvesting is done. Harvesting the pods minimizes the nutrients that we get. so it is better to leave the plants to die and rot in the soil .Le. Leafy vegetables are known to enrich the soil with phosphorus. The root crops will leave behind some potassium that tomatoes love to use.

Protecting the plants from Diseases and Pests in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Pests and Diseases in Tomato Growing in Greenhouse.
Pests and Diseases in Tomato Growing in Greenhouse.

You can generally find two kinds of insects while growing the greenhouse tomatoes. One is Red Spider Mite and Whitefly.

Red spider Mite in Greenhouse Tomato Growing:

You can’t see red spider mite with the bare eye. But if you notice mottling, bronzing or dusting on your plants leaves. Immediately spray the bottom of the leaves with water, get a predatory mite called phytoseliuspersimilis, which kills the red spider mites. Do not use pesticides as they cannot kill the Red spider Mite which in turn may cause harm to good ones.

Whitefly in Greenhouse Tomato Growing: 

Whiteflies can be generally in the spring season and start as tiny  2 mm. It’s better to be proactive as whiteflies are commonly seen in glasshouses. There is two-step to protect them, in early April introduce the parasitic wasp, which will kill all the nymphs, in the greenhouse. After April, hang the fly-catching sheets near the plants which catch the adults. Remove the infected leaves from plants and throw away from the greenhouse. Make sure you do not touch any other plants till you wash them thoroughly and feed them with plenty of food and water

Screens on the doors will help to block the entry of many pests including tarnished plant bug and butterflies. One more reliable tactic is to create extreme temperature conditions that will kill many pests.

Training and Pruning in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Building greenhouse is an expensive job and its space is valuable. Its important to effectively utilizes the space present inside the greenhouse. You have to maximize the productivity of every square foot of the space.

Training plants is a technique used to grow plants in the desired direction. Growing the plant vertically is one technique. There is one more called “V-Training“tand tomatoes do well in this. This angle will lead to better light penetration into the plant. If we are planning for a long season you need to lower the plant so that the stem is less likely to break.

Hydroponic Greenhouse Tomato Farming.
Hydroponic Greenhouse Tomato Farming.

Pruning can increase productivity. Cut suckers and leaves with a utility knife in order to avoid creating botrytis. flush to the stem. If you remove leaves by hand you might cut off a small part of the stem and this can lead to botrytis. Perform Pruning on sunny days for better results.

Pruning can be done in different ways. They are

  • We can remove the suckers weekly.
  • Just clean the ripen and old leaves
  • Remove small tomatoes from the cluster of tomatoes so that other ones can grow better.

Harvesting in Greenhouse Tomato Growing

Harvesting of tomato fruits is a continues process throughout the life cycle of the tomato plant. Generally, the first fruits of tomatoes get ready for harvesting in 10-12 weeks after transplanting. It’s better to use hands to pluck fruits so that it does not damage the plant while harvesting. For harvesting, one hand should be placed above the stem and the other to pluck the fruit or you can just twist the tomato slightly to release easily from the vine. You can harvest the tomatoes when it is in bright color and soft while we touch. A gentle squeeze also can tell if the tomatoes are ready for use, just leave if it is firm. Tomatoes that are left on the plant until they are fully formed are much sweeter flavor than those picked too early. You can ripen the tomatoes by plucking the green tomatoes and placing them in a paper bag but you should keep them in room temperature. Even if they are not turned red also the green color tomatoes can be used in a variety of green tomato recipes. If you want to keep the tomatoes in a bowl check them every day because if tomatoes start decomposing it will release gas that will damage the other tomatoes also. Take off the tomatoes that showing the signs of rot.  Once the growing season is ended, pull it from the roots, cut is and add it to composite.

The below tried tips will help you to make your harvest of tomatoes juicy and delicious.

One step is you need to choose a bright and airy spot place, leaving at room temperature for circulation of air wherein at least they should good amount of light per day. Rotate the Crop: Alter the location of your tomato bed inside the greenhouse to reduce risks such as bacterial spot and early blight. Hide the Stems of tomato seedlings up to the first true leaves. Water the soil and not much on the leaves and water them all at least thrice in a week. While the first fruit is growing, Add Compost and perform Trimming, that continue to encourage new growth composing around the stem and trimming some of the upper leaves.

Reap and enjoy growing of your tomatoes once they form fully sized and good color.

Read: Polyhouse Subsidy.

Read: Organic Compost Preparation.

Last Updated: March 26, 2019
Author: Jagdish


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