Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse

  • By: Hans
  • Date: August 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Anyone who’s ever tasted a supermarket tomato and then a homegrown one knows there’s no comparison. The flavor of a vine-ripened tomato freshly picked from the garden is incomparable to the watery, bland, mealy specimens sold in most stores. But beyond the taste, there are plenty of other good reasons to grow your tomatoes.

Tomatoes are notoriously finicky plants, and even if you live in an area with a long growing season, it can be tough to get them to ripen evenly. By growing your own, you can control the sun and water they receive, ensuring that each fruit is perfectly ripe and juicy. Homegrown tomatoes also tend to have thinner skins, making them less likely to crack or split.

And while it’s true that store-bought tomatoes are available year-round, there’s nothing quite like biting into a sun-warmed tomato still warm from the vine. For anyone who loves to cook with fresh ingredients, growing tomatoes at home is a delicious way to ensure you always have the best possible tomatoes on hand.

Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse

There are many benefits to growing tomatoes in greenhouses. If you grow tomatoes on a commercial scale, you can make good money with the fruits you produce. The most important thing is to choose the suitable cultivar for your growing space.

Some tomato growers are after the tomato that sets the most fruit per plant. This can balance the cost of growing tomatoes with the profit they bring. Some growers also pay attention to the market demand for certain types of tomatoes. Others are more concerned with ensuring their plants are disease-resistant.

Growing Tomato Seedlings

When starting your tomato garden, the best place to start is a greenhouse. It will provide a steady supply of water and nutrients for the roots of your plants, while the humidity level will remain under 90% to prevent leaf mold. Tomato seedlings are best started on a soilless tray filled with a nutrient solution. The RSI Hydroponic Floating Seeding Trays have an excellent success rate.

Start your seeds six weeks before the last predicted frost date and plant them a week to ten days after. This will avoid any late surprise frost and allow the soil to warm up a little before transplanting your seedlings—the best time to sow seeds in the US in March and April. For specific seedling growth tips and information, consult a greenhouse growing guide.

Growing Tomato Plants in Plug Trays

To grow tomatoes in a plug tray greenhouse, you can either start your seedlings indoors in a germination greenhouse or transplant them to a permanent location. When transplanting tomato plants into a permanent place, they should be hardened for a week or two before planting.

To set your plant, simply remove it from the plug tray greenhouse and place it in partial shade for a day or two. After that, you can transplant it to full sunlight and give it adequate watering.

The soil in your plug tray greenhouse should be moist when germination occurs. You can prevent overwatering by placing a coconut coir between the tray and the soil. In later stages of growth, watering is crucial.

Make sure that the earth is not too dry. After transplanting, you must ensure proper watering to prevent the plants from rotting. For best results, you must water the plants every day.

Growing Tomato Plants Under Supplemental Lighting

One common problem in greenhouses growing tomatoes is that the lighting conditions are not optimal. Although supplemental lighting is essential to growing tomatoes at any time of year, it is also expensive and has a high ecologic footprint. Generally, additional lighting is provided by High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps.

HPS lamps emit a warm spectrum of light that benefits many plant species. However, LED lamps to emit narrow band light, which uses less energy.

When growing tomato seedlings in a greenhouse, you should use grow lights that provide fourteen to sixteen hours of supplemental light daily. Tomatoes need additional light to grow properly and are best grown under grow lights rather than direct sunlight.

Depending on the location of the greenhouse and cultivar, you may want to shade your tomato plants. This can also reduce their yield because of reduced photosynthesis. Shade cloths can also stain individual fruit trusses.

Pollinating Tomato Plants

A crucial part of growing tomatoes in a greenhouse is pollinating them. Tomatoes can be self-pollinating, but they need a little help. Wind and bumble bees can do the pollination work for you. If this isn’t possible, you can use electric toothbrushes, plant vibrators, or shake the stems of your tomato plants.

You can also use fans to direct airflow inside the greenhouse. Hand pollination can also be adequate, and you can use cotton swabs to move the pollen from the anthers to the stigma. For best results, hand pollination should be done every day or every other day.

Unlike many other fruits, tomatoes cannot self-pollinate in a greenhouse. Pollen is trapped in capsules in flowers and must be released by hand. This process is called buzz pollination. Bees can perform buzz pollination, but commercial honeybees are not suited for this. Instead, you can try the European bumblebee or the Australian blue-banded bee, which can achieve buzz pollination.

Conclusion

Tomatoes are a popular crop to grow in greenhouses. To have a successful tomato crop, it is essential to understand the growing process and what is needed for optimal growth. Greenhouse tomatoes need supplemental lighting, adequate watering, and pollination to grow correctly.

Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse FAQ

What is the best way to start tomato plants in a greenhouse?

You can either start your seedlings indoors in a germination greenhouse or transplant them to a permanent location. When transplanting tomato plants into a permanent place, they should be hardened for a week or two before planting.

What are the lighting requirements for tomatoes in a greenhouse?

For best results, you should use grow lights that provide fourteen to sixteen hours of supplemental light daily. Tomatoes need additional light to grow properly and are best grown under grow lights rather than direct sunlight.

How often should I pollinate my tomato plants?

For best results, hand pollination should be done every day or every other day. Unlike many other fruits, tomatoes cannot self-pollinate in a greenhouse. Pollen is trapped in capsules in flowers and must be released by hand.

My tomato plants are not producing fruit. What could be the problem?

If your tomato plants are not producing fruit, it could be due to a lack of pollination, too much shade, or inadequate lighting. Ensure you provide fourteen to sixteen hours of supplemental light daily and that your plants are getting enough pollination. You may also need to reduce the amount of shade if your plants are not receiving enough light.

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