How to Grow Tomatoes in Aerogarden- In-depth Guide for Beginners
So you are looking to grow the luscious tomatoes in winters too?
Nowadays, you don’t need a greenhouse setup anymore to do that. All thanks to the aerogarden system that allows you to grow tomatoes throughout the year without much effort.
Don’t believe me?
Tomatoes are easy to grow…something you may choose to start aerogardening. It should not be a hard nut to crack if you follow the right care measures.
Read this entire article to learn everything you should know about growing tomatoes in an aerogarden system. I have provided a step-by-step guide alongside some tips and tricks to get it all right to gain maximum harvest.
What type of Tomatoes Can You Grow in the Aerogarden?
There is no point in denying the fact that I failed terribly when I tried to grow tomatoes for the first time in the aerogarden. The reason I failed was choosing to produce the large tomatoes. You can do this as well but it required an advanced grow system. I was using a basic model at that time.
Moreover, when the tomatoes grow bigger, they get too heavy. For an outdoor plant, you will get a lot of space to provide some sort of support. The space in the aerogarden is too short for placing a stick to tie the plant.
This is why I recommend growing cherry tomatoes first. These plants are small so you can grow them in an aerogarden model with some basic features.
What you’ll need to Grow Tomatoes in Aerogarden
Though your plants need minimal care, still it is vital to be very careful when you start.
For this reason, it is convenient to gather all the essentials before you get started with the plantation process. You will need the following items so, keep them handy:
- Aerogarden grow system
- Tomato seed pod kit (number of kits you need will depend on how many pods you can keep in the system)
- Liquid plant nutrients and fertilizers (not required if included in the seed pod kit)
- Children’s electric toothbrush (for artificial pollination)
- Filtered tap water supply system
Steps to Grow Tomatoes in the Aerogarden
Growing tomatoes is simple. Something novice aerogarden enthusiasts can try their hands on. To make sure your efforts don’t run in vain, you can do the same. For your help, I have mentioned all the steps. Follow them and you won’t miss out on anything.
Before you place the seedpods into the aerogarden basket, prepare them for the plantation process. Take care of the following to ensure it is ready for the next phase.
Step 1: Clean and Sanitize Your Aerogarden System
You may be wondering why it is necessary to clean the aerogarden system.
This is important if you want to reuse an aerogarden. Even if you have cleaned it after removing the old plants. Over the due course of storage, it gets contaminated. For safety assurance, consider sterilizing it before starting the new plantation process.
If you are using a new aerogarden system, skip this step. The manufacturers ensure sterilizing all the parts before packaging them safely. So start using them straight away.
Step 2: Configure the Grow Lights
Cherry tomatoes require at least 16 hours of moderate light. So the lights should not be too bright. Adjust the brightness and light timer settings accordingly. Keep the grow lights off for 8 hours per day. Set the lights to the lowest possible height. You need to keep raising the height of the lights from time to time as the plants start growing bigger.
Step 3: Plant the Tomato Seeds
The roots as well as the leaves of the tomato plants require a lot of space. For this reason, I always leave a few holes empty. In an aerogarden with 9 holes, I prefer to use the 2 slots at either end. Your plants, especially the roots, get enough room inside the basin. It reduces the risk of tangled root hairs when they grow larger after a few weeks.
Note: Keep the lids of the unused slots closed to retain maximum moisture.
Step 4: Add Water and Plant Nutrients
Open the lid to pour water and nutrients into the aerogarden bowl. You may use liquid nutrients or water-soluble nutrition tablets.
Check the user manual to put the exact amount of water and nutrition required. This depends on the number of plants you want to grow. For instance, if you have 3 tomato plants, 1 tablet should be sufficient for 2 weeks.
However, if the indicator shows a low nutrition alert, you need to put fresh water and nutrient again. Don’t forget to press the reset button. It informs your system that fresh nutrients have been added.
Step 5: Don’t forget to put the Domes
Tomatoes thrive well in the greenhouse environment. It is due to the heat and humidity. The plastic domes do exactly the same for them in the aerogarden. When the leaves start appearing, it’s time to remove them.
Step 6: Trim off the Small Sprouts
By the 2nd week, your plants should pop out of the holes. They will grow about 1” by this time. You will find multiple sprouts coming out from the single seed pod. Identify the weak and smaller plants and chop them off from the bottom of the stem.
Snipping out the underdeveloped sprouts allows you to grow only 1 plant per seed pod. It is vital to provide sufficient nourishment for your plant.
Step 7: Pollinate the Tomato Flowers
There won’t be insects around to do the pollination as it happens with the garden plants. Artificial pollination is the only solution. When the flowers start appearing, do this as early as possible. The electric toothbrush helps a ton. Rub the brush bristles very gently on the flowers.
There is an alternative method, though not recommended by the horticulture experts. You can use a blower fan to transfer the pollens. The speed of the fan is not easy to regulate as per exact need. The high-speed air can damage the plants.
Step 8: Prune the Lower Branches
Success with tomato cultivation is all about keen observation and proper care. You must watch the plants regularly to find out the dry leaves, improper growth, etc. Trim off these parts as you would do with other garden plants. It ensures healthy growth.
There are 2 phases in this step:
First, prune off a bit above the 5 branches from the bottom of the stem. The first phase of pruning is conditional. It is necessary only if you don’t get many flowers.
Second, you need to cut off the leaves and branches that may have grown outside the light area. If any part of the plant has grown tall and touching the lights, you must clip them off as well. Else, they will block the light from reaching other parts of the plant.
Tip: Use ultra-sharp pruners so that you prune the branches at a single precise cut.
Step 9: Attach Support to the Heavy Branches
Even the cherry tomatoes can be too heavy for the branches to hold when they grow bigger. They tend to bend and break later due to overload.
The tomatoes on the broken branches will not grow fully ripe. For this reason, you need to add some sort of support to the overloaded branches. This is a bit tough with the aerogarden plants. There is too little space to place a stick near the branches for support.
You can tie a string (made of organic material only) to the heavy branch and attach it to any nearby object.
Aerogarden Tomato Plant- Growth Phases
By now, you know the steps to follow for growing tomatoes in the aerogarden. The growth timeline helps you understand when and how to take care of your tomato plants. You will also know how big your plants will grow each week.
Let’s dive in to check the various growth phases of an aerogarden tomato plant week-by-week and what care measures they need from time to time.
Phase 1- Germination
Week 1: Getting started with the tomato plantation is a bit daunting during the initial week. You get to set the best grow-friendly environment specifically for the tomatoes in mind. If you had some herbs in the aerogarden previously, tomatoes need much more care than those. Take note of these factors:
- The temperature of the water must be 75℉
- Tomato thrives well at room temperature
- Give a good jerk to the nutrients container before you put it in the aerogarden. Only put the recommended dose as per the instructions.
All the above conditions are vital for your success in mission aerogarden tomatoes!
Week 2: By this time, you will observe that the young stem with a few leaves coming out of the holes. This is the time to remove the plastic domes.
You are likely to get two or more plants coming out of each hole. Monitor these plants carefully and go for thinning. You need to cut out the weak sprouts from the base of the stem.
Week 3: There is not much work for this week. However, you need to keep track of the water level and nutrients indicator. Provide water (room temperature) and nutrients when required.
Phase 2- Mid-Growth
Week 4: Even during this week, there is not much to do. If you have changed the water and added nutrients the previous week, this is your resting period.
Week 5: This is the time for pruning your tomato plants. Leave the five branches from the bottom of the stem. You should also be careful not to cut the first two leaves (it can affect the plant growth).
Locate the Y-shaped growth where the flower buds start to emerge. Using sharp scissors, cut the part just below the section from where the branches have parted.
Pruning the tomato plants at this stage following the right measures will help you get the double harvest.
Week 6: You won’t be doing anything this week except pruning. If the water and nutrient indicator does not show a low supply alert, keep watching the plant for improper growth.
You need to raise the lights if the stems or leaves are touching the panel. If the leaves have grown bigger outside the lights, cut them off. You need to cut the tall leaves and branches. It will allow more lights and enhanced plant growth.
Phase 3- Mature Plant
Week 7: The flowers start blossoming during weeks 5-7. You will find small yellow-hued flowers on all plants. If you don’t perform the pollination process, they will fall off. The result…you won’t get any fruit. I mean luscious tomatoes.
Before they fall off, perform the pollination using the brush or you may use a soft-blowing fan.
Note: If there are too many flowers, you need to remove some of them to provide sufficient space for the fruits to grow and ripen.
Week 8: If you perform pollination by the previous week, the small fruits should start appearing on the flowers. The plants not showing fruits need further pollination. Keep repeating the steps as you did the last week. Some plants take more time for producing fruits.
A few leaves will turn yellow to brown due to drying out. It happens with all plants. Just cut them off with garden scissors.
Phase 4- Mature Plant and Harvest
Week 9-12: Aha! Your hard work has paid off. It’s time to harvest the juicy ripe tomatoes. Take care not to exert too much pressure when harvesting them. As mentioned earlier, if the branches break by chance, you won’t get ripe tomatoes on them anymore.
However, you should still keep pollinating the new flowers as they emerge for the next harvest.
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide. By now, you must have fully understood what you need to do to grow tomatoes in the aerogarden.
The tomato plants thrive for long in the aerogarden. You will continue getting ripe tomatoes from the same plant for at least 1 year after the first harvest.
This clearly shows how crucial it is to clean the aerogarden when the plants are already there. If you don’t change the water or clean the system periodically, it is likely to develop algae and fungi. They can damage your plants.
Take care of your plants, clean the system regularly, and be on time to provide water and nutrients. All of these guarantee your success in mission tomato cultivation.