Graddy's all-natural fresh salsa and tomatoes

 

olivesHYDROPONIC TOMATOES

In hydroponic farming, plants aren't planted in the soil. We grow them in a crushed lava rock called perlite. The material retains water and the fertilizer is fed to the plants.

At Hyponic Farms, a computerized controlled system pumps magnesium sulfate, potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate and a mixture of liquid organisms to the tomato plants. The food is dripped to the plants. The computer controls temperature and humidity in the greenhouse which can get hot. Even on a 5-degree winter day, if it's sunny outside the greenhouse will have to be vented to stay cool. The monitoring system can even telephone us at home if environmental problems occur after hours.

The greenhouse variety tomato plant grows long. Each of the 9,000 plants in the greenhouse can extend up to 40 feet producing for 40 weeks. A plant will grow three leaves and a cluster of flowers every week. We cut three leaves off the bottom of the plant each week.

The plants are held up with string and lowered after every cut. Hooks and clips are used to support the vines.

Pollination of the tomato plants is left to Mother Nature by buying bumblebees. They won't go to work on the plants until the humidity level drops below 70 percent. They're really fun to watch and we have had students from Kuemper Catholic Schools come in when they are studying pollination and plants.

Other insect species affect tomato production. White flies are unwelcome pests so we purchase a tiny-wasp like bug. When the tiny-wasp matures it will lay their eggs inside the eggs of the white flies, stopping the reproduction cycle and saving the tomato plants from damage. By doing this we can provide a pesticide-free environment.