Posted on

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Greenhouse in Kenya

In the modern way of farming through green-houses, tomatoes are the most grown crops. With good temperature management and enough sunshine, greenhouse growers in most areas of the planet will get two tomato crops annually. Indoor conditions do need a lot of careful handling to forestall diseases and to pollinate the flowers successfully. Most families in Kenya today use tomatoes in their daily cooking. As a farmer, this is a great opportunity, and with a greenhouse,you are sure of more.

Read: Why Kakuzi Ltd is abandoning Pineaple and venturing into hass avocado farming

Setting Up

Temperature

Tomatoes grow best at daytime temperatures of 21–27ºC, and nighttime temperatures of 16–18ºC. Make sure you can maintain these temperatures in your greenhouse for the next several months before you plant.

  • Ideally, bring temperatures to the lower end of this range on cold days, and raise them to the upper end (or even slightly higher) during clear, sunny days.
  • You’ll also need to keep humidity below 90% to prevent excessive leaf mold. Ventilate regularly to bring fresh, dry air into the greenhouse, especially on cool, cloudy mornings.

Select certified tomato variety

There are varieties of tomato varieties, so for detailed information it’s best to talk to local extension officers. There are a few guidelines and tips that apply to all regions, however:

  • Tomatoes marketed as greenhouse varieties are more tolerant of greenhouse conditions.
  • The letters VFNT and A after the name mean the variety is resistant to disease.
  • “Indeterminate” tomatoes grow and produce fruit indefinitely, taking advantage of the longer growing season inside a greenhouse. If you’re short on space, plant a “determinate” variety, which stops at a certain height.

Choose a growing medium

Tomatoes can grow in any well-drained soils. . You can use your preferred soil-less mix, or one of these options:

  • Perlite bags or rock wool slabs are the cheapest options in many areas.
  • Some growers prefer a 1:1 mix of manure and top soils
  • Purchase sterile soil mix or make your own. Never use soil or compost from your garden without sterilizing. Choose this option if you do not want to install an irrigation system.

Irrigation system

Most growers install drip tubing to deliver water to each plant. A fertilizer injector attached to the tubing can automate fertilizing as well.

  • Tomatoes are also easy to grow in a hydroponics system.

Planting

Plant each seed in its own

Poke a ¼ inch (6mm) hole into each hole. Drop a single seed into each hole. Cover lightly with the potting mix.

  • Plant about 10 or 15% more seeds than you plan on growing, so you can discard the least healthy seedlings.

Moisten with water or dilute nutrient solution

Use plain water for soil, or seedling nutrient solution for soil-less mixes. Either way, water until the mixture is just damp enough to press into a clump, with only a few drops squeezed out. Water regularly to keep the mix damp.

  • A 5:2:5 nutrient solution that contains calcium and magnesium is ideal. Dilute the solution according to label instructions.
  • Do not bring the seeds into the greenhouse until they’ve sprouted, so you can check for disease and pests. Provide plenty of sunlight and keep the temperature at 24–27ºC during the day.

Adjust pH and calcium levels

Before the final transplant, you may want to check soil pH, which ideally falls between 5.8 and 6.8.If your soil is too acidic, add about 1 tsp (5 mL) hydrated lime for each gallon (3.8 L) of potting mix. Besides raising the pH, this adds calcium that can prevent blossom rot later on.

  • If your pH is fine, mix in gypsum or calcium sulfate instead to add calcium without changing the pH. Alternatively, just choose a fertilizer that contains calcium and apply every week or two.
  • In a hydroponics setup, you can supply calcium by injecting calcium nitrate into the irrigation feed. This requires a second injector, as calcium nitrate cannot be stored with your main fertilizer.

Caring for the Tomatoes

Fertilize regularly

Start fertilizing the day you transplant the tomatoes into their final pot. Use a complete fertilizer high in nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), such as a 15-5-15 or 5-2-5. Dilute and apply the fertilizer according to label instructions.

  • Reduce fertilizer as the final fruits ripen. Do not fertilize in late autumn or winter, unless using artificial grow lights and reliable heaters.

Remove suckers weekly

Once a week, pinch off “suckers,” or side shoots that emerge where a leaf meets the main stem. Leave only the main bud at the top of the steam, plus the highest sucker below it. This trains the plant to grow upward instead of wide.

  • If the top of your plant is damaged, the top sucker can become the new main stem.

Stake the tomato plants

Tie the plants loosely to stakes with twine to keep them upright. Use plastic garden clips where necessary to secure the twine.

  • Commercial operations save on materials by stringing a wire over each row, with a support post every 20 ft (6m). Wrap the twine around each plant and fasten to the overhead wire.

Pollinate the flowers

Unlike many plants, a tomato can pollinate itself — but it needs some help. The pollen in a tomato flower is trapped inside a tube, and must be released through vibration. Since most greenhouses lack bees or high wind, you’ll need to act as the pollinator once flowers are fully open.

Read: Top 10 tastiest and rarest fruits in the world

Prune leaves and fruit

Tomatoes
Tomatoes in a green house

Apart from weekly sucker removal, pruning is not necessary until the plant starts to fruit:

  • Once fruit starts to grow, thin each cluster down to four or five fruits, removing the smallest or most misshapen. Very large fruits or winter conditions may require going down to three per cluster. Varieties with small fruits may not need any thinning.
  • As the fruit matures, snap off older leaves from the lower clusters. This helps improve air circulation.

Harvest as late as possible.

The longer the tomatoes stay on the vine, the fuller and redder they become.

  • Commercial growers typically pick a little early, when the fruit is 60–90% red, to allow for time in shipping.

If you need to know more about drip irrigation kits and how to apply it in your green house, contact us today.

Posted on

Management of green house is paramount. Why?

Good greenhouse management is critical for the proficiency and health of the farm. It might appear to be straightforward — put a seed in a tray with soil, include water, and voila, there are youthful plants to transplant into the field. In writing, truly, it’s as simple as that. Be that as it may, ideal air temperature and water delivery are essential for the advancement of seedlings. Additionally, hidden in the air all around us, in the water leaving a hose, and in the ground inside a greenhouse, there are numerous baffling little living things prepared to wreak destruction on youthful plants. The three most imperative nursery management practices are ideal temperature control, consistent air circulation and appropriate moisture delivery.

Optimal Temperature Control

Air and soil temperature are generally known to be critical for seed germination, yet the details for each kind of seed are so extraordinary it can be difficult to oversee. For example, solanums (tomatoes, eggplant, and so forth) require an ideal soil temperature of around 90 degrees while spinach needs an ideal soil temperature of 70 degrees. For tomatoes, if the temperature is too low, the seeds will stay lethargic; for spinach, soil temperature that is too high can cause thermo-lethargy, averting germination.

So how can one deal with the soil temperatures per specific crops? For the most part keeping up the temperature of a nursery in the 70-80 degree range is best for all crops. Appropriate ventilation and air dissemination help keep up that temperature in warm months. Making sure to open the greenhouse before it’s excessively hot and shutting it before it’s cool (to keep the warmth in) are imperative practices. In the winter months, a few people use electric or propane radiators to keep up warm temperatures. In hot atmospheres, shade fabric can be hung over a greenhouse to keep the temperature down if necessary. Overseeing soil temps for various cropss should be done using area particular warming mats to raise the soil temperature or utilizing little shade structures to keep flats cooler on your greenhouse tables.

All together for the greater part of this to work, keep in mind to use quality soil and surrounding air thermometers. On the off chance that assets are accessible, buying a framework that is programmed, where the ventilation is guided straightforwardly into your thermometer, can make life considerably less demanding. Make sure to keep monitoring your greenhouse. Greenhouses are to a great degree fastidious and the slightest changes in sunlight and wind, or technological troubles can leave your greenhouse very dry and seedlings shriveled or dead.

Air Circulation

To help keep up temperature and prevent pests of the insect or fungal kingdoms, proper air flow is urgent. A greenhouse ventilation framework ought to be comprised of low, side-wall and end-wall vents to permit cool air in, and edge vents to enable the hot air to debilitate out. Fans at the end walls and in the edge are essential to circle the air around the greenhouse and in addition make a slight  breeze easily get through the plants, keeping spores and insects from hanging out on small starts. Air circulation is also very vital in relieving abundance moistness in the greenhouse that molds and “damping off” organisms love. “Damping off” living beings are fungal pathogens.

Read: make money through passion fruit farming

Proper Moisture Delivery

Maybe the most imperative piece of germinating a seed is water. For some, reasons, observing the moisture levels of your soil media is critical and the ideal moisture required for germination may not be natural. Seeds require steady moisture to germinate, however they don’t require profound watering. Seeds ought to be watered all the time sufficiently only to keep up a shallow and high moisture content in the upper part of the soil media where the seed lies. Permitting the extremely top soils to dry down once in a while is critical in forestalling soil borne pathogens.

Once the seed has sprouted and developed, it is critical to start incorporating a consistent wet-dry swing in your media to both advance dry season resilience for their opportunity in the field and avert “damping off” organisms from growing. As discussed, “damping off” organisms are fungal pathogens that occupy the soil surface of your seedling flass and trays frequently shaping a green hard covering. These living organisms can influence the stems of seedlings to decay and the plants at last die.

The depth of the watering is also an incredibly important aspect of moisture management practices in the greenhouse. Once the seedlings begin to grow, the deeper their roots are. Incorporating longer and deeper waterings less frequently gives the plants the needed wet-dry swing (especially on the soil surface) but also promotes good root growth and drought tolerance.

Utilizing these ideal practices will give you beautiful seedlings that will have a greater success rate in the field.

Read: Different Types Of Poultry Farming And Their Products