Greenhouse tomato farming is simply the growing of tomato crop in a greenhouse. This involves getting a greenhouse designed and installed on your farmland, having a tomato seedlings nursery, transplanting the seedlings and taking care of the tomato plants till harvest.
Greenhouse tomato farming in Nigeria is a new concept. In spite of its new development, farmers in Nigeria are now embracing the concept of using greenhouses to grow tomatoes.
Greenhouse tomato farming can be profitable if done in the right way. The yield of tomato is usually higher in a greenhouse than when cultivated in the open field.
Steps to take to start greenhouse tomato farming
The following are the steps to take to start tomato greenhouse farming in Nigeria:
- Get a Suitable Site
- Design and Install the Greenhouse
- Install the Irrigation System
- Get Greenhouse Tomato Varieties
- Start a Nursery
- Transplant the Tomato Seedlings to the Greenhouse
- Application of Fertilizers
- Application of Pesticides
- Marketing of Greenhouse Tomato Produce
Get a Suitable Site
The first step to take if you want to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse is to get a suitable site. The site should be ideal for the installation of a greenhouse.
The site can be a farmland, rooftop, garden or the backyard of a building. It is better if the site has accessible roads linking to it. This will facilitate the easy movement of the tomato produce.
Design and Install the Greenhouse
You should use the right type of greenhouse ideal for your climatic zone. Dry and tropical areas require a different type of greenhouse to the type needed for temperate areas.
We can design and install a tomato greenhouse for you in Nigeria.
Install the Irrigation System
Drip irrigation is the most ideal type of irrigation for tomato greenhouses. After the installation of the greenhouse, you will need to install the drip irrigation system.
For tomato seedlings in the nursery, sprinkler or mist irrigation system can be used.
Get Greenhouse Tomato Varieties
Some tomato varieties or seeds are better grown in the greenhouse. Some of these greenhouse tomato varieties include Tylka F1, Anna F1 and Shanty F1 etc.
It is more profitable if you grow indeterminate tomato varieties in a greenhouse. Indeterminate tomato varieties are high yielding.
Start a Nursery
A tomato nursery should be done before the actual growing of tomato in the greenhouse. Nursery trays, coco peat or any other suitable growing substrate, shade net and watering system are some of the items needed for a tomato nursery set-up.
Tomato seedlings usually use about 4-6 weeks in the nursery before transplantation.
Transplant the Tomato Seedlings to the Greenhouse
After a few weeks in the nursery, the tomato seedlings should be transplanted to the greenhouse.
Tomato seedlings transplanting should be done in the morning or when the intensity of sunlight is low. The planting hole should be irrigated before the transplantation of the tomato seedlings.
Application of Fertilizers
Greenhouse tomato plants need high quality fertilizers like soluble chelates, Mono-Ammonium Phosphate, soluble NPK fertilizers, urea, calcium nitrate and potassium nitrate etc.
Application of Pesticides
Pesticides should be applied to the tomato plants in the greenhouse. The use of pesticides helps in the prevention and management of pests and diseases that affect tomato plants.
Staking involves the use of stakes and ropes to hold the tomato plants in a vertical position so that the leaves and fruits of the plants will not touch the soil. Staking improves aeration in the greenhouse and can also reduce the incidences of diseases.
The ropes should be gently tied to the stem of the tomato plants.
Bees can be introduced to the greenhouse for tomato plants’ pollination. Pollination sprays can also be applied to the tomato plants’ flowers for pollination.
Brushes and artificial pollinators can also be used for pollination.
Harvesting of the tomato fruits starts after 60 – 80 days of transplantation of the tomato seedlings.
Harvest should be done every 2 – 4 days.
Marketing of the Greenhouse Tomato Produce
Greenhouse tomatoes are usually sold at premium because of the quality. It is better if you sell your greenhouse tomatoes in the organized markets like hotels and high end supermarkets.
Tips for Growing Tomatoes in a Greenhouse
The following are the tips for growing tomatoes in a greenhouse:
- You should use the right type of greenhouse. Do not use a greenhouse meant for hot areas for cold areas.
- You should ensure that there is good aeration in your greenhouse. Good aeration reduces humidity and can reduce the incidences of pests and diseases. Greenhouse fans can be used to improve aeration in a greenhouse and solve the problems of greenhouse tomato farming.
- You should prune the lower stems and fruits of tomato plants. Tomato pruning can significantly increase the yield of your tomato plant.
- You should irrigate the tomato plants on time. Never allow the soil or substrate to go dry. Timely irrigation can increase the tomato yield.
- Records of time of fertilization, application of pesticides, type of tomato variety planted and daily work schedule in the greenhouse should be kept.