Will flushing improve the taste of my tomatoes?

Q:

Will flushing the hydroponic nutrient solution improve the taste of my tomatoes? If so, when is the best time to flush?

Thanks,
Antonio.

A:

Hi Antonio,

There is some debate among professional growers over this. Some would say to do it as a matter of course, some would say to do it only if there is excess salt or mineral buildup, and some would say that if you are using organic nutrients that you do not have to do it at all.

If you are using mineral or chemical based fertilizers, then flushing is a very good idea. It will help to prevent salt toxicity in your plants. Additionally, if you start to see your tomato leaves start to get brown spots, wilt, curl downward, or even die, there is a great possibility that you have excess salts and should flush immediately regardless of the stage of plant development or fruit set.

Read also: Flushing Your Hydroponic System: Water vs. Agents

If your system is an ebb and flood type, then it is more likely that you would want to flush your system before harvest in order to reduce the amount of mineral salts that tend to build up. Just run plain water through your system during the week leading up to harvest. As soon as the fruits start to look ripe, then is the time to start flushing. Any nutrients in the system that are not used by the plant can affect the taste and even the smell of your harvest, so flushing will help to reduce or eliminate them.

Despite any difference of opinion that is out there among growers, there is absolutely no harm in flushing your hydro solution; you should be doing that regularly anyway to keep your system in top shape and providing reliable yields and delicious tomatoes for many years to come.

Happy Growing!

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Chris Bond’s research interests are with sustainable agriculture, biological pest control, and alternative growing methods. He is a certified permaculture designer and certified nursery technician in Ohio and a certified nursery professional in New York, where he got his start in growing.

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