Our experiments with growing Cherry Tomatoes

20.06.18 08:45 AM Comment(s) By Admin

I hope by now, some of you have your heart inclined to at least trying something in this space. This week we will familiarise you with some of our learnings and experiences as we tried three different methods of Hydroponics for a single crop type - Cherry Tomatoes.

The preparation for this Journey began some time back, to be precise – in April 2018. It started when we sowed the seeds for these Cherry tomatoes (both red and yellow variant). While we are only halfway there, we will be happy to share our experiences with our yields and their sizes shortly.

So once the cherry tomato seeds were sown we prepared ourselves to experiment with three basic types of growth systems in Hydroponics

The seedlings were ready to transplant within a month. In May 2018, we transplanted them into these three mediums.

Cherry tomatoes in Dutch Bucket system

At the onset after transplanting, we used City Greens NPK solution at a concentration of 2 ml each/liter of water. Along with that, we ensured that the plants received sufficient sunlight and a lot of love.

After two weeks, we increased the solution concentration to 3 ml of NPK per liter of solution. This was also provided for two weeks at regular intervals. After another couple of weeks, the NPK solution concentration was increased to 3 ml of each per liter of solution. This has been maintained ever since.

Our Dutch Bucket System growing Cherry Tomatoes - No upper support required just yet. The plants have been growing well without many instances of pests.

Cherry tomatoes in Deep Water Culture

We prepared 45-55 liters of the Nutrient Solution at a starting concentration of 1 ml of each per liter of water. The saplings were then transplanted into the DWC rack. We increased the nutrient concentration while refilling the rack with the Nutrient Solution. (i.e after a period of 2-3 weeks). 

The DWC racks were aerated at periodic intervals and to ensure that the solution is not deficient of Oxygen. We also provided double support to the base of the plant in the DWC racks by providing it extra layers of support at the base. Furthermore, By June mid, we supported the stems of the cherry tomato plants with ropes from above so that it received firm enough support to grow.

Cherry tomatoes in soilless media

The cherry tomatoes were transplanted into the soilless medium and the same cycle and concentration of the Nutrient Solution as in the other two mediums. In this media, we also ensured that we alternated with Nutrient Solution as well as plain water from time to time to prevent any salt building up in the media.

If we were to compare the length and growth of the plants in each of these mediums, we could see very clearly that the plants in the DWC system have gained more height and vegetative growth compared to the other two methods. 

This may be because of the 24x7 availability of nutrients in a DWC system. However, they are also the only ones that have been provided with twine support for now. Also, placed at the periphery and being at a higher level than the other two systems, they do get little more sunlight than the rest. So, we cannot say conclusively how much of the result is due to DWC.

We are waiting with our fingers crossed for the yield results. With yield results, we may be able to ascertain in perfection what medium did the best for the plants.  And so, maybe in another month or 2, we could share with you the results! So keep reading.

As of now, the DWC method seems to be doing wonders for the plants. We will just have to be patient until we reach the finishing line.

Happy Gardening!

Update - April 2020

We have now grown cherry tomatoes multiple times in many different kinds of set-ups. The following are our key observations.
    • We have witnessed maximum yield in Dutch buckets, followed by DWC, followed by Cocopeat.
    • We have revised our nutrient protocol for all plants. You can find the updated one here.
    • You should be able to get your first harvest between 70 - 90 days from planting, the last harvest between 210 - 240 days.
    • Each plant should give a harvest of between 3 and 4 kg on average during its life span.
    • We got our first harvest of around 300 gram per plant.


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