Aerogarden Lightscreen Cherry Tomato 2013

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 Le gasp. *Gisette* is trying a cherry tomato in an Aerogarden. Took me long enough, huh?  I want to show how the lightscreen works on a cherry tomato, since that's what most people have experience with. And a steadier, modest harvest would be nice. Full size tomatoes take an awfully long time per fruit.

Candidate: Sweet baby girl hybrid cherry tomato, compact indeterminate. Two weeks old before installing in Aerogarden, while I finished up the previous mid-size determinate tomato test. (There was also a mid-size indeterminate grow before that - all testing the lightscreen design.)

I hope the fungus is cleaned off well enough. But picked a hybrid with high resistance to blights, just in case...

Aerogrow's mega cherry kit uses two plants. I'm unconvinced there's room for two, but we'll see how they grow.

Edit, 20130611: Just to clarify, because I received the question on another forum - I grew these plants from seed in a Park Starts block. I didn't buy transplants, I grew them in AG-compatible sponges, then just plugged them into the Aerogarden.

The CropLampSurround lightscreen (with beefsteak and cherry tomato seeds) is available for sale at http://indoorsalad.com. This isn't an independent review - I'm the one who created the lightscreen product. This is one of my test grows.


Harvested:
125 (first at age 12.5 weeks) - terminated at age 16 weeks - had another project I wanted the rig for

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Ginger
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15 more tomatoes and...
15 more tomatoes and... terminated. I had another project (a beefsteak tomato clone of my murdered tomato plant) I wanted to use  the Deluxe and lightscreen for. So, I'm sad to see this grow end, because it was producing really well, and had lots more green tomatoes and flowers under development.

On the other hand, I'd let the pruning get way out of hand! So, this was the great unwrapping. If I'd kept this grow, at a minimum I had to get rid of one of the two plants, because it was drinking its reservoir dry in 2 days. That was a nuisance. I was still surprised just how much plant I had coiled up in there!
     

Anyway, good grow, and good tomatoes. They almost made me a convert to cherry tomatoes - tasted almost like beefsteaks when they got ripe enough, with more meat and less sour gel to them than your average cherry. A good snacking tomato.

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Another week, another 55
Another week, another 55 tomatoes. They're actually pretty good. Slowing down now. Pruned a little today, but only really removing dead stuff. There are green tomatoes still to take their turn...

  

Debating whether to take the rooting top of my murdered better bush tomato from outside, and stick it in here, terminating the cherry tomato grow.

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Heavy harvesting - got 50
Heavy harvesting - got 50 Sunday to Sunday. After this avalanche peters out, I may remove one of the two plants. They're drinking the reservoir dry in 2 days, so often drinking poor nutrients, and not getting enough light in there. Too much plant.

  
 

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Harvests! The count above (5)
Harvests! The count above (5) was as-of-Sunday-book-keeping, but ate another dozen yesterday. Lots more turning red. At full crimson, they taste like good cherry tomatoes.
    

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Tomatoes
Tomatoes ripening. 
12 week cherry tomatoes starting to ripen  12 week cherry tomatoes starting to ripen 12 week cherry tomatoes starting to ripen 12 week cherry tomatoes starting to ripen 
 
And my lightboxer appears to be broken today, so no more pix until I fix it...
 
 
 
 

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 Remarkably healthy green

 Remarkably healthy green tomato plants, given how much fruit they're bearing. Especially the parts of the plant that get no grow light at all because they escape the pen and grow into the gloom above the hood. No idea how those leaves stay so bright and healthy green.  Alas, ran out of rain water, so today got a top-up instead of refill, with tap water & nutes. Not ideal, since I think the first fruits will start turning pink this week.

           

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First cherry tomatoes set!

First cherry tomatoes set! Maybe a dozen pea-sized so far. And blooming away happily. 

  

   

Two plants was probably a mistake. This tomato seems less compact than the compact beefsteak, and two drinking means the reservoir ought to be fully replaced twice a week - though I'm just topping it up. Believe it or not, I am pruning it... But, it's setting fruit on the flowers hanging outside the lightscreen, so I'm letting it. Missouri-pruning branches and tucking them back into the enclosure. Healthy... but overlarge plants for the habitat.

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 Flower buds.  Switched to

 Flower buds.  Switched to transition nutes today. 

   

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 Happy plants. Turned the

 Happy plants. Turned the lightscreen on. This may be the branchiest tomato variety I've ever grown - even the suckers on the seed leaves are developing into boughs. No buds yet.

   

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 Happy seedlings. Ended up

 Happy seedlings. Ended up pruning the 7th branch instead of the 5th - these guys are nice and compact, and were already developing lower-branch suckers. Keeping the lightscreen around them, just as a reflector. The hood isn't up high enough to add side lights yet, but the reflector encourages them to grow sideways instead of stretching up so much.

  

This past week was their first week of aggressive growth nutes. At least one more week of that. Then might try transition to bloom nutes early... we'll see.

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