Passive Hydroponic Tomatoes and Lettuce

Ginger's picture

Tags: 

I wrote in my book that one way to do hydroponics was to use a substrate like coco coir and growstones in a self-watering planter, and feed it hydroponic nutes. But I'd never done a particularly careful experiment on that point. But I thought it would make a neat product alternative to the splashers - no daily attention.

So! The lettuce is a comparison of splasher vs. coirstone hydroponic, started in the splashers topic. At age 3 weeks, the coirstone version looks slightly ahead, but within normal variance.

about 50/50 growstones and coco coir as a self-watering lettuce experiment (double tubs, like the splasher) - 1 week summercrisp transferred in (possibly damaged removing from splasher)  2 week summer crisp lettuce - splasher left, pure passive coir/growstone right - pretty similar despite setbacks on coir side (root loss in transplant, extreme algae greening on top, cleaned off yesterday) 3 week summercrisp, splasher vs. passive-hydroponic coir-growstones

The other half of this is dwarf cherry tomatoes. Those started in a Pro100 and just moved out to their containers this weekend. In the tomato case, I'm comparing coirstone hydroponic vs. Miracle Gro potting mix and (later) fertilizers. Two varieties in each treatment, sweet n neat to the left, red robin to the right. The potting mix tomatoes need another couple weeks before they transplant into the same sized pot as the coirstone treatment.
 

For the moment, the coirstone grows both get the same inorganic nutes as in the splasher kits. That will change later on the tomatoes.

Tomato harvest:
banana-accelerated
58 : potting mix + sweet n neat, first at age 13 weeks
25 : potting mix + red robin, first at age 15 weeks
67 : coirstone + sweet n neat, first at age 13.5 weeks
35 : coirstone + red robin, first at age 14 weeks (wasn't ready)
all terminated at age 17 weeks
0
No votes yet
Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
The End. I needed the pots
The End. I needed the pots for my peppers, and these tomatoes looked as done (or done for) as they were going to get. So! A grand total of 185 cherry tomatoes from two little pots. Not great tasting... but productive! I did write a blog post about this project last week.

17 week coirstone vs. potting mix tomatoes - final harvest and done 17 week coirstone vs. potting mix tomatoes - final harvest - sweetNneat, red robin, sweetNneat, red robin  

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
There's something on the
There's something on the pepper leaves, but they don't seem bothered. There's nothing at all on the lettuce in the same enclosure.

The little tomatoes are starting to taste better.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

corinne
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2014-01-01 10:34
the toms look bountifully
the toms look bountifully delicious! Do you think the spores will attack the peppers later on or are the sturdier leaves of pepper plants resistant??
Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
93 tomatoes harvested so far
93 tomatoes harvested so far from this experiment. The coirstone flavor is improved since the latest treatment - but not by much, since the tomatoes are nearly done. I refreshed them again today, with organic tomato nutes instead of Flora, pH adjusted to around 6.5. The organic nutes have a higher pH to start with. I didn't rinse the coir again.

16 week coirstone tomatoes 16 week potting mix tomatoes top, potting mix plant A, plant B, then coirstone plant A, plant B, bottom lightscreen plant C cherry tomato glam shot 

I'm hoping these plants will be done by next week. The fruit don't seem to get much redder, and I want to transplant my peppers into this habitat.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
Writing up this experiment
Writing up this experiment for my next blog post on IndoorSalad, I thought of some things I could try to nudge the coirstone tomatoes up the flavor meter.

So today I rinsed the coirstone (not easy... like rinsing a sponge with no ability to wring it out), and made up some strong nutes (22 EC) and sweetened them a lot with phUp (to ~6.5 - started pretty low, maybe ~5). I'll wait a day to add the new nutes to let the coirstone dry out a little from its rinsing. Theory being, tomatoes really mess up their water, and the coirstone is probably way off ideal by now, holding previous tomato outflow. In a deep water system, drain and refill every week takes care of that.

And swapped in 4100K for the 2700K CFLs. These plants are long past flowering, and I'm ambivalent about 2700K vs 4100K for tomatoes, anyway.

Any other thoughts on why the flavor would be inferior on the coirstone tomatoes, compared to the much-sicker potting mix plants and same-nutes lightscreen plant? Granted, the lightscreen plant is a superior tomato variety.

Not that we can add much vector to the flavor at this point - the fruit are close to ripe. But I'd like to eat better-tasting tomatoes.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
35 more dwarf tomatoes
35 more dwarf tomatoes harvested this week, still only 2 red robin (one from each plant to test done-ness). One of the red robin plants is actually putting out some fresh leaves, and their tomatoes are larger. Still not quite ripe... Sort of expecting the sweet n neat (left plant in each pot) to be dead by next week.

15 week coirstone dwarf tomatoes, before pruning & harvesting 15 week potting mix dwarf tomatoes, after pruning & harvesting some of the harvest from 15 week potting mix and coirstone dwarf tomatoes (one red robin, rest sweet n neat) 

It's tempting to think the coirstone plant looks "better". Its fruit are bigger. But they both look terrible, and the potting mix fruit taste OK. The coirstone fruit really aren't very good. Of course my palate is spoiled, because my AG lightscreen cherries are also harvesting (21 of them this week too ). The flavor comparison is not flattering to the dwarves.

The red robin plants seem a bit more robust, and have bigger fruit. But if I've tasted a ripe one yet,  I wasn't impressed.

Caveat:  I'm not a fan of cherry tomatoes - very, very picky.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
22 dwarf tomatoes harvested
22 dwarf tomatoes harvested so far, almost all sweet n neat. (I thought one red robin was ripe from the coirstone pot. It wasn't.) The plants look dreadful - these photos were before I cleaned and pruned them for the week. Only so much can be done. The plants put all their energy into ripening their fruit, so no new leaves replace the damage. That's OK. We're in end-game.

14 week coirstone dwarf tomatoes - harvesting left plant, not yet right plant 14 week potting mix dwarf tomatoes - harvesting left plant, not yet right plant 13.5 week potting mix vs coirstone tomatoes in the bowls, cool breeze cuke and 11.5 week lightscreen tomato foreground 

The fruit are smaller and better tasting on the potting mix plant. Can't justify any conclusions based on that, though. That plant has no leaves, and the coirstone fruit probably weren't as ripe.

The red robin tomatoes were supposed to be almost a week faster than the sweet n neat (55 days after transplant + 28 days before = 83 days or 11.9 weeks, versus 88 days or 12.6 weeks for sweet n neat). But red robin don't seem as competitive.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
Harvested first 5 tomatoes
Harvested first 5 tomatoes from the potting mix sweet n neat plant. None ripening on the red robin yet in that pot. The coirstone tomatoes are ripening on both plants. The timing means nothing about the two grow-treatments, since I induced ripening with a green banana. The potting mix plant had the worst foliage fungus, so it got the green banana first.

13 week coirstone dwarf tomatoes - ripening on both plants, none picked yet, heavily laden 13 week coirstone dwarf tomatoes - ripening on both plants, none picked yet 13 week potted dwarf tomatoes - harvested 5 so far, all from left plant 

The tomatoes tasted OK. The first one I ate could have used 2 more days on the vine. Then I picked 4 even less ripe for some burgers, where their flavor vanished. 13 weeks is pretty fast for first tomato harvest, and they're bearing pretty well in scant light, for tomatoes.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
Green banana trick worked -
Green banana trick worked - the soil tomatoes started to ripen. The coir tomatoes have a new banana now. (Yellow bananas don't give off much ethylene gas, so you just eat 'em when they're no longer green.) Though the tomatoes are easier to see on the potting mix plant, I think there's a lot more fruit mass on the coir plant - its stems needed support. No harm so far from my "it's yeast" theory. That doesn't mean it's right, just that acting as-if seems to work - wash the white stuff, spray with fungicide, but don't defoliate any further. I want these guys to finish up. Not really expecting a taste sensation, but they might surprise me...

12 week coirstone tomatoes - no ripening yet, heavily laden - propped up stems a bit 12 week coirstone tomatoes - no ripening yet, heavily laden - propped up stems a bit 

Harvested off the summercrisp and red sails looseleaf, to stagger lettuce renewal. Putting them in a west-facing window for half of January maybe did irreversible harm to their productivity. Not enough hours of light.

13 week summercrisp lettuce - harvested whole (replanting time) 13 week misc lettuce - terminated the looseleaf (bottom right) lettuce harvest (decided to harvest looseleaf later) 

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Ginger
Ginger's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 10 min ago
Joined: 2008-06-23 15:55
LOL, Corinne! Yeah, I've
LOL, Corinne! Yeah, I've heard about that tomato seed-saving method before. It sounds really repulsive.

I grow mostly F1 hybrid tomatoes from seeds, so I'm pretty sure no one did that to these particular tomato seeds... You never know.

Kiddo's coming back soon. No doubt the "innocent" bread machine will be back in business, and my waistline growing as fast as the yeast.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Pages

Log in or register to post comments