Hydro vs. dirt

wordwizJune 22, 2009

Background: I want to grow about 32-40 tomato plants in a Greenhouse this fall, winter and spring. My first choice was to do it via hydroponics but I had a very bad experience with a simple DWC system because an airstone clogged up, and by the time I figured out the problem (long story, I also had aphids, low light levels, etc.) the plant nearly died.

To me, the initial cost and amount of effort to grow in containers with potting soil/compost is much less than hydro, but yet hydro seems to grow larger plants.

Anyone here have significant experience in both areas? If worse comes to worse, I have enough equipment that I can try four plants each of two different varieties and see what kind of results I get. The downside to this is that I want to start four plants every other week and do not want to invest money in pumps/hose/etc. until I can see which is best. Your experiences can help.

Mike

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klinko16

I have experience growing the "real tomatoes" AKA cannabis sativa/indica. The "trick" is to find suitable plastic LARGE rectangular containers, like some under the bed storage containers. A 2' x 3' container might be ideal, if you can find one. Your "tomatoes", or at least my "tomatoes" are grown in 3 gallon plastic pots, with drainage holes in the bottom. My medium is peat based potting mix (comes in compressed bales) spiked with plenty of bone meal/ blood meal/ all purpose fertilizer etc, even worm castings or just straight old composted sheep manure. Just don't overdo it on the manure, and I doubt you really even need any, but I have used it, and everything else under the sun you care to mention. the plastic tubs should hold several of the pots, and are supported by an old door that I salvaged. When it comes time to water, you pour the water INTO THE TUB, which acts like a giant watering saucer, and guarantees uniform watering. You can dissolve half strength Miracle Grow, or some such soluble fertilizer to the water, as required. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of my grow, but it looks just like an ENORMOUSLY FERTILE farmers field, with HUGE rapidly growing plants that bear an immense and altogether extremely satisfying harvest.
I imagine tomatoes would be similar.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 10:40PM
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wordwiz

kinko,

Sounds similar to how I do my seedlings, though on a bigger scale. In fact, I have been considering building a "watering chamber," a 15'x12"x6" (LxWxH) trough that I would line with plastic or something similar. Also add an overhead misting system to provide something similar to rain or morning dew for the plants' leaves.

Mike

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 4:51PM
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klinko16

In my case I keep the foliage dry, because cannabis will grow well under hot dry conditions, and the buds can get moldy. I would also worry about the mist causing issues with the HID lighting. I don't really believe tomatoes require any "rain".

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 8:03AM
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