Anyone know that person that can randomly scatter a packet of tomato seeds in the garden, and harvest tomatoes year after year? Well confession time - we can't get a crop of tomatoes to grow in the garden! When we finally had some success this year, our chooks decided that the leaves and raw green tomatoes were their new favourite food. Sigh.
Anyway, an empty Garden Gizmo and a random, unopened packet of Australian
heirloom tomato seeds that were found in the shed (plant by 2018. Oops) = an experiment ready to go.
- Seeds planted in Garden Gizmo.
- Approximately 3 / 4 seeds planted in each hole.
- Cover lightly with grow medium.
- For a fairer test some seeds were planted into a Jiffy pod and some seeds planted into grow baskets. Which will grow best?
- Seed domes put on to create a warm, moist environment for the seeds to germinate.
- Spacers on unused holes in the grow deck to give the tomatoes more room to grow and prevent damage to the root systems.
- Water added plus a weak solution of Premium Plant Cuisine
- Light off for the first 12 hours or so.
- Light turned on. Use the brightest light setting and the 16h on setting.
- Drop the light as close to the seeds as it will go.
- Perfect amount of moisture and humidity formed under the domes.
- Grow medium is moist but not too wet in both the grow baskets and Jiffy pod.
- We have seedlings! The tomato seeds have germinated in just 5 days!
- Domes removed to give the seedlings room to grow.
- Will wait a few more days to see if any more seeds germinate.
- The growth in 1 day is insane. In fact these seedlings have grown between the 2 pictures I took today (one this morning and one at lunch time)!
- We're considering just leaving one plant in the Garden Gizmo to give it the best growing conditions.
- While it doesn't look particularly glamorous, we have raised the grow box closer to the light. The seedlings can put more energy into growing strong and healthy and shouldn't grow 'leggy' (see definition below) as seedlings can sometimes do in an effort to reach the light.
- Love that the Garden Gizmo allows us to adapt it as needed to create the perfect growing conditions!
- Legginess in plants is often the result of perfect growing conditions which allows them to add on too much greenery before the plant has adequate dimension and strength in stems and roots. The result is floppy, leggy plant growth.
- More healthy seedlings continue to appear. Never did we expect to have so many seeds germinate! We'll only be able to keep one or 2 seedlings in the Garden Gizmo because we know we can only accommodate 1 healthy plant and it's huge root system.
- Day 8 and the tomato plants are looking great in the Garden Gizmo!
- All these tomato seedlings to chose from! We have decided to keep 2 plants for now in case something happens to one of them.
- We needed to separate the seedlings now as they are becoming over-crowded and before their roots got too big.
- The coco/perlite grow medium that we use makes it incredibly easy to gently remove the excess seedlings without damaging them.
- We have decided to stick with using the white grow baskets instead of Jiffy pods. The Jiffy pods eventually break down in the water so are best used for short term planting or when transplanting into the garden or a pot.
- We have re-potted the extra seedlings into little Jiffy pods. We'll hang on to them for a few days to ensure that the all plants are thriving. A couple will make it into our garden to fend for themselves (good luck!). The rest will be gifted to friends and family. Whilst not an entirely optimal time of year to plant seedlings (autumn), living in Australia the climate here is a lot more forgiving for planting all year round.
- Second set of leaves have already appeared.
- On very close inspection the 3rd set is just about visible.
- The tomato seedlings continue to grow and produce more sets (of leaves).
- We have decided that we will keep these 2 plants but will move one to another Garden Gizmo as they will need the room.
- We added a little more coco/perlite to prop the plants up and keep them growing straight.
- Check out the size difference between the plants growing in the Garden Gizmo and those growing in a more 'traditional' way!
- Side by side image showing the difference in size / growth between the plants in the Garden Gizmo vs those in the jiffy pods.
- The size and strength of the plants grown hydroponically speaks for itself. Bigger leaves, more sets of leaves and stronger, thicker stem.
- Then we have a peek at the roots. All look healthy and white, however there is a massive size difference.
- While we always assumed that we'd have better results growing tomatoes in the Garden Gizmo, we're pleasantly surprised by just how much quicker the plants are growing.
- The tomato plants are looking strong and healthy and are almost touching the light. Nearly time to prune and separate the plants so we can continue with our experiment.
- Today is pruning day!
- The roots look so healthy which is fantastic news.
- We have decided to prune the roots of both the tomato plants and will only keep the main tap root on both plants (well, what we think it's the main tap root!).
- Using a sharp pair of pruning scissors, we removed the surplus roots.
- We then pruned the leaves of one of the tomato plants.
- Plants separated into 2 Garden Gizmos
- The grow box re-filled with water a weak dilution of Premium Plant Cuisine.
- We have pruned the leaves of one of the plants and will keep the other as is.
- One plant per Garden Gizmo to maximise room for both the leaves and the roots.
- Tomato plants have fully established themselves in the Garden Gizmo
- We have moved the light up a little bit but are keeping it just about the plants which we assume will help to keep the plant short
- To keep the plants small we gently push down the leaves which increases the surface area exposed to the light.
- Flowers have already formed!!
Saturday 15 May
- Water and nutrient change today.
- Nutrient strength increased to a 'strong' dilution of Premium Plant Cuisine
- Roots have regrown and are now taller than the plants.
- More tomato flowers are forming and starting to open on this set.
- A 2nd set of flowers is forming also.
- Blowing and rubbing and stroking the leaves is recommended to keep them healthy and strong. Just take care with the flowers.
- Leaves will require another trim as they are out growing the sides of the Garden Gizmo.
- Considering using bonsai wire to train one or both plants
- Flower Power
- Time for another prune.
- The flowers need to get enough light
- Maximum energy required for flower / fruit production and not on other growth
- Strong white healthy roots show that the plant is thriving.