In the past, I have grown indeterminate cherry tomatoes such as Sun Gold and Supersweet 100, but these plants can get huge and require lots of water (approximately 50-75 gallons over the growing season). This year, I’m going to try growing smaller determinate tomato plants (Fantastico and Orange Paruche), and we’ll see how they do in my 32-gallon buckets.
Feb 19, 2016 = Day 0. Plant started from seed (Park Seed). Seed sowed in 1.5-inch rockwool cube in 2-inch net-pot. Moistened with dilute fertilizer solution: 1.2 mL Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow, 0.8 mL pH Down per gallon of tap water. Nutrient concentrations (in ppm): N 22, P 29, K 16, Ca 6, Mg 1.6, S 0.2, Fe 0.3, Mn 0.2, B 0.1, Zn 0.2, Cu 0.2, Mo 0.003, Ni 0.0003, Co 0.005. pH = 6.0.
Feb 24 = Day 5. Plant germinated, placed directly under a fluorescent light (2 ft. T8 bulb, 17W, 6500k) for 16 hours per day.
Mar 2 = Day 12. Transferred plant to a small 3 cup plastic container. Hydroponic solution composed of 3 cups tap water, 1.125 mL Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow. Nutrient concentrations (in ppm): N 111, P 143, K 79, Ca 32, Mg 8, S 0.8, Fe 1.6, Mn 0.8, B 0.3, Zn 0.8, Cu 0.8, Mo 0.01, Ni 0.002, Co 0.024. pH = 6.0. No pH adjustment required. Began placing plant in an open window for several hours per day, to get seedling ready for the transition to the outdoors.
Mar 13 = Day 23. Plant installed outside in 32-gallon bucket. Hydroponic solution composed of 32 gal (121 L) tap water, 64 g MasterBlend 4-18-38, 64 g calcium nitrate, 32 g magnesium sulfate, 6.4 mL Dyna-Gro Pro-TeKt, 35.2 mL pH Down. Nutrient concentrations (in ppm): N 103, P 95, K 202, Ca 100, Mg 29, S 34, Fe 2.1, Mn 1.1, B 1.1, Zn 0.3, Cu 0.3, Mo 0.05, Si 4. pH = 6.0.
Apr 14 = Day 55. Plant is looking great, starting to form flower clusters.
May 14 = Day 85. Comparing the 2 tomato plants, it seems that Orange Paruche is much larger than the Fantastico plant. However, Fantastico has many more blossoms than Orange Paruche.
May 27 = Day 98. Container starting to get low on fluid. Added 7.5 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jun 5 = Day 107. Added 6 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jun 9 = Day 111. Harvested 1 ripe tomato. Very sweet and juicy!
Jun 16 = Day 118. Added 6 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jun 22 = Day 124. Harvested 30 tomatoes. Total = 53. I am finding that these tomatoes are very juicy and sweet when first picked, but they don’t last too long sitting on the counter. They go bad quickly. Also the skins are very thin and are prone to cracking. These tomatoes are best when eaten fresh off the vine. In contrast, the Fantastico red tomatoes that I am growing at the same time are not quite as juicy or sweet, but they still have a very good flavor, they are resistant to cracking, and they have a much better shelf life after being picked. The Fantastico plant also yields many more tomatoes than the Orange Paruche, but the average size of the Fantastico tomato is smaller than the Orange Paruche.
Jun 27 = Day 129. Harvested 85 tomatoes. Total = 138.
Jun 30 = Day 132. Harvested 76 tomatoes. Total = 214.
Jul 1 = Day 133. Added 6 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jul 2 = Day 134. Harvested 92 tomatoes. Total = 306. At this point, the plant is not looking very good. The lower leaves are turning yellow and wilting, and the growing meristems at the top of the plant are also starting to wither. It is clear that this plant will not last too much longer. There are still many tomatoes ripening on the plant though, so I’ll keep the plant around a bit longer.
Jul 5 = Day 137. Harvested 105 tomatoes. Total = 411.
Jul 7 = Day 139. Harvested 68 tomatoes. Total = 479.
Jul 9 = Day 141. Harvested 121 tomatoes. Total = 600.
Jul 11 = Day 143. Harvested 47 tomatoes. Total = 647. Added 3 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jul 13 = Day 145. Harvested 56 tomatoes. Total = 703.
Jul 15 = Day 147. Harvested 71 tomatoes. Total = 774.
Jul 16 = Day 148. Harvested 83 tomatoes. GRAND TOTAL = 857.
At this point, there are not too many more tomatoes to harvest. The plant was taken down. This plant started with 32 gallons of fluid, and I added 28.5 gallons during the season, and there was still 6 gallons left when I took the plant down. Total fluid used = 54.5 gallons.