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 7-9-5, 0.8 mL pH Down per gallon of tap water. N-P-K (in ppm): 22-12-13. 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 7-9-5. N-P-K (in ppm): 111-62-66. 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. N-P-K (in ppm): 103-41-168. 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. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen. 7 tomatoes harvested. These tomatoes have a decent flavor and a texture that is similar to paste tomato varieties such as Roma.
Jun 9 = Day 111. Harvested 20 tomatoes. Total = 27.
Jun 13 = Day 115. Harvested 11 tomatoes. Total = 38.
Jun 16 = Day 118. Added 4.5 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jun 22 = Day 124. Harvested 102 tomatoes. Total = 231. These tomatoes have a very good flavor, they are resistant to cracking, and they have a good shelf life after being picked. Compared to the Orange Paruche plant I am growing at the same time, the Fantastico plant yields many more tomatoes than the Orange Paruche, but the average size of the Fantastico tomato is smaller than the Orange Paruche. I find the Orange Paruche tomato to be a bit juicier and sweeter when freshly picked off the vine, but if I had to choose only one of these 2 plants to grow again, I would grow the Fantastico.
Jun 27 = Day 129. Harvested 188 tomatoes. Total = 419.
Jun 30 = Day 132. Harvested 121 tomatoes. Total = 540.
Jul 1 = Day 133. Added 6 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jul 2 = Day 134. Harvested 81 tomatoes. Total = 621.
Jul 5 = Day 137. Harvested 155 tomatoes. Total = 776.
Jul 7 = Day 139. Harvested 93 tomatoes. Total = 869.
Jul 8 = Day 140. Found the first hornworm of the season munching on my plant. These guys are difficult to spot on the plant, since they blend in so well, but I was alerted to his presence by the pile of droppings on the ground directly beneath his location on the plant. I cut off the branch he was hanging on, and tossed him over the fence. I doubt he’ll find his way back to my plant.
Jul 9 = Day 141. Harvested 201 tomatoes. Total = 1070.
Jul 11 = Day 143. Harvested 132 tomatoes. Total = 1202. Added 7 gallons fresh hydroponic fluid.
Jul 13 = Day 145. Harvested 110 tomatoes. Total = 1312.
Jul 15 = Day 147. Harvested 25 tomatoes. Total = 1337.
Jul 16 = Day 148. Harvested 3 tomatoes. GRAND TOTAL = 1340.
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 31 gallons during the season, and there was still 7 gallons left when I took the plant down. Total fluid used = 56 gallons.