Hacking tomatoes

"Should I go for hydroponics or a classic soil-based substrate for my plants?"; "does hydroponics really make a difference?"; are both questions we get a lot from our friends and followers. Legend has it that hydroponics is faster, more efficient in regards to water consumption, and yields more results than soil. Legend also has it that soil-grown fruits and vegetables have more taste.We decided to provide concrete answers by making a case study for both systems.[caption id="attachment_164" align="alignleft" width="300"]


Hydroponic tomato[/caption]For our experiment, we took two seeds of a cherry-tomato variety that renders small and fast growing-plants. We grew the first seed in a hydroponic Deep Water Culture (DWC) system; and once fruiting was over and we had harvested and weighted our little tomatoes; we launched the second one in a soil substrate. We put both seeds in the same PlantHive prototype so as to keep all other parameters - except for the substrate - equal (since our prototypes can sustain very stable temperature, humidity and light intensity conditions). However, since the growth medium was different, we had to use different fertilizers.[caption id="attachment_165" align="alignright" width="300"]


Soil-grown tomato[/caption]After 4 week of vegetative growth cycle for both system, we noticed that the DWC plant had produced a much denser foliage. As expected, harvest time (after at least 90 % of all tomatoes had ripen) for our hydroponic system was 10-14 days earlier than the soil system, and tomatoes were looking more vivid with respect to the traditional soil method.

There was also a very large difference between the yield of the two plants, as you can see in the pictures bellow.

Although we are very happy with the results of our hydroponic growth cycle, the soil-grown cherry tomato was, without any doubt, the sweetest tomato we had ever tasted! We still have no clue how much the different fertilizers had an influence on the final result. Nonetheless, our experiment confirmed all the urban legends we had heard about.

We will be soon blogging about the all different hydroponic techniques developed up to date, along with each-one's pros and cons.

So keep in touch for more news on our blog!

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