Growing Giants

Last Summer we acquired a variety of tomato know as Giant Tree.  The best part, the line on the box saying “As seen on TV, grows up to 60Lbs per plant”.  WOW!  If only we could grow half that, we’d have a monster yield.  We planted our little giants in August 2011, and by the beginning of September our seedlings were ready to go into our GH Euro Grower System.  We’ve used this system twice before to grow tomatoes , but this time we employed a horizontal trellis to maximize the growth potential of our plants.

The frame of the 4×8 Grow tent is perfect for stretching a net over your garden. As the vines grow you can weave them in and around the trellis netting. This practice keeps the plant bodies suspended above the ground allowing plenty of air movement around the leaves and fruit as they mature. Proper air flow reduces the chances of mold and disease, and can help with garden pest problems (we had zero pests on our 8 month old Giant Trees)

For this grow we used the General Hydroponics Flora Series Keep it Simple schedule, and boy was it easy.  We change our hydroponic reservoirs out every 7-10 days.  In between fertilizing we let the plants cycle plain water for a couple of days.  This helps to reduce stress which can lead to healthier growth, stronger plants, and potentially higher yields.

One thing to keep in mind when growing fruiting plants indoors (tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, etc) is that the flowers will need pollinating to make sure the formation of fruit.  Outside in nature, bees and other bugs take care of pollination as they collect  nectar from flowers.  They use the sweet flower juices to create that wonderful product we call honey.  It is not easy to house and support bees, so when you grow fruits and vegetables inside, someone will need to move the pollen from one flower to the next otherwise there will be no tomatoes to eat!

In the beginning stages of growth we used two 400 watt MH bulbs on Viagrow Magnetic Ballasts. Mounted into Smart Sun reflectors and cooled with a 6″ Ecoplus Inline Fan, our garden maintained optimum temperatures while providing sufficient lighting. When the tomatoes began to bloom, we switched over to our flower fertilizer and replaced our 400 watt metal halides with 600 watt HPS bulbs. This is when the garden went crazy.  Growth was out of control.  Pruning the plants played a valuable part of this project.  Several times we removed a five gallon bucket full of foliage from the plants.  This allows more efficient air flow in and around plants, which reduces the risk of mold and disease.  Proper pruning can also allow more light penetration to the lower parts of your garden.

In the end we harvested a whopping harvest for a grand total weight of 34.85 Lbs!  We beat our previous grow records, but grow room CO2 and air circulation issues kept us from having the bumper crop we expected.  Maybe next time…

Taking extra time to research and construct the ideal growing environment for your plants can be very rewarding.  When you consume the fruits of your labors, there really is no comparison.  The knowledge and experience gained from the time we spend gardening simply has no price tag.

We become more balanced individuals when we grow plants and it can give us a great sense of fulfilment to be a part of something from start to finish. If you’re not gardening, go out, get your hands dirty, plant a seed and start growing today!

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