The Encyclopedia Hydroponica

Your Hydroponics Compendium

Reader Requests 25 July, 2008

I’ve recently had some requests for a few pictures and updates so of course I’m happy to oblige.

So here’s a picture of the “cherry tomato tree” that’s been growing in my yard. Now I’m sure that there are those who’ll say it’s not as impressive as plants they’ve grown, or whatever, but for me a plant that rivals my own (considerable) height is pretty impressive – especially when we consider that this thing isn’t remotely close to being done growing.

Also, this guy has a bunch of extra branches all over the place and has already started a little more than a hundred fruit and will probably triple that or more by fall.

I took five ripe tomatoes off it today, which were exceptionally delicious, but I didn’t get any pictures of them. (They’re not really anything special to look at, they just look like ordinary cherry tomatoes.)

I will definitely be saving some seeds for next year.

At left here you can see a shot of the ground the plant is growing out of, complete with ashes and barbecue briquettes.

Virtually nothing has been done in any real organized fashion to improve the soil. It, like the plant, is purely accidental.

At right you can see a picture of the largest bunch (so far) of tomatoes. It’ll probably have 30-40 fruit once it’s done.

What you can’t easily see in any pictures is the heavy twine I have tied to the gutter above, that I’ve been wrapping the main stem around for support.

I also decided to take a quick picture of one of the clones of this large plant, that is currently flourishing in my Earth Box. It’s just started bearing fruit, but the limited space it has for roots (comparatively) will most likely limit its growth.

While I was out with the camera I also went ahead and snapped a picture of one of the two female flowers my pumpkin plant has produced.

You can tell the females because they’ve got the big pregnant-looking bulge just below the flower. I’ll be hand-pollinating this one when it gets big enough.

I haven’t yet decided how many pumpkins I’m going to try for. The guys who grow the huge ones only allow one pumpkin per plant, which forces the plant to devote all its effort to that one gourd. I’m considering this because my pumpkin plant is growing in a pot, so it has cramped roots.

And finally, we have a picture of the Micro Tom’s first true leaves. I apologize for the blurry image, but I’m not all that adept at getting extreme close-up pics clearly.

To get an idea of the scale here, the white circle is the upper rim of a yogurt cup and the brown in the middle is an ordinary Jiffy starter. I tried one picture with my pinky finger next to the plant, but it was also blurry and besides, different people have differently-sized fingers.

If you look closely, however, you can see that the first true leaves are far more developed than typical for the first leaves of a tomato plant. (Typically, you get a single lobed leaf first, and as the plant gains size and maturity the more complex leaves appear.) Furthermore, the leaves are incredibly small, being barely larger than the cotyledons. Everything about this plant is just much more miniaturized.

Since this plant is scheduled to be a gift to the dental clinic that’s been doing my reconstructive work, I also started another Micro Tom in a small pot. This one seems to be a genetic freak, as it’s put out three cotyledons. I’m cautiously optimistic that it may be triploid or tetraploid (having an extra set or two of chromosomes). Plants with this trait tend to grow bushier and bear more fruit. Wheat, for example, is a common example of a plant in which polyploid traits are sought after. Many field crops actually have 6 sets of chromosomes per cell rather than the normal two, as this makes them grow stronger, healthier and produce much higher yields.