CHS Students Growing Soil-less Tomatoes

online hydro tomatoes

Crothersville FFA members Brady Riley (left) and Deven Lemen show the impressive growth of their experiment to grow tomatoes using only water and fertilizer. Area residents will be able to view the ongoing experiment this Saturday during the community yard sales when the school greenhouse opens to sell garden and flowering plants.



As an ag science project, Crothersville FFA members Brady Riley and Deven Lemen developed an experiment to grow hydroponic tomatoes in the CHS.

Using PVC drain pipe, a cattle watering tank, low flow pump and simple plastic cups, the pair have successfully grown an impressive crop of cherry tomatoes using only water as the growing medium.

“We used cherry tomatoes because they germinate so easily,” said Lemen. “And they grow fast, especially when fertilized frequently with liquid fertilizer.”

The tomatoes are made stable in their plastic cups via clay pellets.

The plants which were started in February are now blooming, some have set fruit. The pair have been busy staking and tying the tomatoes to assist them in growing tall.

“Since we are growing them in the greenhouse, there are no bees to fertilize the plants,” said Riley.

The pair gently shake the plants to simulate a breeze to allow pollen for pollination. An electric toothbrush is sometimes utilized.

Area residents will be able to observe the duo’s hydoponic efforts this Saturday during the community-wide yard sale.

“The school greenhouse will be open and we will be selling a variety of vegetable and flowering plants beginning at 9 a.m.,” said FFA advisor Linda Begley.

The FFA has a variety of tomatoes, heirloom and traditional garden varieties. Heirloom sweet and spicy peppers are also available.

“For local gardens wanting to try something new this year we also have onions, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and okra,” said Begley. “A new addition is the salsa pack. It has everything you need to grow and make your own salsa.”

She said back by popular demand is the exotic plant pack which has a variety of exotic three peppers, a squash, and five different tomatoes.

“We also have plants to please the landscape enthusiast,” said Riley. “Bedding and border flowers including wave petunias, impatiens, coleus, dusty miller, petunias, marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons, begonias, gaillardia, and alyssum. There are also a few hanging baskets.

The first 50 customers at the greenhouse this Saturday will receive a free 9-pack of plants to start their garden. “It has all of the basics, with some things you may not normally consider trying out,” she said. So that the most number of community ppeople can benefit, the free vegetables are limited one per family

For those who cannot make it on opening day, the school greenhouse will be open to customers during regular school hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. until the end of the school year.