The Hydrofarm GCTB Tomato Barrel: You Won't Find a Simpler, More Economic System

For some, the Hydrofarm system may not seem to be a hydroponic growing system for tomatoes. 

But it most certainly is - or at least can be, depending upon how you use it.

That's because the Hydrofarm is sort of a two-for-one product.

You can use it as a traditional tomato planter with a nifty self-watering system. Or you can use it to dip your toes into the world of hydroponic growing.

Here's What Makes the Hydrofarm a Hydroponic System…

The "Tomato Barrel" of the Hydrofarm contains two compartments:

  1. A compartment for the growing medium in which you plant your tomatoes
  2. A reservoir for providing water and nutrients to the plant

If you wish, you could use a growing medium of garden soil or potting soil, using traditional fertilizers mixed with or applied to the soil.

And then you would just add water to the reservoir.

That, of course, would not be growing tomatoes hydroponically.

But you could also fill the growing compartment with an inert medium that's used for hydroponic growing - perlite, for example, or coconut coir. And then you would provide all the nutrients your plants need through the solution added to the nutrient reservoir.

And that, by definition, would be growing tomatoes hydroponically.

It would offer all the advantages (and risks!) of having total control over the nutrients your plants receive.

If you're interested in getting into hydroponic growing, the Hydrofarm could be a wonderfully inexpensive means of taking your first step into that fascinating world.

Specifically Designed for Growing Tomatoes

While many of the hydroponic systems designed for hobbyists are suitable for growing tomatoes, not many are designed specifically for that purpose.

But that doesn't apply to this product. The Hydrofarm is purpose-designed for growing tomatoes.

It comes with a 4-foot tall trellis composed of rings and risers. The trellis is designed to support your tomato plant as it grows. And the trellis system is expandable as you have need. (Be forewarned: If you grow indeterminate tomatoes hydroponically, you will have need!)

But the design of the Hydrofarm also makes it very suitable for hydroponically growing other viny crops such as beans, peas and cucumbers.

Climbing flowers would also do well in the Hydrofarm planter.

Pros And Cons

All products have their good points and not-so-good points, and the Hydrofarm is no exception.

Here are some of the highs and potential lows to consider if you're thinking about trying a Hydrofarm.

Positives:

·        Price. Unless you try cobbling a system together yourself, you won't find a cheaper way of giving hydroponic growing a try.

·        Simplicity. Hydroponic growing can be rather complicated, especially for large-scale systems. But the Hydrofarm is as simple and uncomplicated as hydroponic growing could possibly be.

·        Expandable Trellis. You can increase the height of the support trellis as your plants grow.

·        Eliminates Over/Under Watering. The design permits plants to take up water and nutrients as needed.

·        Portability. The Hydrofarm is a self-contained system that is easy to move / reposition as needed.

Negatives: 

·        Spills. The filling port of the reservoir is a bit awkward to access without spilling. Using a funnel while filling would solve this problem.

·        No Automation. Unlike more sophisticated (and pricey) hydroponic growing systems, the Hydrofarm is not automated. Water and nutrients will have to be monitored closely and added manually.

·        Stability. If you keep this system outside where it may be susceptible to high winds, the trellising may need some added support to keep it upright.

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