The Great Tomato Experiment

the great tomato experiment

I posted earlier on in the year about air pruning and I said I would update later. Well this is later so here’s the update. I’m calling this the great tomato experiment because, frankly I don’t get a lot of excitement in my life. I’m only joking but if I’m honest I do derive a lot of pleasure growing my own produce and I also enjoy experimenting with new ideas and seeing if I can improve on my growing techniques. So let me set the scene.

The Great Tomato Experiment

the great tomato experiment

Two identical Chadwick cherry tomato plants

Firstly let me explain what I intend to do. I have grown from seed two tomato plants. Started off in the same potting compost, in the same size pots, with the same amount of watering, in the same location/temperature and the same amount of light.

Compost Mix

the great tomato experiment soil mix

All the ingredients for the compost mix

The compost mix I’m using is a tribute to Larry Hall from Minnesota you can check out his actual mix on youtube. My mix consists of:-

  • My own compost
  • Used strawberry compost
  • Garden Lime
  • Epsom salts

I mixed a bucket of the compost with a bucket of the used strawberry compost( this comes from a local strawberry farm, they replace it every year and it’s really good stuff, it has perlite added). Then I add to this about two handfuls of Garden Lime and two handfuls of Epsom salts. I mixed this all up until you can’t differentiate one ingredient from another.


The Final Planting

The next step in the great tomato experiment

TGTE Chadwick's Cherry in pot

Chadwick’s Cherry in plastic pot

I then planted both tomato plants (Chadwick’s Cherry), one in a plastic pot and the other in a Air Pruning pot of roughly the same size. I planted both of them quite a bit deeper than they were originally planted I do this with all tomatoes to promote root growth. Usually I add a Basil plant in with a tomato plant to improve flavour but in the interest of partiality I am just growing these two on their own.

TGTE in root trainer

Chadwick Cherry in Root trainer

I then took a plastic washing up bowl pierced four drainage holes(one on each side) about two and a half inches from the bottom of the bowl. Then I placed the root trainer pot into the middle of the bowl.

The next step is to add pea gravel and spread it around the root trainer. This is to stop mosquitoes breeding in the standing water, so the gravel has to be at the same level as the holes previously pierced into the bowl.

Siting The Pots

the great tomato experiment in situe

In the greenhouse

I then placed both tomatoes in my greenhouse one in front of the other so apart from one being closer to the glass than the other they are in the same temperature, light etc….

I watered them both using different techniques, the root trainer I watered the bowl, the pot I watered from above. So that’s basically it, I’ll water the root trainer from below, and the pot from above.


To be perfectly honest there wasn’t a noticable difference between the plants. they both grew into healthy tomato plants, they both produced good tasting fruit and they both kept producing until late in the season.

So the test was inconclusive, having said that I will definitely use the air pruning pot again but I’m not hurrying out to replace all my pots. Perhaps I need to rerun the test this year with a different variety and see what happens but as yet I’m not convinced.



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