Yield Tons of Tomatoes: Grow Bags or Dutch Buckets?

Only by carefully sourcing your food can you be sure your family is eating produce that is not loaded with harmful chemicals or germs. That’s why I’ve been very interested in learning about how to easily grow food for my family the most efficient way possible. In my research, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to hydroponics.

I am completely fascinated by the incredible yields of hydroponically tomatoes. Watch this three minute clip from How Its Made episode about how commercial growers raise tomatoes in a carefully controlled greenhouse environment.

The greenhouse in that video uses blocks of coconut coir as substrate for the tomato plants placed on top of more coir grow bags below. The system seems a but complicated for the small scale home gardener. But the Bato or Dutch Bucket system developed in The Netherlands seems much more doable on a smaller scale. Holland has quite a lot of greenhouse area but no other can compare to China. Total Areas in Major Greenhouse Production Countries But I digress…

It seems that most commercial greenhouse hydroponic tomato production systems use blocks of either coconut coir peat or rockwool as the growing medium. The system drips nutrient water into each plant and any excess is carried away back to a storage tank to be recycled through the system.

Tomato Growing Options

  • Soil
  • Grow Bags
  • Normal Containers
  • Sub-Irrigated Planters
  • Hydroponic

Tomatoes in Grow Bags

A gardener named Possum on The Bayou Gardener website posted about planting tomatoes in his garden using grow bags and a drip line irrigation system. Here are his before and after photos.

And look at the glorious upcoming crop afterwards.

Read a chapter on Perlite Bato Buckets in a book Hydroponic Food Production by Howard M. Resh, a pioneering hydroponics researcher, author and practitioner.

BrownsABQ Bato/Dutch System

The making of the four bucket system (May 3, 2011)

Amazing 30 Day Growth (Jun 1, 2011)

Update after 45 Days

MPH Gardener

Bobby Smith, otherwise known as mphgardener, explains his dutch bucket setup and how to make your own system. (Oct 8, 2012)

Update Dutch Bucket Hydroponic Tomatoes (Oct 23, 2012)

Lessons Learned and a New Crop (Mar 7, 2013)

Tips & Expanding the Reservoir (Apr 13, 2013)

Greenhouse Pollination without Bees (Dec 4, 2013)

Recommended Reading

Systems Available for Purchase

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