Quadgrow trial – part 1

Let’s talk tomatoes.  At the beginning of this year’s growing season I was lucky enough to be sent a Quadgrow planter, after spotting them at this year’s Garden Press Event in London (back when we are able to travel freely around the country – remember those days?!). 

The Quadgrow display at the Garden Press Event, March 2020

I was really impressed with the set up on display – they had a selection of chilis growing in these, as it was March and still early in the season, but they’re also suitable for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other tall cropping plants.  The really big deep pots are placed into a large tray which you fill with water, making it a self-watering system which keeps your plants from drying out for up to 2 weeks.  This makes it incredibly useful during the summer when a) the weather is hopefully nice and warm, making your greenhouse very cosy and b) you might (under non-Covid circumstances) be planning to go on holiday.  With the Quadgrow you simply fill up the tray and can leave your plants for a few days, knowing they won’t be crispy when you come home again! 

After speaking to the guys from Greenhouse Sensation at the GPE they got in touch and asked if I’d like to trial the planter and I jumped at the chance.  Growing tomatoes is one of my favourite things to do in the garden – I love the whole process, from sowing the seed right through to harvesting those ripe red fruits, and as I’m always interested to try new varieties and techniques I thought this would be an excellent system to use this year, in pursuit of the perfect tomato! 

The package came safely in the post, complete with two trays, four pots and some plant food and I set up the system in mid-May when my tomato plants were getting big enough to plant out and live in the greenhouse.  Bearing in mind that I’m not particulary handy or technically-minded it was easy to set up and I had the thing slotted together in minutes.  You simply have to connect the trays with a little pipe and also insert the filters and make sure the wicking material is in place within each pot.  This is how the system keeps the soil moist so it’s important to make sure the wicking material is in contact with the water.  I actually left a little corner of it visible above the soil so that I can check it’s still damp – that way I know the soil is still getting the moisture it needs.  Once the pots were filled up with some peat-free tomato compost I popped in each plant, inserted a bamboo support and tied them into place as I usually do.  

In the interests of not-very-scientific experimentation I’m also growing the same varieties of tomato in the same peat free compost but in growbags and pots.  I’m looking forward to seeing how each method compares, and whether I have healthier plants, or better fruit, from those grown in bags, pots or the Quadgrow.  There will have to be a lot of tasting to find out… 😋

And if you’re wondering what varitieties I’m growing, I’ve got: Gardener’s Delight, Sungold, Rosella and Black Russian.  I’m also growing one plant called Maskotka outdoors – another experiment to see if it’s possible to get a decent crop of tomatoes outdoors in Scotland.  I have my doubts, but actually this plant seems to be doing fine – although a bit more compact than the others it’s setting fruit and looking fairly healthy! 

So far, I’ve topped up the Quadgrow with water about three times and it hasn’t yet been empty when I’ve checked.  The plants are definitely more thirsty the bigger they’ve got so I’m keeping a close eye on the water level each time I’m doing a #Fridayfeed.  

You can check out photos and videos of the Quadgrow on my Instagram feed @mycornerofearth – there’s a series saved to my Stories including the set-up video and I’m including regular updates as the plants develop.  I’ll report back more progress here on this blog as my plants grow and hopefully give me some tasty tomatoes!

My tomato plants are flourishing so far in their Quadgrow planter!

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