Tomatoes: A not-so-scientific growing experiment. Week 2 update

Updated: Sep 14

Three of our plants have tomatoes! Plants 1, 6, and 10 have their first fruit. Interestingly, two of the plants—plant 6 and plant 10—are 50% compost, 50% soil; the other one is all local loamy soil (no added compost). If this all sounds weird, check out our first post to learn more about the plant growing experiment!


I’ve noticed that some of the plants seem much more “full” than others—they are growing more branches and/or additional vertical stems. I don’t know how I would measure fullness in a consistent way, so I’m pausing on trying to account for this.


The last observation is that some of the bottom most leaves are turning yellow. On the short list are:

  • Nutrient deficiency: I haven’t done a soil test, I didn’t add tomato food. I just mixed the compost and topsoil, and put in the plants. Supporting this, I generally notice slightly more yellowing on the tomato plants that are in less compost.

  • Watering: I could be using too much or too little water.

  • Most new tomato growers—that’s me!—tend to overwater their plants. We’ve had a lot of rain recently (I can’t stop the automatic watering for logistical reasons) and I wasn’t sure if 8 minutes was the right amount or not for the automatic watering—all saying it could be too much water.

  • On the other hand, the plants with less compost have the most yellow. Since compost helps with permeability and water retention, too little water makes some logical sense: the plants with compost have enough water and the plants with less compost have too little water.

  • Transplant shock. Plants can be shocked by getting to know their new soil—it’s a very different home! This typically happens within one to two weeks of planting and also fits our bill.

Of course, it could be any combination of these things and, since I have different amounts of compost in the containers, different plants could have different challenges. For example, the tomatoes in heavy compost could have too much water and have started to have root rot while the plants with less compost could have both underwatering and nutrient deficiency.


For now, I’m going with my gut—I’m assuming that I’ve made the common mistake of overwatering them, and have reduced the automatic watering time from 8 minutes to 6 minutes.


Here are this week’s updates for height and growth:


Plant 1:

0% compost, 100% topsoil

Height start: 14.5”

Height 7/8/22: 27”

Growth: 86%

Fruit: 1 tomato!


Plant 2:

10% compost, 90% topsoil

Height start: 16”

Height 7/8/22: 29”

Growth: 81%


Plant 3:

20% compost, 80% topsoil

Height start: 14”

Height 7/8/22: 25”

Growth: 79%


Plant 4:

30% compost, 70% topsoil

Height start: 14”

Height 7/8/22: 26”

Growth: 86%


Plant 5:

40% compost, 60% topsoil

Height start: 16.5”

Height 7/8/22: 29”

Growth: 76%


Plant 6:

50% compost, 50% topsoil

Height start: 16.5”

Height 7/8/22: 29”

Growth: 76%

Fruit: 1 tomato!


Plant 7:

60% compost, 40% topsoil

Height start: 14.5”

Height 7/8/22: 26”

Growth: 79%


Plant 8:

70% compost, 30% topsoil

Height start: 13.5”

Height 7/8/22: 25”

Growth: 85%


Plant 9:

80% compost, 20% topsoil

Height start: 13”

Height 7/8/22: 25.5”

Growth: 96%


Plant 10:

50% compost, 50% topsoil

Height start: 15”

Height 7/8/22: 26”

Growth: 73%

Fruit: 1 tomato!


Plant 11:

40% compost, 60% topsoil

Height start: 10”

Height 7/8/22: 21”

Growth: 110%


Plant 12:

30% compost, 70% topsoil

Height start: 10”

Height 7/8/22: 19”

Growth: 90%



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