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Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 13, 2016 9:59 pm
Location: Checotah OK-Zone 7A/7B

Big Rainbow...Slow to grow?

Hello Everyone,

My husband and I are from Checotah, Oklahoma. We have always loved to garden, but last year we had so much rain (22 inches or so in two months) that we had to replace our garden 3 times.

So this year we had to do something different. We don't really fit any one forum on this site so I will share here. We have 143 Heirloom tomato plants and 30 some pepper plants in a DWC/BATO bucket hydroponic system.

We planted these one month ago and we already have 75 or so tomatoes started, tons of flowers, and some peppers started too.

We have planted Pink and Red Brandywine, Rutgers, Cherokee Purple, Big Rainbow, Mortgage Lifters, and San Marzano tomatoes along with Green and Purple Bell, Anaheim, and Poblano peppers.

Everything seems to be taking off except my Big Rainbows. Anyone else notice that Big Rainbows are a little slow?

I can't wait to see what they do. Good luck to everyone and happy gardening.

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Senior Member
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Joined: Wed May 13, 2015 11:32 pm
Location: Scotts Valley, CA

I have no advice, but just want to say that that sounds like an amazing project. Putting together hydroponics for that many plants must have been a bit of work!

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

No real reason for BR to be much slower to grow than the others. The plants will all grow about the same; just the maturation and fruiting times will be different. Big Rainbow is a late season tomato. Maybe that variety is a slow starter for you this year for some unknown reason. They most likely will catch up.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Is your hydro system indoors or out? If indoors, what do you do for lighting? If outdoors, how do you protect it from all that rain?

PS sorry, I just saw your other post about outdoor hydro. So how does growing hydroponically protect them from the 22" of rain? You said that was part of why you decided to do the hydroponics.

I'd love to see a few pictures of your set up! :)
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Wed May 18, 2016 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

I don't know about Big Rainbow, but Rainbow Dwarf has been taken off my Winter Indoor lineup because it needs more light and warmth (especially night time temps) than the others. I found that I could not treat it the same way as other varieties. There are a few other varieties with similar tendencies.

If you are able to move them around, maybe try to find a microclimate that is sunnier and warmer for the Big Rainbow and see if that makes a difference?

Full Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 13, 2016 9:59 pm
Location: Checotah OK-Zone 7A/7B

Hello all,

Thank you for your responses. We got our Big Rainbows on shall we say "killing fields clearance" from Atwoods at 50% off since they are going out of planting season here already. They were stretching really bad and light green. It took a lot of pruning to bring them back to life.

Hydroponics and the reason for it. We have had 22 inches of rain last year and as you all know if they are planted in the ground they suffocate due to lack of DO (Dissolved Oxygen). So we have a BATO bucket system filled with peat moss and pearlite and each bucket has a drain that leads to a reservoir. The reservoir waters the buckets, provides nutrients, and we have an air stone for DO. The reason it protects against the 22 inches of rain is the drainage system. When it rains we install a longer PVC pipe to divert the access water away from the reservoir, thus our nutrient solution doesn't get diluted and the peat moss/ pearlite mixture holds some water but drains all access away from the plants.

Here are some pictures of our set up. We already have over 75 tomatoes started and 5 or more tomatoes started.
Big Rainbows to the right.
Big Rainbows to the right.

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