Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Over the last six weeks, I’ve been conducting an in-depth assessment of the newly developed abby hydroponic garden.
Since I love tomatoes, I decided to plant a few seeds and then transfer the best seedling to my grow box.
Unfortunately, the abby hydroponic garden arrived well before my seedlings were ready. Anxious to start, I bummed a half-grown tomato plant from a friend. Although this potted plant had been attacked by greedy bugs, it was healthy enough to have birthed a crop of 14 small green tomatoes.
The following article describes the techniques used to transplant the tomato plant to the abby hydroponic garden and documents my efforts to grow this plant using water as a medium instead of dirt.
The abby grow box is 15.75 inches wide, 15.75 inches deep, 47 inches high, and weighs 70 pounds. This device is mainly composed of white-painted metal with a nicely varnished wooden top and bottom.
The back of this unit is fitted with an AC power input, air intake, and an air exhaust.
A large front dial, which incorporates a display indicating inside temperature and humidity, will open abby’s door when turned clockwise. The slowly flashing line of green LEDs to the right of the dial confirms the grow box’s functionality.
The front-mounted door is fitted with a 3 x 28-inch window which can be enclosed by a magnetic metal panel.
A three-gallon water tank, located inside the grow box, is concealed by a removeable plastic cover. Above this tank, the growing plant occupies an area 31.5 inches high, 15.5 inches wide, and 12.75 inches deep.
The tank’s plastic cover is equipped with a pair of platforms that will automatically add fertilizer to the water and a hole through which the plant basket can be fitted.
This grow box is equipped with two pairs of air circulating fans, a water pump, and a set of Samsung's LM301H LED Grow Lights.
Accessories include a three-month supply of fertilizer, plant basket, power cable, pruner, 8 training ties, trellis net, 8 magnetic hooks, spare air stone, and spare strainer.
- Brand: abby
- Model: B1001
- Weight: 32 kilograms (70 pounds)
- Exterior dimensions: 40 x 40 x 119 centimeters (15.75 x 15.75 x 47 inches)
- Interior dimensions: 39 x 32 x 80 centimeters (15.5 x 12.75 x 31.5 inches)
- Rated input: 110V – 220V/50 – 60 Hz)
- Wattage: 186W max
- WiFi: 2.4 GHz
- Max grow height: 80 centimeters (31.5 inches)
- Water tank capacity: 3 gallons
- Grow lights: Samsung LM301H LED
- Display: 2.1-inch TFT LCD, 480 x 480 pixels
- Sensors: Ultrasonic, temperature/humidity, water temperature, water level, and 5.8G radar
- Water pump: 12VDC/7.2W
- Water flow: 1.5 – 2.2 LPM
- Air pump: 12VDC/2W
- Air flow: 2.3 LPM
- Fans: 2 input fans plus 2 exhaust fans
- OS compatibility: iOS and Android
I positioned the unit into a corner between my piano and the door leading to the kitchen. This system includes an air filter and a hook-shaped key. I secured the magnetic filter against the air intake at the back of the grow box. Then I opened abby’s door by inserting and twisting the key into a round keyhole on the left side of the unit.
I removed two boxes of accessories from the inside compartment. Then I withdrew a pair of air filters from one box and unscrewed the grill just forward of abby’s array of grow lights. Once I’d inserted the filters, I installed the power cord and connected it to an AC outlet.
I downloaded and installed the iOS version onto my iPhone. I then used the application to establish a Wi-Fi connection between the grow box and smartphone.
Transplanting My Tomato Plant
I carefully removed my half-grown tomato plant from its pot and rinsed away the dirt clinging to its roots.
Typically, the seedling would be shoved into a plant basket, supported by a piece of sponge and foam. Since my plant was larger than normal, I snipped away the bottom of the basket, allowing the plant’s large root mass to fit through and hang below. I then placed the basket into the receptacle at the center of the water tank’s cover.
The application instructed me to add three gallons of spring water to abby’s tank. As I poured in water, the tank’s sensors kept track of its level.
The application then advised me to add one white and one gold packet of fertilizer onto their platforms at the back of the tank cover. Once I confirmed their placement, one packet was automatically dropped into the water. Ten minutes later, abby deposited the second packet.
At this point, both water and air were circulating, and the grow lights were on. For the next week, abby would continue to take care of my tomato plant without outside aid.
Preliminary State of Plant
When first transplanted, the tomato plant appeared healthy if a bit bedraggled from being plucked from its pot and washed. One of its 14 tiny tomatoes was almost ripe.
While the tomatoes were ripening quickly, the shock of switching from dirt to nutrient-rich water adversely affected the health of this plant. Many of its vines had died, numerous leaves were turning brown, and most of its flowers had shriveled.
As the application demands on a weekly basis, I drained the water and added two packets of fertilizer. This is an easy task because abby’s pump can drain the tank’s water into a hand-held bucket.
I noticed encouraging signs of growth. Dark green and shiny leaves were sprouting from the two main stems of my plant, and four surviving flowers had produced tiny green tomatoes.
The plant began to increase in bulk as many more healthy leaves appeared. The four green tomatoes were increasing in size, and numerous buds had emerged.
My tomato plant had tripled in size, and its leaves appeared extraordinarily healthy. Some of the buds had opened, revealing tiny yellow flowers.