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-   -   When to move rockwool seedlings to dutch buckets (http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4344)

gdgdad 09-12-2018 05:20 PM

When to move rockwool seedlings to dutch buckets
I'm new to this (both the forum and hydroponics). I've "built" a 4 Dutch bucket system exactly to the MHP Gardener's specs and it's ready to go. I have 4 tomato plant seedlings in 1" rockwool cubes (foil still on) that are between 3 and 5 inches tall, all with true leaves. My buckets use Perlite as the growing medium, and the nutrient pump and air pump are on a 3 times a day timer. When is the ideal time (i.e. seedling size or root situation?) to move the cubes into the Dutch buckets?

Stan 09-27-2018 01:36 PM

Planting tomatoes from rock wool to dutchbucket can be done as soon as you see a couple roots growing out from the rockwool cube if growing indoors otherwise if outside I. Full sun roots should be 2-3 inches long.

Are you planning to grow these tomatoes indoors or out? If outdoors in full sun your plants will die fast if you only pump nutrient water 3 times a day. At night you can get away with 3 times not during the day.

gdgdad 09-28-2018 04:31 PM

Tomatoes took turn for worst...
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Originally Posted by Stan (Post 14341)
Planting tomatoes from rock wool to dutchbucket can be done as soon as you see a couple roots growing out from the rockwool cube if growing indoors otherwise if outside I. Full sun roots should be 2-3 inches long.

Are you planning to grow these tomatoes indoors or out? If outdoors in full sun your plants will die fast if you only pump nutrient water 3 times a day. At night you can get away with 3 times not during the day.

Stan, thanks for the reply and info. Unfortunately, the seedlings died. They got to be between 5 and 7 inches tall with seemingly good amount of "true leaves", but leaves turned brown on the ends, and that was it. I kept them moist, not saturated, under a 3 light system (CFL's - 2 @ 5,00 kelvins, 1 at 6,500 kelvins). Nutrient was MiracleGrow tomato @ 1/4 strength, all PH balanced (post fertilizer) to 5.9 No roots ever came out the bottom and a "post mortem" showed few roots within the cubes. But... I've not given up. I've read I had the wrong size cubes (i.e 1") and that 2X2X1.5" are best for tomatoes. New cubes on the way... I've attached pictures of my "setup". so, to answer your questions:
1. I plan on growing them outside with the ability to "wheel" them into the garage in event of storm or frost
2. The timer can be set to cycle up to 10 times per day, would ask your opinion on frequency/duration.
3. FYI - seed types were Florida 91 and Heatmaster, both supposedly very heat tolerant. I had little luck with Florida 91's in ground as well.
4. Seedling tray is standard 10X20 with 7" high clear lid.

Thanks for taking the time to respond, I've been trying grow tomatoes down here for 10 years. I REALLY need advice, I want this to work! Gary

Stan 09-28-2018 05:34 PM

I use the 1" rockwool cubes to start my tomatoes every years never had any problems. If you want to get big healthy roots before transplant to dutch bucket you should build a small aeroponic cloner for use with seedlings.

You'll need a black tote box similar to this.

2 inch net pots

These red 360 degree sprayers

I use this timer for my dutch bucket system can also be used with the cloner.

You would also need some hydroton to fill in around the cube. You will also need 1/4 PVC piping.

Depending on how many plants you want would determine how many holes you would drill into the tote box.

You will have to set up the pvc piping and use a tap to insert the 360 degree sprayers with water pump inside the tote with water and just a little bit of nutrients added. The ends of the pvc piping needs to be sealed.

The roots will grow very fast using this set up. You can take the plants including the 2 inch net pots they're in and transplant into the dutch bucket as is just cover the top of the net pot with the perlite in the dutch buckets. Use the same watering timing you were using in the cloner for about a week then you can adjust as you see fit.

gdgdad 10-10-2018 11:58 AM

Aeroponic cloner completed, 2nd attempt with seedlings
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Stan, I’ve built an aeroponic Cloner as you suggested (see pics). Seems to work OK, all sprayers put out a nice pattern (i.e. 180 degrees each ). The 2” net pots appear to get sprayed from all sides. But…. I’m still stuck at the starting gate as far a starting from seed. I also acquired 2” Rockwool cubes and re-started seeds 10/2/18 (again, Heatmasters and Florida 91’s). So far 3 cubes have sprouted, tallest is 2 ½ tall (see pics). The tall ones looked leggy so I removed the clear cover and lowered the lights (light is on timer 6am to 12 pm). No true leaves yet. This is where / when I seem to have the most problems, any suggestions? See anything I’m doing wrong or not doing?

Thanks, Gary

Stan 10-10-2018 04:44 PM

gdgdad, hope you are a safe way from Hurricane Michael.

Very nice cloner set up. Since you want to transplant the seedlings outdoors the cloner should also be outdoors. The seedlings should not be in direct sunlight but in an area with enough light during the day like under an awning or a carport.

Since these seedlings were grown indoors when you move the cloner outside don't be surprised if only 1 plant survives if any. If you are lucky they might all survive since they're still very young. In case they do die the seeds should be started outdoors in the cloner so they will not suffer from shock from being grown indoors and transplanted outdoors. Right now from the pics I see give them just a tiny amount of nutrients until you start to get a second set of leaves. At that point start them on a little less than 1/4 nutrients.

When the roots come thru the rockwool go to 1/4 nutrients the plants will start shooting upward quickly. When the roots are 4 - 6 inches long transplant to dutch buckets. Stay at 1/4 nutrients in dutch bucket it will take about 1 week for the plants to get used to it's new place. Keep an eye on the growth it will not grow that first week but will the second. When you see new growth go to 1/2 nutrients. When plants are over a foot tall you should start to see flowering when you do go to 3/4 nutrient strength. When you get 3 levels of flowering go to full nutrient strength the plants will skyrocket and will be flowering all over.

When plants are around 6 - 8ft tall (I've grown black cherry tomato plants 14ft) or when you feel they have reached their limit cut the nutrients off and just use plain water. Let some of the suckers(new growth) grow about 5 inches clip them off put them in rockwool cubes and into the cloner you built to start the next set of tomato plants that will replace those in the dutch buckets.

One last thing make sure the water ph level is between 5.5 - 6.5 not higher or lower than those numbers including when you add nutrients. When plants are growing some fruit add a little epsom salt once a month to the reservoir.

gdgdad 10-11-2018 11:01 AM

Aeroponic cloner "activated"..... more questions..
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Stan, thanks so much for the quick feed back and advice. The hurricane didn’t even phase us, winds gusted at 30 for a couple hours, and very little rain. Thanks for asking. Here’s what I’ve done and where I’m at as of today:

- I’ve moved the 3 seedlings into 2” net cups on the aeroponic cloner, on 2 of the 3 net cups I was able to place the neoprene collar. (see pic) We’ll hope for the best…..
- I’ve started 3 more rockwool cubes (2” cubes cut to fit the 2” net pots semi snuggly). New cubes (in their net pots) soaked in ph 6.0 for an hour prior to inserting seeds. No neoprene collars.
- New / additional seed types: Big Daddy Hybrid and Big Boy Hybrid (seeds I had from last year) – 2 seeds per cube, and the last cube I used the 2 remaining Heatmaster seeds.
- No nutrients have been added to the water (just balanced the ph to 6.0). FYI – I’m on a well so no “unnatural” chemicals, but left alone water runs about 7.5 ph. I use Roots® PH down.
- The aeroponic cloner bucket has been placed outdoors on my north facing, covered Lanai – no direct sun. Temps are running mid to upper 80’s, humidity varies from high to medium (it’s Florida….) see pics
- I assume I will I no longer use the CFL lighting, correct?
- What do you recommend for sprayer timing, i.e. intervals and duration of each interval?
o I have a Titan timer that can do up to 10 on/off settings per day, but I also have a mechanical timer the can go on/off in 15 minute intervals.
o Being the new cubes just soaked, and the existing ones are still saturated, I’ve not started the timer – you have a suggestion on when spraying cycles should start?
o Should I aeriate the aeroponic cloner bucket? (I have an aquarium bubbler for the Dutch buckets).
o 4 of the netcups do not have the neoprene collars, should I make center holes in the collars and cover those (to block light?). In the pic’s you can see the “openings” around the sides.
Thanks so much for your help and advice! I’m determined to make this work and I’m certain I’m making mistakes / mis-steps along the way.

Gary in Florida

Stan 10-11-2018 12:13 PM

Glad to hear the hurricane avoided your area. I've watched lot's of news reports from the area I feel bad for the people that lost homes and personal belongings.

Ok I'm not a fan of neoprene collars with seedlings. With the stem not being strong they sometimes with either choke or damage the stem. I have used the collars with large suckers around 5 - 8 inches long. I use hydroton and carefully put them in a little at a time until it reaches the top of the net pot. When I transfer into dutch bucket I put the net pot as is with hydroton and bury it in the perlite.

As for watering schedule it all depends on temperature and humidity also if plants are in sun or shade. This is why I like the Spartan timer I would do 5 seconds on 15 minutes off. The timer of 10 times a day should not be used. With the timer you mentioned can go on/off for 15 minute intervals can you set it at 15 minutes on 30 minutes off? Also soak a rockwool cube put it outside where you have the cloner see how long it takes to get just slightly damp but not completely dry. The set your timer for 15 minutes on 15 minutes before the time it takes to get slightly damp. Since you're using fresh water and adjusting the ph keep eye water temps make sure it doesn't get to high. Use a gallon milk container fill it with water freeze it place in the cloner to cool down the water. Make sure you take off any labels that are on the container otherwise it will peel off inside the cloner and clog the sprayers.

When you eventually move them to the dutch bucket 15 minutes on will be way to long. I had mine in full sun 90 degrees with high 70 to low 80's humidity for 3 minutes on 15 minutes off. When the plants are 4 feet tall which means it has a large root system I had it running for 1 minute on 25 minutes off and just adjust as you see fit. At sundown it ran 1 minute on 45 minutes off.

Last but not least yes use an aerator/bubbler. You can run it at night when it's cooler for 30 minutes then off till the next night.

gdgdad 10-11-2018 04:44 PM

Adviced followed and more questions....
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Thanks Stan, a lot of good info. On the neoprene collars, I removed them and cut out the centers so the stems aren’t squeezed. Hydroton clay pebbles aren’t available locally so I’ve ordered a bag on line. When those arrive I’ll remove the neoprene.
On watering – for the timing are you saying the duration and interval is 7/24? i.e continuously through out the night? I notice that time you have has a “daytime” sensor.

I’ve soaked and set out a “fresh” cube on top of the bucket (see pic), recorded the time I set it out, and will check periodically for when it’s “slightly damp not dry”. I have a feeling that will be a long time…. Possibly hours? The aeroponic cloner bucket is in the shade, per your previous post – not direct sunlight. Those cubes really hold the water and I have a hard time accurately determining “slightly damp”, and really go more by weight.
Cube question, I attempted to use a couple “used” rockwool cubes for the damp time test, i.e. from seeds that never sprouted or seedlings that died. But they would not sink when placed in water to soak. Can (should) rockwool cubes be re-used?
On water temp – what temp are you shooting for? I’ll have to get an aquarium thermometer, (and I always have several frozen milk jugs that I use for fishing). Again, sounds like another timer for nighttime only operation??

Can’t wait to get to the point of moving plants to the Dutch bucket system. On the Dutch Bucket watering timing, I’m a little confused…. Once the plant got larger, watering time was reduced, and intervals less frequent?

Lastly the bubbler….. run at night only while (if) sprayer system runs though night?

Sorry if I’m asking dumb questions, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. Early on in I was convinced by everything on-line this was the simplest most successful way to grow, now it seems quite a science and much more complex – but I’m ready for the challenge! Thanks for all your help!


Stan 10-11-2018 07:09 PM

When you get the hydroton really rinse them they always have clay dust on them before putting them into the net pots.

The Spartan timer can be set with daytime on/off and night on/off settings. It has a photocell which will tell it to switch to night settings. If you have that timer you set it for 5 minutes on 15 minutes off during the daylight hours.
At night set it for 5 minutes on and 45 minutes off. When you get a good amount of roots coming out of the rockwool change timer to 5 seconds on 15 minutes off in daylight. at night 5 seconds on 1 hour off.

With a regular timer it all depends on what the least amount of time it can run. If the least amount of time is 15 minutes then on for 15 minutes off 1 hour then if you can do on/off all day and into the night if the timer doesn't have separate day/night. If you don't have enough setting on your timer to do that then you'll need to run the water for a longer time during daytime. Start it off at sunrise let run for over an hour if you have to. Then space out the timing during the day make sure it gets watered around sunset. Save 1 setting for a middle of the night watering run once for at least an hour.

Water temps for seedlings if you can get the temps between 65 - 78 degrees you'll do fine. When roots are coming out of rockwool you can be between 75 - 80 degrees. When in dutch buckets just make sure water temps don't go over 85 degrees.

gdgdad 10-12-2018 04:12 PM

Rockwool cube "soak test" results....
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Stan, per your post, I soaked a rockwool cube and placed it on top of the aeroponic cloner bucket (see pic in previous post). I marked the time @ 3:20 pm, and when I checked at 7:00 pm is was still wet and a fairly "heavy". So as I suspected, these things will hold water for many hours. I picked up the cube again today and it is indeed still damp - the next day! Any suggestions on sprayer timing revision?
Also, I added in an aerator,(two stones), and just left that running, figure I can't over oxygenate the water.....
Two tallest seedlings seem to be "stretching" toward sunlight, but they appear to be starting "true leaves", albeit very small (see attached pic - 2, might be difficult to see). I'm turning the net cups periodically to get them to lean in the opposite direction. Again, bucket is sitting outside on my lanai.
Temps have cooled to upper 80's, humidity 46% today, tomorrow morning in 60's, upper 80's by afternoon and humidity about 52%.
Thanks!! GDGDAD

Stan 10-12-2018 08:46 PM

Water it 3 times starting at sunrise, 12 noon and at sunset. Water once at night around 12 0r 1AM.

When you see a couple roots starting to come out of the rockwool switch the water schedule with the 1 I quoted earlier (more frequent watering schedule) as you don't want the exposed roots to dry out. That would kill the plants.

gdgdad 10-13-2018 09:34 AM

Timer set, installed and running - fingers crossed
Stan, I’m using my Apollo timer, which has a minimum duration of 1 minute, so here’s what I’ve programmed:
Sunrise 7:30 am - duration 1 minute
Sunset 7:02 pm – duration 1 minute
Nighttime: 1:00 am – duration 1 minute
Aerator runs continuously
I’ll check for roots frequently and adjust timing when I see some. I’m betting it will a while before I see roots, never did when I started them indoors even though they got 5 to 7 inches tall, and now I’m using 2” cubes (as opposed to 1”). Again I’ve not added any nutrients, using only PH adjusted water. Fingers crossed…..


Stan 10-13-2018 05:50 PM

Ok just check once a day on the plants if you notice they look weaker give an extra watering or 2 during the day. Aerator only needs 15 - 60 minutes once during the night.

You will see roots faster outdoors. Under artificial lights they become leggy fast and the roots don't. In an aeroponic cloner outdoors the stem gets thick and the roots get long. Keep me up to date on how things go. Keep a yearly journal consisting of watering schedule, amount of nutrients, ph with outdoor temps to see what works and when and what doesn't.

gdgdad 10-16-2018 12:01 PM

Hydroton added & more germination
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Stan – keeping you posted. The Hydroton arrived and I’ve carefully added it to the net cups (see pics). After THOROUGHLY rinsing pebbles, I first filled the gaps (left via putting a square cube in round net cup) with small pebbles, then used larger pebbles to fill in and prop up seedlings. All 3 of the seeds started on 10/11 are sprouting, one just over a half in high. On the “new” seedling cups, I only placed Hydroton on the perimeter, mainly to block light. Tallest seedling is about 3 ½“ high, but still no roots out of the cube yet. To me it looks "leggy", but there are true leaves. When (i.e. in height or time) would you expect I’d see roots protruding from cubes? Everything else remains the same, i.e. bucket is kept in shade on lanai within10 feet of direct sunlight, watering is 7am, 7pm, and 1am for 1 minute. Temps running upper 80's with humidity in the low to mid 70's. Thanks again for your advice and direction..... fingers crossed!

Stan 10-17-2018 10:24 AM

The seedlings are still in infancy. The stems are still white when they should already be turning green. When that happens the root system will take off. So maybe another week or 2 before roots come out of the cubes.

I would add the slightest amount of fertilizer to the water now it will quicken the process. Increase nutrient watering once every 2 hours during daylight hours the seedling will suck up all the nutrients they need to grow faster.

gdgdad 10-17-2018 08:10 PM

Update - nutrients added, timing changed
Stan, I’ve drained the bucket and re-filled with nutrient solution (MiracleGro for Tomatoes @18-18-21) at ¼ strength and balanced PH at 6.0 (post nutrient). The timer’s set for daylight hours 7am/9/11/1pm/3/5/7pm (every 2 hours) - one minute durations. Can’t believe the “new” sprouts, one day a ½ inch, next day >1”!! BTW – we have some “followers”!!!! 285 views! Good advice spreads fast! I’ll keep you posted on progress.


Stan 10-18-2018 08:21 AM

gdgdad, glad to hear the plants are doing fine. Like I said the cloner method is the best when starting seedlings as they really grow fast. When the roots start coming out of the rockwool the stems will start to get thick.

It's funny you mentioned using MiracleGro for the seedlings as I was going to suggest you to use it since it's cheap. I use it for my seedlings all the way into the first week when switching to dutch bucket. After that first week in Dutch Bucket then switch to the nutrients you plan to use the rest of the way as I wouldn't use MiracleGro after that first week.

I didn't take notice of the views on this thread until you mentioned it. Good to see that interest in the thread you started. If anyone viewing the thread wants to chime in to ask questions or add some suggestions please do.

GpsFrontier used to run this forum I have no idea what happened to him and hope he is well. He would answer everyones posts. He was a goldmine of info I learned a lot from him that's why I always check into this forum once in a while to see if I could help.

Please keep me up to date on this. If you need any seeds I have saved from my hydroponic grows like giant heirloom tomatoes some getting 3+lbs or black cherry tomatoes let me know I will gladly mail them to you.

Stan 10-18-2018 09:27 AM

gdgdad, if you have Dollar Stores close by stop in and buy a couple of these sun shields for cars.

When you open the package open them up fold them in half the (the long way) make a crease then cut them along the crease so end up having 2 long pieces. Each piece will fit perfectly wrapped around the 5 gallon buckets starting about 3 inches below the top lip it will cover a little more than 3/4 of the buckets preventing the inside from getting steaming hot from direct sun.

gdgdad 10-18-2018 10:20 AM

Will get sun screens and a bucket question
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Stan, Great idea and yes I do have a dollar store near me (I go there frequently!). I actually though about buying aluminum foil to do the same thing, but yours’ is a much better method. Question on the Dutch buckets, when I first constructed them, I ran the system regularly to test for leaks and insure timer operation. As a result, it’s been sitting since the start of September with likely 2” of water in each bucket (I didn't expect to still be trying to get seedlings going). Today I hooked it directly to hose and ran water through it for about a ½ hour, pushing between 10 and 15 gallons through. Should I add a small amount of bleach to the “flush” to eliminate the possibility of any bacteria or mold in the bottom of the buckets(assuming chlorine eventually dissipates)? Maybe a few days before moving plants to Dutch buckets? They’ve been inside the garage so no direct sunlight exposure. Hoping I don’t have to completely empty the perlite out, clean buckets, and re-rinse perlite, but I will if it mold or bacteria is a possibility. Don’t want to have gone this far and screw it up…. Also, added a “status” pic as of today… Thanks,

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