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Heirloom Tomatoes in Rockwool - My first setup


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  #1  
Old 07-06-2014, 08:12 AM
andydassel andydassel is offline
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Default Heirloom Tomatoes in Rockwool - My first setup

Hey everybody,

I decided to join this hydroponics forum to exchange on some ideas and facilitate my own learning process. I have read some of the posts here and I share the enthusiasm for hydroponics and really got hooked on it. Unfortunately I couldn't enthuse anybody else for my new passion. My girlfriend is already starting to complain about my new hobby

The setup that I have built is based on rockwool blocks. I started it in plugs and then moved it to the larger Grodan Delta's. They are in a dutch leech tray in a recirculating system. I did it first on a R2W but I wanted something more autonomous so I ordered a cheap pump for 15 Euros (20 Dollar) to circulate.
Its on a drip system from Gardena, (Husqvarna). But I found a supplier now that has similar system at 1/10th of the price.

I am growing tow types of heirlooms , Brandywine and Fabulous.

I used a fertilizer meant for Cannabis (I live in NL ) but now I switched to a 3 part sytem which has made my plants explode literally. They are on natural light in a "wintergarden". So I dont have much lighting control, the light is also weaker in the afternoon because it is somewhat in the shadow.

My plants seem to be looking quite healthy and I really hope to get some feedback and input on this system and the state of the plants. On some leaves there are some (minor) brown spots and the vine turns darkish towards the base of the plant. Also some of the leaves seem curled and I wonder if it is normal or not.

I am very dedicated to getting my first crop right because Im on a sort of competition with a friend who started them in soil and who thinks that hydroponics is unnatural.

Hope you guys like it !

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  #2  
Old 07-07-2014, 01:48 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello andydassel,
First, glad you are venturing into hydroponics. What is your girlfriend complaining about? It costs to much, it takes too much of your time, where the plants are etc.. What dos she like to eat a lot of? I've found that growing what someone likes a lot, helps generates interest.

Overall the plants seem to look healthy. The purple stems is normal for tomato plants. You'll usually see it on older, thicker sections of the stems. Some curling of the new (and older) leaves is normal too. However if most of the new foliage is growing deformed and/or curling a lot, it could be either from nutrient strength being to high, or not balanced.

I assume your not in the US (we don't use Euros here). So I don't know if I will be familiar with the type of nutrients your using. You said it was a 3 part nutrient. How are you mixing them, how much of each part per gallon of water? Are you fallowing manufactures directions? Do you have a link to them? And do they have an online mixing chart?

Browning and dieing of older leaves is normal, however I'm torn because in this case I think it might be an early sign that the roots might be too wet. I say this mainly because the plants aren't that big in the pictures yet, and because your using rockwool as a growing medium. Also I can't tell if you have good drainage in those containers from the pictures either. They basically look like the rockwol is warped with shrink wrap. While tomatoes are water loving plants and drink a lot of water, the don't like wet feet. So they need good drainage too. If this is the case, the plants look small enough in the pictures that you can replant/pot them

One of the reasons I don't like rockwool that much is it saturates easily, and drains slowly. I don't use it for much other than just small starter cubes. I prefer using coco chips. Coco chips provide really good aeration while still holding moisture, and providing good drainage as long as it's not sitting in water. Coco fiber and coco chips are also cheaper too.

F.Y.I.
If your friend knew how plants actually take up the nutrients they need, he would know how natural hydroponics is. I'm betting that he think it's growing plants in a bunch of chemicals. The fact is plants can't absorb the nutrients they need unless they are actually broken down into a single chemical element (just like the hydroponic nutrients are made of). Even in soil. The only difference is that in soil you need a wide array of microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, micro flora, acids, etc. to break down the organic material into those "same single chemical element" hydroponic nutrients are made of that the plants can finally actually use.

P.S.
As for your contest, I think you have a significant disadvantage. Especially as the plants get bigger, I'm sure only getting light from one will become an issue. Outside you can get both direct and diffused light all day. When only getting light from one side, most of the plant only gets diffused light. Then the more leaves on the plant, the more they will block and shade what little light the plant is already getting. If you could put the plants outside of that window where they can get good light, they'll grow much better.
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2014, 08:24 AM
andydassel andydassel is offline
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Default FloraSeries

Hi,

Thank you for your comprehensive answer. To answer your questions, I am using the Flora Series. And I am following the instructions from the charts. (Metric Chart). Although I did add a tiny amount more in equal parts to adjust towards the recommended EC values. I first had 0.8 and tried to get it to 1.2. The problem is that I can't determine the actual nutrient mix with my EC meter. I am at 1 right now (1066 micro siemens)

You are right about the clingfilm, I was initially worried that there was too much drainage going on so I wrapped it in cling film and poked some holes in it. I was looking to put it in a slab soon but I am waiting til my PH Meter arrives from Amazon so I can adjust the slab ph when I soak it.

The roots are really digging through right now and some are coming out the top already.

About the sun, they do get direct light from 8 to 12 and diffused light from there on out. But I already built a Greenhouse shelf that I will put on wheels so I can move them once a day around the house so that they get the full dose of sunlight (12 hours).

Admittedly I am not a master carpenter, but I put another smaller tomato plant in my greenhouse shelf to see how it holds up with the temperature changes and the insects outside.

Concerning the rockwool I do like it practicality and the price is really cheap here too, but I want to try and go with a dutch bucket system and perlite (as I saw with mhpgardener) the next time. Unfortunately its harder to get the cocochips here that you mentioned.

I will cut out the cling film and see if the plants uncurl.

As for my competition, I have already surpassed my friends plants in terms of size. Now I hope to get some fruit setting soon !

Would you recommend that I prune the plants some more ? They are indeterminate varieties.

Best,
Andy
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  #4  
Old 07-10-2014, 04:51 PM
Stan Stan is offline
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Your plants look very good right now. Make sure your rockwool is not sitting in water as GpsFrontier has stated.

I never had any problems using rockwool. I start off my all my Heirloom and regular tomatoes in small rockwool cubes. I then put a small layer of hydroton at the bottom of all the net pots, place the rockwool cubes in and fill it up with hydroton. Maybe because I'm growing aeroponically 15minutes on and 45 minutes off is the reason why. So far every year I've had tons of tomatoes including some that were very big with the Heirlooms.

Here's 2 pics of my Heirlooms.
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Last edited by Stan; 07-10-2014 at 04:57 PM.
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  #5  
Old 07-11-2014, 05:56 AM
andydassel andydassel is offline
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Default Nice Aeroponics

Hey Stan,

You're tomatoes look really good, I hope to get there also in some time.

I also see that you have your setup outside. I am kind of apprehensive of this since there are more temperature changes and insects , but I have put some outside now to try it out now.

Are your plants getting the full cycle of light or are they in the shadow part of the day ?

Are you also using the Flora Series for nutes ? I am wondering what a better recipe is for the tomatoes then what it says on the GH website.

Best,

Andy
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  #6  
Old 07-11-2014, 07:23 PM
Stan Stan is offline
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Andy, my plants get around 10 hours of direct sunlight per day and the rest in shade. I've been growing aeroponically in the same spot for the past 4 years and have had very good success with tomatoes every year. Temp changes never seem to bother my plants. I've had almost a full month last year with temps in the 90's. I keep an eye on my reservoir temps that stay between 65 - 80 degrees depending on weather. If reservoir temps go above 80 degrees I put 2 frozen gallons of water in it to keep temp down. So far this year I haven't had to do so.

The only bugs I see around the tomato plants are usually ones that are pollinating the flowers. Never had problems with ants or any other types of bugs that might effect the plants.

I've been using Verti Grow nutes the last 3 years.
http://vertigro.com/images/products/...ls/FCombo.jpeg
The first 2 years I added nutes as directed. This year I have cut the amount of nutes in half and haven't noticed any changes at all. Will see what happens when the Heirlooms tomatoes start to get real big. Last year I had multiple 2+lb tomatoes hopefully will get the same this year.

I have never used the Flora Series of nutes. Just keep an eye on your plants in case of any changes. If the plants start looking unhealthy add more nutes. Check the PH regularly.
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  #7  
Old 07-14-2014, 06:22 PM
andydassel andydassel is offline
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Default Problem occured

Hey,

Thanks for the advice! I am glad to hear that you have a good yield on your plants.

I have recently noticed a problem with some of my older leaves, they have developed a yellow hue with green veins and are curling slightly upward. I have attached an image. I'm thinking it may be Iron or Magnesium Deficiency.


Best,

Andreas
SCHLAAAND
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  #8  
Old 07-15-2014, 03:34 PM
Stan Stan is offline
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My guess it might be a Potassium/Calcium deficiency but not 100% sure without being able to actually see the full plant. I know my tomatoes usually need extra Potassium/calcium as the fruits start to grow.
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  #9  
Old 07-18-2014, 08:53 AM
andydassel andydassel is offline
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Default Thanks,

I was suspecting that calcium issues might come up now since first flowers have started growing. Thank you for your help!

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