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When to move rockwool seedlings to dutch buckets

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Old 06-06-2020, 09:22 AM
gdgdad gdgdad is offline
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: West Central FL (near gulf)
Posts: 61
Default Status and thoughts on Aeroponic

Stan, sorry for the delayed response. We’ve had 2 waves of visitors over the last 4 weeks! Family “escaping” their state’s “Lockdown”! I’d tried posting yesterday, but the site was down, and even as I post this it seems to be running slow.

Going full aeroponic for tomatoes will be interesting.
Are you running the pvc completely through the bucket, then 2 sprayers on each side of the netcup?

Given how massive the tomato plants get, the cages will have to be strong and not be supported by the buckets. I actually “hung” my tomato cages from a 2X2 that goes across the green house (see pics). Without perlite as a base, I’d worry the weight of the plant at the net cup/bucket lid would push the net cup through. I was able to re-coup easily 90% of the perlite when I changed plants, only replaced the paint stariner bags.

I’ll be following your progress closely. I believe the aeroponic approach would actually be better, no roots growing up into and clogging hose lines, and I swear the plants grow faster in the aeropnic cloner bucket. But, as I learned on my aeroponic rail system, I’d devise a way to easily access and change sprayers. My next design will have capped access holes over the sprayers, and I’ve already fabricated a tool to reach down into the rail and extract and replace the sprayer quickly. I’ve also learned lessons on what to grow and not grow in a rail system. Some plants get massive, overwhelm the rails covering other net cup “slots”. I’m sticking to small lettuce, small herbs & spices (the Peppermint got massive!!) and we’ve had great results with (and love to eat) the Bok Choy.
As usual, the nutrient/ water consumption is phenomenal! Dutch Buckets alone 462 gallons since November 1st. Lastly, I’m currently growing 2 Tear Drop, 1 cherry and 2 different Beef Steak tomatoes (see pics). I’m definitely exploring an aeroponic system to grow things like summer squash, small “8 ball” water mellon. It would have to have broad spacing between plants, or maybe even moving away from PVC pipe or rail to individual buckets smaller than 5 gallon. We wanted things like Broccoli and Brussel sprouts, but not sure how to accommodate the height/weight. Keep me (and the blog) posted on your progress. Good luck!

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Old 06-10-2020, 08:49 PM
Stan Stan is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 199

I have grown tomato plants, peppers and strawberries using the rail system pics posted here.

The plants would get to a certain height and then would stop growing due to the rail being filled with roots. Thats why I had switched to dutch buckets and stayed with it for a while. Even though I got excellent amount of tomatoes using dutch bucket I felt aeroponic could possibly almost double the amount and thats the reason why I am taking a big risk doing it this way. Today I had to change the way each bucket drains as it was getting clogged with some of the hydroton on the bottom of each bucket.

The net pots will hold no matter how big the plants get the lids are very solid not flimsy. The tomato cages I have had them the past couple years they are super strong and will be screwed into the wood planks so they won't move.

I have the lids just sitting on top of the 5 gallon buckets so I can check to see if any sprayers are getting clogged. The loose lids are also so I can check the roots and move them away from the drains so they don't grow into them.

So far the plants have shot up and the roots system is getting pretty big. I have plucked off a ton of suckers from all the plants. I took 1 of the suckers today from the big heirloom plant and put it inside a rockwool cube and surrounded with hydroton placed it in the very last bucket at the end of the line. I put a small wire cage around and placed a cover on top so the plant does not get hit with direct sunlight until I see roots growing out the sides of the net pot.

Posted below 3 pics the first is from May 28th same date as the prior pics I posted. The pics will look down the line of plants from above. The other 2 pics were taken today. You can easily see the difference in the height of the plants and the root system inside the buckets after only 13 days.

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Last edited by Stan; 06-10-2020 at 08:55 PM.
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