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Stan 01-10-2019 12:58 AM

Yes Verti gro has been doing vertical hydro for a while. I’ve been buying the nutrients from them for a while cause it works real well. I’ve never had to go full strength with their nutrients I only go as high as 3/4.

You can only use suckers not the branches to start new plants.

gdgdad 01-11-2019 03:05 PM

Post flush update & question
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The plants seem to continue to “recover”…. easily the top 1/3 of each plant is lush green, fuzzy, no yellowing on the leaves (see pics). I went through and counted all the flowers I could find (albeit some VERY small) and came up with 35 (again see pics). That’s across all the plants, one plant alone having 12, and 1 an actual tomato (no end rot either!). I know there should be more than twice that many flowers, but I’ll take whatever goes all the way to fruition. On cloning the suckers - what’s a good “length” range to place them into the cloner? I’m leaving all the suckers I see right now (only 3 or 4 since trimming, most not over an inch) until the parts I ordered to re-assemble the cloner come in. Cool nights are still forcing me to wheel them into the garage at night. The reservoir sprung a leak, so I replaced it with a much higher quality Tote, and mounted it on a “skid” plate for moving. I was concerned I might be over watering (some droopy leaves when I first got back) so 2 days ago I changed watering to off 30 / on 5 - your thoughts on that and what signs do you go by to tell you to little / too much water? Thanks!
PS - Whats the secret to getting pictures to rotate how you want them? I'll rotate them in a different app, save, and they still come in sideways!

Stan 01-12-2019 03:58 AM

Great you probably saved the plants right ontime.

Suckers can be 3 - 4 inch to put in rockwool cube.

Depending on the heat if it’s how 5 on 30 off if it’s cool 3 on 30 off.

Just look at the leaves of the plant they will tell you if it’s healthy or not.

Giuffre 01-24-2019 08:28 AM

How long does the recovery take in cases like this btw? Days? Weeks?

Stan 01-24-2019 09:26 AM


Originally Posted by Giuffre (Post 14884)
How long does the recovery take in cases like this btw? Days? Weeks?

With these plants you will notice a difference in the leaves within 1 - 3 days at the most. A complete full recovery will take a little longer. When the plants get adjusted to the new nutrients they will flourish but will be very top heavy with tomatoes due to starting these nutrients late. Still should be able to get plenty of tomatoes.

gdgdad 01-24-2019 05:13 PM

Ready to clone, questions and update...
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Stan, Let me apologize in advance for the long post. Parts finally arrived to “resurrect” the Aeropnoic Cloner. I’ve “identified” six suckers for cloning, just waiting until the smallest of the six get to the 3 to 4 inches you suggested. Question on cloning nutrients: Being these are suckers not seeds / seedlings, should I stay with the Vertigro formula at some decreased strength, or revert back to MiracleGro® - again at some decreased strength? I’ll also use whichever nutrient mix (PH balanced of course) to pre-soak the Rockwool cubes the suckers will go into.

Question on sucker to cloner “technique”: I see a method out there using the neoprene collars alone (would have to be in a net cup with bottom cut out), but you mentioned using Rockwool cubes. Do you drill a hole in the rockwool cube (roughly diameter of sucker)? My concern on the cube is possibly water spraying out the sides (square cube in round netcup). In both methods I assume an inch or two of the sucker “dangles” in the cloner spray area – is that correct? Any suggestions?

On the Dutch buckets, I’m adding Epsom salts @ a ratio of 1.06 gram per gallon of the nutrient, which I believe roughly equates to your suggested “3 tablespoons in a 48 gallon….”. Other info: I’m using the VertiGro nutrients at full strength, and everything seems A-OK, tops of plants seem lush, green and healthy (see pics). The 3 tomatoes I have are one plant, and seem OK. Other plants are starting flowers (again see pics).

Thanks again for all your help and advice! gdgdad

Stan 01-24-2019 06:39 PM

The plants are looking very good they have great color on top and lots trichomes which is a great indicator the plants are healthy.

With the suckers I will cut the rockwool from any side to the center split open with fingers insert sucker close rockwool insert into net cup and top off with hydroton. You can also do away with the rockwool just put the sucker in the net cup and fill with hydroton all around. You don’t need to extend the sucker deeper than the net pot. I prefer getting lots of uniform roots I find this is best way. I’ve had bad luck using neoprene collars so I trashed them.

As for nutrients for the suckers you can either go back to miracle grow at 1/8 strength or do the same with the Verti-gro again 1/8 strength. You want to water these’s a lot at first until you see multiple roots.

You don’t need to go full strength for long with the nutrients i usually go with 3/4 strength and only full strength if I see a lack of flowers but because of the set back remain at full until you think you have enough future tomatoes that will grow. In future grows only go up to 3/4 strength at the most.

You’ve done an amazing job!!! Can’t wait to see a pick of your first ripe tomato.

gdgdad 02-09-2019 11:38 AM

Update and progress report
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Stan, just an update and progress report. Plants are lush and full, and there’s 3 seemingly healthy tomatoes and many flowers. I regularly vibrate the flowers with the electric toothbrush in hopes of further pollinating the plants. We’ve been in low 80’s with LOTS of sun lately and I’ve had a hard time keeping the reservoir temp below 80. I’ve since added the foil (windshield sun blockers you suggested) to the buckets and reservoir, and have been dropping in a frozen quart container (of water) into the reservoir daily. Reservoir temps holding in mid to upper 70’s now. Going to be a challenge in just a few weeks! The plants seem to have been sucking up the water big time – I swear they drank 3 gallons in 3 days, but I’ll bet some was lost via evaporation. I have to check water level daily. As you can see from the pics, this setup looks like it’s ready for space or lunar surface! I’m still bringing them in at night, then out again in the morning when we’re 60 degrees or above. Can’t wait to move these into the backyard in a “semi-permanent” location. Thanks again for all your help. GDG

gdgdad 02-18-2019 01:51 PM

The big move!!!
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FINALLY – the tomatoes have been moved from the garage into a “semi-permanent” location in the back yard (see picks). Temps down here have been in the low 80’s during the day with plenty of sunshine, and low 60’s at night. It’s expected to stay that way for easily the next 10 days, with nighttime lows going into the 50’s briefly after that. I’ll be making (again temporary) a green house before then for future dips below 55. I cannot believe the nutrient solution being consumed – I’m adding 5 gallons every-other-day. I have plenty of flowers and about a week ago I reduced nutrients to ¾ strength, and have been adding ~ 1 gram of Epsom Salts per gallon, and maintaining PH at 6.5 (PH seems to holding steady – very little adjustment). A neighbor, who was an actual farmer in Jamaica, has been teaching me pruning and thinning techniques. The plants are so lush and full they’re suffocating themselves! 6 tomatoes so far, one starting to turn red. We’re training the plants to grow sideways – some are more than 5 feet long – trellising has been a challenge. As I expected, maintaining reservoir temp has been difficult, I’ve gone from a quart container of ice to 1 gallon (daily) – and can barely maintain temps under 72 during the day. I’ll re-post following the green house construction. gdgdad

Stan 02-21-2019 01:58 PM

I’m surprised I didn’t get a notification about your post like I usually do. Luckily I came here to take a look.

The plants look great!! As I mentioned in an earlier post you will need a bigger reservoir as tomatoes will suck up a lot of water. If you can bury a little 100 gallon water tank (pic below) or have it above ground in the shade or wrapped with reflective material or aluminum foil you wouldn’t have to constantly add water. It could be used this time of the year till it starts to get cold again.

Those plants will start to get very heavy when tomatoes start growing all over like crazy. I use heavy gauge cattle fencing in order to make round tomato cages for each plant. You can see them in my pics with the Dutch buckets. You will also need to separate the plants more for your next outdoor grow then go back to this during the colder months.

Once you see the plants are completely full with tomatoes cut down the nutes between 1/4 and 1/2. This is the time to add an extension with more 5 gallon buckets with new plants in them being fed the nutes. By the time you’ve picked your last tomato from this group you should already have plenty of tomatoes forming in the next group.

See I told you it’s easy. When using the right nutes the plants take care of themselves. Great work with this being your first attempt. You will get better and better after each grow. Keep a log book of the temps amount of plants and how much nutes you use and how much approximately each plant takes in of water. You will eventually know How much nutes you need during the full grow cycle.

Now I want to see pucks of some of the tomatoes you get. Cut them open and see how juicy they are and since you’ve been adding the epsom salt they will taste amazing!


Stan 02-21-2019 02:07 PM

You can usually find those food grade water tanks used for less than $50 and as low as $25.

gdgdad 02-22-2019 10:53 AM

Update, modifications and future plans
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Good to hear from you Stan, I was worried you’d left the forum! I did pick my first tomato, albeit rather small (2.29 oz.), it was bright red, the other tomatoes (still green) are much larger. On the reservoir, I’m looking into one of those plastic 55 gallon drums (the blue ones you’ve seen). My neighbor works for the county and got me a steel one years ago for a fire pit, I’m certain he can get plastic ones. I would plan on burying that but will have to make sure the pump cord is long enough and the pump has the strength for the additional height. On the trellis – I’ve added framework overhead (see pics) to allow trellising out further while maintaining “mobility”. I still have concerns about a bad storm. Also, I have to maintain a balance of visual esthetics and functionality – the wife doesn’t want anything looking “junk yard”. I’ve learned a LOT from this and my next bucket design will be radically different, and I intended to incorporate cattle fencing. As for the next batch, I wanted to use the seeds you sent me in a 5 bucket system, I’m looking around for 3 gallon containers this time (any suggestions?). I’ve not started your seeds in the cloner yet but will do soon. I’m not sure how long I can expect these plants to produce and I was afraid of getting too many going at once. I need to make a timeline predicting harvest backwards (accounting for hydroponics being faster). On the log book, I keep an Excel spreadsheet recording nutes (water) usage, % of nutes, PH and reservoir temp. Since I’ve moved them outside, I notice I have to lower PH – opposite of having to raise it constantly. One thing I have to get better at is the pruning and thinning out. Fortunately I have my neighbor – formerly a farmer in Jamaica – helping. I knew they were WAY to full and bushy, literally choking themselves, he thinned them out (and removed suckers) filling two grocery bags with “clippings”. It was hard to watch, but I've learned a lot. The new trellising allows us to train branches outward instead of only between the buckets. I’ll keep you posted on progress and new batch.

Stan 02-23-2019 01:38 AM

Yes when you went to full strength nutes the plants starts taking off producing tons of suckers that become almost uncontrollable. Mine last year got out of control as the grew to tall for me to reach. This year my plants will be more separated and I will go with less plants.

Be careful with the blue 55 gallon plastic barrels most of them were not good grade and were used to transport some type of liquid cleaning solution. Try to get the brick red 55 gallon they are food grade and were used for transporting olives or some other type food.

gdgdad 02-26-2019 06:57 PM

Reservoir upgrade, weather and status
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Stan, I went with a white 55 gal drum from Rural King, listed as “….for use as rain barrel…”. It did have an acrid odor to it so as a safety measure, I filled it with water and 3 gallons of vinegar to soak overnight (on line said that would take care of most chemicals) then the next day emptied and refilled adding a gallon of bleach to again soak overnight. Smells like plastic now. I made an access lid, mounted the pump, heater and air stones on a piece of tile and it’s ready to go (see pics). We had a cool front move in so I had to scramble to make a temporary “hoop style” greenhouse (parts of which will be used for a permanent one late summer). Temps did drop to upper 40’s overnight, but the small heater I used actually kept it too warm – it was 90 when I checked first thing in the morning – I’ll set it correctly next time. My timing was lucky however – ironically after many days of upper 80’s, they’re predicting a VERY COLD front coming, in 8 or 9 days – temps possibly into upper 30’s!! The weather’s been a roller coaster – we’ll be in 80’s before then! But barrel will be in ground, heated and operational - well before then. I have a remote thermometer scheduled to arrive tomorrow so I can monitor temp inside the “sealed” greenhouse. As of yesterday, every plant has tomatoes, ranging in size from just a little larger than a pea, to the size of an apple – all shiny green. I’m really optimistic I’m going to get a half decent production despite the setback late December / early January. Thanks again for all the help! GDG

Stan 02-26-2019 10:14 PM

If you’re going to bury the 55 gallon barrel in the ground I don’t believe you would need a heater for the water. You could paint the top of the barrel black so during cold months the sun should keep the water warm enough. During hot summer months you would want to put reflective sheet or same as you used for 5 gallon buckets to reflect the sun so it doesn’t get hot.

gdgdad 02-27-2019 08:01 PM

New tank in and concerns about a few tomatoes…..
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Stan, the new “tank” is in the ground (see pics). Whew what a job! Forgive the temporary electrical arrangement, but it started raining and I had to scramble. I’m assuming (hoping) filling it near to the top is the 55 gallons. I’m going to look for some type of flow gauge for the end of the hose. I mixed nutrients (¾ strength) for 55 gallons, and 1 gram Epsom salt per gallon. I’m down to ¾ a gallon of each concentrate mix – looks like another drive to Vertigro® soon… Also, it took ¼ quart of PH UP to get the PH to 6.2 . Post "fill and PH adjust", water temp was 74, I’m debating adding a frozen gallon – your thoughts? It’s a whole new ball game working with this volume! I’ve covered the tank’s top in foil insulation, and the heater’s in there “just in case” (we will briefly see 30’s this time next week they’re saying!!!) I’m praying my heater in the sealed “greenhouse” can keep it at 60f or above. I’m pretty confident – the visqueen is a really heavy mill, and on a high 40’s morning it was 90 inside. My remote thermometer arrived and I can monitor the temp inside without opening the visqueen. On the tomatoes… one has a “powdery” black spot (sort of "smuggy"), and two others have what looks like “indention's” on the bottom (see pics). These are the only tomatoes I see with any anomalies – the rest look shiny and clear. Hopefully this is something I’ve spotted in time. Your thoughts / suggestions? Remove these tomatoes? I still have the Neem® oil. Thanks again for all your help! GDG

Stan 02-27-2019 10:15 PM

Almost out of nutrients? Something doesn’t seem right. I start growing in May and go all the way into late October and never used a gallon of nutrients that whole time using a reservoir that holds 45 gallons of water. You must be over feeding those plants you don’t need to do that cut down the amount of nutrients you use. You can also sometimes go more that a week depending what stage of growing you are in.

Great job on the 55 gallon reservoir!

gdgdad 02-28-2019 10:38 AM

Disaster recovery mode, possibly moot tomato question
Stan, I did indeed make a mistake on the nutrients. In my haste I used the per 5 gallon ratio (1.88 oz p/ gal for ¾ strength) to a per gallon mix in the drum. I discovered this after your post about 9 am this morning - THANK YOU - and scrambled to completely drain the tank, wet-vac out the bottom, and refill with straight water. I also have the pump running continuously to hopefully flush out or at least dilute the concentration. I salvaged what nutrient mix I could with every bucket and container I had that would hold water. Incredibly stupid mistake – hope I haven’t burned them out. This may be a moot point now, but last post I mentioned three tomatoes, one with a black “smug” on the bottom, and two with irregular shaped indention's. The pictures aren’t great (again rushing to beat the rain) but I can re-take closer and clearer if that would help. Any thoughts on those? pull them?

Stan 02-28-2019 02:04 PM

Luckily you saved most of the water otherwise this would be an expensive grow for you. Now you will need to calculate how much of that saved nutrient solution you’ll need to add every week or 2. Hopefully the mistake hasn’t caused any damage.

The brownish marks on the bottom of the tomatoes is called blossom end rot. My guess the tomatoes that have it were the ones that were already on the plant when you were still using miracle grow. Do you see any on newer tomatoes using the new nutrients? If yes you will need to add a little lime to the reservoir so any new tomato growth will not have blossom end rot. This video not the most exciting video but it explains why blossom end rot happens. It also shows you how to make a solution (wear a mask) to stop it from happening to other tomatoes. Add a gallon of the solution to the 55 gallon barrel just one time if you see those brown spots on other tomatoes.


The other tomato with what looks like a crater is called catfacing. It can be caused by temp changes also by excessive nitrogen levels. My guess in your case temp changes. Those tomatoes can still be grown and eaten. You will probably have to cut the bottoms off when they have ripened then eat the rest. I’ve had some of them on my plants I wouldn’t worry much about them. Just don’t over ripen them cause they might split.

gdgdad 02-28-2019 05:12 PM

Disaster recovery status
Stan, thanks for the quick reply. I watched the video and immediately following ran up to my local Rural Farm and picked up a bag. Mixed the ¼ cup to a gallon, and added it to the 55 gallon drum (though from what I could see, her reservoir looked much smaller). As she said, the PH shot up - It went to 9.2 ! I waited a while, re-checked then added every last drop of my PH down and brought it down to 6.7 (still too high). I’ve ordered a quart but that will take days. I’m trying to find it locally but never had luck before, everything around here is for pools and aquariums. There is a hydroponics supply just under an hour away, I may have to take the drive. I’ll check PH again in the morning. Lastly, water temp has been holding at 74, so I dropped in a frozen gallon jug, that brought it down to 72 in about an hour. If these tomatoes survive, controlling reservoir temp will be a challenge. Thanks again GDG

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