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

Stan 10-18-2018 09:25 PM

Seedlings are looking good,

I have never used bleach but I've read many people do. I use a 5 gallon paint strainer bag in all my 5 gallon buckets. At the end of the growing season I rinse all out with fresh water and let it dry up on the ground in the strainer bag. When dry I pour the perlite out of the bags into an extra large trash can and leave it out for the winter then do everything all over again for the following spring.


Since you're down in a warm climate all year that wont work so you are probably better off using a little bit of bleach. I would check the perlite at the bottom of the container first to see if it needs cleaning.

gdgdad 10-22-2018 10:01 AM

Varmint issue, remedy and status
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Stan, had some kind of varmint get on the bucket, scatter the Hydroton all over the lid, knocked down the two tallest plants – breaking one. I’m pissed. Made a cage (see pics) and “propped up” the tallest plant with a wooden skewer. Tallest plant seems to be doing OK, just too weak to stay vertical on it’s own. One of the sprouts is starting “true leaves”. I’ve also started yet another seed(s) where the varmint broke my seedling (fresh rockwool cube soaked in 6.0 ph of course). Temps really cooling down, mid 80’s all week, upper 70’s all next week.

Stan 10-23-2018 09:00 AM

That sucks! That’s why I build the larger cloner as I can pick and choose the healthiest of each tomato plant variety to be moved to Dutch bucket.

I had squirrels decimate my giant heirloom tomatoes this year. I was only able to get 6 ripe tomatoes in the beginning then the squirrels started chowing down on any tomato that started to ripen. I must’ve thrown out at least 40+lbs of giant heirloom tomatoes. They didn’t touch the cherry tomatoes luckily for me. Next year I plan to set up low voltage wiring around the bottom so when they try to climb up they’ll get a small shock that will keep them away but won’t kill or injure them.

gdgdad 10-28-2018 04:10 PM

Update / status of seedlings
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It’s October 28th. And here’s where the seedling are at (see pics). The tallest is just under 5” tall, but still no roots coming out of the rockwool cube- see pic #3. Three other seedlings are "barely" starting new leaves. Things cooled down significantly here (west central Florida) so I moved the Aeroponic cloner into the garage. The garage is south facing so temp stays in the low 80’s range. Because the garage is typically shut from late afternoon until 9 or 10 in the morning, I’ve added back in the CFL lighting (via timer) from garage closure to midnight, and then on again at 6 am until garage is opened. Just started that today – any concerns? It just seems these seedlings are growing so slow….

Stan 10-28-2018 07:02 PM

Ok how cool is it actually getting? I’ve had a cloner outdoors in 55 degrees.

Roots should already be seen the pics of the leaves look like a pale green and not a darker healthier green. If this is true then you need the timer I posted earlier set it for 30 seconds on 15 minutes off running like that 24 hours a day with nutrient water that is ph checked.This will basically flush any water thats in the rockwool out and replacing it with fresh nutrient water. Whatever roots you have in the rockwool will suck up the nutrients more often making the plant healthier.

gdgdad 10-28-2018 09:50 PM

Timer ordered, but in the meantime.....
Thanks Stan, I broke down and ordered that timer off Amazon as we speak, should be here between 11/1 & 11/6. As far as temperature this morning, it could have been as low as 48 / 49, I’m not positive – but 50 to me is cold! On the nutrient, when I last “flushed” the bucket 10/17, the fresh water I put in was balanced PH at 6.0, and ¼ strength nutrient (Miracle Grow for tomatoes). The color is indeed NOT a rich dark green, and some leaves seem slightly wilted. Now….. I’ve not checked the PH since the flush, but I’ve not had to add water either. In a “static” system, do I need to still check PH periodically? In the mean time before my new timer comes, I can increase the spray cycles up to ten per day with my current timer, minimum 1 minute duration's. Every time I’ve checked, cubes were wet or saturated. Also, I currently have the aerator running only while the sprayers are, vs 7/24. As I said in the last post, I re-introduced the CFL lights when not in indirect sun light (except for nighttime) because the seedlings were always leaning / stretching toward indirect sunlight. I “rotate” the bucket daily to get them to lean the other way. The seedlings seem to be growing frustratingly slow – but I’m determined and hangin’ in there… all advice appreciated..

Stan 10-28-2018 10:35 PM

49!degrees yes you need to move them in. Keep the lights as low as you can get to the top of the plant so they don’t get stretchy. They were looking good and should’ve had much more growth so yes I would Check the ph maybe every 2 days and as I mentioned earlier increase the watering cycle to as many times as you can till you get the other on/off timer. If you don’t notice a difference within 2 days increase the amount of nutrients you are putting in the reservoir just a little bit more to see if any changes happen a day or 2 later. Like I said earlier you should’ve been able to see some roots sprouting from the rockwool by now.

gdgdad 10-29-2018 10:31 AM

Timer adjust, PH balance & nutrient strength
Stan, turns out my digital timer only has 8 programmable times per day. However, my mechanical timers can go on/off in 15 minute duration's. So… until the new timer arrives it seems I can only water too little or too much. I’ve set the digital timer back to evenly dispersed durations during daylight and 1 nighttime duration (all 1 minute on durations) as follows:
Time on Time off
1:00 AM 1:01 AM
7:30 AM 7:31 AM
9:30 AM 9:31 AM
11:30 AM 11:31 AM
1:30 PM 1:31 PM
3:30 PM 3:31 PM
5:30 PM 5:31 PM
7:30 PM 7:31 PM
Again, every time I’ve checked, the cubes are wet to saturated, but If you think going “mechanical” with minimum 15 minute “on” durations is better, let me know. Also, before I check PH today (which I will adjust to 6.0 if necessary), you mentioned changing the nutrient strength. I had the nutrient at ¼ strength. What percent would you recommend increasing it to? Thanks!

gdgdad 10-30-2018 11:36 AM

10/30/18 update
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Flushed and replaced aeroponic cloner bucket nutrient solution. I increased nutrient to 50% strength, PH adjusted to 6.0 (as always). Prior to flushing the system, I checked the PH and it had increased to 6.3. I’ll be checking PH every 2 days in the future – need to get my hands on a turkey baster to pull out samples for testing PH, that way I only need to pop out a net cup. Bucket has been wrapped with reflective cover (car sun shield) as suggested. Waiting for the new timer.....

gdgdad 11-02-2018 01:15 PM

ROOTS!!! at last
3 Attachment(s)
The largest plant has a couple roots between 2 and 3 inches long -finally. New timer hasn't arrived yet so sprayers are only running eight times a day right now, 1 minute durations. I do run them briefly, manually, in between the 2 hour intervals if I happen to be in the garage. Apologize for the poor pics, it's difficult to hold the netcup and cell phone simultaneously, but look closely or zoom, and they should be visible.

Stan 11-02-2018 05:17 PM

Great as you can see the increased watering has given the seedlings enough fresh water and nutrients to absorb. Soon you will see roots coming out of the sides of the net pots when that happens the stems will start to get thick.

gdgdad 11-08-2018 09:01 PM

Update - timer in and on....
3 Attachment(s)
Timer arrived and is installed. Currently running 24/7, 15 min off - 5 sec on. Will switch timer to "daytime" only mode tomorrow - with one caveat; I still run the CFL's after I've "shut down" the garage (on a separate timer) until midnight, then on again at 6am., until I "open" the garage in the morning. Plants are in full sun during day now and seem to be doing good. Adjusted PH today, it scooted up to 6.5, so I lowered it to 5.8, but I did not flush the bucket, simply added PH down. Tallest plant has 1 or 2 roots about 3" long. I will test tomorrow to see if the new Spartan Repeat Cycle Timer is "fooled" by the CFL's and continues to run until CFL's shut off. Otherwise I have to come up with a plan B, i.e. likely running the Spartan Repeat Cycle Timer off the CFL timer (cascading the timers). Not certain how the Spartan will react (recover?) from power loss and return. Attached current pics.

Stan 11-12-2018 09:03 PM

The plants are looking really good and healthy. You’ll be seeing a lot more root mass pretty soon. Try adding a pinch more nutrients to the water and the plants will start shooting up. You’re doing great!!

gdgdad 11-14-2018 03:21 PM

Concern on yellow tips and TDS meter question
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Stan, While changing and adjusting PH today, I noticed some slight yellowing of the tips on the largest tomato plant (see pics). I’ve been checking PH every other day and notice it creeps up to as much as 6.5 and once 6.7 (I always adjust to 5.9 to 6.0), nutrient started at 50%. I’m going to start checking and tracking PH daily. I’ve not been checking the nutrient level since I have no means to. Your thoughts on a TDS meter – do you use one? Or is it better to simply “flush” the bucket contents weekly or some other interval? Just an FYI – largest plant is just over 7”, shortest 5” – and I’ve added a pic of the entire bucket, lastly - timing cycle remains 15 min off / 5 to 7 sec on during day. Thanks!

Stan 11-14-2018 08:16 PM

Have you checked to see if the 360 degree sprayers are working correctly? If not use a toothpick to clear them out. If sprayers are fine increase the time the sprayers are on maybe 45 seconds to a minute. Change water in the bucket every 2 weeks. Only give plants 1/4 dose of nutrients.

gdgdad 11-20-2018 07:46 PM

Concerned over spotting & update
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Stan, Installed an aquarium heater today (nights getting cooler) and I noticed one of the plants has some “whiteish” spots, almost like a blemish – see pics. Hard to believe it could be bugs – halfway through November – but I am in Florida…. Overall plants are doing well, tallest is 9”, the rest easily 7”, all seem full and dark green, stems are getting fat – I believe I might be near Dutch bucket time. Some roots are long, but there’s not a thick batch of roots like I’ve seen shown on some on-line aeroponic cloner videos. My roots are sort of like 4 or 5 inch “scragglers” per net cup. On the white spot, hopefully I don’t have to introduce an insecticide, but I do have some Spectracide malathion for vegetables unless you have better suggestions. Thanks!

Stan 11-21-2018 01:30 AM

Use Neem oil or you can make your own mixture 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons of dawn soap then fill the rest of spray bottle with water. Spray under side of leaves. Plants look to be ready to transplant to Dutch bucket.

gdgdad 11-24-2018 07:08 PM

The “big move” – aeroponic to Dutch buckets
7 Attachment(s)
Stan, moved 4 of the plants from the cloner into the Dutch bucket system today. Turned out to be a bigger project then I envisioned. Just balancing the PH in the 14 gal reservoir was a challenge. Based on return line flow, pump’s pushing ~ 42 gph, so after each PH down I added, I had to wait about 20 minutes to account for water in the buckets before re-testing. Finally got the PH to 5.9, and I’m running nutrients at ¼ strength. Anyway, the flow works out to ~10 gph per bucket, each has dual feeds. On the timer, I’ve set it for 15min off / 5 min on - too much? Daytime temps have been in the middle to upper 70’s, night time upper 40’s low 50’s, but garage rarely gets below 60 and I have an aquarium heater and aerator running 24/7. You can see in the pics the setup is in the garage at the door (facing south). I’ve read during this transition they don’t want a lot of sun/light – if you feel differently, please advise. I know there will be some type of reaction to the move, but not sure what to expect. Lastly, purchased and applied the neem, and will re-apply in a week. Let me know if you have any other suggestions or tips – in the meantime “fingers crossed”.

Stan 11-25-2018 03:02 AM

You’re using perlite correct? Did you give the perlite and complete drenching of fresh water before putting the plants in? Reason being fresh perlite is very dusty it needs to be flushed throughly. Most likely reaso for fluctuation with ph.

Put plants in full sun if only in the 70’s. 15 off 5 on is ok you can lower it down to 2 minutes on if you can but start with 5 minutes for now. It will take 9 - 14 days for you to see some growth as the plants need to adjust to new enviorement. They will skyrocket after that. That’s when you go to 3/4 nutrients.

gdgdad 11-27-2018 09:29 PM

Transplant to Dutch bucket update
2 Attachment(s)
Stan, 4 days since the move and plants appear OK (see pics). Applied another dose of Neem, seen white area but may have been the original one. Since the day I moved them we’ve had incredibly high winds, even in the garage I had to close the door ¾’s the way. Tonight and tomorrow exceptionally cold but garage will stay above 60F, and the reservoir has an aquarium heater. Adjusted timer (today) to 15m off – 2m on per your advice, I’ve also added a couple standard 4’ fluorescent bench lights to (hopefully) supplement the lack of sun light. Seems the PH is finally stabilizing, did not have to add as much PH down to get it back to 5.9. Question on epson salts – you mentioned a while back adding some, you have a recommended amount per gallon? Lastly, in a previous post you mentioned you had some tomato seeds from your plants that produced 3 lb. fruit. If they’re still available I’d like ask for some – if this goes well (and I’m optimistic) I want to start another bank of Dutch buckets in time for spring. Please let me know and thanks again for all your help!

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