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Help?: Hydroponic Tomato Problem, Pictures and Log


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  #1  
Old 03-30-2010, 11:19 PM
widespreadpanic widespreadpanic is offline
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Default Help?: Hydroponic Tomato Problem, Pictures and Log

I'm new to hydroponics and I seem to be killing my young tomato plants. Here's my setup: I have an ebb and flow system (greentree hydro) to be exact. Hydroton medium. I'm doing it outdoors fueled by sunlight. The information I came across said that tomatoes ideally like and E.C. of 2.0-3.5, and a ph of 5.8-6.3 and a 50 gallon reservoir temp of 65-75.

I'm using general hydroponics maxigrow for the vegetative state of the plants. I seem to be killing them. I'm wondering if my nutrient levels are too high for the age of the plants? The E.C. is between 1.5 - 2.0. The PPM is 1000-1400. My PH has been around 5.5-6.5.

I started my seedlings in my Aerogarden and I tested it and the PPm was at like 5000 and they were doing great in there? It has me perplexed, I know the aerogarden is dummy proof, so I am assuming the nutrient levels can be high there but very mild so they won't burn the plants? Can anybody help? I posted pics of plants below. They are not before and after, they are two different plants as well as my log of what I've been doing. Thanks in advance.






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Old 03-31-2010, 03:13 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I cant tell much from the chart, I just don't know how exactly it is you keep records. By looking at it, I see two pH levels for each day so I can't tell what is going on there. Also I have no idea what the values under fertilizer refer to, but anyway.

A 50 gallon reservoir is huge for two small plants, but not a problem. If you are maintaining the pH between 5.5-6.5 you should be fine there. If the nutrient temp is kept between 65F and 75F continuously, you should be OK there also. Though 75F is at the upper edge, and I would prefer it to be lower. I don't use PPM/TDS/EC meters myself, and I'm not real familiar with maxigrow nutrients. But if I'm not mistaken the directions recommend 1 tsp per gallon for the maxigrow. With plants that small you could probably do fine on 1/2 to 1/3 the recommended mix.

What is the air temp?
What is the watering cycles?
How high does the water level get with each cycle?
Is it humid, Is there good air flow?
Do the leaves wet?
Do the plants get plenty of good light?
Do you see any pests or bugs on them?
Are the plants cool weather or warm weather variety's?
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:17 AM
widespreadpanic widespreadpanic is offline
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Thanks for responding. I have a greentree hydroponic system with 18 buckets. As of now I have 4 cherokee purple plants in one of my three rows of six pots.
I cut off the other 12 buckets piping b/c I don't have a plant for them. I originally started by keeping my 55 gallon drum only 25 gallons full to save on nutrients; but, later I decided I should use the 55 gallon drum and get used to adjusting the nutrients/ph/ec.

I need help, here's how to explain my chart:

1)the air temp is measured in the column that says: high/low, h/l, or 60/49

2) I'm watering every 3 hours for 16 hours during the day, then I water twice every 4 hours during the night.

3) the water cycle floods way above the roots of the veg.plants that I started in my aerogarden. I later buried the root base at the bottom 2 inches of hydroton in the buckets, thinking I could bury them like I do my "earth" tomato plants.

4) It's been very humid and rainy and windy. Yesterday it rained 2.64 inches in 24 hours and the wind was blowing 40 MPH. I have plastic wrap around the plants to protect them from the wind.

5)I don' t know what it means do the plants wet?

6)I think the lights alright, although I'm trying to jump start the season here on Hatteras Island, NC. 27936

7)no bugs man, this is user error for sure!

8) the variety is Cherokee Purple Heirloom Mater'
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Old 03-31-2010, 04:02 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Quote:
1)the air temp is measured in the column that says: high/low, h/l, or 60/49
So I take it that the air temp is ranging from 66 to 43 degrees at the moment.
Quote:
2) I'm watering every 3 hours for 16 hours during the day, then I water twice every 4 hours during the night.
Watering every 3 hours, but for how long is the pump pumping at a time (5 min, 30 min, 60 min etc.). I am asking because I'm wondering if the roots are being suffocated. Also with only one watering in 3 hours (unless it's a long one) they might not be getting enough water. Both situations could be a problem? It looks like you are watering more at night. With once for 3 hours during day, and twice in 4 hours at night (in other words, once every 2 hours at night). That would be odd, especially when the plants don't really need it at night.

P.S. Are you using an air pump and stone in the nutrient reservoir?
Quote:
3) the water cycle floods way above the roots of the veg.plants that I started in my aerogarden. I later buried the root base at the bottom 2 inches of hydroton in the buckets, thinking I could bury them like I do my "earth" tomato plants.
Not sure how deep the buckets are. I wanted to know where the water level in the buckets was in relation to the top of the growing medium. I was wondering if stem rot was setting in. Tomatoes are very susceptible to root and stem diseases and fungus, especially when small like that.
Quote:
4) It's been very humid and rainy and windy. Yesterday it rained 2.64 inches in 24 hours and the wind was blowing 40 MPH. I have plastic wrap around the plants to protect them from the wind.

5)I don' t know what it means do the plants wet?
Well that is what I meant. If the leaves and stems are wet all the time, fungus could set in and be quite damaging to small tomato plants like that. Humid conditions aid in fungus because the leaves and stems don't get a chance to really dry, so they remain wet continuously.
Quote:
8) the variety is Cherokee Purple Heirloom Mater'
I have no idea if that variety is a cool weather variety or not. Going by your chart and the maximum daytime high is 66 degrees, unless this is a cool weather variety it might not be suited for your cold conditions. You could either get a cool weather variety (if that isn't) or build a greenhouse for it, and heat the greenhouse.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:30 PM
le0n le0n is offline
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At a glance I would say it's a combination of too long between watering as the Hydratron doesn't appear to be holding much moisture and there could be heat build up inside the plastic around the Tomatoes, they need the air to circulate.

Cheers Leon...
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:04 PM
widespreadpanic widespreadpanic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
So I take it that the air temp is ranging from 66 to 43 degrees at the moment.
Watering every 3 hours, but for how long is the pump pumping at a time (5 min, 30 min, 60 min etc.). I am asking because I'm wondering if the roots are being suffocated. Also with only one watering in 3 hours (unless it's a long one) they might not be getting enough water. Both situations could be a problem? It looks like you are watering more at night. With once for 3 hours during day, and twice in 4 hours at night (in other words, once every 2 hours at night). That would be odd, especially when the plants don't really need it at night.

P.S. Are you using an air pump and stone in the nutrient reservoir?
Not sure how deep the buckets are. I wanted to know where the water level in the buckets was in relation to the top of the growing medium. I was wondering if stem rot was setting in. Tomatoes are very susceptible to root and stem diseases and fungus, especially when small like that.
Well that is what I meant. If the leaves and stems are wet all the time, fungus could set in and be quite damaging to small tomato plants like that. Humid conditions aid in fungus because the leaves and stems don't get a chance to really dry, so they remain wet continuously.
I have no idea if that variety is a cool weather variety or not. Going by your chart and the maximum daytime high is 66 degrees, unless this is a cool weather variety it might not be suited for your cold conditions. You could either get a cool weather variety (if that isn't) or build a greenhouse for it, and heat the greenhouse.
Thanks for all your help. I really, really appreciate you taking the time.

Answers to questions.

1)You are right about the air temps. I live in north carolina and it's getting warmer but not quite the ideal temp range yet.

2)I am "flooding" my plants for 15 minute intervals. I was confusing and incorrect with my schedule, let me restate. I flood my plants for 15 minutes every flooding. My schedule is 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 10pm, 2am.
I do not have an airstone, I was told it was not needed in an ebb and flow system where air is sucked in by the ebbing and flowing of the water through the hydroton. I do currently have a pump circulating the nutrients that will be hooked up to an aquarium chiller once the weather warms up.
3) the buckets are 12"-16" I think. I placed the plants all the way down in the bottom of the bucket and then poured in the hydroton around them. I did this b/c in my experience dirt growing maters that's a great way to get fast healthy root growth. Does it not work the same way hydro?

Thanks again for taking the time to try and help a noob. It's greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:09 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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No problem, I'm not an expert, but I try to help other people whenever I can. I'm still learning daily myself.
Quote:
I flood my plants for 15 minutes every flooding. My schedule is 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 10pm, 2am.
That wouldn't be over watering at all. In fact, I would be concerned that it wasn't enough. Weather plays a big factor in it, but I would probably want it to water at least once per hour, at 15 min ea (likely two, 15on/15off). I just wouldn't want it to flood more than 30 continuous minutes in any one cycle. If you see any signs of wilting, then when the water cycle starts again they perk up, that would indicate they aren't getting enough water. My tomatos are being watered 30 on/30 off during daylight, and 30 on every 3-4 hours at night. I would rather 15 min cycles but my timer only has 30 minute minimum on/off cycles.
Quote:
I do not have an airstone, I was told it was not needed in an ebb and flow system where air is sucked in by the ebbing and flowing of the water through the hydroton.
I wasn't sure what your watering cycles were when I asked about the air pump and stone. For your situation it wouldn't be necessary (it wouldn't hurt either though). It would make a difference if the flooding cycles were more than 30 min or the weather was much warmer. Air does in fact get sucked/pulled down into the growing medium when the flooding cycle drains. But if it were a long time before it drained, the roots would need to get all the oxygen from the water it could. Also the water molecules cant hold onto the oxygen molecules as well the warmer the water temp gets.
Quote:
the buckets are 12"-16" I think. I placed the plants all the way down in the bottom of the bucket and then poured in the hydroton around them. I did this b/c in my experience dirt growing maters that's a great way to get fast healthy root growth. Does it not work the same way hydro?
I know from growing tomato's in dirt myself, that roots will grow out of the stem portion of the plant when transplanting. But I only buried them a couple of inches extra deep. Sounds like you may have buried as much as a foot of the stem. Not sure how that will work out. It probably was a shock to the plant in any case. At worst, they might have developed stem rot, even with the cycle times you have.

P.S. The water level when the system is flooded should be about 2 inches below the top of the growing medium in order to help prevent root rot. That's high enough to water the root ball, but not soak the stem.

Assuming that these are not cold weather variety's, and your nutrient solution is mixed according to the directions. I would assume the problem is probably related to the weather. And without proper airflow to keep the plants dry, and the high humidity, they may have gotten a fungal disease as well. I'm not sure about the watering cycle because I haven't been keeping an eye on them to check for wilting, but that may play a part as well. If they did get a fungal disease, the plants are small enough that I would probably just replace them and start with healthy plants.

E-mail General Hydroponics directly at: tech@genhydro.com to be sure you are mixing the maxigrow nutrients correctly. You can also send them the pictures with your information to get there thoughts as well.

Here is a list of:
Tomato diseases and disorders
Disease Management in Home-Grown Tomatoes
Tomato Disease*Identification*Key-Fruit
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-01-2010 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:55 PM
widespreadpanic widespreadpanic is offline
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I can't begin to thank you enough for taking time to help me.

Super cool! I'm going to implement a few of the suggestions immediately.

a)I'm going to rip the sick guys out and start new plants, this time not burying them so deep in their buckets.

B)I am going to increase my watering frequency to every 2 hours during sunlight.

c)Fill more hydroton so that the flood level is 2 inches below the surface.

d)Remove the plastic and use it only when high winds are foretasted.

I'll post updates.
Thanks again.
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Old 04-02-2010, 12:10 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Not a problem.
For me, I would clean and sanitize the grow rocks, as well as the nutrient reservoir and pump. It would be a lot of work and a waist of nutrients but that's the only way I could be sure I got rid any fungus or bacteria, as well as of all the spores that might infect the new plants. Spores will still be in the air, but I would try to get rid of everything I could before replanting.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-02-2010 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:11 AM
widespreadpanic widespreadpanic is offline
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Here are a couple other cherokee purples I started vegetating in my aerogarden. Could the aero garden be the cause of my problems? Is it holding the fungas? Check out these stems? They seems strange. Could this be the source of my problem? Should I remove these two plants or is this something I don't need to worry about?



Also, here is a picture of one of my tomatoes after I removed the plastic wind shield, I upped the watering frequency to flood every 2 hours during daylight, and flood twice at night. It looks remarkably better to me, do you think it needs to removed?




I read somewhere online that the General Hydroponics line MaxiGrow
http://www.foothillhydroponics.com/booklet/booklet.pdf

was good for veging' then switching to Floramato

http://www.generalhydroponics.com/ge..._dry_1.5lb.pdf

would produce a good crop.
I'm starting to wonder if I even need the Maxigro? It seems almost identical in makeup to Floramato?

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Old 04-03-2010, 06:54 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Quote:
Is it holding the fungas? Check out these stems? They seems strange. Could this be the source of my problem? Should I remove these two plants or is this something I don't need to worry about?
Well as I mentioned I'm not an expert, but there are so many different types of diseases that tomatoes can get, the only way to be sure is ether have them tested or start over. The bottom leaf looks like it's dying, I wouldn't really expect that from a healthy plant that young. The spores that cause the fungal diseases are always in the air. The problem is when they wet, they then will begin to grow. So when the spores are on the leaves, and the leaves get wet it can now infect the plant. When a fungus grows it produces more spores that spread, and will grow anywhere there is moisture and a food source.
Quote:
Also, here is a picture of one of my tomatoes after I removed the plastic wind shield, I upped the watering frequency to flood every 2 hours during daylight, and flood twice at night. It looks remarkably better to me, do you think it needs to removed?
I Would give them a few more days before deciding myself. It may very well be that now that the conditions are more favorable, the plants immune system is able to fight the disease off. Many variety's are hybridized to be resistant to common or particular diseases. In witch case with the improved conditions they may do well. But you might pluck off the damaged leaves (when the plant is completely dry) to keep it from spreading.
Quote:
I read somewhere online that the General Hydroponics line MaxiGrow was good for veging' then switching to Floramato would produce a good crop.
I'm starting to wonder if I even need the Maxigro? It seems almost identical in makeup to Floramato?
I have not used those particular nutrients before, so I cant say how well either will actually do. But the Maxigro is a vegetative formula, in other words it's designed for growing lots of lush foliage. The Maxi series nutrients also have a Maxibloom, that would be for producing lots of flowers/fruit. I'm not sure but I think they could be combined to get a balance, but you should contact general hydroponics to be sure. The FLORAMATO is designed for continuously fruiting or flowering plants, witch is what tomato's are. I believe the Floramato was specifically designed with tomatoes in mind, and it should be good for all stages of the tomato plants. From the picture it looks like you already have the Floramato, I would just use that.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:42 PM
Luches Luches is offline
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As I already told you at the other forum (alias Lucas), you most probably deal with a fungal infection here. "Damping off" came to my mind, but I'd put it a bit differently here, although the same or other fungi may be involved here.

First step to do, is work sterile when making your cuttings from mother plants and secondly, keep the growing environment cleaner as well. I am not a fan of sterility and lab atmosphere with hydroponics, but with cuttings you need to keep things as clean as possible. That is were the actual problem started most probably. Your wind shields are not the actual issue and all other things aren't the cause either.

Using a fungicide now, may help or not - it's questionable with the more affected stems anyways. I'd isolate the non-infected plants promptly, treat them as a preventive measure with an anti fungicide and would think of sacrificing the worst asap.

PS: what is the medium you use in your "aero-cloner"? I'd also consider a different media that doesn't hold that much moisture, as some synthetic plugs. Early inoculation with beneficial fungus as trichoderma would also be a good idea well that's what I use.

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