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Drip irrigation tomato system flow amount question


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Old 06-08-2010, 10:29 PM
pec0054 pec0054 is offline
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Default Drip irrigation tomato system flow amount question

I just got my 2 plant tomato drip system running yesterday, and I am not sure if they are getting enough solution, here is my setup, I am using a 30 gal bin as my reservoir and have the tomato plants in net baskets with hydroton expanded clay rocks, I also have a pump (can't remember gph number) in the bin with 1/2" black tubing going to the plants. I am using 3/16" (or 1/8") tubing off the 1/2" with 1/2 gph drip emitters, 1 for each plant. The rocks don't seem very damp, so I am wondering if they are not getting enough flow. The plants looked very dry, but I also had an electrical issue that caused the pump to stop earlier today. What does everyone else use on their drip systems, straight tubing, or drip emitters?

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Old 06-09-2010, 03:33 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Do you have any pictures? I think you are running a combination drip and water culture system, but I'm not sure by the description. Also you didn't mention what watering cycle you were on (how many minutes on and off). Also pictures of your drip system may help. I have just used tubing with holes in it for my dippers, emitters cost money and will eventually clog. If the tubing clogs I will just use a new piece of tubing, or simply re-poke the holes with a hot paper clip.

You can also just use the irrigation tubing from home improvement stores usually in the nursery with the sprinkler systems, or by the PVC tubing. That tubing comes in all sizes down to 1/8 inch, and you can get it with or without pre-drilled holes. Bottom line if the plants are wilting at all, either they are not getting enough water or the nutrient solution is too warm. If they are not wilting at all, they are probably doing fine with moisture. Hydroton (grow rocks) don't hold a lot of moisture, but the roots need air just as much as moisture.
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:45 AM
pec0054 pec0054 is offline
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Default Tomatos are looking better today

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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Do you have any pictures?
Here are a few images with closeups on the emitters and the plant condition. ( No Comments on my junkyard inspired engineering, Home Depot was closed and I was in a pickle )

Picasa Web Albums - paul - Hydroponic To...

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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Also you didn't mention what watering cycle you were on (how many minutes on and off).
Right now with the drippers, I am running the pump constant, but with the condition of the rocks this morning (they are damp now), I may go to a 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off (my timer won't let me go less than 30 minutes, christmas lights timer I already had)

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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Bottom line if the plants are wilting at all, either they are not getting enough water or the nutrient solution is too warm. If they are not wilting at all, they are probably doing fine with moisture. Hydroton (grow rocks) don't hold a lot of moisture, but the roots need air just as much as moisture.
The plants look much better this morning, and the rocks are more damp so I may be doing ok.
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:56 AM
GGM GGM is offline
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why not just throw a couple of airstones in the reservoir and turn it into a bubbler, you won't regret it no pumps and you can run the airline from inside, one of mine is 20 meters without much loss of air.
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:04 PM
pec0054 pec0054 is offline
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Originally Posted by GGM View Post
why not just throw a couple of airstones in the reservoir and turn it into a bubbler, you won't regret it no pumps and you can run the airline from inside, one of mine is 20 meters without much loss of air.
Do you submerge the roots, or leave the solution below and let the roots grow into them?
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Old 06-10-2010, 06:36 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Glad they are looking better, As I Suspected it looks like a combination drip, and water culture (even though I cant see inside). But that's not a problem, it just helps me to picture the setup. I see one straight line to each plant with only one drip point. A circle with multiple holes will help distribute the moisture better. The bad thing is they look like small (3-4 inch) baskets, and making the round circles without pinching it may be hard to do, even with 1/8 inch tubing. I can think of a possible solution to the pinching issue if you want to try it. I would be a little concerned if the nutrient solution was running 24/7, during the day. Especially with only one point of dripping (depending on the flow) that could suffocate the roots in that spot.

P.S. A couple of things that I can see a problem with that may be a problem in the future. One is that the container does not look like it's light proof (completely blacked out inside). The other is I don't know what your weather is like but the water (nutrient solution) in the container may very well get too hot (above 72 degrees) sitting outside in the sun.

As GGM mentioned a air pump and air stones in the reservoir wont hurt regardless. Although he was talking about making it purely a water culture system. To answer that question, the roots need to be touching the water or they cant wick up any moisture (taking the place of the drip system part), but as the roots grow you could lower the water level.

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 06-10-2010 at 06:48 AM.
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