New Hydroponic Grower

kkammApril 8, 2014

Hey everyone! Been reading a lot on this forum and decided to dive into hydroponics. I have always had a garden in my backyard, but due to a neighbors tree growing taller the past several years, my only area for a garden is shaded now for most of the day.

I have two different systems I started recently.

First one is the rubbermaid DWC system. (Started 4/1)
6 x 3" netpots
Basic air bubbler
2 x T5 Flouro's (18x6 schedule)
Hydroton medium
General Hydroponics Flora Series
Tomato, jalapeno,bell,strawberries

Second one is ebb and flow (Started 4/5)
4x4 grow tent
3x3 flood table
4 port bubbler
450 watt Black Dog LED (18x6 schedule)
~40 gallon res
Floods every 2 hours for 15 min with light, twice with no light
General Hydroponics Flora Series
Tomato, basil,jalapeno,bells,cilantro
Will add some scorpion peppers and more herbs once they all sprout and are ready to go in.

So far, so good with few exceptions
One Strawberry plant is not doing too well. I think I messed up when originally transferring from the soil growing container. I dont think I got the roots in the right position in the net pot when i planted it. Roots are brown and not growing well.

One tomato was not going good, so last night i cut off the main stem and hoping it will shoot off a new main from one of the others. Looking good so far. I think this plant went through the same issue as the strawberry, but seems to be doing better now.

I have one tomato that looks like it got nute burn. From what I can tell by reading through forums, probably too much nitrogen. This is evident in the other plants (especially the tomato) where the leaves are curling under. At least that is my assumption after reading much online and in this forum.

Let me know what you think. Im new to this, learning a lot, and welcome any expertise you all may have to offer.

This post was edited by kkamm on Tue, Apr 8, 14 at 16:28

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Welcome to my addiction!

Nice start

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 6:31PM
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Nice start indeed. keep your lights as close as possible to the canopy.
fluorescents will eventually cause you problems with mixed height plants. Be ready to get a MH system or move it outside.
Reportedly, strawberries don't like 'wet feet' so DWC may not be the best system for them. This is purely anecdotal and word of mouth. I am not speaking from experience.
Have fun.
Oh! and welcome to the forum

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Thanks, both of you!

Grizzman, I plan on moving the DWC outside once the weather warms up a bit. I started it outside, but the temps dipped down to the 40's and 50's and the plants didnt like it at all.

I think i have an issue with the Ebb and Flow setup, but not sure what it is. The plants in the tent are not really growing as much as I would have suspected. Actually, the ones in the DWC are growing better.

I suspect a few possible causes:

1) I wasnt sure how deep in the hydroton to plant when i transferred from the soil containers. I flooded the table and placed the plants where the top of the root ball was just at the top of the water line. Im thinking that might be too deep and may be stunting growth due to lack of root development. ??

2) I think I may have been watering to frequently (every 2 hours for 15 min). I cut this back last night to every three hours and once in the dark cycle.

3) A couple plants are showing symptoms of too much nitrogen I think. Best example is a small patio tomato I have in there. The thing is really green, seems very firm, and the leaves are curling under. Am I correct with Nitrogen issue? Also will too much nutrients cause stunting? I added several gallons of water to my res to help bring down the total PPM, but have not seen much improvement. Im currently at about 1250 PPM with my base tap water being 170 PPM.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 11:06AM
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tomatoes can be finicky so i wouldnt be overly concerned about the leaf curling. I would expect one of the other plant species in the system to indicate there was a problem with the nute regime as they are lighter feeders and more sensitive to excesses. Tomatoes can tolerate ec levels that would burn other plants to a crisp, its not a good idea to give them that much but they would cope surprisingly well.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:06PM
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I agree you need an air gap for those roots. They may well be too deep. I believe if the air gap is there the roots can stay wet, but I still learning.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 10:46PM
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So I replanted all my plants this afternoon. I think I originally had the set too deep in the hydroton. Most plants didn't have new root growth and it had been several days already. I raised them up so that only a few of the bottom roots reached the water line when the table was flooded. Alsi shortened cycle to 15 minutes every 5 hours or so. Im thinking that this will encourage some root growth and subsequently increase overall plant growth. Will followup after plants show some change. Fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 11:30PM
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Ebb and Flow Update:

After talking with the local Hydro store here, I changed the watering to every hour for 15 minutes. Also drained the rez and dropped nutrients to about 1000 PPM. Plants took a while to recover, but are doing much better now. Already have a few tomatoes growing.

DWC Update:

Plants are doing awesome in this one so far. No change to nutes, only added some ph'd water to top it off.

Ive got some lettuce, chives, scorpion peppers, cilantro, and brussel sprouts growing in cups also.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:34PM
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The tomato is going to win the battle for the light :)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Yeah it is... Im going to transfer that tomato to a 5 gallon bubble bucket soon. It is really taking off. The roots are already about a foot and a half when you pull it out of the container.

I cant wait for the plants in my tent to catch up. They started slow due to the feeding problems, but are already catching up quick.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:48PM
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Transferred tomato plant outside and moved netpots to a new DWC container. After taking the pics of the new container, I found that light was getting in through the lid and allowing algae growth... I dont know why I didnt think of this, but I painted the lid last night and added some h2o2. Hopefully this will clear things up.

Also, built a cloner. Obviously, only one clone starting right now, but plenty of space for new holes when more clones become available.

Everything is looking good with the exception of some edema on two of my pepper plants in the ebb and flow.

Will update with more pics in a few days.

Pepper Plant that was topped last week, nice bushy growth:

DWC Plants before painting lid (under 4 t5's)

Ebb and Flow Plants. Three tomatoes growing on two of my patio tomatoes right now.

Inside of the cloner:

Outside of Cloner with lonely tomato clone:

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Everything has been doing quite well up until yesterday. I already had 15 tomatoes on and one of my jalapeno plants has some leaves the size of my hand with about 30 flowers about to open up. Its only about 10 inches tall, but i topped it a while back and it is one bushy plant so far.

Bad news is that two of my tomato plants carrying about 6 of my tomatoes started with the blossom end rot. Had to cut them all off and throw them out. Im flushing nutes today and adding some cal-mag to try to resolve the problem.

Will post some updated pictures this afternoon.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:25PM
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Any updates? Things were looking good. I too am a new grower. I'm doing only DWC and had issues with my tomatoes with root rot on one and leaf roll on another. Most of my issues I think are related to nutrients being too strong early, then I over compensated and got too weak.

I've got two pretty good looking pepper plants going (bells). Been pinching the flowers to get more veg growth. Topped them about a month ago. Picture provided.

How have you mixed your nutrients? PPMs at different stages and what ratios of grow, micro, bloom? Have you followed the bottle recommendations? Or used a different recommendation?


    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:21AM
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Hey Tim, I will put up some updated pics tomorrow. Everything is thriving in my ebb and flow, but I ended up doing away with my two DWC buckets (it got to be too much to keep up with since i built a dutch bucket system outside as well).

The formulas on the bottles are way too strong and I dont follow them much. I have a 47 gallon res and mix my nutrients as if I had a 30 gallon res and the ppm's come out to about 950-1100.

For growing peppers and tomatoes, the formula i would suggest is 5ml/gallon of each (grow,micro,bloom) at beginning stage. Once fruit starts setting, i use 5,10,10 (grow,micro,bloom). Also, I add about 5ml of cal mag. My pepper leaves were looking a bit wrinkly like yours and this seemed to help with the new growth.

One thing i noticed about tomatoes is they do not like a constant wind from fan. Some of my tomato leaves were curling upward and it was because my fan was constantly blowing on them. I changed to an oscillating fan with a slight breeze and that solved the problem.

Take a look at my thread titled "Re-purposed old fence into dutch bucket system" i started it about 4 weeks ago and it is really taking off. I would choose a dutch bucket system over DWC any day. The problem with growing things like tomatoes and peppers in dwc like you and i both have/had is that when the plants get mature, you have to pull the lid and add nutrients almost every other day. With dutch buckets your res is easier to keep topped off, you dont have to worry about root rot so much, and you can keep it cooler.

Let me know if you have any questions.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 2:08PM
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Thanks for the tips kkamm. I've had a fan blowing right on the tomatoes this whole time... I will change that right away and see if that helps. The leaves have been curling/rolling like crazy on that thing.

Have had any issues with Ph after using calmag? Mine seems to keep going up. I also notice some brown foaming on the surface of the res after adding the calmag. I'm using general organics brand. I dumped the bucket and mixed up a fresh batch without the calmag last night bc of it.

Looking forward to new pics.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:51PM
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