Tomato Hydroponic,reduce the leafy growth and increase fruiting

doctorman(7b / indoor)August 1, 2014

Hey guys,

I have 2 cherry tomato plants in my hydroponic rain fall tower, in matter of months they became this huge monsters and daily trimming doesn't do much still.

I am getting a lot of leaf growth and not many tomatoes.. how can I turn this around. I got a cutting of the plant and put it in soil out door and in a small 50 inch plant I am getting bunch of fruits in a month but indoor it gets huge but no real tomato..

the solution is Hydro gardens tomato fertilizers
Tomato Mature 9.75, 9, 19
is the ratio.
the PH is around 5.8-6
PPM is kept around 800-1300

I have strawberries, basil, mint etc in the same system .

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I am almost certain that the problem lies in the lights you are using. For flowering/fruiting periods the plants need more of the red spectrum light, around the 3000k color temperature. Those that you are using appear to be between 4500k and 6500k (bright white/daylight) which are only great for leaf growth.

Are you using fluorescent lights? If yes, can you provide the details of the lights? If not, can you tell us which light types you are using?

If I am correct, all you need to do is buy fluorescent lights that are more suited for the fruiting/bloom stage (3000k color temperature lights are the best option) and what you have been doing is basically forcing the tomatoes to grow more leaves than fruits through an unconscious restrictive light "regime", resulting in that magnificent and healthy green wall in your photo.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 8:58AM
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doctorman(7b / indoor)

sounds about right..

Thos are 400W of 5000K lights they are very expensive induction light 200W x2 on top and another 200 at the bottom
I added the 150W florescent in there that is 3000K that is op top of the mint.
Changing the lighting system is not easy for my situation but I think in the long term..
for now I have increased the trimming to the extreme there is no new shoots allowed they are all clipped as much as I can see them. I think see results just from extreme trimming. over the weekend my tomatoes started to get bigger, but I have to destroy new shoots daily or every other day..
What do you think about putting a red filter in front of the tomato
would that filter out the higher kelvin colors?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:07AM
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I wish things were as simple as just putting a red filter to fix this problem, but it's not, it won't make any difference.

I understand that buying more lights isn't something that your pocket migh be happy with for the time being, but since you already have at least one small bulb with the proper Kelvins for bloom stage then you might as well put that in good use.

Move the 3000k lamp closer to the tomatoes instead of the mint because the mint is just leafy, it doesn't need the 3000k focused on it.

It is a small lamp too, so don't get your hopes up too much because with a tomato plant of that size, the lamp might not have sufficient power to make a difference, but it is still worth trying.

Also, when and if you buy more lamps with the correct color temperatures for blooming stages, don't remove the ones that you already have because the leafs will still need those lamps to stay in order to continue growing properly, plus the new ones to produce fruit.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 11:08AM
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doctorman(7b / indoor)

I will try to come up with a new lighting setting..

as you can see I have strawberries in there that are not very fruit producing so I assume it is the same issue.. with the light

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 11:22AM
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I never noticed the strawberries, in that case the 3000k lamp might be put to better use with them since they are smaller than the tomato plant.

Keep us posted with any improvement.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 11:55AM
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What is your photoperiod?

Your lights should be turned on for 12 hours per day to induce the plants to bear fruit.

Also, just chop any growth which is not receiving direct light. These shaded branches will only suck energy which could be used to make tomatoes.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 2:19PM
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I just had the time to check the induction lights you bought and they are a beauty, what a wonderful tesla technology reuse!

Just wanted to give you my personal opinion on this because I have been researching it for quite some time, when you decide to buy the new lamps see if you can find these:

T8 36W 3350lumens 2700k or 3000k

I suggest these and not the T5 because, when compared to the induction lights you bougth, these are cheaper (not including the ballast and fixture price, just the lamps) and they provide the best cost effective watts per lumens. Here's a comparison:

The induction lights you bought spend 200w per 16000lumens (80w/l)

The T8 mentioned above spends 36w per 3350lumens (93w/l)

To meet the same lumens output as the induction lights you will need 5 T8 tubes which will give 5*3350 = 16750 lumens and spend 36*5 = 180w.

Not only that, but these are more than 1 lamp, which it means that you can arranje them in more than one place if you want to: 3 on top, 2 on the side, etc. And if one of them fails you still have the others working and it won't be $80 to buy a new lamp, unlike with the induction lamps.

As you can see, my suggestion gives you better lumen output and lower power consumption when compared with the induction lights and these being more modular makes them easier to replace if you need/want. Remember to get the ballasts as well and fixture if you don't want to make a fixture by yourself (you will have to either buy a 4 lamp fixture or 6 lamp or even individuals, because I doubt you can buy a 5 lamp fixture).

But attention! I don't know how much this setup might cost where you live. It will be way more economic to run, but it might be more expensive to purchase in the beginning, so search well in your area or online for the best prices and options.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 4:06PM
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doctorman(7b / indoor)

Thank you guys

My light turn on at 6am and turn off at 10pm

The inductions lights I use have a life span of 10-15 years, this is where the lighting technology should take us, LED lasts 4-7 years
regular florescent 1-3 years and they lose efficiency very quickly since they have holes in the glass pipe that holds the gas, but induction is technically just a compltly closed system and no loss of gas.

I will let it ride like this with extreme trimming and see how it does in a week.. I see small tomatoes growing everywhere in the past 48 hours since I cut all the shoots.

The induction lights are really expensive like 500-800$ but they last a long time I got very lucky with my set since I found them in a garage sale for 100$ per light and I could not give them up.

I have 2 round bulbs on top and added one round bulb at the bottom..

Thank you guys for all the help this is an awesome community...

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:03PM
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The sun is hard to beat, perfect spectrum, life around 11 billion years and it costs nothing :)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:25PM
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doctorman(7b / indoor)

it has been less than a week since I started the extreme shoot trimming and shaded stems trimming , new shoots pop out daily.

I can for sure say that my tomatoes are growing everywhere and fast.. we had our first small salad from it and more is coming along..
so the light is probably letting it grow leafs but if you stop it from growing new leafs it will redirect that to tomatoes
I will post some pics when I get a chance

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Great to know, share those pics with us whenever you can, I am very curious to see how it went!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 7:59AM
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doctorman(7b / indoor)

UPDATE: a month later

daily pruning removing new shoots, cutting back the leafy growth as much aspossible, cut off any branch with good flowers on it and cut off the tip of all the branches so they do not grow further..

as you can see the plant is smaller but full of tomatoes now.. I started to gather more and more tomatoes weekly, almost enough for a salad on a weekly basis..

some of the tomatoes crack open and they mostly have ticker skin but that is improving a bit.. not sure why they had thick skin,

the red tomato is Sweet baby girt and the yellow one I think was a golden sun or something like that. they are both supposed to be the best tasting stuff around..

My strawberries got some spider mites because of a new Tea lemon bush I introduced without long enough quarantine that was a big set back but they are being treated with rosemary oil/dish soap/water spray every other day, my wife can not stand the smell of the rosemary surprisingly so I have to find another safe way of protecting the plants from the spider mites..
anyone know of a strong (odorless) way of getting rid of the spider mites Eggs? not sure the rosemary kills the eggs on contact or not?!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 2:07PM
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