Download: custom hydroponic setup for dwarf tomatoes

By Ellis Creel


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This is a custom-built hydroponic setup I made for 6 plants using fluorescent L5 lights, a modified Rubbermaid container, hydroponic netting pots, clay stones, an air pump and a frankensteined water pump.
The materials I used were:

18 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck storage container w/ lid
(6) 3.75" hydroponic netting pots
Hydroton Leca Clay Orchid/Hydroponic Grow Media (to go in pots)
Xacto knife for cutting the holes in the Rubbermaid box lid
rockwool cubes to plant seedlings in
one Orbit 8-port manifold
6 pieces of 1/4" irrigation tubing to run to each netting pot
one Tetra 77851 Whisper Air Pump, 10-Gallon
one Penn Plax Aqua Mist Air Stone Bar Aerator for Fish Tank, 12-Inch (to attach to the air pump)
Penn Plax Standard Airline Tubing Air Pump Accessories, 8-Feet (for attaching the stone to the pump)

Etekcity® 0.05 pH High Accuracy Pocket Size pH Meter with ATC (to measure pH - you'll want about a 6.0 pH)
General Hydroponics Flora Series QT - FloraGro, FloraBloom, and FloraMicro, 32 oz each (follow instructions on back)
General Hydroponics GH1514 Ph Control Kit (to put water pH up or down)
HM Digital TDS-EZ Water Quality TDS Tester (to make sure the PPM (particles per million) aren't too high or too low)

Grodan A-OK 1.5" Starter Plug, Sheet of 98 - start your seedlings off in these, use a 500 PPM nutrient solution balanced at about pH 6.0. Once you see about a dozen or so roots producing from each rockwool cube, they're ready to transplant into full hydroponics.
Minibel tomato seeds

EnviroGro FLT24 2-Ft, 4-Tube Fixture, T5 Bulbs Included (this is more than sufficient to cover the whole Rubbermaid, plus a little extra)
Apollo Horticulture GLRP18 Pair of 1/8" Adjustable Grow Light Rope Hanger (x2) (You still have to attach them to something, but they're really convenient and well-made).

That's it! It seems like a lot, but when it's possible to grow year-round, it's worth the trouble.
As a side note, I've also seen problems with powdery mildew; those can be solved by application of Neem Oil. It's natural, non-toxic and great stuff.

You'll also want to dump the water once a week and fill it with fresh water and nutrient solution. Please take note that as the plant grows and enters different parts of its life cycle, you'll use a different mix of the nutrients (IE more nitrogen in the beginning, less towards the end). Happy planting!