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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old April 3, 2018   #31
Harry Cabluck
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bower, Initial layout was about $400.00 for these LED's from Fluence Bio., see earlier posts. Each year prior required replacement of T-5 tubes or fixture. Now, no angst about lights. LED's make little heat and outlast other fixtures and bulbs. Photos from last year and this year. Solo cups, used first time this year, fit nicely into the 30-port tray. Also use the setup, after tomato plants are potted up and moved to cold frame, to start lettuce, kale, chard, marigolds and basil. (Sorry for one sideway image).
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Old April 3, 2018   #32
bower
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They look great, Harry. $400 is way over my budget, so I'll have to wait until they come down to size in the grow light department.
My Costco shoplight LED is not suitable for tomatoes IMO. The others are too expensive.
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Old April 3, 2018   #33
mobiledynamics
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Wow Harry. A pic speaks a thousand words. Maybe the manuf recommd height is inline with what it should be.

Right now, I have mine around a foot off, dimmer at 50% and it's tunneled/walled on all 4 sides for each light for efficiency
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Old April 3, 2018   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
and not so easy to just swap out your shoplights for the new thing. So I will tread carefully in planning for the future and hold off for awhile on more LED lights, until I'm sure I'm not still in the dark.
Actually it is that easy, some bulbs are plug and play direct replacements of the fluorescent bulbs with no wiring.
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Old April 5, 2018   #35
loulac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
$400 is way over my budget, so I'll have to wait...
I think some kind of contraption can be built quite cheaply, besides I don't think a fan is absolutely necessary as LED lamps emit very little heat. Besides, the lamps on the picture above are very high over the seedlings, if they were lower less light i.e. less expensive lamps would be needed.

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My Costco shoplight LED is not suitable for tomatoes
I'm not so sure as I think tomatoes are extremely hardy plants growing under incandescent /fluo / LED lights. At least for seedlings. Of course if one intended to have tomatotoes flower and give fruit under artificial light it would be different.

All the best

Last edited by loulac; April 6, 2018 at 02:13 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old April 5, 2018   #36
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hi SQWIBB and Loulac,

It hasn't been as simple as I expected, just to swap out an LED shoplight for the fluorescents. Greens were fine under them but had trouble with tomatoes when I moved them under the LED. The problems are explained in the research linked in this post:
http://www.tomatoville.com/showpost....4&postcount=59

Tomatoes (and several other horticultural crops) have been known to react badly to the narrow spectrum in LEDs. So says the research on the subject. (there is variety susceptibility as well, so some may do better or worse than others).

So unless you invest in specifically horticultural LEDs - which are still quite expensive and out of my budget range - a simple shoplight swap out won't do it. I think there's further work to be done on the LED scene for hort, and also time for the price to come down. So I'm still waiting...

My tomato plants incidentally have recovered since I moved them under the old T8 fluorescents instead, although those that had the most damage are still a bit behind at 5 weeks. I was planning to use LED bulbs in those old fixtures, but our HD didn't have a suitable replacement in stock. In the circumstance, I'm relieved that I got the fluorescent bulbs after all.
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Old April 5, 2018   #37
Harry Cabluck
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mobiledyn: Footcandle readings are not recommended to give information about these LED's. However, an incident-meter reading shows 16 fc at the present distance and at the present power adjustment on this setup. FYI, the same meter reads 32 fc on a cloudy, bright, no distinct shadows day. (That is one f:stop brighter...so it means these LED's are adjusted to half the brightness of a cloudy-bright day). The lesson was learned last year when the lights were too close to the plants and on full-power. The guys from Fluence used a umol meter to adjust the recommended output, producing excellent plant-growth. Only used the incident-light meter to observe the difference. Tomato plants are in the garden, now and have small fruit and nice blossoms. This is the second year for these lights, and have had no problems.
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Old April 5, 2018   #38
Harry Cabluck
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loulac: You are correct...there is no great reason for the fan in the photo above. It was originally put there to dissipate heat from the fluorescent lights. Now it is used to disturb/strengthen stems of tomato seedlings. As the plant canopy grows taller, the lights are dimmed to recommended strength. Also use a series of boxes and boards below the trays to raise them. It is easier to raise and lower the plants than to raise and lower the lights. "Organic Homegrown Tomatoes $1000.00" ...that is cost price, not sale price.
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Old April 6, 2018   #39
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Off topic. I transplanted mine 2 days ago going larger. I decided to do a test and took a plant that was a extra/spare I wasn't going to plant. Put it on the window, and I feel like the leaves have greened up a bit.

With that said, after seeing Harry's pics - which more or less was inline with the recommend manuf. specs on mine - I had mine set at 12 inches or so, with the dimmer full blast on seedling, and halfway on veg.

I raised my lights up and have tweaked the light output as will. No fancy meters here, but more a change/observe sort of deal. I have noticed that DIMMING the output on my annual seedlings seem to actually promote leaf growth.

So I believe even though technically, the leaves were not burning, I was ~stressing~ them.
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Old April 14, 2018   #40
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I will need to play with the LEDS more next year....I'm getting close where they won't need to be under the lights

Anyhow, I had one paste tomato variety (only seeded 1 type this year) that looked sick from day one. Whether it be in the seedling tray or when it got large and was transplanted in solo cups. Leaves were always wilting down *no signs of burn*, edges were curled and the new growth would just constantly be curling. The leaf stems got big - sometimes reaching to the 3rd cell pocket of a plug tray. The leaf stems felt sick-weak. You know how you can iift it and then drop it and there is a certain healthy firmness. When I did the lift and drop test, they felt soft and flopped straight down

Anyhow, I started 2 other different paste seeds and too this particular plum to the window to see what would happen. I then decided to put it outside and at night, just put it in a box to sleep

Anyhow, this paste variety seems to be recovering.
So I would say SOME varieties may not play well with the LED setup OR they may require to be under it's own seperate lamp with a much lower intensity.
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Old April 18, 2018   #41
mobiledynamics
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Harry. How are you transplants doing.

Mine are staying pretty squat and the horizontal left growth is getting out of control. I find I need more shelf space as I need to space my pots out more than usual.

My leafs always look stressed when the lights are on. It's as if they don't like the LED's even though there is no leaf burn. However, when the lights turn off, they seem to recover overnight and don't look stressed. Stems are super fat though. No fert soil-less mix.

No that they've grown so big, soil is drying out faster, and I find myself needing to water more. Different observation, but they seem to wilt a bit after watering, and stay wilted till overnight, where the sprout back up.

Just some observations I suppose I'm seeing under the LEDs.
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Old April 19, 2018   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
hi SQWIBB and Loulac,



So unless you invest in specifically horticultural LEDs - which are still quite expensive and out of my budget range - a simple shoplight swap out won't do it. I think there's further work to be done on the LED scene for hort, and also time for the price to come down. So I'm still waiting...
From my experience, I would have to disagree with that, as I had great success the last two years with 6000k led tubes.

(LED ONLY Grow table) Peppers, eggplants, leeks, Hardy Kiwi, Yacon, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cabbage, Artichokes, Basil, Parsley, Lovage, Maypops.

2017


2018




.
The only thing I cant remember being under the led (only) grow lights was the tomatoes, they go on the table with 4500k fluorescent x 4 and led x 6 (2 led strips and 4 led bulbs) they are about 4500k and 5000k, but would have preferred 6000k, however at the time I didn't know squat about lighting. I will try a few under the LED only grow table next year.



I feel bad that you haven't had success with the LED bulbs but wanted to post this to let folks know that it does work and works well!
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Old April 19, 2018   #43
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Those pictures are worth thousands of words. I hope every grower will undertand LED's can be recommended, the only problem is finding quality, beware of the cheapest Chinese equipment...
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Old April 19, 2018   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
hi SQWIBB and Loulac,
So unless you invest in specifically horticultural LEDs - which are still quite expensive and out of my budget range - a simple shoplight swap out won't do it. I think there's further work to be done on the LED scene for hort, and also time for the price to come down. So I'm still waiting...
Well said!
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Old April 19, 2018   #45
Harry Cabluck
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Mobiledyn: Thanks for asking. Transplants are shown today, April 19, 2018, in the garden overall photo. Those seeds were planted Jan. 1, and grown under LED's. After being potted in to four-inch pots, they went to the cold frame, shown in the background on right. Most have blossoms and/or set fruit. Three Lofthouse varieties, shown on the left background have blossoms only. The vertical photo shows Lofthouse's "Brad." Also, the "Wispy" Sioux that Nan Pa had asked about is now loaded with blossoms. The plant has set little fruit, so far. In order to verify that seed batch, three additional seeds from the same harvest were planted to see if "Wispy" would be produced. Two photos show those starts. Those leaves do not appear to be "Wispy." Will photograph the "Wispy" that is in the garden when we have subdued light, later today.
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