Red heirloom tomatoes - Bumps on trunk & yellow leaves forming

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punchme
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Red heirloom tomatoes - Bumps on trunk & yellow leaves forming

I have three Red Heirloom Tomato plants in AG Ultra LED that have been growing for 46 days. They seem probably ok so far, but my first and only attempt at growing tomatoes before (the Mega Cherry Tomato kit) in the same garden didn't go well, as the plants ended up developing yellow leaves that would brown and fall off faster than new healthy green growth would come in. We got maybe a couple dozen tomatoes off the thing before we gave up. I picked a different seed kit for this time around and am trying to be extra vigilant about things like pruning so I don't have a repeat, and hence posting here at the first signs of possible trouble. I'm just hoping there's not something toxic about my environment that makes it fundamentally unfit for growing tomatoes!

I'll start by saying that I think I'm doing the basics right. I empty the reservoir and put in fresh water with new nutrients every two weeks. The LED panel just advised me to do the first pruning, so I did that several days ago. I must admit that these seem even more "dwarfy" than the Mega Cherry ones (see attached photo), so it almost felt weird doing a prune now because the trunk was coming in thick, the leaves were spreading out wide, and while there were lots of buds forming, it didn't seem like it was in a hurry to grow upward toward the lights (I'd only raised it once up to that point, about an inch). But the AG materials say prune, prune, prune, so I went with it. The trunk was actually pretty thick even near the top. Here's hoping it was the right choice!

Anyway, at this point my primary concern is that there are "bumps" on the trunks of all three plants (see attached photo). These were definitely not present on the Mega Cherry ones, which just had classic tomato "fuzz". I couldn't find anything online saying these bumps were common with this variety, so I wanted to check if anyone else has seen this, if it's something to be worried about, etc. The good news is that it's not like there's bumps on the leaves, nor do I see signs of bugs anywhere.

Second, in just the past few days, I've seen some of the lower leaves starting to turn yellow. I know the materials talk about this being somewhat normal, but once again, these plants are still so short, it feels a little premature. Should I cut them off at the first sign of yellowing, rather than waiting for them to turn fully brown? Should I cut off an entire branch that has some yellow on it, or be selective with just trimming the yellowest parts of leaves?

Thanks!

--
Phil

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Ginger
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Congratulations on the first

Congratulations on the first harvest!!! Glad they taste good. yes Strengthen up a touch on nutes when ripening tomato fruit for best flavor. (Like, this is a bad time to top up with water for 2 weeks, yes.)

Interesting on the H2O2, thanks!

I'm all in favor of free sunlight. Even a little helps a lot. If a branch is healthy, you don't have to prune it off if you don't want to. But my tomato grows tend to look undisciplined. laugh

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punchme
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Things continue to progress

Things continue to progress well. At day 10 I did the flush and refilled with fresh water and 10ML of nutrients, and going foward I'll be doing it weekly. I've attached some pics that I took right before I did the flush and some pruning around the perimeter. About 8 of the many little tomatoes that had been growing were ripe and red, so we picked those and ate them last night. They were pretty darn small, many of them being smaller than even a standard cherry tomato. But they tasted fine. Maybe future ones will taste even better since they'll be getting more steady nutrients.

Ginger, per your tip, I didn't bother adding the hydrogen peroxide this time, since they've been healthy for the past several weeks and so I assume there's no current danger of disease or bacteria in the basin. That said, I was reading more about it online, and the top hit link on the topic was

http://rgjhydroponics.weebly.com/hydrogen-peroxide.html. There they seem to speak very favorably of hydrogen peroxide, talking of concentrations way more than what I've been doing, and making it sounds like it's just a good idea to do whenever. Really, as long as my plants seem to be doing ok, I don't have any compelling reason to experiment. But it was interesting to read and I figured I'd share.

As long as I'm posting, I wanted to get some input on a subject that's been on my mind for some time. Now, I understand the logic of pruning the perimeter, since leaves that stick out such that they're no longer getting light aren't going to help with growth. But what if an Aerogarden happens to be near a window that gets several hours of strong daylight each day? Would it not then make sense to let the leaves stay and take advantage of that free light? It's weird because some of the Aerogarden materials talk about it as if sunlight is bad, but don't say why. My inner conspiracy theorist wonders if it's just because they want to maximize the amount of money people spend on grow lights. :)  Alas, at the moment, there's a scaffolding outside our window that used to get light, so this is a moot point right now. But in a prior grow of jalapenos/habaneros, I let the leaves extend sideways and take advantage of the daylight, and it seemed to make them happy. Thoughts?

Alaskagoldie
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There is absolutely no need

There is absolutely no need to prune your heirlooms further. They aren't going to get much taller. Just let those beautiful plants ripen. When you harvest, let us know how they taste.

Ginger
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Hi Punchme,

Hi Punchme,

I'm so glad the tomatoes are better! And ripening!

I have an EC meter to measure what's going on in the water. Tomato plants take, take, take, and foul their own water. And you're adding a lot of water with no nutes at all, so the reservoir is getting weaker over the course of two weeks. Every nute manufacturer except Aerogrow says to replace the reservoir every week. The plants will stay healthier, and the fruit will taste better, if you do. Tomato fruits ripened on watery nutes taste vapid. So, yeah. Switching to every week is worth doing. Might go down to 1/2 tsp of H2O2. (I don't use H2O2 unless the plants are sick.)

I wouldn't prune a plant unless it needs pruning. Stuff that's growing out of the lit volume, making the plant weak, dead stuff. The structure is sound, and the lights can be raised as needed. And the LED lights don't burn anything - it just blocks the light if leaves grow into them too much.

Congratulations!

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punchme
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Here's an update from red

Here's an update from red heirloom tomato land. Things are going well! Thanks again to everyone for their guidance. It has clearly made all the difference.

Two weeks ago I flushed the water 5 times, then refilled with 11ML of nutrients, added one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, and took it off the T-split from my Aerovoir that it had been sharing with a jalapeno plant and started watering it daily by hand. For kicks I also lined some aluminum foil at the bottom to do a little light reflection, since I'd seen some other folks doing that on YouTube. Well, I don't know if one thing in particular gets all the credit for the improvement (probably the nutrient boost?) but they've done great for the past two weeks. With the exception of two extremely tiny branches at the very bottom of the trunk that turned yellow/brown in the last few days, there was absolutely none of the widespread yellowing/browning that had me so panicked in the past. Tons of growth continued to fill in all the previously-bare patches, and there's more than ever of the pea-sized little tomatoes setting. It seems like there's too many of them to count, but there's got to be dozens of tomatoes growing on there, which is certainly encouraging considering that the plants are still pretty short. As for the biggest of the tomatoes that have been growing the longest, they're still barely the size of a cherry tomato, but one of them has actually just started to turn red, so it's really happening!

Those two isolated incidents of the lower branches showing signs of yellowing happened around day 10 of 14. I certainly didn't wanna just let that ride for fear that it might be a resurgance of whatever had hurt it so badly before, so I wanted to at least take some action. I recalled Ginger's reply where she mentioned that it might need a nutrient boost late in a 2-week cycle, so I added 4ML when I was topping off the water one day. Well, other than those two little branches, it certainly didn't happen in any other place, but I guess I'll never know if the 4ML actually prevented a problem from getting worse or if those were the only two branches that were going to do that and I could have just saved the nutes. Oh well, it's no biggie either way. But it did get me to wondering about how many people talk of doing a flush and re-nute once per week rather than the 2 week cycle that AeroGarden advises. It's not like the nutrients are that expensive so I suppose I could go to doing that if people really find it helps foster growth or avoid issues.

I didn't want to mess with success, so I did very similar to last time. I flushed the water a few times, used 12ML of nutrients, and put in the teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide again. I wondered about skipping the hydrogen peroxide, but if it's truly not going to hurt it or slow its growth, I now feel like I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Now I'm not sure if I should maybe think about doing some top pruning, or give it another cycle to just keep growing? It's funny because one maybe-positive side effect of how ill it was for so long was that the trunks grew FAT, so the plants are super stable. It's nice to think that could help them grow tall and not be in lots of danger tipping over due to weight of the fruit. So continuing on that success, part of me wonders if I should continue to be aggressive with the pruning and try to keep optimizing for stability, even if it means it takes longer for it to grow up. But another part of me thinks that they've only just had their few two weeks of healthy life, and maybe I should let that ride a bit longer. I've attached photos. What do folks think?

Alaskagoldie
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BTW those beautiful toms were

BTW those beautiful toms were grown on the CFL Ultra--not LED.  So far the only thing I've grown on the LED is Cajun Belle Pepper and Sweet Pickle Pepper. I've had excellent results and will post pictures soon. I've not quite gotten the hang of using this site.

You will have to experiment with the nutes as we've found that one size doesn't fit all. It seems that a number of things can affect germination, growth, and nutrient needs. For example, I live at my pet boarding facility in Alaska. The building is 60 to 65 deg. Mike has a lot faster growth with his peppers than I do.

It's very important that your toms and peppers have the correct amount of darkness when setting buds. I don't allow any artificial light at night.--Not even my computer. It's tricky for me because during the summer, it doesn't get dark here. However, I only have one window in the 5,000 sq. ft. building.

I generally start all my seeds with 4ml nutes; then increase to 8ml on some of them after germination.

Ginger
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Hey, Phil, welcome back! Hope

Hey, Phil, welcome back! Hope you got a good tan. smiley

The tomatoes look like they cleaned up nicely!

I have high hopes for your adding more nutes and cutting the Aerovoir in-flow. I grow summer tomatoes in GrowBoxes on my balcony and driveway. The leaves predictably turn yellow roundabout August 1. For a few years, I thought it was fungus, and then realized the GrowBox nutes fed for "one season" - 3 months - May, June, July. The huge tomato vines simply ran out of food right when they were ripening the biggest load of fruit. So now I replace the nutes at the beginning of August (only half a strip, since the monster plants are already grown), and no more yellow/dying plants at harvest.

If you find you're adding more than a gallon of water per week (when they're bigger again), you might need some weak nutes in the top-up water, maybe 0.3 ml or something, if you only feed every 2nd week. (I refill every week.)

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punchme
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Thanks to everyone for giving

Thanks to everyone for giving me more ideas to try. I really appreciate it.

I came back from vacation and things seem much the same. A fair number of branches had most/all their leaves turn yellow, so I trimmed them from the point of yellowing or off entirely. I forgot to take a picture before the trimming (oops... I was in such a hurry to get them in better shape as soon as I waslked in the door) but I've atatched a pic after the trim. They look deceptively healthy there with all the yellow gone and they are setting a decent amount of tiny (but super slow-growing) fruit.  Alas, I'm already seeing early signs of the next round of yellowing. Considering they're at 66 days and are only 6-8" tall and this yellowing keeps happening, I'm certain something is still wrong. I can't imagine how they could ever grow big and strong and productive unless I get this condition figured out.

Thankfully, since I'm back, I can baby them more actively. Here's what I'm doing today:

1) Flushing out the water several times before the final refill and adding nutrients (thanks for the tip, Ginger!).

2) Use 11 ml of nutrients (thanks Mike and Val!). Since I saw Val's other post showing a clearly healthy tomato plant in an LED and she's been using 10 ml, I figure something in that neighborhood might be a good place to start.

3) Add a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide (thanks Ginger!)

4) Taking the tomato plant off the "T-split" Aerovoir water feed so there's no chance of it "sharing" back & forth with what's in the adjacent jalapeno's reservoir. I will top off its water daily by hand.

I'm hoping this will at least cover some basic stuff. If there's no improvement after all that, I can try some other stuff like adding the extra CFL or more nutrients like Ginger suggested.

Speaking of the nutrients, I must admit that I feel dumb to have been adding 8 ml. I re-looked at the paper fold-out that came with the seed kit (which is usually my primary source) and it says right there to do 10 ml after they're 12" in height. Now, in my defense, mine are only 6-8" in height, but they're clearly at an age where they should be 12" in height. Considering the spot I'm in where I simply need to "try stuff", it only seems like a good idea to try upping them.

Ginger, I see your point with the math on the big reservoir. What throws me off is that it seems there's so much slightly-contradictory information out there on nutrients. Like you, I see how on the bottles of the AG nutrients they speak of 12 ml for the big and all plants over 12" in height. Then there's the 10 ml reference in the paper fold-out. Then there's your math which is customized to the size of my reservoir, which I've not seen spelled out anywhere else, but it makes total sense. And one thing AG is consistent about is saying "do not over-feed with nutrients! more is not better!" which has made me paranoid, wondering if every time I have an issue it might be because I've given too many nutrients. I'm not sure if a small delta like 8 ml vs 11 ml could be enough to cause the kinds of extreme symptoms I showed in my previous pics. Hearing folks speak of the "leaf burn" as the primary symptom of too much nutrient, I suppose I just need to get the hang of recognizing that and knowing when to cut back.

Ginger, you mentioned previously aeration/oxygen as a possible issue. When I was away, I did get to wondering if maybe there could be an issue with my pump. But I still hear it whirring when I start it up and the water dripping sound when it's running, so I assume it's doing its basic thing. But people on YouTube who post their garden pics often seem to have added airstones for extra oxygen. Is this something folks here have done with positive results?

Mike, if you're listening, I'd be curious to see a link to where on the AG site it mentioned the 11 ml, as I can't seem to find it. Obviously I'll follow your advice regardless, but I'm trying to collect references!

I'll surely post again when I have some results.

Alaskagoldie
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Yes it is. I added 1/2

Yes it is. I added 1/2 teaspoon to a gal of purified water. When some of the leaves on my Cajun Belle pepper started turning yellow, I also sprayed a solution with epsom salts. This helped since I had cut nitrogen way back during the fruiting.

Ginger
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Cool, Val! Is that a calcium

Cool, Val! Is that a calcium supplement?

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