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Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

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Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby klr650teach » Nov 30, 2009 8:16 pm

I stopped into a local hydro store to get some fertiliser for my house plants. In one corner of the store there were indoor grow lights that were High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide in wattages from 400w to 1000w. They were expensive but I could not help but wonder if they would not work well for tomato growing over the winter and spring months indoors.

I am sooo sick of the flavorless fruits that are sold that are being called tomatos in our grocery stores that I am almost to the point of trying to grow them indoors over the cold months like a house plant.

Do you have to use a hydroponic set up with these lights or can regular potting soil be used?

I know I would be growing very expensive tomatos but if they had garden fresh type flavor I think I would be willing to give it a try and forget about the cost. I love my tomatos and have not had a decent sandwich in almost two months.

Has anyone used such a light set up? Is the yield good enough to justify the electrical expense to grown them? Thanks
Penticton, BC in the Sunny Okanagan Valley. Zone 5a
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby Nboucher » Feb 07, 2010 9:49 pm

I have used a 400Watt light to start all my seedlings and this year I'm using a 1000 Watt, also, I use the black and white poly to help reflect the light back towards the plants.

My first year of growing I made the mistake of starting my tomato plants in early February and by May they were over 2 feet tall. If you are planning on growing your tomatoes by light only, just make sure you have the space or a variety that does not get too tall.

One more thing, ensure your light is close enough to your seedlings so they don't shoot up. I find that I have to transplant my seedlings/plants at least 4 times (larger pots each time).

If you are wanting your plants to set fruit under lights, you will need to switch the type of bulb you are using as one is for growing and the other type is for flowering.

Hope this helps, if you want more information let me know.
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby klr650teach » Feb 09, 2010 11:15 am

It seemed to take forever to get a reply on this forum. Thankyou for yours. I eventually went back to the store and talked to the salesperson there and she assured me that either type of bulb would work for fruiting. Turns out she had a used 400watt halogen with new bulb for a hundred bucks so I bought it and figured at that price I had nothing to loose when comparing the price of the new ones.

I started two seeds and only one came up under florescents. I just had a single 2 bulb fixture with cool white bulbs. It started getting leg'y so I switched over to the halogen. Man those things are bright!!!!! Anyhoo, I now have a plant that is about a foot and a half tall with 1/2 diameter tomatoes on it already. I have been using a feather to hand polinate the flowers as they open. I now have 5 clusters of flowers with two of the clusters each showing half a dozen little tomatoes on it.

This season I will start a few more plants but I will start them much earlier like in july or august so that by the time the garden is finished the indoor ones will just be starting to produce. So far I am very happy and excited about getting my first ever indoor tomatoes and I just know they will have flavour waaaaay beyond the sawdust flavoured things they are passing off as tomatoes in the grocery stores. I planted a heritage variety called "Rocket".
Penticton, BC in the Sunny Okanagan Valley. Zone 5a
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby Nboucher » Feb 09, 2010 12:31 pm

Congratulations!

I agree with you on the flavor of home grown tomatoes versus store bought there is no comparison.

I have attached a picture of my set up, mind you I use my light for starting all my plants as I find the selection of tomato plants is not the best in my area and can get pricey, as I plant around 100 tomato plants a year. And from the tomato plants my interest in planting other plants grew, currently I have a selection of herbs, annuals and perennials under the light and will start my tomatoes in about 3 weeks or so.

take care,
Nancy
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby klr650teach » Oct 30, 2011 12:18 pm

Hi Nancy, nice to meet another early indoor plant starter like myself. I start all my tomatoes and peppers indoors as a lot of the varieties I have grown don't have the maturation time available to them if I were to plant directly into soil. We have a pretty good season length here for Canada but the extra couple or three months indoors really gives the peppers a head start so they at least have a chance at ripening to red in the fall.

Turns out I did not get a chance to get my 400 watt MH light set up for the seedlings. I was worried with the heat that is thrown from those bulbs that my seedlings would burn so I did not want to chance it. I anchored two four foot (two bulb) florescent fixtures side by side to a small sheet of plywood just large enough to accommodate the foot print of the two fixtures and hung the whole thing over my seedlings just a few inches above them. So over the length of a normal seed flat, if it was placed perpendicular to the lights it would receive light from four bulbs running across it. As the seedlings grew I just raised the lights using the chains that I hung them with. In the fixtures I alternated one cool white and one warm white bulb in each fixture.

We had a really late spring here this year as I think most of the country did also. So by the time they could actually be planted outdoors the plants had grown quite leggy as they really did not have enough intensity of light from the florescents. But all I had to do to make up for this was plant them deeper in the soil of the garden.

One drawback I found using artificial lighting to start the seedlings was that as they grew, some varieties grew faster than others putting them closer to the bulbs and at risk of being burnt from the heat of the bulbs. When I raised the lights further away from the plants, the slower growing varieties were too far away from the lights then and got really spindly. I almost needed two sets of lights........one for the faster growing varieties and another for the slower ones so as to be able to keep the lights at a safe height above the plants without burning them.

I explained my predicament to the gal at the store and she suggested using the 400 watt light in conjunction with a light mover on a rail. That way I could move the light fixture closer to the plants as the light is moving and lessen the risk of burning the tender leaves without sacrificing light intensity.

Of course all this costs money and one has to ask oneself.........is it worth it? As a hobby it really does not cost a lot compared to say golfing and it does give back in the form of money saved in food that you grow yourself and feel confident in it being safe to eat. So I guess it is worth it on many playing fields.

Tell me, it looks like you have around 20 flats of seedlings under that big light of yours. Do they all perform fairly well? And I see there is no hood above your light to direct the extra light from the bulb in a downward direction. Do you not use a hood?

Nice to compare notes with someone else. Thanks for your reply and my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. Had a busy gardening season don't ya know! :P ttys

Teach.
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby hydroponics » Jan 23, 2012 11:07 am

You can choose to prune your plants or let them grow wild. Un-pruned plants will develop many stems and if not supported, they will sprawl across the ground and take up a lot of space.

Tomatoes that are pruned down to just a few stems will be more compact in size, can be staked, and will produce larger fruit.

Around the time when your tomato plants start to produce flowers, they will also start producing side branches. Side branches are stems that emerge from the nodes between leaves and the main stem. They are commonly known as "suckers," and some say that they do not produce fruit. However, this is not true at all. Side branches will produce flowers and fruit just like the original stem. The result of side branches is a bushy tomato plant with many stems, and probably many fruit as well.

Many tomatoes are grown hydroponically.Hydroponic tomatoes can taste as good as tomatoes grown in rich soil outdoors. Hydroponic vegetable gardening is fun and easy but there are some factors that influence their growth:-

Light - Whether grown indoors or outdoors, tomato plants need exposure to full, strong light for at least five hours each day.
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby kevin25 » Mar 14, 2012 11:59 pm

the led grow lights very useful ?
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby cidly55 » Mar 15, 2012 4:14 am

not sure, have no experience at led lighting
some guys agree with it, but some others didnt like it
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby Dumbo » Mar 15, 2012 1:08 pm

kevin25 wrote:the led grow lights very useful ?

I'm no expert, but I would say LEDs haven't reached their prime yet, based on what I have read to date.

Maybe on established plants they might be ok, if you buy LEDs with a specific spectrum output.

I'm more into growing tomato's from seed, so this is the type of thing I've been researching in regards to LEDs. So who has the most research done that you can actually trust? The universities and NASA (NASA is heavy into this for growing crops in space).

NASA's research had lead them to concluded (the last paper I read was dated around 2005) that they actually still need blue florescent lights to get proper growth. So LEDs, as is, isn't the best. Unless you add blue florescent lighting to your red LEDs.

Now all these BS "growlight" pot webpages which pollute your searches even quote NASA research. For example, here is a link to some "growlight" (http://flowerforcerled.blogspot.com/200 ... ights.html) which even shows a picture of NASA growing potato's under red LEDs in a chamber.

Does this "growlight" seller even tell you that this picture of potato's is grown under more than one type of red LED?

Does this "growlight" seller tell you that the picture on their webpage was lifted from one of the NASA research papers that concludes LED alone is no good and must be supplemented with blue florescent?

Nope. Not good for business.

I still haven't figured out why NASA needs blue florescent to supplement their LEDs. I guess something must be off with blue LEDs.

While the seller above sells LEDs in the red and blue spectrum (which is better than many I have seen), others are still marketing white LEDs, which I guess would be the worst of all.

The whole idea behind LEDs for "growlights" is:
a) less power consumption
b) proper spectrum

If you are running white LEDs, you are actually wasting energy since the plant isn't going to use the majority of that light spectrum. So you have to run white LEDs at higher wattage, which means more lights, which means a total waste of energy going out the window (and your wallet).

If ever I went LED it would be blue and red. Not white.

Then there is the problem of heat. With white LEDs you would have to run more which in turn means more heat generated (which means money going out the window for nothing).

For example, let us look at this persons pictures here:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=22900

Do you see the aluminum blocks? Those are huge heat-sinks. Plus he has what looks like 2 8-inch fans on top of the heat-sinks (not sure of the actual size). And these are only 100-watts total (if 100-watts are actually being used, most run light diodes at 50%).

So while you can get the same output at 1/2 the energy of say a sodium vapour light, the other issues of heat still exists (unless you run the diodes at 50% and double the amount of diodes you have).

Cost: more than 10x the amount of a sodium vapour lamp for less output using white LEDs.

Worth it to you?
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Re: Indoor Lighs and Tomatos

Postby Dumbo » Mar 16, 2012 6:19 am

I did a little bit of research for you.

Here is the company that holds some of the latest patents in LED light Growing Technology per NASA http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2010/cg_1.html

http://orbitec.com/store/led_lighting.html

These appear to be High Emission LEDs considering the price of them.

A 6-inch block of lights: http://orbitec.com/store/led_panels.html

A 4-foot bar of lights: http://orbitec.com/store/led_light_bars.html

Now start adding up the cost of the proper Red spectrum's (plural) and blue spectrum's (plural) that you need for the device you want.

You can also get a 6-inch block for about 50$ if you order from China (I've seen these online). But, they won't tell you the output of the LEDs, type of LEDs, nor the spectrum. Instead they call them "NASA LED's". I have a hard time believing that the 30$ Chinese knock-off comes close to the spec's in the URL pasted above.

Yeah, you can find all sorts of knock-off's on the web for around 700 to 1200$ that will do you. But is it the proper stuff? Likely not. If it was, they wouldn't hide the spec's from public view. But, hey, try your luck.

The cost of proper LED's for the average home user is prohibitive.
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