Hydroponic Culture Peppers II
Commercial growers use a one-crop cycle per year. But, I think that in your home due to lower light levels it may be advantageous to change the crop after 5 to 6 months. If you grow field varieties you can change them after 4 to 5 months. Be sure to start your next crop of seedlings about 4 to 6 weeks in advance to removing the old plants so that you reduce the time between cropping.
In your home you will be growing a combination of crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, so you should use a general formulation suitable to all of them. I presented such a formulation for tomatoes in a previous article. You may refer to it or if you want more specific formulations please refer to “Hydroponic Food Production.” Below in Table 1 is a specific formulation for peppers should you wish to optimize your pepper production.
Table 1. Pepper Formulation
|Iron Chelate (FeDTPA)
|Sodium or Ammonium
As for the tomatoes make up a concentrated stock solution of about 300 times normal strength for the micronutrients with the exception of iron as their weights are too small to accurately measure with a gram scale if using a normal strength solution.
The optimum pH for peppers is between 5.8 and 6.1. Monitor daily with indicator paper and adjust with an acid or base as needed.
Feed with the nutrient solution of EC 2.5 – 3.0 mS to maintain a root zone EC of 3.5 – 4.0 mS. If the peppers become too vegetative raise the EC to stress the plants. Start the first irrigation cycle about half an hour before the lights come on and the last cycle about 1 to 2 hours before the end of the photoperiod.
Pests, Diseases & Other Problems:
Peppers like tomatoes and cucumbers are susceptible to a number of serious pests and diseases. The most common diseases of peppers include gray mould (Botrytis cinerea), stem rot (Fusarium solani), tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). Varieties are available with resistance to TMV and some strains of fungi. When handling plants and using shears or knives dip them between each plant in a powder milk solution as discussed earlier. Use 100 grams of low fat milk powder per liter of water.
The most common physiological disorder of peppers in blossom-end-rot (BER). Avoid plant stresses due to temperatures, RH and irrigation cycle frequency. Growth cracks can result from excessive root pressures result in fruit splitting.
The most common insect pests include aphids, two-spotted, red-spider mite, broad mites, thrips, whiteflies, fungus gnats and caterpillars. Broad mites are the most dangerous. They are hard to detect due to their translucent color and small size. Watch the growing points of the plants for any drying leaves. Use a magnifying glass to examine the growing tip and young shoot growth. We shall look at these problems in a later article. You may also refer to “Hydroponic Food Production” for photos, drawings and control measures.
Peppers are relatively hardy, but require very precise training to achieve good production (photo 1). This training must be done every few weeks to keep the plant under control of vegetative versus generative phases. The colored peppers are very sweet and nutritious. Such healthful crops are worth the effort to learn to cultivate correctly to get the maximum benefit from them. Like tomatoes, peppers can be used in the kitchen in many dishes.
Please refer to Hydroponic Culture of Peppers 1 for the first article in this series by this link.