If you have never previously used hydroponics in order to grow pepper plants then now might be the best time to give it a go. A lot of people avoid this approach as they believe that it is going to be far too complicated for them and they then stick to what they have previously used, which is soil. However, if you follow some simple tips and useful advice then there is no reason who you should come unstuck with hydroponics. To be honest, it is not as complicated as you think and the results that you are often able to achieve are going to be pretty spectacular.
1. Get to Grips with Nutrients.
One of the most important aspects of a hydroponics system is just making sure that you have the correct nutrients since the plants are going to really need this in order to then grow and fruit. The nutrients are in a solution that is put through the water and is then absorbed by the roots. However, it is also important to remember that pepper plants are going to need the correct concentrations for them to then thrive so just taking a guess at these levels is not going to get you anywhere fast.
So, when it comes to the nutrients then you need to think about these levels and minerals.
- Nutrient solutions are different to just using normal soil based nutrients.
- It has to include micro-elements that the plants need to thrive.
- There are a number of key minerals and nutrients that have to be included.
- Consider pre-made solutions rather than trying to make your own.
- Nutrients include, Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium,
, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Molybdenum, Boron and Chlorine. Sulphur
2. Checking and Adjusting the pH.
Dealing with the pH levels is important in any kind of growing but this is made even more important when you are dealing with hydroponics and water is the absolute main source. However, you need to be aware of how to both check for the pH level as well as how you then adjust it although thankfully this is going to be substantially easier than you had perhaps imagined.
You see, the pH has to be correct in the solution that you are using or else the plants are going to be unable to absorb the nutrients and you are wasting your time. So, think about these points in order to proceed.
- Getting the pH correct is essential for the health of the plant.
- Without it, you will find that they cannot absorb the nutrients.
- If the pH is out of the range for the plants then they will be malnourished.
- This applies no matter how good your nutrient solution is.
3. Should You Use Test Kits or Electronics for pH Checking?
When it comes to actually checking the pH then you have two different options. You can use either test kits or there are electronics out there that are going to do it all for you. However, we need to look at which one is best or if there is any real difference.
To be honest, both have their positives and negatives and you have to balance them out when making your decisions. In this instance, the key points to remember that may very well make a difference are as follows.
- Electric testers are expensive.
- They are guilty of often giving false readings.
- You need to calibrate them on a regular basis.
- Test kits are accurate enough for what you need.
- They are inexpensive and do not give false readings.
Overall, you have to say that test kits are actually better and they will certainly not burn as big a hole in your pocket.
4. Understanding pH Adjusters.
The next point that we are going to look at is the idea of pH adjusters because if the pH is wrong then you are obviously going to have to do something about it so that your plants are then going to be able to grow successfully.
Now, pepper plants need the pH to be within a set range for the variety and if your pH is not within this, then these adjusters are going to make the all important change that you need. However, in order to make sure that things will work out well, you have to think about these points.
- Always make sure that you buy pH adjusters specifically for hydroponics.
- Never use ones that are designed for soil.
- Stay away from home remedies.
- Only those for hydroponics will be stable enough to be used in this situation.
- Trying various things will make matters worse for the pH.
5. Should You Use Pump Timers?
The slightly more elaborate hydroponic systems can come with pumps to make sure that the water is flowing and so are all of those nutrients. Now, to make things even better there is the possibility of you using pump timers, but should you actually invest in them? Are they worth the money that you would need to spend in buying them?
The short answer is yes and there are a number of things to think about to make sure that you end up with the correct pump timer and special attention should be paid to these points.
- Use a pump timer that is at least 15amp.
- 10amp timers have a tendency to burn out over time.
- Use timers that are referred to as being indoor and outdoor timers.
- Look for those that are classed as being heavy duty.
- Indoor and outdoor timers are grounded and safer to use.
- Consider a dial version as they are cheaper than digital and just as good.
- Make sure they have a number of settings as it gives you more scope.
6. When Should You Really Use the Timer?
We just said how it is important for you to have the correct pump timer, but when should you actually use them in the first place? Obviously this is something else that is important to get right and there are a few tips that you might want to take advantage of that will certainly make life a whole lot easier for you.
However, timers do have to be used in various situations including the following.
- If you are using an ebb and flow system.
- If you are using a drip system.
- If you are using an aeroponics system.
- You do not need them with a 24/7 system.
- You do not need them with a wick system.
As you can see, it all depends on the system that you are using so you have to take this into consideration before you go any further.
7. When Should You Water the Pepper Plants with Your Hydroponics System?
This is a rather interesting question and it is certainly one that does have to be answered because is there an actual need for you to water your pepper plants even when you are using a hydroponics system? You see, the roots are always being hit with water so, by rights, if you were doing this with soil then there are many that would argue that you did not have to water the top of the soil itself as it is the roots that are important.
Instead, there are a number of things to think about and it all comes down to the type of system that you are planning on using which is why it is essential that you think all of this through correctly before you really begin. However, think about these points just to make life that little bit easier for you.
- The general rule is to water them often enough to get the roots wet.
- The roots should not be held under water so that they end up suffocating.
- A timer makes it very easy to keep control of this particular situation.
- If the roots are drying then you need to increase the frequency.
- Generally you are looking at it happening for 30 minutes at a time.
- Do not water at night.
8. Understanding the Water Level in your System.
We are staying with water here because you have to think about the level of the water in your systems to make sure that the plants are able to get everything that they need in order to really grow like never before. In order to help, we have to look at what the different systems need just to make life easier for you.
- Flood and Drain Systems.
In an ideal world, the level should be two inches below the top of the growing medium when it is in flood mode. However, if you are using rockwool then this is able to absorb more water so have the level lower.
- NFT Systems.
When it comes to NFT systems, then you are generally looking at the water being a
- Drip Systems.
For drip systems, then the actual water level is not a big issue as the entire idea is that the nutrients are dripped down rather than sitting there submerged. As a result, it never builds up and if it is then it means your system is not working.
- Water Culture Systems.
This system means that there is water there 24/7. The roots are almost entirely submerged in the water although some have to remain above it. Ideally, the growing medium that you are using should be just touching the water so it is able to get some moisture without it being completely soaked.
- Aeroponic Systems.
Water levels are not important here as the roots are suspended in the air and are never stuck in water.
- Wick Systems.
For this, the most important thing is that the wick is in some water so that it can absorb it but apart from that the actual level is not as important as it is with other systems.
9. Dealing with the Size of the Reservoir.
Next, we have to mention the size of the reservoir because you will understand how this is something that is going to be rather important. You see, if it is too small, then you are going to make life so much harder for your own self and that has to be avoided. Ideally, you should think of these points.
- Pepper plants need up to 1.5 gallons of nutrients per plant.
- You should consider double that minimum amount.
- You do not have to start with this amount when the plants are small.
- Increase the amount when they mature.
10. Be Aware of the Water Quality.
We should also look at the water quality because this is going to have an impact on how successful your pepper plants are going to be. Now, if you thought that you could just go out and use any type of water, then think again.
- Only ever use a quality filtered water.
- Other water can cause all kinds of problems.
- Do not use a water softener as it uses salt which is toxic.
- Tap water has high levels of minerals that are toxic.
11. How About Artificial Lights?
Apart from nutrients and water, you also have to think about the fact that plants need light in order to grow and this is no different. Now, some would argue that natural light is the best, but that is not always going to be possible so in that case you need to consider these points.
- Artificial light provides the correct energy for the plants to grow.
- LED grow lights offer the best light spectrum for the best results.
- Plants are stronger under these lights.
- The plants are healthier and denser foliage.
- Artificial lights do not just work, they are a necessity.
12. Understanding Water Temperature and Oxygen.
Finally, we have to quickly mention the importance of the correct water temperature and oxygen levels when you are running this kind of system. This is absolutely vital because it links in with the potential success of your plants and it is all down to you working within certain levels that the plants need in order to grow. So, these are the key things to think about.
- It should be between
- Anything above
80Ffor a period of time can lead to disease.
- The bigger the plant the more oxygen it needs.
- It is impossible to give the roots too much oxygen.
- A lot of oxygen makes it harder for pathogens to develop.
If you can just keep these 12 tips in mind then you should have a successful time growing your pepper plants by using hydroponics. As you can see, it is certainly not as complex as you had perhaps initially feared and that has to be a major bonus on your part. Remember, there is still the possibility of things going wrong, but that can be avoided if you are just careful with what you do from the outset.