Back at the end of March, I made these
bubbler systems from 10 gallon buckets: wrapped them in insulation, made little
holes in the lids, and inserted net pots containing four chili plants freshly
rooted in a Rainforest propagation system. My original plan was to perform a
test on supplying dissolved oxygen in four different ways. However the two
plants at the back quickly fell behind, got crowded out, and well, it was quite a
while until I discovered they were actually, yeah, how do I say it? Dead,
yes, dead. Dead as Dodos fastened to doors
with nails. Suffice to say the dissolved oxygen experiment needs to be reviewed
and repeated, at the very least. However, today, I have entirely the opposite
problem. Despite now only having two plants in this 4×4 grow tent, they have
grown, and grown, and grown. One conclusion I am able to tentatively draw at this
point is that my air pumps and air stones are doing a great job of
supplying oxygen to the nutrient solution. I’m using an Eco Plus “Eco Air”
twin-outlet air pump to bubble air into both buckets via some air-line. One via
an Eco Plus air stone, and the other with an Eco Plus flexible air diffuser pipe. The Eco Air 2 pumps 126 gallons of air per hour and I’m effectively aerating 20 gallons
of nutrient solutions split over 2 buckets, that’s 6.3 gallons of air per
hour per gallon of nutrient solution. I should point out that this is a bare
minimum; you can go much higher. I know some of the water culture specialists
out there recommend up to 16 gallons of air per hour per gallon of nutrient
solution. If you’re a metric person then think 1 liter per minute for every 4
litres of nutrient solution, but don’t get too much higher than this or you risk
creating so much turbulence in the nutrient solution that you could
physically damage your plants’ roots. You can also get air discs, and micro bubble
air diffuser rings, and diffusers too, that create smaller bubbles for more
effective aeration with less turbulence. I’ll be checking those out in a special
video all about dissolved oxygen soon. But, now I need to figure out how to stop
my chili plants from growing, and get them to start flowering and fruiting.
This is easier said than done. My peppers are from the tropics: the Dutch Antilles
in the Caribbean to be precise. And as such, they don’t respond to the changes
in photoperiod. So, simply switching my light controllers time to a 12-hour
cycle isn’t going to cut it. My grow light is a Sun Par 300 watt LED with a
wonderful bloom spectrum to emulate the output of an HPS, but, and here’s
a thing, just because it’s got a spectrum that’s awesome for flowering plants,
doesn’t mean that it’ll actually initiate flowering. That’s down to the
species genetics and other environmental factors. It turns out the plant staying
vegetative for too long is all too common to many indoor gardens. Conditions tend
to be warm and sheltered, making plants favor growth over bloom. However, if we
don’t get the balance right, it’s all too easy to end up with lots of stem and
leaf, and precious little fruit production. Light levels, as you can see,
are up in the 500 + micromole zone. This should be sufficient for my needs, and
note how I’ve got the Sun Par attached directly to the cross beam of the Sun
Hut Blackout grow tent, so I have no wiggle room left if my plants get any
taller. “What about my beloved soft mesh netting?” I hear you ask. Well that’s all
the way down here, doing pretty much nothing to help my cause. I can’t
increase the time between irrigations in an effort to create a drier root zone, as
the roots are constantly submerged in nutrient solution. If I were growing in
soil, coco coir, stonewool, or some other substrate, then this would be an
option. Dryer root zones cause a mild stress that helps to steer peppers into
flowering and fruit production. I was able to keep the same plants in Grodan
Delta 4 inch blocks far squatter using this technique.
I can’t decrease air temperature, as I’m up in my attic in mid summer, with no
air conditioning. What was I thinking. I’m running my Sun Par at night when ambient
temperatures of the coolest. Of course, lights-on temperatures are at around 82
degrees Fahrenheit, or 28 degrees Celsius. Now, if I could create a bigger
difference between my daytime and nighttime temperatures, say using air
conditioning to reduce my nighttime temperatures to 60 to 64 Fahrenheit, then
that would definitely help cue my peppers to start flowering. Now, relative
humidity remains low, around 20 to 30%, and this actually runs in my
favor. Harsher higher VPD conditions help to stimulate generative production:
flowers fruits and seeds. High planting density can also keep planes vegetative,
but while these two pepper plants are certainly doing a good job of filling
out the tent, the conditions aren’t too cramped yet.
Note how the plant on the left is starting to flower, but the plant on the
right is full-on still in vegetative mode. That’s because I’m still chilling
the nutrient solution in the bucket on the right down to 66 degrees Fahrenheit,
around 19 degrees Celsius. A hangover from my dissolved oxygen experiment.
Whereas the bucket on the left is unchilled at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25
degrees Celsius. A cool nutrient solution, while great for root health and dissolved
oxygen levels, can actually help keep plants vegetative. So what am I going to
do? Well, the first thing I’m going to do is
prune back some of these growth tips. I’ll use this opportunity to take lots
of cuttings as I love having a stock from the same mother plant for my
experiments. And this also serves as a quick fix at reducing the plant height,
especially this plant here on the right. I’ve seen some growers prune canopy-level leaves at the beginning of flowering, claiming that it helps the
plane to focus on buds, flowers, and fruit production.
I do not recommend this! Those leaves are important for absorbing the very light
energy needed to actually power generative development. Number two, I’ll
increase my nutrient solution to 800 PPMs. Using Flora Series 3 part. I’ll use equal
parts of grow, micro, and bloom for now. And once the flowers start to develop,
I’ll up the bloom component and lower the grow. This is a strong nutrient
solution for water culture and should mildly stress the plants into flower and
fruit production. Number 3: I’ll set my nutrient chiller to 75 degrees
Fahrenheit. Number 4: I may invest in a portable air conditioner, just to help me
keep nighttime temperatures low. Hopefully, by the time next summer
arrives, I’ll have a permanent air conditioning solution installed. Now, let
me know your thoughts in the comments. I won’t be using any exotic stimulators or
PGRs, as these are consumable crops, and I always like to grow without them
anyway. I hope you enjoyed watching. Please hit that subscribe button below, as it helps keep me hard – I mean generative, generative. This is Everest,
all vegged out. Bye-bye.

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