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Chocolate Bhutlah woes

Started this pepper plant from seeds, grew slow at first then picked up some. With the hot humid summer weather, it has slowed so much I was afraid it was rootbound. But when I went to inspect the roots, the soil was just about perfect, not compacted, warm and moust but not wet. No visible critters in it, and no visible fungus or mold. However, I had a layer of pearlite on the bottom that was rather wet. So since I had d UK mped everything out anyways, I trimmed some of the roots, mixed the soil up again and planted it back in the pot. I was hoping to see it perk back up. I gave it about a week to see how it would react, It had about a dozen pods forming and some maturing. It started dropping leaves like crazy and turning yellow, so I cut off all the pods to help it put it's energy back to the leaves. That did not help. I was worried about losing this plant since it is the only one out of 10 seeds that actually sprouted. It was kind of a father son project with my 12yr old. So after a week and a half of not showing any positive signs, I dumped the pot again, pulled the plant, soaked the hole plant in soapy water, then washed off the leaves, roots and clipped the worst looking leaves off to thin it out. I trimmed a few of the branches in hopes of inspiring it to grow again. Then I set up a hydro bucket system. I have it in a net pot lid in a 5 gallon bucket with a water pump shooting water directly at the roots. I threw in a little nutrients to help things along. I set it up and went in for the night. When I woke up this morning, it was looking much better. The leaves although still pale and yellow, looked much happier. I am still learning about PH and whatnots, I bought a little digital ph and TDS meter to check my water, but not sure of its accuracy yet. Right out of the box it was reading my tap water at 7.5 or so. After looking up some natural ways to ph balance the water, I am going to try to use some lime juice to adjust closer to 6.0 in hopes that will help things pick up.
More to follow.
pictures from oldest up to now...
March 19, April 22, May 9th


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Set-up is outside. Worried about the heat as I checked the temp today around noon and water temp was over 95 degrees
May 25th, May 29th


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Yeah, that kind of outdoor hydro isn't going to do well.  You need to keep your nutrient solution temperature below 76 degrees, or it won't hold enough (possibly any) dissolved oxygen. 
Wrap your hydro bucket in tinfoil - I have the same problem with water temps getting high. Also, move it to a place where it doesn't get direct sun all day, only for a few hours.
In the ground, the roots stay cool but in a container, not so much. I have thought about experimenting with putting the bucket in a large cooler. An alternative may be burying the bucket. Haven't tried either yet though!
And good luck! I didn't get a single bhutlah to germinate.
76 degrees outside in Tampa...thats funny.
On a serious note, Siv, I thought about putting the bucket in the ground too. Right now moved it under the patio roof so it gets morning sun for a few hours then shade. I guess time will tell.
You're going to be lucky to keep it at 86 degrees.
Like I said, outdoor hydro and Florida don't go together. It can do ok in the winter months, but it seems like it all goes sideways as the plant is about to drive.
I live almost straight east of you. Did outdoor hydro with varying degrees of success for years. Finally gave up, as there are just too many parameters that are out of one's control. (Rain and temp swings being the worst)
Yeah, thats kinda what I was thinking too. Once I get my garage cleaned out and finished, I will have a little rack to put my plants on with a flourescent grow light on it. For now just going to try to keep it alive.
For the sake of saving a grow, some people have had luck with Kratky.  I don't like it, personally.  But regardless, it seems to be the only method of hydro that will work in spite of the challenges of traditional hydro.  You might think about trying that.  At that stage, you'll need bigger containers.
If you have good soil (which you don't in Tampa) or space for raised beds, these are always going to be top options.  Indoor, fully controlled hydro second.  But outdoor hydro is (in my experience) easily the most challenging and costly way to go.  Your garage will present similar challenges to outdoor, if you aren't fully climate controlled.
SpikeA said:
76 degrees outside in Tampa...thats funny.
On a serious note, Siv, I thought about putting the bucket in the ground too. Right now moved it under the patio roof so it gets morning sun for a few hours then shade. I guess time will tell.
I bought one of those wireless cooking thermometers and stuck the probe in one of my black buckets. Mine are also under shade and get morning sun ranging from 4 hours to the one on the far right and 30mins to the one on the far left. On the far right the root temps hit 101 yesterday with 92 ambient and didn't start coming down until 9pm and were still at 88 this morning when ambient was around 75.
My daughter and I wrapped all the black buckets in tin foil yesterday. It's a bit overcast today but ambient is 92 and the bucket is 92 (I just asked my wife to check).
I'm gonna leave them this season and see what happens. We'll get ambients in the 100s in the next couple of months so no amount of tin foil is going to help that. And I'll be on vacation for a chunk of the high temp months. If they all die then next year I'll look into a chiller of some sort.
Edit to add: Mine are all Kratky with a float valve controlled level. Currently the level is around 7-8" so there's plenty of head space for air roots. Maybe you can try this with your DWC - lower the nute level so that some of the roots aren't submerged.
Unfortunately, with DWC, even with a fairly healthy air space, they'll seek out the water level.  DWC plants have some of the most massive root systems that I've ever seen.  5 gallon buckets are no match for a healthy root system.
Be warned...  a chiller will be prohibitively expensive.  You'll end up creating an inverted heat exchanger, if you keep your grow setup outdoors.  Even with a massively large reservoir - like on the order of a few thousand gallons - you'll be hard pressed to cool efficiently. 
Maybe if you have a cave or artesian well, where you could create a submerged heat exchange coil in the cool air, or cold water flow.  But most people don't have that. ;)
hmmm I happen to have a 1500 gallon in ground pool relatively close, perhaps I could submerge a coil in the pool, it would be a water to water heat exchanger. I like trying to engineer a diy solution for simple problems, MacGuyver was my hero lol
1500 gallons is a tiny pool. Forgot a zero, perhaps?
It's been a while since I've had to deal with thermodynamics - but to ascertain the effectiveness, you'll need to find the heat transfer coefficient, or film coefficient of your device in a given medium. You'll have to know the configuration and material of your heat exchanger, and obviously, the fluid. (the most common being air, water, and oil - so it's easy info to find)
I don't know if you have a great enough temperature differential, pressure, or flow rate to make it work. But this was never really my area of expertise.
My pool is already at 89F and will only go up! Absolutely no help...
I saw video of a ghetto chiller which comprised an old fridge with something like 200ft of garden hose coiled up in it. Interesting idea if someone's throwing out an old fridge. Must need quite a pump to get through that length of garden hose though. Would also probably need to insulate the buckets to minimize losses. I can see why this gets expensive.
Yeah, with physics you don't get something for nothing.  LOL
The only cost effective way to ever do something like this, as I mention before, is with a natural, perpetual source. But, alas... :D
If you were going to do a fridge, you'd ideally "precharge" the system by freezing a big block of ice in the overhead freezer.  Drill a hole in the top of the fridge, run aluminum or copper piping through the hole, and have it frozen into that big block of ice.  But don't pump through the length of tubing.  Pump it into a gravity fed container just above the freezer.  Of course, you'd need to make sure that container didn't overflow. A kill switch on a float pump.  Then, the second challenge, is to bypass the freezer when the temperature is sitting at, ideally, 68 degrees. But believe me... you are going to pay for this system.  It will work harder than you might imagine.  I'd say you'll easily fork out in the neighborhood of a hundred bucks a month, if not more.  And a large reservoir means lots of nutes.  So there's that.
Either way, I'm still recommending that you maximize your use of soil and containers. ;)
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Before adding a chiller, I think that more work needs to be done insulating the buckets - otherwise the chiller is working overtime to combat the sun. I read your post last night before going to bed and ended up thinking about building some kind of enclosure for the buckets with a good layer of insulation on the inside and reflective foil on the outside. This would make it a bit of a pain to check nutrient levels so I'd probably go with some kind of level control and circulation to maintain ppm concentration.
For the cooling, instead of getting a dedicated chiller, I'd just use the cold air from the house and return. If the enclosure is well insulated, it's not going to make much difference to your house AC load.
Outdoor Setup1.png
In that case, you have to think about the conductivity of materials.  Plastic is more efficient at insulating than conducting. (with the possible exception of when it's absorbing UV)  And your AC doesn't care what temperature your buckets are at.  So you're only going to get the occasional opportunistic cooling.
This is not a simple problem. ;)
I guess the question is the balance between the cost of light vs the cost of cooling. The reason for the outdoor hydro is the free light! For a single plant, it's probably better to grow indoors and supply light. But when you're up to 20 (like me) then the light cost may be huge. Another benefit I have is lots of lizards which keep my plants relatively bug free.
I'm very interested to see how my setup does over the season. The hydro plants are doing really well at the moment - much better than those in soil - but who knows what will happen through the height of summer. Maybe the soil ones will leap ahead.
A couple things that have peaked my interest are the 5-gallon bucket cooler inserts and even the 5-gallon drink coolers. They may serve to help keep the nutes insulated against the height of the midday heat. But we're talking a lot of additional cost... I may buy one and try it with one of the rocotos.