• If you need help identifying a pepper, disease, or plant issue, please post in Identification.

hydroponic Outdoor hydroponics recommendations?

Had a productive hot sauce season last year from 12 plants plus farmers market Fresno peppers. In 2020, I'd like to increase output and reduce the Fresno content, so I'm hoping to grow about 25-35 plants.
 
My problem is space. I've only got two small areas to grow. One is about 50 sq ft, and the other is a balcony about 20 sq ft. The balcony gets a bit more sun, but has no water or electricity service. I've been growing in soil in 5 and 6 gallon pots. Neither space gets a full day sun, but chinenses do quite well.
 
I'm considering setting up an outdoor hydro system to maximize space efficiency. Our climate seems suitable; we only get about 0-10 days above 90F in the summer and most years it never freezes. 
 
A friend who does commercial hydroponic gardening recommended an aquaponic system, specifically a vertical system. He has no personal experience with aquaponics, but he's seen nothing but great results from friends' home aquaponics systems. I'm reluctant to go this route; seems too complex, and I'd worry about temperature control since the tank would be outside. Really want a low maintenance set up.
 
He advised strongly against aeroponics, and discouraged me from ebb and flow, or drip (although ebb and flow and drip are what he uses at work). He thought DWC would be OK, but warned that optimizing a nutrient mix could be challenging since most hydro nutrients are intended for cannabis. (this was another reason he recommended aquaponics). 
 
We didn't discuss passive setups like Kratky, but it seems like passive systems are less space efficient and won't take advantage of our long growing season.
 
Would love some advice from the pepperheads here. What kind of system would you set up and why? What pitfalls and problems should I expect?
 
Another question: is it possible to overwinter hydro plants?
 
Cheap to setup your DIY system. Tub, aquarium pump and airstone, something to cut holes for netcups in the top.
No power ?? cant run a extension cord? Running air in the water I found best. Kratky works well, you just have to watch out for algae growth if your outside.
 

Uncle Eckley

Extreme Member
I'll be growing Kratky outdoors in a small space again this year.  Simple, no power necessary, worked well for me. Keep an eye on the pH.
 
Outdoor hydro is, in general, not really a great way to go.  You have to monitor reservoir temps much more carefully, which gets quite challenging when the temp is not a parameter within your control. Oxygen levels are almost non-existent at normal summer temps. (optimum temp for reservoir is between 64 and 68 degrees F)  Roots need oxygen to thrive.  So your early season growth may be phenomenal, but later season gets challenging. Hydro is supposed to be about controlling all the parameters for ideal growth.  So if you can't control them - well, I'll let you let logic take over.  And I'm not sure how much space you save with hydro over a conventional container setup.  Pepper plants grow big, and the root systems can get massive.  
.
I don't know what your friend means by "optimizing" a nutrient for non-cannabis growth.  I'm guessing that they probably don't, either.  If you have everything else in check, nutrient "optimization" is the least of your worries.  Peppers are continuously vegetative and fruit bearing.  There is no nutrient cycling required.  We don't "veg" and "bloom", we don't use finishers for ripening, no complex sugars to enhance resin, etc.  It's really simple.  Anyone that tells you to complicate it, probably shouldn't be trusted for gardening advice.  In a hydro system, almost any nutrient will do, so long as it's complete.  Always run on the low side of the recommendations.  More does not equal more better.
.
Some people use Kratky, and it seems to work for them. (I don't consider Kratky the kind of hydro that you're asking about, but rather kind of a niche thing) But I am still a die hard soil gardener, and if I can't have that, I'm going to a container.  I think that even Kratky gets a bit pricey for something like peppers.  If it's ALL you can do, go for it.  But in general, I don't recommend outdoor hydro.  Especially if you're new to this kind of growing.  If you insist on doing it, go small, and do a side-by-side with a container grow.  Keep tabs on growth and cost.  Make a value decision after you have the experience and data.  Unless you really like science projects, I think that you'll find that containers are the most cost effective and reliable option.
 
Outdoor hydro is where most of my peppers come from. I grow in a small area too. Have a look at my glog for a bit more information, but I have a modified NFT setup with 4 27L pots and 2 reseviours. I have no issues with water temps and we have between 0 and 45C days throughout the year. I also was able to take all of the plants out at season end and overwinter in a coir/perlite mix.

Let me know if you want more detail, but this was last year's growth.
20200104_163746.jpg

20190321_182545.jpg


A mate showed my this setup years ago and he grows all sorts this way. Here is his Atlantic giant pumpkin from last year, but over 300kg.
20200104_163917.jpg
 
I use Dutch buckets for my set up.  I don't have many problems with water temp. Light colored container in a shady spot works well.  I use coco for the medium and only need to water 3-5x a day for 5 mins.  I use these same setups outside in the nice weather and inside when it's cold.
 

Attachments

  • 20170127_175211_zpsz2cccz3i.jpg
    20170127_175211_zpsz2cccz3i.jpg
    80.2 KB · Views: 74
So, if you guys are having success with outdoor hydro, you should definitely post your secret.  Reservoir temp is not a thing that I made up.  It's a real struggle for most people. What's different about your setups?  Your night and day temp differences?  What is "modified NFT?"  These are al important things to know before setting a newbie on an expensive journey.  Why does your method work for you, in the place that you live?
.
I have had decent success with growing both tomatoes and peppers in the cooler months of our calendar year.  But full summer, for me, means no active hydro setup. I could write a book about the clockwork failures that inevitably occur.  There are literally thousands of similar stories to be read online.  (I actually tried outdoor hydro for several years, just as a challenge to my past failures)
.
I want to learn something here.
 
From what I understand the method I use is a cross between NFT and the Dutch bucket method.

I have two reseviours, each supplying two pots. However if you have a bigger reseviour you can run any amount of pots. For reseviours I am using what we Aussies call "Eskies", but for everyone else it's an insulated cooler used for 'drinks' (read beer). You can use any lidded container for this, but I was trying something new. Others I know use up to 200L plastic drums.

Essentially nutrients are pumped up (I use the smallest pond pump I could get) through a T-piece into 4mm line and emitted through drippers for 30mins at a time. I have the pump on a timer, so it operates 6 times a day at even intervals.
The plants are planted in clay hydroton and the theory is that as the nutrient solution goes down it pulls behind it oxygen.
The pots then have a gravity fed return line back to the reseviour. Pretty simple. The return line is 19mm and importantly is just above the bottom of the pot which allows for some liquid to sit in the pot, which I find seems to keep the plant hydrated until the next cycle.

In the past I have used 20L water tanks with a tap already installed and cut the top off to use as a pot. This setup I made at the beginning of 2018 I used 27L storage containers and drilled holes for the return line. You can then buy the grommets and line from a hydro shop or most garden centres.


20200105_065524.jpg

20200105_065542.jpg



You can let your imagination run wild with the setup as long as you stick to the principles. Reseviour, pump nutrients into a pot of some description, gravity fed back into reseviour.
The pumpkin is grown in a big old cast iron bathtub (the pot) filled with clay hydroton, and he uses a 200L plastic reseviour.

When the reseviours start to run out of nutrients I just fill them back up either through the pot or straight into the reseviour. They go through about 18L of nutrients in 4-6 days in our summer heat, but in the cooler months it can last two weeks easy. This obviously is very particularly to my setup though. The amount of pots and the reseviour size are factors. I'm using a two part nutrient solution from Dutch Master, which I buy at our local hardware store here in Perth (Bunnings).

Let me know if there is anything I missed.
 
solid7 said:
So, if you guys are having success with outdoor hydro, you should definitely post your secret.  Reservoir temp is not a thing that I made up.  It's a real struggle for most people. What's different about your setups?  Your night and day temp differences?  What is "modified NFT?"  These are al important things to know before setting a newbie on an expensive journey.  Why does your method work for you, in the place that you live?
.
I have had decent success with growing both tomatoes and peppers in the cooler months of our calendar year.  But full summer, for me, means no active hydro setup. I could write a book about the clockwork failures that inevitably occur.  There are literally thousands of similar stories to be read online.  (I actually tried outdoor hydro for several years, just as a challenge to my past failures)
.
I want to learn something here.
I grow in Nebraska, so mid summer temps are high 90's-100's for highs and 70's overnight. The most important part as I said is light colored line and reservoir. Keep the reservoir in shade or better yet bury it in the ground. For the op can you keep the reservoir inside if using the balcony? You can active ventilate your reservoir. I can't remember the calculations but enough airflow thru the box with the water falling you can basically create a swamp cooler. No matter what you do you have to have everything hidden from the sun. On a larger scale with a bigger budget you can run your water thru a chiller.
 
Ah, yes, I had guessed (but didn't want to assume) that both of you were using some method of secondary cooling.  That definitely works, but adds a layer of complexity and cost.  I actually toyed with the idea of using a chiller, but even for something like an old fridge, it would have been prohibitively expensive, over the course of a season.
.
I grew up in Nebraska.  it's where I learned to grow - extreme weather and all. :)
 
 
Ice cubes in the nutrient reservoir do quite well for keeping temps down; that and extreme shading of everything that handles nutrient.
 
dragonsfire said:
Cheap to setup your DIY system. Tub, aquarium pump and airstone, something to cut holes for netcups in the top.
No power ?? cant run a extension cord? Running air in the water I found best. Kratky works well, you just have to watch out for algae growth if your outside.
 
I don't want to run electricity up to the balcony for safety reasons, but I'm open to running a water line or air line up there. My concern with Kratky is that I'll need a large amount of water and a big reservoir, possibly negating any space savings. Plus, can Kratky plants be overwintered? Aren't the roots next to the stem impossible to revive after they've gone dry?
 
Uncle_Eccoli said:
I'll be growing Kratky outdoors in a small space again this year.  Simple, no power necessary, worked well for me. Keep an eye on the pH.
 
Good point about pH. Wouldn't this be an issue for DWC or any other approach? Or is it just worse with Kratky because you aren't replenishing water/nutrients?
 
solid7 said:
Outdoor hydro is, in general, not really a great way to go.  You have to monitor reservoir temps much more carefully, which gets quite challenging when the temp is not a parameter within your control. Oxygen levels are almost non-existent at normal summer temps. (optimum temp for reservoir is between 64 and 68 degrees F)  Roots need oxygen to thrive.  So your early season growth may be phenomenal, but later season gets challenging. Hydro is supposed to be about controlling all the parameters for ideal growth.  So if you can't control them - well, I'll let you let logic take over.  And I'm not sure how much space you save with hydro over a conventional container setup.  Pepper plants grow big, and the root systems can get massive.  
.
I don't know what your friend means by "optimizing" a nutrient for non-cannabis growth.  I'm guessing that they probably don't, either.  If you have everything else in check, nutrient "optimization" is the least of your worries.  Peppers are continuously vegetative and fruit bearing.  There is no nutrient cycling required.  We don't "veg" and "bloom", we don't use finishers for ripening, no complex sugars to enhance resin, etc.  It's really simple.  Anyone that tells you to complicate it, probably shouldn't be trusted for gardening advice.  In a hydro system, almost any nutrient will do, so long as it's complete.  Always run on the low side of the recommendations.  More does not equal more better.
.
Some people use Kratky, and it seems to work for them. (I don't consider Kratky the kind of hydro that you're asking about, but rather kind of a niche thing) But I am still a die hard soil gardener, and if I can't have that, I'm going to a container.  I think that even Kratky gets a bit pricey for something like peppers.  If it's ALL you can do, go for it.  But in general, I don't recommend outdoor hydro.  Especially if you're new to this kind of growing.  If you insist on doing it, go small, and do a side-by-side with a container grow.  Keep tabs on growth and cost.  Make a value decision after you have the experience and data.  Unless you really like science projects, I think that you'll find that containers are the most cost effective and reliable option.
 
Seeing as my friend has been professionally farming for more than 25 years and almost 20 years by hydroponics, I figured he is a safe source of information, even if he hasn't grown peppers. The replies in this thread are very helpful, and for the most part nothing contradicts his advice. He did say that high temps will slow growth, but since we almost never see a single day above 35C/97F, it would just mean slower growth when it gets hot. Not plant death.
 
He has encountered challenges with nutrient optimization for plants without a clear veg/flower cycle. Other sources I've seen regarding pepper growing recommend reducing N and increasing P as fruits form. Unless I'm misunderstanding your post, you are recommending keeping the nutrients the same throughout the season? Is this common practice?
 
How certain are you that there is little advantage in space efficiency using hydro for peppers? If there is no clear space savings, then I'll just continue growing in soil.
 
Good advice about starting small. Maybe I'll just do an experiment to see how viable a simple hydro system will be here.
 
Pinhigh said:
Outdoor hydro is where most of my peppers come from. I grow in a small area too. Have a look at my glog for a bit more information, but I have a modified NFT setup with 4 27L pots and 2 reseviours. I have no issues with water temps and we have between 0 and 45C days throughout the year. I also was able to take all of the plants out at season end and overwinter in a coir/perlite mix.

Let me know if you want more detail, but this was last year's growth.
attachicon.gif
20200104_163746.jpg
attachicon.gif
20190321_182545.jpg

A mate showed my this setup years ago and he grows all sorts this way. Here is his Atlantic giant pumpkin from last year, but over 300kg.
attachicon.gif
20200104_163917.jpg
 
Awesome. Checking out your glog now!
 
solid7 said:
So, if you guys are having success with outdoor hydro, you should definitely post your secret.  Reservoir temp is not a thing that I made up.  It's a real struggle for most people. What's different about your setups?  Your night and day temp differences?  What is "modified NFT?"  These are al important things to know before setting a newbie on an expensive journey.  Why does your method work for you, in the place that you live?
.
I have had decent success with growing both tomatoes and peppers in the cooler months of our calendar year.  But full summer, for me, means no active hydro setup. I could write a book about the clockwork failures that inevitably occur.  There are literally thousands of similar stories to be read online.  (I actually tried outdoor hydro for several years, just as a challenge to my past failures)
.
I want to learn something here.
 
What kind of high and low temps were you dealing with? Through most of the summer, our lows are in the high 60s and the highs in the low 80s, so I figure it's not a dire situation. Plus, I do have a space where I could maintain a 60+ gallon reservoir in full shade.
 
Pinhigh said:
From what I understand the method I use is a cross between NFT and the Dutch bucket method.

I have two reseviours, each supplying two pots. However if you have a bigger reseviour you can run any amount of pots. For reseviours I am using what we Aussies call "Eskies", but for everyone else it's an insulated cooler used for 'drinks' (read beer). You can use any lidded container for this, but I was trying something new. Others I know use up to 200L plastic drums.

Essentially nutrients are pumped up (I use the smallest pond pump I could get) through a T-piece into 4mm line and emitted through drippers for 30mins at a time. I have the pump on a timer, so it operates 6 times a day at even intervals.
The plants are planted in clay hydroton and the theory is that as the nutrient solution goes down it pulls behind it oxygen.
The pots then have a gravity fed return line back to the reseviour. Pretty simple. The return line is 19mm and importantly is just above the bottom of the pot which allows for some liquid to sit in the pot, which I find seems to keep the plant hydrated until the next cycle.

In the past I have used 20L water tanks with a tap already installed and cut the top off to use as a pot. This setup I made at the beginning of 2018 I used 27L storage containers and drilled holes for the return line. You can then buy the grommets and line from a hydro shop or most garden centres.


attachicon.gif
20200105_065524.jpg
attachicon.gif
20200105_065542.jpg


You can let your imagination run wild with the setup as long as you stick to the principles. Reseviour, pump nutrients into a pot of some description, gravity fed back into reseviour.
The pumpkin is grown in a big old cast iron bathtub (the pot) filled with clay hydroton, and he uses a 200L plastic reseviour.

When the reseviours start to run out of nutrients I just fill them back up either through the pot or straight into the reseviour. They go through about 18L of nutrients in 4-6 days in our summer heat, but in the cooler months it can last two weeks easy. This obviously is very particularly to my setup though. The amount of pots and the reseviour size are factors. I'm using a two part nutrient solution from Dutch Master, which I buy at our local hardware store here in Perth (Bunnings).

Let me know if there is anything I missed.
 
What are the advantages to drip? Space savings? I was thinking that DWC would be much easier to set up, but if the space savings aren't great, it's not worth it.
 
Biggy said:
I grow in Nebraska, so mid summer temps are high 90's-100's for highs and 70's overnight. The most important part as I said is light colored line and reservoir. Keep the reservoir in shade or better yet bury it in the ground. For the op can you keep the reservoir inside if using the balcony? You can active ventilate your reservoir. I can't remember the calculations but enough airflow thru the box with the water falling you can basically create a swamp cooler. No matter what you do you have to have everything hidden from the sun. On a larger scale with a bigger budget you can run your water thru a chiller.
 
No place for a reservoir inside, unfortunately. It's a great idea, though. I'll search for the calculations regarding reservoir ventilation. Does this cause significant water evaporation? Do the nutrients and pH need more frequent monitoring if this is done?
 
solid7 said:
Ah, yes, I had guessed (but didn't want to assume) that both of you were using some method of secondary cooling.  That definitely works, but adds a layer of complexity and cost.  I actually toyed with the idea of using a chiller, but even for something like an old fridge, it would have been prohibitively expensive, over the course of a season.
.
I grew up in Nebraska.  it's where I learned to grow - extreme weather and all. :)
 
 
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but aren't all the approaches to cooling the solution mentioned here passive and not active cooling?
 
Without quoting all that prior post a few quick answers. There is no real space benefit for hydro peppers. With cannabis you can force the flower whenever you want, therefore you can keep the plants small and pack them close. Peppers flower and set fruit whenever they feel like it, therefore the plant age/size will be greater. You can prune hard to keep the size down. In most systems it will be the same if not more space taken. Peppers hate fertilizer. I have the best luck for growth/fruit balance down in the upper 400- lower 500 ppm TDs range. Much past 600 I get a lot of flower drop. I use dry nutrients from hydro gardens out of colorado springs. They have vegetable tailored products and you control of the Nitrogen. Realistically 90° in full shade your water temps would not be an issue.
Hope I hit most of the questions.
 
stringer said:
Seeing as my friend has been professionally farming for more than 25 years and almost 20 years by hydroponics, I figured he is a safe source of information, even if he hasn't grown peppers.
 
He has encountered challenges with nutrient optimization for plants without a clear veg/flower cycle. Other sources I've seen regarding pepper growing recommend reducing N and increasing P as fruits form. Unless I'm misunderstanding your post, you are recommending keeping the nutrients the same throughout the season? Is this common practice?
 
How certain are you that there is little advantage in space efficiency using hydro for peppers? If there is no clear space savings, then I'll just continue growing in soil.
 
Good advice about starting small. Maybe I'll just do an experiment to see how viable a simple hydro system will be here.
 
What kind of high and low temps were you dealing with? Through most of the summer, our lows are in the high 60s and the highs in the low 80s, so I figure it's not a dire situation. Plus, I do have a space where I could maintain a 60+ gallon reservoir in full shade.
 
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but aren't all the approaches to cooling the solution mentioned here passive and not active cooling?
 
Pot growers are never to be trusted to give growing advice, unless they also grow fruits and vegetables, with a more sensible approach than than their pseudo-scientific approach to cannabis growing.  And I say "pseudo-scientific", because grow shops will feed you tons of BS, to sell you expensive products.  And it's just not that complicated.  You need to understand environmental factors first, and foremost. (lighting, temp, humidity, etc)  Nutrients are actually just about the easiest part.
 
Yes, I'm recommending keeping the nutrients consistent from cradle to grave.  There's no need to cycle nutrients with peppers.  Potassium doesn't need to be increased, because that's the one nutrient that gets stockpiled for use, inside the plant.  Phosphorus is the most (unnecessarily) overused nutrient in any hydroponic grow.  And Nitrogen needs to be kept constant, especially during fruit set.  If you grow short term, you may not notice it, but you're causing a gradual deficiency, which will show up, eventually.  You can control growth habit by adjusting things like lighting.  But once you get a pepper plant growing, you've set the train in motion.  Old Charlie steals the handle...  
 
Is it a common practice to keep nutrients constant?  Probably not. Most people don't invest tons of time to learning, but are anxious just to get growing.  I'm always keen to take the long road.  The other problem is, people think that by increasing or decreasing certain individual nutrients, you get targeted results.  This just isn't true.  Again, small scale experiments...
 
As for the space savings, I'm absolutely 100% positive that there is no clear space savings.  If anything it's quite the opposite.
 
Temp isn't everything when dealing with res temp. UV and humidity are killer issues on the side.  if you're burying a reservoir in earth, soil composition will dictate the efficacy of such.  Where I live, my problem isn't the air temp.  Our temps don't get extreme.  But there is less than 10 degrees difference between night and day temps during much of the growing season, and extreme UV and humidity.  Also, our soil is pretty much sand, which doesn't stay very cool, at the depth that you'd bury a res.  I've tried these things.  I can't keep up with ice, cooling is too expensive, and burying doesn't work well enough.  You may or may not have a problem, but my point was just to be aware of the issue. 
 
I wasn't talking about the cooling being passive.  I was talking about the hydro, itself, being active.  Meaning, driven by pumps, as opposed to Kratky, which is passive. (at least up to the point of having to refill - which some have stated gets quite pricey)
 
 
Biggy said:
There is no real space benefit for hydro peppers.
 
Peppers hate fertilizer. I have the best luck for growth/fruit balance down in the upper 400- lower 500 ppm TDs range.
 
They have vegetable tailored products and you control of the Nitrogen.
 
Realistically 90° in full shade your water temps would not be an issue.
 
 
I agree with almost all of this, and am glad that you made the first 2 points.  I've been a huge preacher of low EC/TDS for a long time.  It's a waste of money to heavily feed peppers, as they grow extremely well with very small doses.  
 
I don't alter Nitrogen.  When I stopped growing active hydro, I used 3-1-2 fertilizer, for the entire life of the plant.  Contrary to all common advice, I found this to work phenomenally well for both peppers and tomatoes.  Where I live, it's very hard to grow tomatoes, and that was still the best tomatoes plants that I've managed. I actually had bigger problems with temps getting too cold in my reservoirs.  I had to put an aquarium heater in, because I have to grow in winter.  Summer is too humid for tomatoes where I'm at.
 
Biggy said:
Without quoting all that prior post a few quick answers. There is no real space benefit for hydro peppers. With cannabis you can force the flower whenever you want, therefore you can keep the plants small and pack them close. Peppers flower and set fruit whenever they feel like it, therefore the plant age/size will be greater. You can prune hard to keep the size down. In most systems it will be the same if not more space taken. Peppers hate fertilizer. I have the best luck for growth/fruit balance down in the upper 400- lower 500 ppm TDs range. Much past 600 I get a lot of flower drop. I use dry nutrients from hydro gardens out of colorado springs. They have vegetable tailored products and you control of the Nitrogen. Realistically 90° in full shade your water temps would not be an issue.
Hope I hit most of the questions.
 
Thank you for incisively distilling the core questions from my wall of text :) This is helpful. This, combined with some of the previous responses, convinces me to stay in soil for 2020 (maybe along with a couple of super small hydro experiments). I think I need to reconsider the number of plants I want to grow and the pounds of peppers I want to get, so this 100% helps with planning.  :thumbsup:
 
solid7 said:
 
Pot growers are never to be trusted to give growing advice, unless they also grow fruits and vegetables, with a more sensible approach than than their pseudo-scientific approach to cannabis growing.  And I say "pseudo-scientific", because grow shops will feed you tons of BS, to sell you expensive products.  And it's just not that complicated.  You need to understand environmental factors first, and foremost. (lighting, temp, humidity, etc)  Nutrients are actually just about the easiest part.
 
Yes, I'm recommending keeping the nutrients consistent from cradle to grave.  There's no need to cycle nutrients with peppers.  Potassium doesn't need to be increased, because that's the one nutrient that gets stockpiled for use, inside the plant.  Phosphorus is the most (unnecessarily) overused nutrient in any hydroponic grow.  And Nitrogen needs to be kept constant, especially during fruit set.  If you grow short term, you may not notice it, but you're causing a gradual deficiency, which will show up, eventually.  You can control growth habit by adjusting things like lighting.  But once you get a pepper plant growing, you've set the train in motion.  Old Charlie steals the handle...  
 
Is it a common practice to keep nutrients constant?  Probably not. Most people don't invest tons of time to learning, but are anxious just to get growing.  I'm always keen to take the long road.  The other problem is, people think that by increasing or decreasing certain individual nutrients, you get targeted results.  This just isn't true.  Again, small scale experiments...
 
As for the space savings, I'm absolutely 100% positive that there is no clear space savings.  If anything it's quite the opposite.
 
Temp isn't everything when dealing with res temp. UV and humidity are killer issues on the side.  if you're burying a reservoir in earth, soil composition will dictate the efficacy of such.  Where I live, my problem isn't the air temp.  Our temps don't get extreme.  But there is less than 10 degrees difference between night and day temps during much of the growing season, and extreme UV and humidity.  Also, our soil is pretty much sand, which doesn't stay very cool, at the depth that you'd bury a res.  I've tried these things.  I can't keep up with ice, cooling is too expensive, and burying doesn't work well enough.  You may or may not have a problem, but my point was just to be aware of the issue. 
 
I wasn't talking about the cooling being passive.  I was talking about the hydro, itself, being active.  Meaning, driven by pumps, as opposed to Kratky, which is passive. (at least up to the point of having to refill - which some have stated gets quite pricey)
 
 
 
 
I agree with almost all of this, and am glad that you made the first 2 points.  I've been a huge preacher of low EC/TDS for a long time.  It's a waste of money to heavily feed peppers, as they grow extremely well with very small doses.  
 
I don't alter Nitrogen.  When I stopped growing active hydro, I used 3-1-2 fertilizer, for the entire life of the plant.  Contrary to all common advice, I found this to work phenomenally well for both peppers and tomatoes.  Where I live, it's very hard to grow tomatoes, and that was still the best tomatoes plants that I've managed. I actually had bigger problems with temps getting too cold in my reservoirs.  I had to put an aquarium heater in, because I have to grow in winter.  Summer is too humid for tomatoes where I'm at.
 
Dunno why you insinuate my close friend grows cannabis. Even if he did, I'd listen to his advice, given his decades of experience in professional farming.
 
Anyway, thanks for your other comments, especially about small scale experiments.
 
stringer said:
 
Dunno why you insinuate my close friend grows cannabis. Even if he did, I'd listen to his advice, given his decades of experience in professional farming.
 
Anyway, thanks for your other comments, especially about small scale experiments.
 
It's just a natural reflex. Cannabis growers tend to sound the same. To be perfectly honest, I don't care what anyone grows, so long as they give sound advice, and don't overcomplicate the process for newer growers. My only purpose on this forum, is to try to help people out, and cut through the ingrained nonsense that we're conditioned to believe, and therefore make purchasing decisions from.  I guess the way I see it, there are 2 trains of thought: 1) learn and know - therefore attain some degree of self sufficiency, 2) follow regurgitated advice, which may or may not be sound - and be forever beholden to someone else's knowledge.
.
I was born with a healthy dose of skepticism and curiosity, so that's where my "try for yourself" recommendation comes from. Being good at growing is nothing more than just a mastery of really basic things - not complex, mysterious things.  And I have a bit of disdain (that I can't hide) when people go off the rails with overly commercial advice. No offense to you or your friend.  I actually hope that you have a phenomenal grow, and can teach somebody else something.
 
http://thehotpepper.com/topic/52946-yellowfin2na-hydroponic-grow-2015-pic-intense/
 
 
I did the outdoor Kratky plant garden. I managed to pull a few huge plants. There are pros and cons to doing it.  What ultimately did me was constant rain which altered the PH. But I got a ton of pods before that happened. If you are tending to this garden every day you can pull it off. If you want to try to go t3 or 4 days without worrying about it then Kratky is not the way to go.
 
Some issues I battled:
 
Massive root balls- Some of my plants the roots outgrew the five gallon buckets and began pushing the lids open
Plants becoming so large they tip over the container they were in (5 gallon buckets)
If not covered then rain will alter PH 
Water, Water, and more Water- At some point the roots become so large and they consume large amounts of water at a very fast pace
 
As for the benifits:
 
Larger and faster growing plants
Larger pods
 
 
400-500 ppm is my magic spot, although once the plants got larger you could throw 1000 ppm plus at them and they didn't care.
Proper PH is huge for growth. Also temperatures of the roots are important but if you are topping off every day like you should be then they should be fine. I grow in the heat of Texas with 100 degree summers. If you let your plants dry out its very hard to come back from that.
 
There certainly are a number of options available for growing peppers. After doing A LOT of reading on the pot forums and a some trial and error a few years back I went with coco coir as the grow medium. I know it's not the kind of hydroponics you were asking about since it could be considered more 'hydro-like' than anything else.
 
I use a variation of the General Hydroponics recipe that was formulated by a poster by the name of GreatfulH3ad. It is DTW and is mixed as:
 
Nutrient mixture of:
  - 1.5ml GH Armor Si (I substituted this in for pH Down)
  - 6ml GH Micro
  - 9ml GH Bloom
  - 4l RO water
 
This nutrient mixture gives me a ph of 5.7 and 700 ppm. The NPK falls in at 100-100-200 ppm. I use it throughout the grow. Personally, I mix the nutrients as I need them and water by hand so I don't need to worry about ph swing or temperature variation, but I could see the benefits of a nicely automated drip system if you have space to set it up. 
 
Container and grow medium:
  - 5g fiber root pouch
  - Sifted coco coir to remove the fine pith
 
I have grown in plastic containers in the past, but I've found the that the fiber pots are better in that they allow for a healthy root mass that air prunes itself rather than endless larger roots that wrap around the pot. They also seem to resist the heat better than a black plastic pot and the root zone doesn't get as hot in the sun.
 
In terms of saving space, I've found that I don't have to grow as many plants in order to get a decent harvest when using this method simply because the pepper production is much higher than I've had with other methods in the past. I'm sure that can be said for most, if not all hydro methods.
 
I have a few old grow logs here from back in 2016 should you want to check them out.
 
Top