Forget Godzilla... have you seen the NFT Chilli Monster!?
Thinking of using an NFT system? Stop right there. You may get more than you bargained for...
Over at our Sheffield store, there's a monster dominating the greenhouse - an enormous chilli plant.
This beast was planted in our smallest NFT Gro-Tank - nobody expected it to get this big.
Impressive isn't the word!
About the Beast
Believe it or not, this beast has actually been hacked back 3 times, in an attempt to control its rampant growth!
Now, at 6ft tall and just as wide, this Yellow Rocoto (capsicum pubescens) is dripping with ripe pods.
Rocoto chillies are a slightly unusual variety. They're round with bigger than normal black seeds and soft hairy leaves.
The heat level is up there with scotch bonnets, weighing in at around 100,000-300,000 Scoville heat units - perfect for curries, marinades and hot sauce.
How to Maintain It
Maintaining the NFT system isn't much effort at all.
We just set the irrigation pump on a low flow, and left it running 24/7 – the way a true NFT system should be run.
The Reflex Black and White Reflective Sheeting over the tank helps to reflect light and heat away from the rootzone to keep it cool and dark - a top tip in summer.
We check our CF and pH daily - generally it only needs tweaking every 1 - 3 days. Complete tank changes are done every 2 weeks.
The root mat on this NFT system is really thick!
- System: NFT 205 GTi
- Nutrients: Vita Link Max Bloom (cF 25, pH 6.0)
- Irrigation Strategy: continuous irrigation, 24/7
- Top up tank: 100L containing nutrient solution at CF 15, pH 5.5
At this time of year, the nutrient strength is kept at CF 25. However, during the summer, it'll be dropped back to an upper CF of 18.
Why? Well, in summer, the air temperature of the greenhouse is higher and has a lower humidity.
This increases transpiration. As a result, plants uptake more water and leave more nutrients in their solution. Overall, the nutrient strength rises as more water is removed.
By running a lower CF, you are ensuring that the nutrient levels don't become too high, just as plants need more water.
In cooler months, where there's less light and humidity is higher, plants transpire less and don't take up as much nutrient solution. This means that the small amount of nutrient solution it does take up needs to have a high nutrient strength to maintain healthy growth.
Fancy trying a Yellow Rocoto Chilli? Pop over to our Sheffield store where you can pick a pod to take home and try. If you save the seeds, you'll be able to grow these yourself next season.