Growing Peppers Vertically – “Poor Man’s Hydroponics vs Large Commercial Hydroponics

Q.  Can I grow peppers vertically – like I do my tomatoes?  How do you do it?
 
A.  Some information from the University of Florida Extension division at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HS228 is fascinating – if you are interested in doing “The Poor Man’s Hydroponic Method” of growing peppers vertically.  Pictures of the two common commercial growing methods – the Dutch V and Spanish methods are posted at https://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/MittleiderMethodGardening/lst.  Key paragraphs from the article are duplicated at the bottom of this article.
 
The Dutch V method prunes the plant to two main branches, and then guides those up strings in a V shape.  Little pruning is done in the Spanish system of growing.  Pruning to two or four main branches is common practice, and thereafter no pruning is done.  Vertical support is provided by poles and strings, or by large tomato cages. 
 
When a pepper plant is carrying the maximum weight of peppers the plant can support, it will stop flowering and fruiting even though there may be weeks or even months left in the growing season.  Removing green fruits as soon as they mature signals the plant to continue flowering and setting fruit, and the result is fruit being set throughout the growing season, and obviously more fruit per plant.
 

“Greenhouse pepper cultivars generally have an indeterminate pattern of growth. Because the plants can grow up to 6-ft tall during a growing season of 250 days, they need to be supported vertically. Pepper plants can be trellised to the Dutch “V” system or to the “Spanish” system ( Fig. 8 ).

“Trellising plants with the “V” system consists of forming a plant with two main stems by removing one of the two shoots developed on each node and leaving one or more adjacent leaves per node. The pairs of stems are kept vertically by the use of hanging twines that are wound around the stems as they grow. The “V” trellis system is used by Dutch and Canadian growers.

“Some of the commonly used cultivars are Parker, Triple 4, Cubico, and Lorca for red; Kelvin, for yellow; and Neibla, and Emily, for orange fruits. New pepper cultivars for greenhouse production are introduced every year by seed companies

“When comparing cultivars for those with the highest yield and fruit quality characteristics with low amounts of culls or other disorders, the best red cultivars were Lorca, Torkal, Triple 4, and Zambra; yellow cultivars were Pekin, Kelvin, Neibla, Bossanova, and Taranto; and orange cultivars were Paramo, Lion, and Boogie
 
“Greenhouse pepper crops in Florida are grown in soil-less culture. Thus methyl bromide is not needed, yet problems with soil borne diseases, and insect and nematode pests are avoided. The plants are grown in containers filled with soil-less media such as perlite, pine bark, or peat mixes. The media can be reused for several crops (two to three) if disease contamination does not occur
 
“Pepper plants in soil-less culture are fertigated (watered and fed) frequently with a complete nutrient solution. Nutrient solution concentrations are similar to those used for tomatoes grown in soil-less culture. In plants at full production, the nutrient concentration levels can reach N: 160, P: 50, K: 200, Ca: 190, Mg: 48, and S: 65 ppm, respectively. The irrigation solution also provides the plants with micronutrients.
 
“The pH of the irrigation solution is maintained at values between 5.5 and 6.5, and the EC, depending on the nutrients concentration levels, will have values between 1.5 and 2.5 mS per cm.”

Are Chemical Fertilizers Threatening Our Reproductive Capacity?

Q.  I’ve heard that chemicals may cause low sperm counts in men, and that people who eat organically produced produce are healthier.  Is it true?
 
A.  It has been reported for some time that male sperm counts in America and Western Europe are declining, and that in many cases we are threatened with infertility.  Some people claim the reason for this decline is people eating food produced using chemicals.
 
There is nothing in the studies I have read that implicates the natural mineral nutrients used in growing a Mittleider garden!  Please do not be led into throwing the baby out with the bath water.
 
Increased estrogen, caused primarily by materials fed to beef cattle, and lower fiber in our diets, are the main two culprits as I read it, and nothing is said about minerals that are mined from the earth, purified and concentrated, and properly applied in tiny quantities as fertilizers to food crops.
 
Why IS this decline in male sperm counts happening? I’ve reproduced some of the information below, for your consideration, as taken from this website https://www.alkalizeforhealth.net/Lspermdamage2.htm.
 
One explanation suggests “environmental chemicals called endocrine disrupters that masquerade as hormones. Specifically, synthetic chemicals that mimic the female sex hormone estrogen may influence male development in utero or during the formative years of early childhood when hormone sensitivity is high.”

“In 1993, a study published in The Lancet traced the decline to males being exposed in the womb to female sex hormones that permanently alter their sexual development, and greatly reduce a man’s ability to produce sperm. (6) The study, along with one  published later in 1993 in the Journal of Endocrinology established several diet-linked sources of increased estrogenic exposure to males in the womb (7) :

“1) The modern diet increases the levels of natural estrogen in women. Fiber in the diet today is lower than it was 50 years ago. Natural estrogens excreted in the bile are more readily reabsorbed into the bloodstream when the lower intestine contains little dietary fiber. Thus, a fetus today may be exposed to higher levels of the mother’s own natural estrogens, compared to a fetus 50 years ago. (Fiber is found in all whole grains, vegetables and fruits; and is absent in all meats, dairy products, and eggs.)

“2) Synthetic estrogens, including DES, were fed to beef cattle from the 1950s through the 1970s to make them grow more meat faster. Though DES has been outlawed for use in U.S. livestock, hormones such as Steer-oid, Ralgro, Compudose,  and Synovex are still used in virtually every cattle feedlot in the country. This is the primary reason the European Economic Union refuses to import U.S. beef. Such practices have increased the quantity of estrogens in meat-eating women, and may have contaminated some water supplies.

“3) Another source of increased estrogens in women today is the many synthetic organic chemicals and heavy metals that have been released into the environment in massive quantities since World War II. Some of these compounds, such as PCBs and dioxins, concentrate in ever higher levels on higher rungs of the food chains. Vegetarians, and even more notably vegans, thus enjoy some degree of protection.”

Growing Commercially – Mittleider VS Hydroponics

Q.  We want to go into gardening commercially, and hydroponic greenhouse growing has been recommended.  How is your Method similar or better for us than going hydroponic?

A.  Before you spend any money on Hydroponic buildings and equipment you need to learn about the Mittleider Method, for sure! Building a Mittleider-style greenhouse will save you many thousands of dollars in the building of it and many thousands more in operating costs.  The Mittleider Method is sometimes referred to as modified hydroponics, because we feed the plants the 13 necessary nutrients, in a scientifically balanced ratio.  However, rather than putting expensive instantly water-soluble formulas in the water supply, we use Natural Mineral Nutrients that are easily and inexpensively obtained and apply the nutrients right on the soil – then water them in.  Also, as alluded to in the previous paragraph, unlike hydroponics, we grow plants right in the ground, or if we’re in Greenhouses we use raised Grow-Boxes with open bottoms, so the plants still have access to the natural soil – to obtain other nutrients they may want or need.  Mittleider gardens are well known for producing tremendous yields, even approaching those of hydroponics, while our crops like tomatoes are better tasting and cost a small fraction of those grown by hydroponic methods.