Plantasia’s Organic Arts

Plantasia have had a stunning year in their development area and in late autumn Benjamin Biggs, their Director and Grower-in-Chief, finally found a moment in which he could put out a round up of their activities. This included some images of capsicums that were frankly works of art in terms of their shape, size, pigmentation, and flavour. We are, of course, immensely proud to say all of these, along with Ben’s chilli crop for the year were grown in AutoPot Watering Systems.

What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? Chillies on the organic grow at Plantasia’s Development Station

Also known as The Oxfordshire Chilli Farm, Plantasia have been growing capsicums using AutoPot Watering Systems for seven years. AutoPot Systems offer growing solutions to each variety under cultivation. For large ‘super-hot’ varieties the XL System provides ideal size and adjustability. Habanero and Scotch Bonnets are served by the 1Pot System. Sweet peppers are grown using the high-wire method in easy2grow with 15L pots instead of the 8.5L as this suits these capsicums better.

Several years in the making, Plantasia’s Blood Orange Bhut (BOB)phenos are now producing some absolutely sublime examples

For 2018 Plantasia’s development area was set up for experiments in organic growing using 1Pot Systems. Work here was, in many cases, a continuation of strain development carried out in previous years. In this vein the Blood Orange Bhut (BOB) phenos are now producing some absolutely sublime examples in every shade from deep to flamed orange to peach. The positively primal striping on the UV Scorpions gives you all the warnings you need as to the intense heat therein. By contrast the cream and almost iridescent purple on the spectacular Shadow Scorpions promises to lure many to their delicious doom. 

Blood Orange Bhut (BOB) in a curious peach variation

Struck by the scale of his achievements we asked Ben for some tips on growing in organics with AutoPot Watering Systems. It’s essential to preface these by saying that we never recommend using AutoPots to feed organically in solution via the reservoir and pipework. Resulting build up can cause blockages and impair the effectiveness of the system.

You can’t say they didn’t warn you, UV Scorpions at Plantasia

If a grower does decide to grow organically with AutoPots, there are two principle means of feeding. Organic time release tablets and beneficial bacteria can be blended with the substate and the reservoir can be used to supply water alone. In this instance tablets and bacteria should be used in accordance with the nutrient suppliers instructions. The second option is to use an organic soil that will provide sustenance to the plants for a period of time. During the useful lifespan of the organic soil only water is supplied from the reservoir. Once the nutrients present in the soil are exhausted, organic liquid feed, either in solution or soluble form, may be administered. 

This can either be done by hand, directly into the pots or, for larger grows, via a second separate reservoir. 

When administering feed by hand it is important to turn the reservoir off 24 hours before feeding and only switch it back on 24 hours after feeding. If you are feeding via a second, separate reservoir then once a week this second reservoir should be connected to the system for a period of 24 hours. After this period the plants should return to water only from reservoir one. Organic fertilisers should be mixed the day before and used within 48 hours to supply a hit of organic feed every 5-7 days. We do not advise that liquid organic fertilisers are used on a constant basis nor do we recommend use of a single reservoir if using organic nutrients. Liquid organic fertilisers separate if left in a reservoir for too long, potentially impairing the efficiency of the system and confusing correct nutrient dosage.

“What, ME sir? Terrifically flavoursome? Now you’re making me blush!”, coquettish Shadow Scorpion at Plantasia

As for the growing tips, in Ben’s words:

  • Big pots work best for organics so 15ltr / 3.9gal 1Pots or 25ltr  / 6.6gal XL Pots are ideal. Size is always dependant on plants grown, their growing period and finishing size. This is particularly true for fast flowering, high demand plant types. Larger pots will facilitate the food requirements of gross feeding plants much better and the organic breakdown will happen at a more suitable rate for that type of plant.
  • Do not use Phosphoric acid for pH adjustment – non-organic forms of phosphorus inhibits establishment of mycorrhizae spores if not preventing germination altogether. Use citric acid in hard water areas. Soft water or rainwater and R/O water should not need adjusting for organics but you can if desired. Healthy organic systems should regulate their own pH naturally.
  • 3-4 weeks after the final potting up, additional feeds, boosters and compost teas may be given as required, always directly into the pot when using AutoPots.  
  • De-chlorinated water is essential in organic systems – use a water filter system (such as Growmax / Hydrologic ) or add Citric acid to the water.
  • If all inputs are organic the substrate can be reused many times – and is often better 2nd and 3rd time around. Substrate can be reused up to 3 times but do not reuse if signs of disease or insect infestation were present in the previous crop.

For more on Plantasia’s constant explorations check out their wonderfully comprehensive site follow on Insta at plantasia_shop and on Facebook @plantasiabicester

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