Hydroponic Peppers: Day 1

I’m new to the entire hydroponic gardening scene, having never ventured out of the soil to grow anything in the past. But, I’ve had this idea bouncing around in my skull for the past couple of weeks and decided it was time to actually do something about it. This little venture is going to be small initially, acting as more of an experiment than anything else.

In addition, it’ll serve two purposes. First, it offers me the opportunity to play around with lighting, something I did not have when I started my seeds for the first time earlier this year. I was lucky with the amount of sun that we had in the area through February and March, but that’s not always going to be the case. Having consistent lighting will help tremendously. Secondly, if this little experiment is successful and I am able to keep a plant going through the Winter, well, that could potentially mean fresh pods through the colder months — and that’s a good thing.

So, to get started, I needed a few more items than the General Hydroponics Flora series that I purchased to give my seedlings a bit of a boost earlier this year:

  • PH reader
  • PH buffer (kept it in the General Hydroponics family here)
  • Rockwool
  • Lighting (LED bulbs with 1680 lumens and 5000 Kelvin were the best options I could find locally)
  • Heat mat

Once everything was purchased or arrived via Amazon, it was time to set about getting to work. The first task at hand was to design the PVC framework that would hold the lighting. There is no set design for this and just about anything will work (there are plenty of options detailed online by other folks), but as usual, I probably over complicated my set up. It will allow for multiple lighting options, as well as, shelving if necessary. For now, it’s overkill with this small experiment, but will serve nicely once the germination process starts for next season.

While the pile of PVC parts sat down stairs, awaiting cutting and construction, I set about getting the hydroponics sorted. My tap water is certainly alkaline with a base PH reading of 7.1. I added half a milliliter of PH down to a half gallon of water which eventually brought it down to an acceptable 5.6 which is within the ideal range for these chemicals to work best — at least that’s what the packaging and Interwebs told me.

Hydroponic Peppers

As you can see above, the PH balanced water was then given a light dose (again a half a milliliter each of the Flora series liquids) as a bit of a head start for the seeds. I soaked four pieces of rockwool for roughly an hour, during which I constructed, re-thought, dismantled and rebuilt my lighting framework.

I didn’t really have any grand idea on the peppers I wanted to play with so I opted to take a look at another Aji Lemon, replacing my Tequila Sunrise (which I’m pretty sure is dead out on the deck), more Peach Bhut Jolokia and for shits and giggles, another Carolina Reaper. I deposited two seeds of each plant into the rock wool and gently scraped a little over the top to cover, as seen below.

Hydroponic Peppers

The recycled Chinese food container was closed and placed under the lighting with the heating pad adding some comforting warmth. I didn’t go with a timer for the lighting as I get up early enough and go to bed late enough that I can handle it all manually for the foreseeable future. Fingers crossed that we see some sprouts in 10 days or so.

Hydroponic Peppers