For those who aren’t familiar with hydroponics, the method has been around for centuries and the word actually comes from the Greeks and Romans. Roughly translated it means “working water” but a more practical/modern way to describe hydroponics is gardening without soil. The soil is replaced with an inert medium such as coconut fibers and the plant’s roots are fed directly with a nutrient rich solution.
There are dozens of benefits to hydroponics, but the simple reasons I use hydroponics can be summarized in one sentence. Hydroponics plants grow faster, in less space, with greater yields all year long. That’s a pretty great reason, right?
Hydroponics is a very flexible gardening method which can be used inside or outside. As an introduction, I wanted to share a brief guide to growing hot peppers with an indoor hydroponics system.
What you’ll need to get started:
- Storage tote
- 2 inch hole saw
- 2” net pots
- Clay pellets
- Rapid Rooter plugs
- pH Control Kit
- Hydroponic nutrients
- Hot pepper seeds – Humble Seed’s Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles will give you a nice variety to work with
- Air stone
- Air pump
- Air Tubing
- Air tube clips
Feel free to improvise your supplies as you can steal a lot of these things from an old fish tank setup!
Step 1: Prepare the grow tray
Arrange the net pots upside down on the lid of the tote. Leave about 4” between the pots to allow enough growing space for the pepper plants to grow. Draw a line around each pot. Using a 2” hole saw and drill, cut out each circle. If you don’t have a drill you can use a box cutter and some elbow grease.
Step 2: Prep the reservoir
Fill the storage tote with water. Leave about 3 inches of headroom at the top. This will allow the peppers’ roots to touch the water without being flooded. Add the hydroponic liquid nutrition and pH adjuster. Note: Nutrition and pH kit directions vary by brand but all are very straight forward.
Step 3: Setting up aeration system
- Drill a small hole above the water line and thread the air tubing through.
- Attach the air stone and use the clips to hold the system at the bottom of the reservoir.
- Attach the check valve and air pump to the other end.
Step 4: Sewing the pepper seeds
- Soak Rapid Rooter plugs for 30 seconds
- Place one Rapid Rooter in each pot and place the pots in the pre-drilled holes
- Put 3 seeds into each plug so you are assured that at least 1 germinates
- Fill any extra space in the pots with clay pellets but make sure you do not block the hole on the rooter plugs
Once you have completed these steps, it’s time to wait and complete some simple weekly maintenance. You should see the seeds start to sprout in about 7 to 10 days. Each week you should check water pH, inspect the leaves for healthy growth, and add nutrition supplements as directed. As the pepper plants start producing peppers you will likely need to provide simple trellis support.
I hope this hydroponic introduction and pepper growing tutorial has peaked your interest so you will be incorporating this technique into your gardening this year.
Readers, have you had success with growing hydroponic peppers? What varieties are your favorites?
About the Author:
Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was written by Chris Wimmer. Chris maximizes his 400 square foot downtown Chicago backyard with hydroponics. You can find more hydroponic tips at his hobby blog: healthsmartliving.com/hydroponics/.