Easy, cheap, DIY wicking cups

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This year I’ve transplanted most of my sprouts from the AeroGarden Bounty and my DIY system, into Styrofoam wicking cups. These are super easy and quick to make. They are nice intermediate vessels for the plants until being moved to their final location. These setups also provide more flexibility than standard double cups do. For instance, you could remove them from the bottom cup and set in something larger for the plant/s to drink from.

Watch my video below to see how I make them.

Items that are shown or mentioned in the video:

– 20-ounce styrofoam cups ( You can also pick these up in the grocery store or places like WalMart) – https://amzn.to/2Cz2O1m
– Microfiber clothes – https://amzn.to/2WkSLUO
– HLG-100 grow light – https://amzn.to/2HVsCbv
– 48″ x 48″ x 80″ grow tent – https://amzn.to/2U5MxuJ
– Coco coir – https://amzn.to/2TuOi05
– Perlite – https://amzn.to/2uocFm7
– Dyna-Grp 7-9-5 – https://amzn.to/2uqDeH4

Hydroponic DWC seed starting system – DIY AeroGarden

DIY AeroGarden with plants
DIY AeroGarden

I make commissions off purchases made through product links in this post. This is at no extra cost to you and helps support this website.

I built this hydroponic deep water culture system for starting pepper plants. It was very inexpensive and easy to build and works well. It uses a small air pump, air stones, one-inch net cups, AeroGarden sponges (although just about any kind of growing sponge would work, ie BioDome, Rapid Rooter, Root Riot, etc… It has a built-in light stand with a Sansi 30 watt grow light.

Parts showed (or equivalent) in the video:

Commander XL 5 gallon tote – Get at Lowes
Air pump – https://amzn.to/2XNpXpB
Air stones – https://amzn.to/2TtfFfG
Sansi 30 watt grow light – https://amzn.to/2XPc8H7
Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 – https://amzn.to/2XOKz0T
Air tubing – https://amzn.to/2NV3LFI
1-inch net cups – https://amzn.to/2NV06r7
AeroGarden sponges – https://amzn.to/2TqEn0m
or
Rapid Rooter (cut these in quarters the long way) – https://amzn.to/2XOKzxV
1-inch bit – https://amzn.to/2NT804t
1-inch PVC pipe – get at Lowes
1-inch PVC tee – get at Lowes

Here are pics of some of the plants I transplanted out of this system.

Aji Lemon Drop
Aji Lemon Drop
Fish pepper
Fish pepper

How to quickly unclog the AeroGarden Sprout aerator

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From time to time, the aerator nozzle on the AeroGarden Sprout gets clogged. The most effective way to fix this is to take it out and clean it, but if you don’t have time for that, this is a quick and easy fix to get the air flowing again. All you need is a bendable dental gum brush.

AeroGarden Sprout – https://amzn.to/2V0bN2k
AeroGarden Sprout seed starting deck – https://amzn.to/2SO61U6
Dental gum Proxabrush – https://amzn.to/2TQ7W7M

How to take apart the AeroGarden grow deck for recirculating models

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It’s important to pop apart the grow deck for recirculating models between gardens. This is because roots can get in the channels and block nutrient flow. It’s very easy to do, but not very intuitive if you’ve never done it before.

Here’s a video showing how to take apart the grow deck on an AeroGarden Bounty model.

How to smoke peppers for the dehydrator

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This is a process I use for adding smoke flavor and aroma to dried peppers. This works for both fresh and frozen peppers. I smoke them first, then add to the dehydrator.

Parts needed

Process

  1. Perforate the bottom of a disposable baking pan with a knife. Wash and de-stem peppers, cut in half, then place in baking pan.
  2. Prepare the grill, setting the bottom and top vents to about a 3/16″ gap, lay a piece of aluminum foil (10 x 12 inch) on one end of the bottom grate. Poke a few holes in the aluminum foil with a knife.
  3. Start a small amount of charcoal, about 10 12 briquettes (easier if you are using another grill for cooking, you can make more).
  4. Place the hot coals on the aluminum foil, and dump a few handfuls of smoking wood on top.
  5. Place the top grate on the grill, and set the baking pan of peppers on top, on the opposite side of the wood chips.
  6. Cover and let smoke for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Remove peppers and place in dehydrator trays.
  8. Dry for 24 – 36 hours, or until peppers are ‘cracker dry’.

Video

How to setup a hydroponic Deep Water Culture (DWC) system in a 27 gallon tote

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Introduction

I have a pepper plant that had been growing in a 5 gallon bucket DWC, and I needed to move it to something bigger I chose the 27 gallon tote commander XXL for the upgrade container.

Parts and supplies

Steps

  1. I inverted the lid to gain more set up. I set an unused 6″ net pot in the center of the lid and drew a line around it. I free-handed a second internal line about 2″ inside the first circle. This marks where to cut.
  2. I drilled two pilot holes on opposite sides of the inner circle and used a jigsaw to cut this out. I could have (carefully) used a utility knife instead.
  3. I drilled two 1/4″ holes for the airline tubing, evenly spaced on each end (long side) of the tote. This is for the airline tubing.
  4. I spray painted the lid white and let dry.
  5. I cut my airline to the length I needed and inserted each one through the two holes I drilled and attached the 18″ air curtain tubes underneath.
  6. I added 15 gallons of water, then mixed in my nutrients. Following the recommended strength on the package. In my case, I measured 2 tsp/gallon of Flora-Nova Bloom.
  7. I moved the plant from its 5-gallon home and set it in the 27-gallon tote. I drilled two sets of two holes on each side of the net pot and secured to the lid using zip ties.

Video

How to preserve dried pepper pods with a Foodsaver vaccuum jar sealer attachment

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Overview

Dehydration is one of the best ways to preserve your pepper harvest. After a while though, exposure to air will lessen the shelf life of what you have worked so hard to save. I have found that vacuum sealing after drying preserves the peppers indefinitely.

What is needed

Process

First, dry the peppers in the dehydrator. When you start the process of drying, go ahead and wash up the jars, rings and lids you’ll need. Even if using brand new jars, wash them anyway. Also use soap when washing the lids, this will help the seal perform better. Towel dry, then set out to air dry while the dehydrator is running.

Let the peppers dry until they are beyond cracker crisp. To test this, crush a piece between your fingers. It should crumble easily. Wear gloves if handing very hot peppers.

Let them cool, and place the dried pods in clean, dry jar. If you don’t care about keeping the pieces fully intact, you can press them down into the jar to fit more if needed.

Place a clean lid on top of the jar and push the jar sealer attachment over it. Make sure the sealer attachment is attached to the accessory hose, and it is attached to the Foodsaver. press the accessory button on the Foodsaver. The vacuum process will stop when the jar is sealed. you can then remove the jar-sealer attachment. The lid should be on tight. You can optionally screw on a jar ring, but it is not necessary.

Notes

I have read other reviews on the Jar-sealer attachment saying the wide mouth size works better. I have not tested the regular mouth to share any experience with them. Some of the other reviewers did mention that if you use the regular mouth and have trouble, you can add a second lid, this somehow helps. I’ve had zero issues using the wide mouth lids.

Video

Basics of a drip irrigation system

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If you’ve never used or set up a drip irrigation system before, it can seem intimidating. The best thing to do starting out is first to decide what you will be growing, how many plants, and where the system will reside. Then look at a drip irrigation kit that approximates your needs. Get a kit that has slightly more than what you need. You can buy under need, and supplement with additional parts too, but often it is cheaper to just buy a slightly larger kit.

I highly recommend Drip Depot.  Not only do they have any and every kind of drip irrigation system you could need, but their staff is very knowledgeable and helpful, to answer any questions you might have. I am an affiliate of there’s, but also a customer. I would recommend them regardless.

You can run a drip system with our without a fertilizer injector. If you don’t use a fertilizer injector, some type of supplemental plant food is necessary, such as slow release Osmocote 14-14-14, or other amendments. A fertilizer injector has many benefits, including precise control over the rate of release, and ability to stop and start feeding easily. The downsides are added complexity and cost.

The basic components of a drip irrigation system are the following in order, from the faucet:

  1. Timer (optional) – this is to turn the system on and off. I use the Claber Video 2-cycle water timer.
  2. Backflow preventer
  3. Inline filter
  4. Pressure reducer
  5. Fertilizer injector (optional)
  6. Mainline 1/2″
  7. Drip line – 1/4″
  8. Drip emitters

You’ll also need connectors for each mainline, and drip lines, These will all be included in a kit.

If you cost compare, you’ll see it’s much cheaper to purchase a drip irrigation kit starting out.

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