Growing Superhot Peppers in the AeroGarden Bounty

I was able to successfully grow a 7-Pot Peach pepper in my AeroGarden Bounty. It has produced fruit, and they are super hot! In this article, I explore the pros and cons of growing super hot strains in the AeroGarden Bounty vs cheaper DIY methods.

AeroGarden Bounty

Pros:

  • Convenience and aesthetics – These look good for display anywhere in your home or office. Everything is built in, the lights, pump, timers, etc… It’s all self-contained in one system.
  • Great support – Aerogrow does a great job backing their products if there are ever any problems, and problems are generally few and far between.
  • Function – They work very well, especially for starting plants.
  • Plug and play – Does’t require any skill or knowledge to work. Just hook it up, add some nutrients and pods and it’s ready to go.

Cons:

  • High cost – For function only it’s much cheaper to build your own system.
  • Small grow space and light – The one-gallon reservoir, limited height, and light output limit the size plant you grow.

DIY System

Pros:

  • Cheaper – You get more for less, making it yourself. Especially if you upcycle used containers and parts.
  • Flexibility – You have total control over the size and type of system you make, including pumps, lights, reservoir, etc…
  • More potential for the same or less money.

Cons:

  • Can sprawl – Generally, unless designed to be, are not all in one solution, have many parts hooked together. This makes it harder to move the system around.
  • Less visually appealing – These, unless designed for aesthetics in mind, and not as pretty as AeroGardens.
  • Takes time, skills and knowledge to build – Most basic systems can be made by practically anyone, but some are more complex.

Cost comparison:

Aerogarden Bounty – https://amzn.to/2v6487S Cost, depending if it’s on sale ~ 250.00 – 380.00.

DIY solution to grow a plant 4+ times as big with lots more fruit production, including tent and everything – 350.00 – 400.00.

You could skip the tent and grow it out in the open, or fashion together a cheaper solution of reflective panels, save an additional 50-100 dollars. Being really frugal, you cut the entire cost in half, at least, still using high end grow lights.

Grow tent – https://amzn.to/2OxZmIx (Can go a little smaller and save, like a 48″ x 36″ or 48″ x 24″, but I wouldn’t compromise on height).

5-gal DWC kit – https://amzn.to/2AuJDqD (You can save if you part this out yourself, looking at 5 gal bucket, net pot bucket lid, growing medium, ie coco coir or clay peppers, aquarium pump, tubing, air stone. Check your local grow store if you have one)

Grow lights – This varies quite a bit, but I recommend HLG series lights. Cost a little more up front but will save in the long run. Something like this, the HLG 100 would do well https://amzn.to/2LMwAGA

You could also do a combination like I have of 2 x 300 watt (120 actual) with 2 x 150 watt(65 actual). But I am really just using lights I already had, not the most ideal. Eventually, I plan to move to the HLG lights or build my own. http://ledgardener.com has a lot of good info on that.

See my video below showing a comparison between the AeroGarden Bounty and a DIY solution I am running in my basement.

Video

Office plants, Kratky window garden and AeroGarden

Aerogarden

Introduction

I’ve been growing two sets of plants in my office.  I have three plants in an old AeroGarden 6 Elite, and three in small containers growing using the Kratky non-circulating method. Both sets of plants are getting Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 at a rate of 1 tsp/gallon. The ppm, I think, comes out to around 500.

Kratky Window Garden

The Kratky grown plants (Tiny Tim tomato, Cinnamon Basil, and Sage) have only been getting light from a Western facing window in my office. They are doing really well in the small  containers. They are feeding quite a bit now, so having to fill more often. The Cinnamon Basil is probably around 24″ high and has been topped twice. The Tiny Tim tomato is between 12″ and 18″ and is producing fruits.  I also have a Sage plant that is about 12″ to 14″ tall.  It was set back a couple weeks ago from running out of nutrients. I pulled off all the dead leaves and it appears to be recovering.

AeroGarden

My AeroGarden has another Tiny Tim tomato, a Lime Basil and a Mexican Dwarf Piquin pepper. I topped the tomato last week, and it is now pushing out fruits. The Lime Basil is starting to flower. I’m going to let it go to seed and save those. The Mexican Dwarf Piquin is loaded with peppers. One just started turning ripe. I’ve cut it back two or three times. It’s a very fast grower and super productive.

Video

Video Transcript

0:00:00.000,0:00:02.460
Hi this is Peter Stanley, welcome to my channel

0:00:02.460,0:00:03.700
want to share with you my office garden

0:00:03.980,0:00:06.300
started out with a Cinnamon Basil

0:00:07.340,0:00:08.300
and Sage plant

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both using the Kratky method

0:00:12.200,0:00:14.820
they started growing really well, so I added

0:00:15.260,0:00:16.380
a Tiny Tim tomato

0:00:16.860,0:00:17.360
and

0:00:17.540,0:00:19.860
now, they, this is how they look now

0:00:19.860,0:00:22.380
this is the Cinnamon Basil and Tiny Tim

0:00:22.380,0:00:23.160
and the Sage plant

0:00:24.000,0:00:25.760
they are growing very well

0:00:25.780,0:00:27.620
this is video of the Tiny Tim

0:00:29.740,0:00:31.580
it’s got a lot of fruits on it

0:00:32.220,0:00:33.740
it’s getting unwieldy

0:00:33.740,0:00:36.860
I’ve had to lean it against the window for support

0:00:38.620,0:00:40.220
they’re all getting fed

0:00:41.440,0:00:42.480
Dyna-gro 7-9-5

0:00:44.080,0:00:45.920
and all of these are getting

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just western facing window sunlight

0:00:47.900,0:00:49.420
this is the Cinnamon Basil

0:00:49.440,0:00:52.720
I’ve cut off of this several times already pruned

0:00:52.720,0:00:54.080
the top and the sides

0:00:54.340,0:00:56.020
it’s growing really well

0:00:56.460,0:00:58.620
using it a lot in salads, I need to

0:00:59.640,0:01:00.140
add

0:01:00.140,0:01:02.500
I need to move it to a larger container soon

0:01:02.500,0:01:04.060
as you can see the roots are

0:01:04.340,0:01:05.300
filling up and

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it’s drinking two thirds of that container every two to three days

0:01:09.600,0:01:11.280
this is the Sage plant, it

0:01:11.980,0:01:15.100
a few weeks ago it ran dry and lost a lot of leaves

0:01:15.100,0:01:17.940
it’s making a comeback, there are a few leaves still look kinda burnt

0:01:18.480,0:01:21.280
but overall I think it’s doing really well

0:01:22.280,0:01:24.840
also have some plants in an AeroGarden

0:01:25.540,0:01:27.780
and I have another Tiny Tim tomato

0:01:29.100,0:01:31.260
and I’ve had to prune it back some

0:01:31.260,0:01:33.000
it’s got several fruits on it as well

0:01:33.000,0:01:36.300
it looks like it may have a little bit of fert burn on some of the leaves

0:01:36.300,0:01:37.440
but I think it’s okay

0:01:38.000,0:01:39.440
this is the Lime Basil

0:01:39.720,0:01:41.320
it’s flowering a little

0:01:42.740,0:01:44.740
this is a Dwarf Mexican Piquin

0:01:44.740,0:01:45.600
pepper plant

0:01:46.280,0:01:46.840
and it is

0:01:47.840,0:01:49.440
it’s growing like crazy

0:01:49.460,0:01:51.620
it’s exploding with flowers and

0:01:51.620,0:01:52.600
and fruits, I’ve actually

0:01:52.700,0:01:54.860
pruned it back a few times as well

0:01:57.920,0:01:58.800
there is a…

0:01:59.920,0:02:01.040
fruit that is…

0:02:01.200,0:02:02.160
is almost ripe

0:02:02.160,0:02:03.680
and a few others behind it

0:02:04.360,0:02:06.680
well I wanted to share that with you

0:02:06.680,0:02:07.880
I hope you liked that

0:02:07.880,0:02:10.160
and if you did please like, comment and subscribe

0:02:11.180,0:02:11.820
and share

0:02:12.380,0:02:13.900
and thank you very much

 

Time lapse of AeroGarden Sprout from 2016

AeroGarden Sprout Timelapse

This is a time lapse from 2016 of my CFL AeroGarden Sprout, growing the three pod herb kit that came with it; Basil, Dill and Parsley.

The AeroGarden Sprout has been a nice system. I use it mostly now for seed starting. The seed starter deck can start up to 9 plants at a time.  You could really more than that if you plant more than one seed per pod and separate the seedlings early on.

The time lapse was taken in my office, setup and post time lapse compilation was done by my co-worker Phillip.

We started it on 5/16/16 and ended on 6/5/16. The time lapse was started when the first sprout emerged. The plants grew a lot bigger and fuller after the time lapse period.

Video

Video Transcript

1
00:00:00,000 –> 00:00:02,620
Hi this is Peter Stanley, welcome to my channel.

2
00:00:02,840 –> 00:00:06,920
This is a quick 37 second video I’ve been sitting on for a while

3
00:00:06,920 –> 00:00:09,180
It’s a time lapse of my AeroGarden Sprout

4
00:00:09,460 –> 00:00:10,660
the one on the left

5
00:00:10,920 –> 00:00:12,360
eventually sprouted

6
00:00:12,500 –> 00:00:13,620
that was Parsley

7
00:00:13,620 –> 00:00:14,660
The one in the middle is Dill

8
00:00:14,660 –> 00:00:16,120
on the right is Italian Basil

9
00:00:16,120 –> 00:00:19,520
and they got much much bigger than this, but this was only

10
00:00:20,220 –> 00:00:22,940
what we captured in a about I think a 21 day

11
00:00:23,300 –> 00:00:24,020
time frame

12
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my friend Phillip did the setup for the camera

13
00:00:27,380 –> 00:00:29,300
recording and editing of the

14
00:00:29,940 –> 00:00:30,580
the video

15
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I just want to give him credit

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00:00:32,840 –> 00:00:33,700
Just wanted to share that

17
00:00:33,700 –> 00:00:34,260
Hope you liked that

18
00:00:34,460 –> 00:00:35,980
thank you for watching

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00:00:35,980 –> 00:00:37,732
and please like, comment and subscribe

How to save on AeroGarden sponges

You can cut your costs in half for AeroGarden sponges by buying the 60 cell size Bio Dome refill sponges from Park Seed.  You can buy the Park Seed sponges directly from Park Seed of course, but Amazon also sells them. The Amazon price is usually a little higher, but the shipping costs at Park Seed might offset the difference. Sometimes they offer free shipping, or other specials. I’m not an affiliate of Park Seed, but you can sign up for their newsletter learn of specials they have. The AeroGarden sponges can be found at the AeroGarden website and Amazon.  All things considered, the biodome sponges are roughly about half the cost, and work just as well. Honestly I like using them better.

There are some slight differences. The AeroGarden type are round and denser. The Park Seed version’s sides are squared off, and less dense/more spongy. They are about the same length.

The biodome sponges fit in the white AeroGarden baskets just fine. You might have to pull it down from the bottom to snug it in. The biodome sponges also seem to work better in the AeroGarden seed starting decks.  Once they become wet, they expand and fill the hole better than the AeroGarden sponges.

Video

How to Clone Peppers Using the AeroGarden – Easy and Reliable Method

Introduction

This method of cloning peppers (and most other plants) is very easy, cheap and effective. It requires no special rooting hormone.

Materials needed

  • Sharp snips or razor blade for cutting stem and leaves (disinfected)
  • Scissors for cutting the sponge material
  • Nutrient solution – If using the AeroGarden nutrients, use the strength you would for everything else. If mixing your own, use a little less than full strength. If unsure, do a trial run first, before committing all of your cuttings. Information on mixing your own nutrients can be found here.
  • Net cup/pot/basket – If using the AeroGarden just use a white basket like the ones that seed kit pods have. You can buy just the baskets from AeroGrow or Amazon.
  • Sponge material – For AeroGarden, this can be the peat based kind that come with seed pot kits, or something similar like the Park Seed Biodome sponges. This is what I use. Rock wool should work fine as well. For non-AeroGarden or Kratky just use something that will fit the net pot/cup/basket. You can use the AeroGarden baskets and sponges too if you want. Again, that’s what I use.
  • Container – For non-AeroGarden or Kratky use any food safe container that will hold water. The top needs to have a hole that can fit the plant basket. The AeroGarden baskets fit really well in containers that have 1.5 inch openings.
  • AeroGarden (although you can improvise applying the same principles). I use the following in my video:

Steps

Prepare sponge material and container

  1. Cut the sponge material lengthwise down the center (not all the way through) so that it can be opened up and folded around the stem.
  2. Make sure the AeroGarden or Kratky vessel contain nutrient solution. For the Kratky method the solution will need to touch the bottom of the sponge material by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. The solution will wick to the top via capillary action. For AeroGarden just fill to the max level you normally would use.

Prepare cutting

  1. This seems to work best with a relatively young, tender side shoot (sucker). The bottom will need to be just under a node at a 45 degree angle. Initially cut a little ways below that.
  2. Cut off the first few leaves from the bottom. Cut any larger leaves off or in half. Make sure there are no buds or blooms present. Cut at a 45 degree angle just below the bottom node.
  3. Spread the sponge material apart with one hand and lay the bottom part of the cutting inside. Close the sponge, folding around the stem.
  4. Place sponge in the basket/cup/pot and put in the growing system.

Follow-up

Within a few weeks start checking for roots. Just lift it out and look for any roots coming out of the sponge material. Once you see this you’ll know the cloning has been successful.

After the roots have grown some you can leave it in there, or transplant it to something else.

Video of my process:

 

How to replace the nozzle/aerator stem on the AeroGarden Sprout

Background

Older models of the AeroGarden Sprout have an aeration nozzle with three small holes. These easily get blocked with time resulting in poor aeration. I reported this to AeroGrow and they gave me detailed instructions on how to remove the nozzle and clean it. But they also told me if I continued to have issues with it, they would send me a new nozzle that has one large hole, instead of the three smaller holes. So I cleaned the nozzle and it worked fine for a while, but the issue persisted. I contacted them again, and they sent me the new nozzle and repair tool free of charge.

What’s included

  • New version of the nozzle
  • Tool for removing the old nozzle. It looks like a piece of pvc with notches on one end.
  • Instructions

Steps to fix

  1. Use the supplied tool to twist the existing nozzle out by lining up the notches and turning counter-clockwise.
  2. Screw in the replacement nozzle and use the tool to tighten it back in, turning clockwise.

Conclusion

I’m very happy the customer service from AeroGrow. They’ve always been very responsive to issues and questions. They stand behind their product.

Video of the replacement process:

How to start your own lettuce seeds in the AeroGarden

If you don’t have a seed pod kit, the process for seeding your own AeroGarden pods is very simple. You can reuse an old pod basket/cage, and replace the sponge. If you have to buy sponges, it’s cheaper to use the BioDome type that Park Seed sells, specifically the 60 cell refill size. If you buy the AeroGrow brand, it costs about the same as the Park Seed, but you get less than half as much.

Replace the sponge, and place a small pinch of seeds in the hole at the top. You can use the nutrients that AeroGrow sells, but I make my own with a combination of 4-18-38 MasterBlend, Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), and Calcium Nitrate. I describe these nutrients in more detail here.

The strengths (and order of mixing) that I’m using for lettuce growing are:
1.6 grams/gallon 4-18-38 MasterBlend
.8 grams/gallon Magnesium Sulfate
1.6 grams/gallon Calcium Nitrate