AeroGarden updates

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I’m currently running three AeroGardens (one is at work not shown). The two I have at home are an AeroGarden Bounty Elite and an old AeroGarden Classic 7. The seven has only herbs in it now, and they are doing well for the most part. The Bounty Elite has four pepper plants; a crossed Peach Lightning Hab, a crossed eximium and two Aji Pineapple. The roots are so massive they are starting to push the plant pods out. I plan to yank those prior to starting seeds for the 2017 grow season. I’ll start nine plants, and move eight of the sprouts to different hydroponic systems. I’ll keep one in there to grow to maturity. I also have an AeroGarden Sprout that I plan to start soon with lettuce. I’ll show how to start lettuce seeds without needing to buy the pre-seeded pods from AeroGrow. I’m going to run this at the same time as my Kratky lettuce experiment and compare the grows.

Indoor grow update

Since my outdoor grow for this season has ended, I have time to fix some much needed issues with my indoor setup. The main problems were improper spacing between the CMH light and plants, and neglect of the DWC hydroponic setup for my Jamaican Hot Chocolate.

I rearranged the light so it is suspended from the ceiling now instead of the top of the shelving unit. For the hyrdo, I setup a two bucket design. The inner bucket, which the net pot lid fits on, contains the tubing and air stone and has holes in the bottom and sides. The outer bucket contains the nutrient solution. This way I can easily replace the nutrients by moving the inner bucket to a bucket container that has fresh solution. This makes the process quicker and easier, and also prevents disturbing the roots. I also started a calendar to remind me when I need to change the nutrients. I’m going to do this every two weeks, but will add nutrients/water if needed between nutrient solution refreshes.

The new lighting arrangement should help my Thai Dragon and Chiltepin plants also. The Thai Dragon is in a two gallon self-watering system that I built. It was outside, and has been doing really well. Also have a Chiltepin in a Kratky setup, but it has depleted its solution. I added some to give me a little time to figure out a more long term solution. I pruned all the plants back too, which will help new growth.

I’ll post updates every week or two showing how it does. I plan on adding a Kratky setup with some lettuce to the rack soon also. I’ll do a comparison grow between that and same type lettuce growing in an AeroGarden.

Piment Leopard

Piment Leopard

Piment Leopard pod

Piment Leopard pod in hand

Capsicum chinense

Background:
The Piment Leopard is a cross between Bhut Jolokia and Pimenta de Neyde. This strain was created by Italian growers. The colors range from dark purple/black to very bright red.

Ratings:
Heat: 5
Flavor: 6
Burn Profile: Mostly tongue some roof of the mouth and some towards back of throat.
Effects: None
Cap Cramps Potential: None

Review:
The Piment Leopard that I reviewed was sent to me by 96Strat from thp. The flavor was similar to Bhut but was fruity and slightly sweet. There was some bitter after taste after swallowing, but that went away soon. It gave me pretty string hiccups right away. The heat stayed mostly on the tongue, some crept toward the back of my throat. The heat level on this one was between habanero and Bhut, but probably a little closer to habanero.

Video review:

Pom Bomb – Blueberry Pomegranate Pepper Jelly

Jar of pepper jelly

This jelly turned out great. I’m sharing the recipe as it can be followed as is, or adapted using different fruits and peppers.

Ingredients:
11 oz mixed peppers (Cereja da Amapa, CGN-20800, CGN-20800 cross and one Jay’s Red Ghost Scorpion)
4 1/2 cups of cane sugar
1 package of Sur-Jel powdered pectin
1/2 cup lime juice
Fruit from two pomegranates
1/2 cup blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Puree the peppers, fruit and lime juice.
  2. Add mixture to a large sauce pan and stir in powdered pectin.
  3. Bring mixture to a rolling boil (can’t stir down).
  4. Stir in cane sugar and bring back to rolling boil
  5. Boil for one minute
  6. Remove from heat and ladle mixture into sterilized jars.
  7. Hot water bath jars for approximately 20 minutes.
  8. This yielded 11 4oz jars.

    This is the equivalent blender that I used.

    Video of the process:

Elijah’s Xtreme Reaper Sauce review

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Elijah's Xtreme Reaper Sauce bottle

Elijah's Xtreme Reaper Sauce bottle label description

I reviewed Elijah’s Xtreme Reaper Sauce yesterday. I found this hot sauce at a local Ingle’s supermarket, but is also available at Amazon. It is produced in Gastonia North Carolina, near Charlotte. The flavor is very good, has kind of a dark sweet blend. The main flavor ingredients are Black Cherries and Cranberries, but they are overshadowed by the bourbon, vanilla, and sugar flavors. You can still taste the fruit though, but first impressions were the bourbon and vanilla. Although the label and description on the bottle imply a very hot sauce, the heat is actually pretty mild (to medium). It started with a stinging tongue burn, then overall mouth. The heat kind of radiated, but at no point was it very hot. I think you could use this liberally on anything you would use sweet flavored condiments on. Probably would go great with a Thanksgiving meal with all the cranberries in it. Elijah’s also has a Ghost Pepper sauce, which I have not tried. I saw another review saying that it was hotter than the Reaper sauce, so I’m assuming it has a higher concentration of peppers. The next time I’m at Ingles and see it available I’ll buy a bottle and do a review on it.

Ingredients shown on the label:
Black Cherries, brown sugar, tomato paste, cranberry sauce, Carolina Reaper Peppers, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, white onion, vinegar, vanilla extract, sea salt.

Video review:

Habanero, Orange

Orange Habanero

Orange Habanero whole

Orange Habanero cut open

Capsicum chinense

Background:
The Orange Habanero is a very popular chinense pepper, often used in cooking. The peppers can be found at most local grocery stores, but can easily be grown as well. The plant is very hardy and productive. The estimated Scovilles are 100,000 to 350,000 on average.

Ratings:
Heat: 4
Flavor: 6
Burn Profile: Stingy overall mouth
Effects: None
Cap Cramps Potential: None

Review:
This particular pod was from seed that came off my 2015 season hab plant. Apparently a pod from that plant fell on the ground, and a seed germinated and sprouted. The flavor was the best of any hab I’ve eaten. It was very fruity and crunchy. It had upfront immediate heat that peak early.

Video review:

How to make hot pepper popcorn with the Westbend Stir Crazy

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Westbend Stir Crazy popcorn popping machine

Hot pepper popcorn making should never be done in an enclosed area with no outside ventilation. It’s best to do outdoors, or in an open area that has ventilation to the outside. This is because the vapor that comes out during popping has capsaicin which can be harmful to breath, or at the least very distressing.

This could really be adapted for stove top cooking, but you would have less options regarding ventilation. Whereas a Stir Crazy can be moved to whereever you need it. If you have a strong vented-to-the-outside hood above the oven, that would probably work fine. It would still be a good idea to not cook near anyone who might be sensitive to the vapor.

For a full batch of popcorn use:

  • 1 cup of kernels (3/4 cup if using larger kernels)
  • 3 tbsp of high oil like canola, vegetable, etc…
  • pepper slices. Adjust the type and number of peppers to suit your tastes

The Stir Crazy can be purchased at Amazon. I bought ours at a local Goodwill for about 1/2 the price. It was a salvage item, unused, but a small piece of plastic had broken off. Doesn’t affect usability though. We’ve made several batches with ours and it works great, easy to clean up too.

We used two yellow superhots and that made a very hot batch.

Pepper slices in oil

Thai, Large Orange

Large Orange Thai

Large Orange Thai whole pod

Large Orange Thai cut open

Capsicum annuum

Background:
This strain is possibly a hybrid Thai pepper. The plant is very productive and produces lots of bright orange fruits that are three to four inches long. The heat level is low to medium, not nearly as hot as typical Thai strains.

Ratings:
Heat: 2
Flavor: 6
Burn Profile: Mouth
Effects: None
Cap Cramps Potential: None

Review:
The flavor was sweet and fruity. The pod remained very crunchy two days after being picked. The heat was mild, maybe a little more than Jalapeno if that.

Video review:

Jay’s Ghost Scorpion, Peach

Jay’s Peach Ghost Scorpion

Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion pod

Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion plant

Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion peppers

Capsicum chinense

Background:
The Jay’s Ghost Scorpion pepper strains were created by Jay Weaver of Pennsyvania. The seed for my plant came from Semillas la Palma. I’ve read esimated scovilles around 750K, but it seems much hotter than that.

Ratings:
Heat: 8
Flavor: 6
Burn Profile: Major creeper, mouth, tongue, back of throat
Effects:
Cap Cramps Potential: Some

Review:
This was probably one of the most intense creeper burns I’ve had, relative to the amount of pod I ate. I took one big bite from the front end, and didn’t get much heat. The flavor kind of bhut like. The second bite was all but the last inch of pod toward the back end. The heat build slowly over the next eight minutes but became pretty intense toward the end.

Video review:

Congo, Peach

Peach Congo

Peach Congo pods

Peach Congo pod cut open

Capsicum chinense

Background:
This Congo strain was created by pepperlover.com. The plant was short but productive. My results differed from the description on the pepperlover site which said there were no floral or bitter tones. I got a lot of both on my taste test.

Ratings:
Heat: 5
Flavor: 5
Burn Profile: Tongue and roof of mouth
Effects: None
Cap Cramps: None

Review:
Pod test of Peach Congo, which is a large hab-like Capsicum chinense. The seed for my plant came from pepperlover.com. The pod was huge so I only ate half for the review. I ate the tip end first, and flavor on it was habby, slightly floral tasting with some sweetness. It was a little citrusy too. The placenta end was hotter, more floral and had some bitter aftertaste. The heat was a little hotter than regular habanero. It stayed on my tongue and and after eating the hotter side, hit the roof of the mouth.

Video review: