How to make an alternative AeroGarden type system for starting pepper seeds

I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is at no extra cost to you and helps support my site and YouTube channel.

I made a very inexpensive system that functions similarly to some AeroGarden models, out of a 5 gallon bucket. It uses 16 of the standard AeroGrow white baskets and sponges. You can save money by using the biodome sponges from Park Seed.

Parts needed:

  • 5 gallon bucket with lid – Get at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, etc…
  • Air pump, stone and tubing – this is to oxygenate the nutrient solution. A cheap one from Walmart or Amazon will work fine.
  • 1.5 inch hole saw – 1.25 inch works too. It’ll be a little tighter and sit higher up.
  • AeroGarden grow baskets
  • AeroGarden sponges – Or save some money and get the biodome sponges from Park Seed.
  • Nutrient solution – You can use the stuff AeroGrow sells which works fine. In the long run, something like MasterBlend is cheaper. Here’s more information on buying and mixing that.

For germinating, seeds can be placed directly in the sponges and baskets, and set in the lid with nutrient solution touching the lower third/half of the sponges. In my testing, sprouts come up within two weeks. It would probably speed up the process to heat the water some, but I haven’t tried that.

* Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

I made a video showing how I put this together:

Pepper Grow and Indoor Garden Update from 1/22/17

The following video shows an update on my 2017 pepper starts, as well as circulating and non-circulating hydroponic lettuce grows. Also my DWC Jamaican Hot Chocolate and self-watering containers housing the Thai Dragon and Tien Tsin peppers.

This year I’m starting my seeds directly in the AeroGardens or in my DIY AeroGarden that I made.

Easy solution for changing hydroponic nutrients in standalone DWC system

I’ve worked out an easy way to refresh nutrients in stand alone DWC systems. It involves using a container within a container. The internal container has holes drilled in it and houses the plant and aeration stone and tubing. When changing nutrients simply add fresh solution to a new clean container. Then lift the internal container out and transfer it to the new container. The benefits of this are:

  1. Ease of changing nutrients reduces barrier to proper maintenance.
  2. When changing nutrients, roots are not disturbed.

I’ve been changing nutrients for my year+ old Jamaican Hot Chocolate every two weeks, but the rate of consumption has increased and more solution needs to be added in between weeks.

Here’s a video I made showing the process:

TopoGrow Grow Tent 24″ x 24″ x 48″

I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is at no extra cost to you and helps support my site and YouTube channel.

Grow tent with led light on

TopoGrow 24″ 24″ Grow Tent

I’m planning to build an improved low pressure aeroponics system, and will run a test of it in this tent using the UFO LED (216/65 watt) grow light. The plant I will use is Helios Hab since it should grow and produce early, and not get too huge.

Here’s a video showing the unboxing and assembly.

Instructions that were included. It shows some assembly for other models as well.

instructions front

instructions back

Gianor 216W UFO LED Grow Light

I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is at no extra cost to you and helps support my site and YouTube channel.

I just purchased a Gianor 216W UFO Led Grow Light from Amazon. It has 72 3 watt leds. I’m not sure how that translates, but the actual usage is supposed to be around 65 watts. Shown below are the specs listed on the Amazon site. It has good reviews and I think it’ll be great for what I’ll use it for. The shipped box contained the light, power adapter and hanging kit. I posted an unboxing video on YouTube (below).

Parameters,
Chips Brand: High Efficiency 3W Epistar Leds
Chips Qty: 72pcs 3W Leds ( 42* Red +12*Blue + 6* Whie+3*UV+3*IR+6*Orange)
Led: 72*3W= 216W
Actual Energy Consumption, 65W ±5%
Lumens: 5000~6000Lm
View Angle: 90°/120°
Working Temperature: 90°F -110°F (32.2°C – 43.3°C)
Lifespan: >50,000hours
Worldwide Voltage: AC85~265V
Warranty: 3 Years
Certification: CCC,CE,FCC, RoHS
Color Ratio, Full spectrum 430nm 450nm 460nm 630nm 640nm 660nm, 3500K, UV, IR, White, Orange.
Coverage Area About 3 x 2.5 Square Feet ( The lighting area and the height are changeable according to different plants and environments )

Unboxing video:

Tien Tsin (Chinese Red Pepper)

Tien Tsin (Chinese Red Pepper)
Tien Tsin pepper

Capsicum annuum

Background:
The Tien Tsin is a Capsicum annuum, orginating in China. It produces bright red pods that are 3-4 inches long, and around 1/2 inch in diameter. These peppers are often dried and cooked with Kung Pao Chicken and other Asian recipes. The Scovilles range from 50,000 to 75,000.

Ratings:
Heat: 4
Flavor: 4
Burn Profile: Mouth
Effects: None
Cap Cramps Potential: None

Review:
The pod I tried came from my AeroGarden and tasted a little green and tangy. There wasn’t a lot of flavor, and the heat seemed to be in the upper range of hotter Thai peppers.

Video review:

Thai Dragon

Thai Dragon

Thai Dragon peppers

Thai Dragon plant

Capsicum annuum

Background:
This is a fairly short, bushy plant which produces 3 to 4 inch long upright pods. The pods mature from green to bright red. The heat averages around 75,000 Scoville.

Ratings:
Heat: 4
Flavor: 7
Burn Profile: Immediate heat, mostly just mouth
Effects: None
Cap Cramps Potential: None

Review:
The flavor was tangy and sweet. Heat was immediate and mostly just around the mouth. It didn’t last very long. The skin was a little tough.

Video review:

How to start your own lettuce seeds in the AeroGarden

I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is at no extra cost to you and helps support my site and YouTube channel.

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

Black Bhutlah Scorpion

Black Bhutlah Scorpion

Black Bhutlah Scorpion

Black Bhutlah Scorpion measured

Black Bhutlah Scorpion cut open

Capsicum chinense

Background:
This superhot was grown by Andrew Whitaker (aka 96Strat on thp). The strain was created by Tony Rose (Scorched on thp). This pod wasn’t a perfect example of Black Bhutlah Scorpion. The grower shared this picture with me of one of the earlier pods. This is what they are supposed to look like. They are also typically much hotter than the one I tried. The grower and I think the off shape and lesser heat is due to it being a late season pod.

Good pheno Black Bhutlah Scorpion. Photo by Andrew Whitaker

Ratings:
Heat: 6
Flavor: 5
Burn Profile: Overall mouth, tongue
Effects: Some tingling on head soon after swallowing
Cap Cramps Potential: Very mild to none

Review:
The initial flavor was earthy, slightly sweet and slightly floral. The taste after swallowing was more floral and a little ‘soapy’. The flavor didn’t linger much after. The initial heat was strong, brought hiccups, head started tingling. It peaked early. The heat was mostly overall mouth and tongue. I only ate half the pod, but comparing the other one, it was only a little more that a gram less and heat was less than half.

Video review:

Unknown pod test (Possibly Madballz x Bhutlah)

Unknown, possibly Madballz x Bhutlah

Unknown superhot, whole pod

Unknown superhot measured

Unknown superhot cut open

Capsicum chinense

Background:
Super hot cross grown by Andrew Whitaker (aka 96Strat on thp)

Ratings:
Heat: 10
Flavor: 6
Burn Profile: Extreme back of throat, Eustacian tubes, then all over mouth
Effects: Some dizzyness, couldn’t stay still
Cap Cramps Potential: Moderate to severe

Review:
The inside had a lot of placenta, and coated with a beige lining. The aroma could be smelled immediately after cutting open. The flavor initally was tangy, after swallowing got hit with some floralness then overwhelmed with heat. The heat was the most intense I’ve experienced in a while, probably one of, if not, the hottest pod of 2016. It only weighed 4 grams, but was extremly hot. It seized the back of my throat almost immediately, felt like hot coal. While it was hitting my throat, I also felt it in my Eustacian tubes. It peaked after a few minutes, released my throat and moved to my mouth. Had an overall mouth burn as the effects dimimished. I had fairly intense cap cramps about 30-40 minutes after, and they lasted for about 45 minutes.

Video review: