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Discover the joys of growing hydroponic peppers in your closet! Learn tips for successful indoor gardening with this unique method.
Ever wondered about growing hydroponic peppers right in your closet? Join me as I dive into the world of indoor gardening, sharing my journey from sweet potatoes to vibrant peppers.
Let’s explore how to nurture these plants in a space-efficient way, ensuring a flavorful harvest!
How To Grow Hydroponic Peppers in a Closet
I am starting a hydroponic pepper closet grow. I have 3 Burpee Candy Apple Hybrid sweet peppers and one tomato plant which is an Early Girl determinate tomato also from Burpee seeds.
The plants are in 5-gallon buckets of coco coir and watered with top-feed drip irrigation. The nutrients are Jack’s 3-2-1 mix and the lighting is an HLG 650R.
Lights and watering are controlled with timers so the grow is automated.
Growing Peppers Indoors
Peppers can be grown indoors year-round using hydroponics and coco coir or even with a 5-gallon bucket filled with potting soil.
Peppers are perennial indoors. Outside frost will kill peppers so they are grown as annuals. But indoors it’s always summer.
As long as your plants are healthy they will continue to flower and produce peppers.
Peppers require a lot of light so you will want to put them in a south-facing window. But winter skies are often cloudy and day length is shorter.
If you want to harvest peppers year round you will want to put them under an LED grow light for 12-14 hours a day.
Growing Hydroponic Peppers in Your Closet
The Transition from Sweet Potatoes to Peppers
Hello, gardening enthusiasts! I recently embarked on an exciting project in the same closet where I successfully harvested 16 lbs of sweet potatoes.
It was a bit of a challenge to clear the space from the sprawling vines, but now it’s all set for my next venture – hydroponic peppers!
What Is Hydroponics
According to Wikipedia: Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture which involves growing plants, usually crops or medicinal plants, without soil, by using water-based mineral nutrient solutions. Terrestrial or aquatic plants may grow with their roots exposed to the nutritious liquid or the roots may be mechanically supported by an inert medium such as perlite, gravel, or other substrates.
Coco coir is an inert medium. It may look like soil but it is not soil. It is inert meaning it is low in nutrients and it has a slightly acidic pH of about 6.0.
These plants could have been grown in perlite or grow stones but I chose coco coir as my hydroponic grow medium.
Coco coir can produce incredible results if you treat it as a hydroponic growth medium. But if you treat it like soil you will get soil results.
Unlike soil where you let it dry out before watering coco coir should never be allowed to dry out.
People who grow in soil use a feed, water, feed, water rotation. But coco coir is different. It needs to be fed every time it is watered.
It also requires a significant amount of magnesium to help the other nutrients it is fed to be balanced. Coco coir will store potassium at the expense of calcium and magnesium so for this reason calmag is an important part of your nutrient profile.
Introducing the Candy Apple Hybrid
I’ve chosen the Candy Apple hybrid from Burpee Seeds, known for producing both red and sweet peppers.
Currently, I have three plants set in 5-gallon buckets, using coco coir as the growing medium.
This setup includes a top feed drip system, although I’ve plugged some drippers to prevent overwatering, especially for the smaller plants like the tomato I’m also nurturing alongside.
Burpee ‘Bush Early Girl’ Hybrid Slicer Tomato
I have grown Early Girl tomatoes quite a bit. It performs well in Western Washington’s cool climate. However, it is usually an indeterminant variety. This means it keeps vining and growing.
I found that Burpee had a determinate Early Girl. Determinate tomatoes are bushlike.
They also ripen most of the tomatoes at the same time which is great if you are into canning.
Like peppers tomatoes are perennial indoors and they can produce fruit year-round if you provide enough light.
I have read that determinate tomatoes die after fruiting. I can tell you from experience that is not true.
Last year after harvest I cut my Early Girl Tomato back after fruiting. I left one lower branch and it grew a new plant and another harvest.
I am pretty sure I could repeat this all year but I did not try it again because I needed the space for other plants.
Light and Nutrient Management
Lighting is crucial in hydroponics, and for my setup, I’ve opted for the HLG 650R. This light is quite powerful, so I keep it high up and sometimes dim it to avoid overwhelming the plants.
These pepper plants were initially grown in 3-inch containers before being transferred to the current system.
The plants were grown from seed and about 2 weeks old from germination which took about 5 days. The Early Girl Determinate Tomato starts slow and is about 1 week old.
The Nutrient Mix: Jack’s 321
For nutrients, I’m using Jack 321, a cost-effective, three-part mix popular among commercial greenhouse growers. It consists of a base (5-12-26), calcium nitrate(15-0-0), and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts). I’ve kept the nutrient strength at about 700 parts per million to avoid shocking the plants. As they start fruiting, I’ll increase this to about 1,000 ppm.
The formula is 3 parts base, 2 parts calcium nitrate, 1 part epsom salts. Some people recommend mixing it by weight.
I think that the weight changes if the nutrients absorb moisture when exposed to open air. So I use teaspoons or tablespoons to measure it.
It’s concentrated so it is important to use a TDS meter to mix it so you don’t fry your plants
Watering is done sparingly at this stage. It’s crucial to let the roots expand and avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.
As the plants grow, I plan to use all four drippers in each pot to meet their increasing water needs.
I’m excited to share updates as these hydroponic peppers grow. It’s going to be an interesting journey, balancing the needs of the plants with the constraints of a closet grow space.
In the meantime, I wish everyone happy holidays and happy gardening! Remember, whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, the key is to keep it green. Until next time, take care, and happy gardening!