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Beginner w/ First pepper garden - 2x2 tent grow - 150 watt - Coco Coir and GH Flora Nutrients

Hello and Welcome to my first pepper grow journal. I am not a gardener and I don’t have access to a garden, so I am limited to growing in my basement. I WELCOME INPUT, SO PLEASE JUMP IN IF I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG. I will be using a 2x2x6 grow tent to keep the plants warm and reflect more light. I have a 150 watt ViparSpectra LED for the space. I see that most of the pepper plants that I ordered are only expected to grow 2’ tall, so I’m hoping to squeeze four plants in the tent. This will put them 12” apart which is a little too tight I suspect. I will buy a larger tent (3x2 or 3x3) if it gets too tight (and if I enjoy this new hobby). I’ve been doing a lot of reading and preparation for this hobby….i hope it proves to be a rewarding hobby. My supplies and seeds will be here within a week.

Here is the growing space.I know it’s not much space to work with, but I can always add a second tent if I enjoy growing peppers and need more space as they get larger.
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Here are most of the peppers that I ordered. I was originally planning to grow Shishito, Thai Chiles, Sweet mini bell peppers and lunchbox peppers. However, I saw so many pepper varieties on this forum that I decided to order more exotic seeds and try a few. I am undecided as to which 4 I plan to grow first. I am still waiting for my germination equipment to arrive (heating pad, humidity dome, starter soil), so I have a few days to decide. The more I research this topic, the more I’m amazed by the variety of peppers available.

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I am planning to use these self feeding pots for my peppers. I need to have the ability to ignore them for a day or two at times. I’m hoping these feeders help keep them watered and fed automatically. The medium I am using is Coco Loco mixed with perlite. It’s a fast draining coco medium that allows for faster growth, but it doesn’t provide many nutrients. I will be feeding General Hydroponics Flora Series (Gro, Micro and Bloom), CalMag and seaweed extract, both of which work well with wick feeders.

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More details and photos next week when I have the seeds in their propagator.
 
Some of the YouTube creators sure make seed-starting sound more complicated and difficult than it needs to be.
Chinenses can benefit from a presoak but even without they should sprout, just takes longer. It gets tricky if you're dealing with old seeds.
Nature is persistent - plants WANT to grow. If you give them a reasonable chance, they will.
 
Day: 19. (Seeds planted on day 0)
Date: 2/4/24
Lighting per Day: 16 hours
Lamp to Plant Distance and Dim: 20 inches at 75%
Lighting Intensity: 260-290 ppfd, 15 DLI
Daytime Air Temp: 77
Nutrient TDS: 575 ppm / 1.0 EC
Nutrients: Seaweed, Flora Series .5 ml/g, CalMag 3ml/g, ph 5.8 (plus chlorine remover)
Water: misting with RO water mixture, bottom feeding with weaker tap water mixture
Air humidity: 65%

Open Questions: 1.). Should I still be using heat mats, or will that cook the roots and 2.) does it ever work well to grow two pepper plants in one planter? 3.). Will additional light benefit the seedlings, or do they need a dark period? The lights are my primary heat source, so I’d like to run them 24/7 if it resulted in more growth, but that also increases the Daily Light Integral above recommended.

Good Morning,
Yesterday I transplanted the best looking seedlings from the propagation tray to individual .5 gallon pots. The Shishito peppers that were previously transplanted grew much more quickly in the larger pot than those left in the propagation tray, so it seems like a logical move with the rest of the seedlings. As of today, every seedling has survived the move without any obvious transplant shock. I have 17 half gallon pots loaded to fill 10 spots in the tent, so I feel safe that I will have some sort of crop this year. A few have 2 seedlings in several pots as a backup plan. I’ll need to decide the best time to remove the weaker seedling so that they are not sharing a pot.

Strong germination rates overall…happy with the seed suppliers so far. I need to narrow down these plants to 10 planters when they outgrow the .5 gallon pot. (Moving to 8 12-inch and 2 10-inch self watering pots). My intent is to transplant one of each variety except for the ornamental Patio Fire & Ice which will be used in an outdoor planter as a (hopefully) deer-proof decorative plant.

I’m assuming one plant that isn’t fighting for root space will out-produce two plants fighting for the same root space in a relatively small container, so I won’t be growing more than one plant per container in the larger planters. If any plant tempted me, I’d consider growing two Bequinho pepper plants in one planter. I will research.

Here are the seedlings that made it to stage 2 of the grow…..they are being bottom-fed and misted. (I’m in coco/perlite which really wicks the water too)

1. **Shishito Pepper. 19/25 76% germinated. Half gallons pots = 3 (2 seedlings per pot)
2. **Biquinho Red. 6 / 6 100% germinated. Half gallons pots = 3 (snacking pepper….will one plant produce enough?)
3. **Sweet Heat**. 5 / 6 germinated. Half gallons pots = 2
4. **Satan's Kiss. 3 / 6 only 50% germinated. Half gallons pots = 2
5. **Aji Cachucha. 3 / 6 germinated. Half gallons pots = 1 (2 seedlings in the pot)
6. **Patio Fire & Ice. 6 / 6 germinated. Half gallons pots = 5 (ornamental pepper destined for outdoor planter)
7. **Jalapeno Sweet. 5 / 6 germinatedHalf gallons pots = 1
8. **Aji Rico** 4/6 germinated Half gallons pots = 1 (2 seedlings in the pot)
9. **Fresno 3 / 6 only 50% germinated. Half gallons pots = 1
10. **Bulgarian Carrot. 4 / 6 germinated. Half gallons pots = 1
11. Lunchbox peppers. 11 / 12 germinated. Half gallons pots = 2

Tent one 2x3 (Planned capacity 4 12-inch pots & 2 10-inch pots)
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Tent 2 (2x2). Capacity planned at 4 12-inch pots.
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Heat mats: I keep mine on heat mats almost until they're ready to go out. With the depth of those pots I think you have plenty of time before it's a problem. Ambient temperature matters too, so if it gets warm enough where you have them, turn off the mats.

Lights: They definitely need periods of darkness. You're current schedule should be good.

2-in-1: If you're transplanting, you should be fine other than having to separate roots when you transplant. Given the size of those pots, if they're staying in the pots, I would reduce to one.
 
Today I am trying to dial in my lighting intensity in the tent. I’m using an app called Photone and their diffuser to measure light intensity using my iPhone. I can’t find any recommended light levels for peppers, so I’m using their cannabis lighting guidelines. The only other guidelines they publish are for houseplants and I think peppers require more light than most houseplants.

I’m using Daily Light Integral for my tracking and I am at 16 hours of light per day. I’m wondering if they need more hours of light.

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Here are the guidelines by plant age…

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Here is my slightly increased Daily Light Integral and ppfd lighting intensity.
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I plan to increase the intensity next week, but I am within the guidelines for 16 hours of light.
According to the chart here, peppers have a DLI of 30-40 and 14-18 hours of light per day.
 
Heat mats: I keep mine on heat mats almost until they're ready to go out. With the depth of those pots I think you have plenty of time before it's a problem. Ambient temperature matters too, so if it gets warm enough where you have them, turn off the mats.

Lights: They definitely need periods of darkness. You're current schedule should be good.

2-in-1: If you're transplanting, you should be fine other than having to separate roots when you transplant. Given the size of those pots, if they're staying in the pots, I would reduce to one.
[/Q
Thank you Hellfire Farm. I will follow your advice and leave the heat mats for a while. I’m also removing or topping most of the double plantings today, so each seedling will get its own pot. Appreciate the guidance!

According to the chart here, peppers have a DLI of 30-40 and 14-18 hours of light per day.
Thanks Alkhall. I’m working my way up to those levels. I’m ready to increase them to a DLI of 20 this week and 30 the following week at 16 hours per day.
 
Day: 23 (Seeds planted on day 0)
Date: 2/8/24
Lighting per Day: 16 hours
Lamp to Plant Distance and Dim: 19 inches at 80% (viparspectra), 16 inches at 50% (ac infinity)
Lighting Intensity: Daily Light Integral DLI 20. Ppfd 345
Tent 1 temperatures day/night: 77/77
Tent 2 temperatures day/night: 73/71
Nutrient TDS: 575 ppm / 1.0 EC
Nutrients: Seaweed, Flora Series .5 ml/g, CalMag 3ml/g, ph 5.8 (plus chlorine remover)
Air humidity: 65%

Good Morning,
A quick update showing growth on the peppers. I’m seeing a significant difference in growth between the two tents, so I’ll be shopping for another heat mat today. I’m already running lights overnight to offset the cooler temperatures, but I need to get more heat into the 2x2. Hopefully running the LED at a higher level will generate more heat too.

Today I increased the light intensity from 16 to 20 Daily Light Integral (DLI) as measured by Photone. Thanks to Alkhall’s post above, I know that peppers need a DLI between 30-40, so I’m working my way up to those light intensity levels. Hope to be at 30 DLI by next weekend. I’ll monitor leaves for signs of stress. These plants have only been above soil for two weeks, so I’m slowly working my way up to that intensity.

I thinned out the extra seedlings from the Shishito peppers. One per pot now. Still need to thin a few more pepper plants, but I’m having difficulty deciding which seedling to keep. I’ll let them grow for a week and evaluate the seedlings. They’re much smaller than the shishito peppers.

One of the Bequinho pepper seedlings died, so I replaced it with a Fresno pepper. Not too exciting of a choice I realize. I recently purchased a hand crank food mill and made my first attempt at jalapeno hot sauce using store-bought peppers. That process was fun, but the fresno peppers might give me that “little more heat” I’m looking for. That’s my logic at least. Hopefully the other Bequinho pepper survives as I have high hopes for pickling those peppers. I was torn between the Fresno and the unknown Aji Rico pepper. Wasn’t sure if the Aji Rico would make good hot sauce given I’ve never seen or tasted one.

I purchased some Neem. It sounds like many indoor gardeners treat their plants to prevent pest problems? I’ll consider adding a regular Neem spraying as they get a little older. I need to read up on Neem more before I decide to spray it on the plants. I’m not a fan of pesticides or chemicals, but this sounds more like a natural pest deterrent.

Until next time….a few progress photos. For now, I plan to continue increasing light intensity and wait to transplant them into their final containers.


Tent #1
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Tent #2 2x2

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I’m not a fan of pesticides or chemicals, but this sounds more like a natural pest deterrent.

A couple years ago I found something called "spinosad" that is very effective and has a different area of effectiveness from neem. It's a biological vs. a chemical that attacks the insects, and from what I've read it's generally not toxic to the beneficial ones. Keep that in mind for the bigger plants later on.
 
A couple years ago I found something called "spinosad" that is very effective and has a different area of effectiveness from neem. It's a biological vs. a chemical that attacks the insects, and from what I've read it's generally not toxic to the beneficial ones. Keep that in mind for the bigger plants later on.

Thanks HellfireFarm! I will definitely read more about Spinosad vs Neem. I see a lot of very positive reviews online for it when I do a search, so I may need to reevaluate my plan.
 
Are you having pest issues?

I once used ladybugs on my seedlings when they got aphids.

After two weeks, no more aphids.
 
Keep in mind they have different applications. I use both depending on what needs doing.
Thank you again for the advice HellfireFarm. Much appreciated! I ordered some Captain Jacks Spinosad spray to have both products on hand. It sounds like Neem Oil is more of a preventative tool whereas Spinosad is more for quickly treating active infestations? If so, my plan is to start applying Neem oil every two weeks after “lights out”. I want to wait until the plants are a little more mature according to the web, so I’ll give them 2-3 more weeks before applying. Then if I do get any pests, the Spinosad will be available. I don’t know if a neem soil drench is worthwhile since they’re in coco.

I have 4-5 ornamental pepper plants destined for outdoors too, so chances are good that I’ll see pests along the way this year. Thanks again for the tip.

Are you having pest issues?

I once used ladybugs on my seedlings when they got aphids.

After two weeks, no more aphids.

I’m purely an indoor grow so I am hoping to keep all insects out of the house if possible. I have not given any close inspection to discover pests yet, although I swear I saw a fungus gnat out of the corner of my eye a few days ago. I hadn’t even considered that I’d have to worry about bugs since I’m indoors and using mostly brick coco coir, but I prefer to have a plan in case it happens (or to prevent it). I’m going to read up on ladybugs too…..if they tend to stay in the tent for their 2 week lifespan, then it sounds like a great solution if I do get attacked. Thanks Alkhall!
 
Day: 27 (Seeds planted on day 0)
Date: 2/12/24
Lighting per Day: 16 hours
Lamp to Plant Distance: 18”
Lighting Intensity: Daily Light Integral DLI 20. Ppfd 350
Tent temperatures day/night: 80/77
Nutrient TDS: 640 ppm / 1.2 EC
Nutrients: Seaweed, Flora Series 1 ml/g, CalMag 2ml/g, ph 5.8 (plus chlorine remover)
Air humidity: 75%

Coming up on three weeks above soil for most of these plants. Plants are growing quickly and most are looking healthy. I’m not sure how long they will last in these half gallon containers before needing to be transplanted. I’m slowly removing duplicate seedlings from the pots so that each pot will support one plant exclusively. I’m watching for roots coming out of the bottom of the pots but no sign of that yet. I might start transplanting in 2-3 more weeks. I am slowly increasing light intensity and nutrients.

Seeing some leaf curl on the shishito peppers on the lower leaves. I don’t think it’s light or heat stress based on my lighting measurement (20 DLI at 16 hours per day or 350 ppfd)….maybe too much air movement by the oscillating fans. I also suspect that they are overwatered. I moved them to different locations in the tent to see if they appear less curled or wilted with more warmth and less water and wind. Hopefully they like the new environment. I removed water from the drain pans so that I’m not drowning them.

Combined all plants into one tent under a larger LED lamp that puts out more heat for the tent. Dimmed LED to 350 ppfd.

Trying to figure out how to water these plants while I’m away on a trip. I ordered this system to see if it will keep ten plans watered over 5 days. Fingers crossed. I have a few weeks to figure this out, but I will be testing this system as soon as it arrives.

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Leaf curl on lower leaves….i suspect too much water or wind.

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Both of my lunchbox pepper plants sprouted two seeds from the same hole, so I topped the smaller seedling to benefit the larger one.

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only three weeks? mine are a lot smaller than that still...
Gonna have to look at the medium i guess
Sorry for the confusion…The Shishito peppers are at 4 weeks and the rest of the plants are at three weeks or less. Sorry for the confusion. You’re also seeing the largest of the plants. I have several much smaller plants too in the other tent. Unfortunately, coco isn’t a miracle medium.
 
only three weeks? mine are a lot smaller than that still...
Gonna have to look at the medium i guess
Here’s a shot at some of the three week old seedlings with none of the Shishito peppers in the photo. They’re all over the board when it comes to size and growth speed. I’ve read that coco provides faster growth than soil, but I’ve never tested it. Smallest peppers here are the two pots with Biquinho peppers.
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The smallest plants here are all Patio Fire & Ice….small ornamental pepper plants
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These are the largest of the plants with the two 4-week old Shishito peppers in the back. The rest are 3-week old plants. The Aji Rico, Fresno pepper, sweet jalapeño, and Lunchbox varieties are growing the fastest.
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2 things. (Edit for 3)


1. Great rookie grow. ROTY looking kit, if I do say so myself.
2. Upon review of your data, I am reminded of a meme.
*3. You are running a proper garden, don't be afraid to let the peppers grow and enjoy. My first years I fretted too much, still do, it's like waiting for Christmas in spring. Trust yourself and nature. You've done right by your garden!

👍🌶
 

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