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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.
 
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!

👍🌶
Thanks Indy! I do fret alot, but it only takes one big mistake to kill the plants. So I fret over accurate nutrients, good watering practices and sufficient lighting. It will get easier with more experience.
 
TL/DR. Transplant Day…..new larger pots for the pepper plants

Day: 30(Seeds planted on day 0)
Date: 2/15/24
Lighting per Day: 16 hours
Lamp to Plant Distance and Dim: 19 inches at 80% (viparspectra), 18 inches at 50% (ac infinity)
Lighting Intensity: Daily Light Integral DLI 20. Ppfd 350
Tent 1 temperatures day/night: 77/77
Tent 2 temperatures day/night: 73/71
Nutrient TDS: 650 ppm / 1.2 EC
Nutrients: Seaweed, Flora Series 1ml/g, CalMag 2ml/g, ph 5.8 (plus chlorine remover)
Air humidity: 65%

Good Morning,
I’ve now transplanted one of each pepper from the half gallon pots into the final 10-inch and 12-inch containers filled with coco coir and perlite. I have ten large pots with peppers. The final list of peppers includes Sweet Jalapeno, Fresno, Aji Rico, Shishito (2), Bequinho (2), lunchbox, fire and ice (5), Bulgarian Carrot and Satan’s Kiss. I regret not planting at least one super hot. Maybe next time.

Some of the plants that looked slightly wilted in the smaller pots have perked up. Every plant appears to have survived the transplant. I do plan to top the Shishito (back left), Aji Rico, Fresno and Jalapeño peppers. Not sure if I want to top the other varieties. I believe I will wait at least one more week before topping since I need to read more about how to top peppers.

I also adjusted the LED heights to accommodate the taller planters and still deliver lighting at a Daily Light Integral of 20. (350 ppfd).

These pots are self-watering pots with a large 60oz reservoir under each 12 inch pot, so my daily watering routine will likely stop now. This could be a several day supply of water.



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These five Fire & Ice ornamental plants will be moved into one gallon pots and transplanted outdoors in two more months.

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I guess it is almost time to start treating for insects. I now have Neem and Spinosad products in my inventory (thanks to HellfireFarm for the tip). Neem can be damaging to young plants according to the web, so I’m hesitant to start treating yet….maybe one more week before I test it on 1-2 plants. I will use at “lights out” since applying under the led lighting can damage the plants.

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Next steps include increasing lighting to 30 DLI, increasing nutrient levels, treating for bugs and topping plants…..then waiting for the peppers to form. I think we’re getting to the fun part.
 

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TL/DR. Transplant Day…..new larger pots for the pepper plants

Day: 30(Seeds planted on day 0)
Date: 2/15/24
Lighting per Day: 16 hours
Lamp to Plant Distance and Dim: 19 inches at 80% (viparspectra), 18 inches at 50% (ac infinity)
Lighting Intensity: Daily Light Integral DLI 20. Ppfd 350
Tent 1 temperatures day/night: 77/77
Tent 2 temperatures day/night: 73/71
Nutrient TDS: 650 ppm / 1.2 EC
Nutrients: Seaweed, Flora Series 1ml/g, CalMag 2ml/g, ph 5.8 (plus chlorine remover)
Air humidity: 65%

Good Morning,
I’ve now transplanted one of each pepper from the half gallon pots into the final 10-inch and 12-inch containers filled with coco coir and perlite. I have ten large pots with peppers. The final list of peppers includes Sweet Jalapeno, Fresno, Aji Rico, Shishito (2), Bequinho (2), lunchbox, fire and ice (5), Bulgarian Carrot and Satan’s Kiss. I regret not planting at least one super hot. Maybe next time.

Some of the plants that looked slightly wilted in the smaller pots have perked up. Every plant appears to have survived the transplant. I do plan to top the Shishito (back left), Aji Rico, Fresno and Jalapeño peppers. Not sure if I want to top the other varieties. I believe I will wait at least one more week before topping since I need to read more about how to top peppers.

I also adjusted the LED heights to accommodate the taller planters and still deliver lighting at a Daily Light Integral of 20. (350 ppfd).

These pots are self-watering pots with a large 60oz reservoir under each 12 inch pot, so my daily watering routine will likely stop now. This could be a several day supply of water.



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These five Fire & Ice ornamental plants will be moved into one gallon pots and transplanted outdoors in two more months.

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I guess it is almost time to start treating for insects. I now have Neem and Spinosad products in my inventory (thanks to HellfireFarm for the tip). Neem can be damaging to young plants according to the web, so I’m hesitant to start treating yet….maybe one more week before I test it on 1-2 plants. I will use at “lights out” since applying under the led lighting can damage the plants.

IMG_1331.jpeg

Next steps include increasing lighting to 30 DLI, increasing nutrient levels, treating for bugs and topping plants…..then waiting for the peppers to form. I think we’re getting to the fun part.
Tdub,

Which light source are you selecting on the Photone app?

Thanks
 
Day: 31 (Seeds planted on day 0 and many sprouted on day 7)
Date: 2/16/24
New Nutrient level: added 5ml/g of Flora Series Gro/Micro/Bloom, Seaweed extract 28ml/g, 3 ml/g of CalMag. I had to dilute this down slightly to 720ppm by adding tap water, so it’s weaker than stated.

Today is proving to be a rough day for the peppers as they have a lot of drooping leaves. I assumed that the water in the bases of the self watering pots would suffice from this point for a while, so I did not top-water the plants yesterday to avoid overwatering them. Today I see a lot of wilting leaves, so I top-watered the plants from with stronger nutrients today. I can’t really tell the difference between overwatering symptoms and underwatering symptoms, so I’m guessing that the plants needed more nutrients and water since they are in coco and since I skipped watering. I have a lot to learn about growing in coco, but I do understand that coco should be kept moist at all times (unlike soil which can do wet dry cycles).

I see some leaves that could be greener, so I’m using all 3 of the Flora series for now. I will likely stop using Gro when it’s time for pepper production since I am supposed to reduce nitrogen. I am feeding using the manufacturer recommended feed chart at almost 5ml/g. I was significantly under feeding them with Flora Series last week at only 1-2 ml/g.

I see one brown leaf at the base of the Satan’s Kiss pepper plant. I’m researching today to see the potential causes. This plant may get the first Neem treatment test. I will also remove the damaged bottom leaf and inspect more closely for pests. It’s touching the coco, so I plan to remove it regardless.

Hopefully the water resolves the drooping leaves.

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Edit to fix typo on one word
 
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I never had a lot of luck with bottom watering young plants. Now, if they had roots coming out of the drain holes in the pots, bottom watering seemed to work. However, I believe that one should be mindful not let excess water stand in the tray.

Also, while I start seeds in coir plugs, I never tried actually growing in coir. I transplant into Fox Farm potting mix, either Ocean Forest, Happy Frog, or a mixture of both (which I will be doing this year) while waiting to plant outside in May. It appears getting the nutrient mixture just right may be a lot of work?
 
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Hmm, how does a surface of the soil feel? Is it wet? If yes, maybe it's over watering. Because if you water from the bottom, you should let the surface of the soil get wet just a little, because if it's starting to get wet, the bottom and the roots area have enough water and when you take the rest of it out of the tray, the surface will get more wet anyway from the rest of the dirt.


Oh, sorry, you're growing them in coco. I don't have experience but isn't underwatering harder to do than overwatering anyway? Peppers seem really hard to underwater in my experience...
 
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I never had a lot of luck with bottom watering young plants. Now, if they had roots coming out of the drain holes in the pots, bottom watering seemed to work. However, I believe that one should be mindful not let excess water stand in the tray.

Also, while I start seeds in coir plugs, I never tried actually growing in coir. I transplant into Fox Farm potting mix, either Ocean Forest, Happy Frog, or a mixture of both (which I will be doing this year) while waiting to plant outside in May. It appears getting the nutrient mixture just right may be a lot of work?
The bottom feeding is starting to work….i believe their roots are now reaching the moist bottom of the pots. I was really regretting my choice of coco for a while. I’m not sold on coco yet, but it’s getting easier here.
 
Day: 43 (Seeds planted on day 0 and many sprouted on day 7)
Date: 2/28/24
Lighting intensity increased to full (almost 30 DLI)
Nutrients are at 1tsp per gallon (5 ml) for Micro and Bloom, 3 ml of Grow, 3 ml of CalMag

Good Day….its been 12 days since I updated this log. A quick look at the garden now that plants have been above soil for 5 weeks. I recently did a foliar feeding with Epsom salts, so some white residue remains on the leaves. I had noticed some leaves that were splotchy which I assumed was a Magnesium deficiency. I have also conducted one neem treatment.

The plant roots appear to be feeding from the coco in the self watering pots, so they must have finally grown into the lower third of the pot. I was originally regretting my choice of coco over soil, but it’s getting easier now. The pots are not sitting in water, but rather there is a wick that transports water up to the soil from the plant bases.

The five “Fire and Ice” ornamental peppers look stressed, especially towards the end of the 16 hour lighting period. They are scheduled to be placed outdoors, so this is the largest container I intend to use for them.

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The shishito (back left), Lunchbox peppers (back right) and Biquinho peppers (left front) looking healthy. This Shishito is the only plant that I’ve topped.

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Bulgarian Carrot to the right

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My 24/7 companion checking out the tent with me.

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Hmm, how does a surface of the soil feel? Is it wet? If yes, maybe it's over watering. Because if you water from the bottom, you should let the surface of the soil get wet just a little, because if it's starting to get wet, the bottom and the roots area have enough water and when you take the rest of it out of the tray, the surface will get more wet anyway from the rest of the dirt.


Oh, sorry, you're growing them in coco. I don't have experience but isn't underwatering harder to do than overwatering anyway? Peppers seem really hard to underwater in my experience...
Thanks. Yes, I’m am in coco. The roots are now feeding exclusively from the bottom reservoir and they appear to be doing well. I haven’t top watered in several days except for the small pots. Top of coco is dry and the bottom of the pots is fed by wicks that are pulling moisture from the bottom reservoirs. Now I hope to to add a cheap self watering system to add water to each reservoir daily….and then a vacation will be possible.


Your setup sounds fantastic, and I love the ROTY vibes! And you know, letting those peppers thrive is like unwrapping presents on Christmas. It's easy to fret, but trust me, nature knows what it's doing. Also, have you ever thought about adding a touch of greenery around your tent, like a creeping thyme lawn? Could make it even cozier!
Yes, I don’t really know what to expect come harvest time. I might have jumped into this hobby too deep and I’ll have way more peppers than I know what to do with. We will see.
I added a thyme plant as you requested….kind of a sickly specimen since she hasn’t seen light in a few weeks. But she’s free to creep for a while.

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Day: 45 (Seeds planted on day 0 and many sprouted on day 7)
Date: 3/1/2024

Noteworthy day….my first pepper flower ever. This is on a Shishito pepper that has not been topped. I have no idea how this works….do the flowers turn into peppers? I am aware that the flowers must be pollinated by shaking branches or using a brush. I have a fan blowing which should spread pollen too.

Big spread in pepper plant sizes at this age. I may have to organize tents and pepper plants according to plant height in order to be more efficient with these two grow lights. I am already regretting not growing higher scoville scoring peppers. I’m just not ready for habaneros yet.

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@Tdub,

Plants are looking great, nice and bushy!

Peppers have perfect flowers; i.e. male and female on each bloom, and can self-pollinate.

I would believe the fan would be sufficient to spread the pollen around.
 
Congrat's Tdub! Pepper flowers are strongly self-pollinating and most peppers will pollinate without any assistance, often during the process of the flower opening when a flower's anthers brush against the stigma.

If you want to improve the likelihood though, manual pollination with a small paint brush works great. Something like a Q-tip works too and some people use vibrating toothbrushes, but you have to be careful not to break the flower's style when you manually pollinate with something rigid.

Manual assistance can be particularly helpful if a plant is not producing viable pollen, but is otherwise ready to set fruit, because you're using viable pollen from other compatible plants. I think shaking is helpful too, though if I'm trying to avoid cross-pollination (for seed saving) I avoid it because it can put a lot of pollen in the air and I feel like that increases the otherwise smaller chances of cross pollination.

In my experience growing inside, a fan does little to assist in pollination as I regularly run fans on my indoor breeding plants without experiencing cross-pollination, even when the plants are close together.
 
You are hitting the sweet spot this season, Tdub!
Good work!
 
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Day: 50 (Seeds planted on day 0 and many sprouted on day 7)
Date: 3/6/2024
Nutrients: Megacrop at 4g/gallon (700-800ppm), adding silica at 2.5ml/g

The Aja Rico is setting the pace at 15” tall. Planted 7 weeks ago and sprouted 6 weeks ago.

Only one big change in the last few weeks. I converted from the three part General Hydroponics Flora Series to MegaCrop powder. There is less guesswork on quantities and less mixing needed. These plants are responding great to bottom feeding through the wicks and the leaves look healthier with this new fertilizer . I am not top feeding and hope to do all future feeding through the bases.

My only complaint with Megacrop is that it doesn’t appear to dilute in water easily.

Also hitting it with Neem Oil spray every two weeks to prevent bugs. Very pleased with how they look today.

One more month before I plant the ornamental peppers outside.



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Day: 59 (Seeds planted on day 0 and many sprouted on day 7)
Date: 3/15/2024
Nutrient Change (again)

It’s been 9 days since my last update. A quick snapshot of the pepper garden. I’ve changed nutrients again as I was having difficulty getting the Megacrop to dilute in water even over multiple days of soaking. This time I’m using Jacks Blossom Booster (1/4 tsp per gallon) which has less nitrogen during the flowering period. It dilutes quickly too. Also adding Megacrop Bud Explosion (1 gram/gallon) to support fruiting, 3ml/gallon of CalMag and 2.5ml /gallon of Silica to strengthen branches. I added acid to lower the ph from 7.5 to 5.9.

Plants are showing some early flowers…and a lot of potential flowers are showing on the top of the Shishito. The Bequinho peppers in the back left and right corners are growing extremely short and might need more light as they are under each fan,

I’m considering moving a four of the large ones to the back deck once the frost risk is gone (Mid April) instead of maintaining two indoor tents. The five small ornamental peppers in the other tent are being placed outside too in a decorative planter.

I’m still feeding all plants through the bottom reservoirs exclusively in these self watering pots. They need to be topped off every 2-3 days so far with nutrient solution. As a reminder, plants are in coco and perlite, so all nutrients come from the feed and none comes from the medium.

Next posting in a week or so.







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Tallest plant is the Aji Rico at 22” in the rear of the tent.

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Day 67
3/23/24

Welcome to the first days of spring. i had to add a stake to hold up the Shishito pepper in the left rear of the tent. She has a few flowers, but I was shocked to discover a pepper already! Not sure when to pick it….ill give it another week or two. This is my first home grown pepper!

The Aji Rico is the tallest and is over 23 inches tall now. While I had originally hoped to grow many indoors, I am going to move several to my deck after the risk of frost is gone. Maybe in one more month…..they’re going to be huge by then. I wish I had a yard and a garden.

For the plants that are flowering, I believe that I’m supposed to touch the inside of each flower to spread pollen. I’ve been using my finger, but I have a paint brush for tomorrow. I’ll have time tomorrow for more photographs and pollination.

Full weekly update tomorrow with photos.
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Day 83
4/8/2024

Hello….today is Eclipse Day 2024. We are close to the zone of totality here and expect to see some significant dimming.

It has been a while since I’ve posted, so here is a quick update. The tallest of the indoor peppers are now at about 28 inches…several at 2’ tall. I looked at the long range weather forecast here in zone 6 and decided to move my plants outdoors. Worst case, I could cover them in the event of a frost. They have become too large for a tent now. Moving them was challenging given their size. I’m also using support stakes given how top heavy these have become.

I don’t have a “yard”, so I’m limited to growing on my deck. Here’s a two tier planter with six of my plants. Two shishitos that are now producing peppers that are almost ready. One sweet Jalapeño, one Fresno pepper, one Aji Rico, and one Satan’s Kiss.


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I’ll post the remainder of the tents later when I water them. I’m ready to transplant the 5 ornamental peppers to the front planter, at which time I will be down to one indoor tent. I learned that I don’t really want to run indoor plants in summer due to excess humidity and heat generated.

Some of the Aji Rico peppers and Satans Kiss Peppers
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