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indoor Christmas harvest and the first harvest ever for me indoors!

So just a bit of background. This is a "no-till organic" grow where I just keep using the soil medium grow after grow without disturbing it. Roots and such from the last harvest are left intact because plants are just cut off at soil level. In the soil there are 3 species of earthworms and many species of detritivores and predators. Everything is recycled back on top of the pot, including the stems, leaves, etc. of the last harvest except for the biomass it is harvested for. The deficit is made up by maintaining a timothy hay mulch over the top of the soil (usually 3" thick" to maintain surface moisture that ensures a high level of biological activity near the surface. 3" of hay gets totally decomposed and eaten surprisingly fast, usually in about 3 or 4 months. For other nutrients, there are none except for alfalfa pellets that I spread around perhaps every 3rd grow cycle. I only have to water. It's one pot/bed of soil that holds about 150 gallons (4 feet in diameter) and has a permanent home in my 5X5 grow tent. I've been growing in that soil for many years now, just not peppers until recently.

Lighting is supplied with four Kingbrite 240W V4 panels with Samsung LM301H diodes, and a "token" number of Osram diodes for far red, UV, and IR. They're on a 16/8 light cycle, with the lights coming on during nighttime when electrical costs are half the price. I keep them dimmed and they now draw only about 620W from the wall. The tent is vented directly outdoors with a 6" inline fan sitting on top of the tent. I have 4 clip fans attached to each corner pole for air circulation. All fans run 24/7. Temperature is 21 Celsius during lights out, and about 27.5 Celsius during lights on.

So with that out of the way, I planted several cultivars of peppers on Sep 12, 2021, but sadly the vendor that I depended upon for my ones I really wanted to grow just turned out to be entirely different peppers (more cayennes I think). That includes the reapers and the scorpions I bought. Not even the right species! But the cayenne I did buy purposely from a different vendor is doing well. My only C. chinense that turned out true to form and had amazing germination rates were seeds I obtained from fresh peppers sold by a major grocery chain here in Canada: Ghosts and Caribbean Red Habaneros. The Habaneros are seriously out of control, but I don't want to cut them back because there are like hundreds of baby peppers coming, with some mature ones further down. They're almost 4 feet tall now. The ghost peppers are starting with form pods, but slowly with only a few full sized ones that will likely take many weeks before ripening. The ghosts it seems are the most finicky, and they seem really sensitive to the light intensity for some reason.

Anyway, here is the first indoor harvest of peppers ever. I got 22 cayenne peppers and 7 super chilli hybrids. I'll likely leave most of them out for a day or two to get a bit more ripe before sticking them into a freezer bag. The plan is once I have enough of them and the C. chinense start getting harvested, it will be fermented hot sauce making time. I have a lot of time until then because only a few of my ghosts and red caribbeans have just reached mature size now. And they take at least another full month before ripening from the time they're full size. This is truly an exercise in patience.

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Very interesting. When you say you cut the plants at the soil level, do you mean you let them regrow from there or is it "the end" for those plants, roots disintegrate in the soil and new plants are grown in this same soil?
 
Very interesting. When you say you cut the plants at the soil level, do you mean you let them regrow from there or is it "the end" for those plants, roots disintegrate in the soil and new plants are grown in this same soil?

Good question. It's the end for them. All the plants I grew before were annuals *cough* *cough*.

I don't wait until the old roots are gone before starting a new cycle, even though the roots always take over every little bit of soil in the bed. Either seeds were planted directly or new tiny seedlings would go in the very next day after sawing off the main stalks of the old plants at soil level. By the time the new plants were large enough to care about it (within maybe 4 to 6 weeks), the roots are completely gone thus making their nutrients available to the new crop.

However because peppers aren't annuals, I'll be taking a slightly different approach this time. I'll only remove a plant if I don't like it, or would rather be growing a more interesting cultivar in its place. I've reached the decision that I should be growing "high value" cultivars that I can't grow outside in this Eastern Ontario climate. So the current plants like the super chilli hybrid and cayenne have their days numbered in this tent.
 
This is really interesting. Can we get a wide shot?

I think we can do that:

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As I mentioned, my 2 Red Caribbeans are out of control, especially the one in front that has very quickly turned into a small tree. I did top them at around their 4 leaf node, but once they started to flower I didn't want to cut the flowers off. I'll run out of vertical space soon and at that point I'll just keep it trimmed back until the pods are ripe, then I'll chop the stock about a foot or so from the soil surface. There is a bunch of new growth sprouting from the base of the main stalk anyway, already with flower buds. These plants grow surprisingly quickly indoors.

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My 2 Ghost peppers are growing weird, with lots of leaf "canoeing" which I think likely means it had too much light. They had lots of lower drop too and that may be related to the same condition, and perhaps also a lack of pollination. My humidity is too low which also may be a contributing factor. I dimmed the light over the ghosts to 50% and they seem to be doing better now. They've grown quickly though and are producing some angry looking pods:

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Uncle Eckley

Extreme Member
These plants grow surprisingly quickly indoors.

Lol. Yeah they do!

This might be the coolest indoor pepper jungle I've seen. I'm fascinated by your method; it's sort of the opposite of the way I grow. You've got this whole little five-foot planet with a vibrant and long-established ecosystem, whereas my tent is all about sterility and hard starts and feels sort of cold and ruthless in comparison. Your way appeals to me more for sure, but I doubt I could swing it in my situation, unfortunately.. My plants grow and produce (in their measure), but yours live. Do please keep us posted on this!
 
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I dimmed the light over the ghosts to 50% and they seem to be doing better now. They've grown quickly though and are producing some angry looking pods:

I still have 2 8' fluorescent lights 220volt & still pray the top 5" of any plant gets enough light.
Need to just move along to LEDs it looks like outside sunlight.
 
I still have 2 8' fluorescent lights 220volt & still pray the top 5" of any plant gets enough light.
Need to just move along to LEDs it looks like outside sunlight.

LEDs are a lot cheaper to run too due to higher efficiency. You might be surprised how well even regular screw-in household LED bulbs that come from the Dollar Store or Walmart work. I used to light this same 5X5 tent with plain LED bulbs with the plastic diffuser covers popped off for a total cost of under $300 Canadian. I still use them for seed starting, but for safety reasons the bulbs are now installed in several 8-bulb bathroom vanity fixtures I bought on sale for $17 each from Wayfair. Here is a grow I did with the old setup. This would be overkill for pepper plants. My guess is that 20 to 25 watts per square foot would be adequate. The nice thing with screw in bulbs is that you can adjust intensity and even color temperature just by adding/removing bulbs.
 
LEDs are a lot cheaper to run too due to higher efficiency. You might be surprised how well even regular screw-in household LED bulbs that come from the Dollar Store or Walmart work. I used to light this same 5X5 tent with plain LED bulbs with the plastic diffuser covers popped off for a total cost of under $300 Canadian. I still use them for seed starting, but for safety reasons the bulbs are now installed in several 8-bulb bathroom vanity fixtures I bought on sale for $17 each from Wayfair. Here is a grow I did with the old setup. This would be overkill for pepper plants. My guess is that 20 to 25 watts per square foot would be adequate. The nice thing with screw in bulbs is that you can adjust intensity and even color temperature just by adding/removing bulbs.
Those are weird pepper plants! 🤪
 

CraftyFox

Extreme Member
Couldn't agree with you more on the cheap LEDs.. I bought a burple early on growing indoors, and now I don't even use it. I buy the 9w A19 Daylight bulbs in 4packs and they are plenty.. With just enough heat to keep the room hovering around 21*C thru the evening, while not killing all of the little dudes that make up the system.

Love to discuss fauna with you sometime, if you get deeply into it. I imagine some things are a lot harder than others to contain in the tent.
 
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I imagine some things are a lot harder than others to contain in the tent
Let's just say that if it flies, then I don't want it in my grow tent regardless if friend, foe, or benign. My wife would freak if something from my tent started flying around the house. :lol:

Apart from 2 species of worms (night crawlers from the bait store and the "regular" kind from the garden) most of fauna in my tent originated from the worm bins I've had going in the basement for nearly 10 years. I've cycled field, garden, and forest soil over the years in those vermiculture bins so they have a bit of everything, including a couple potential "undesirables" that I'll go into more later. The reason I cycled outdoor soil through the bin was to increase the diversity of the microbiology mostly, including fungi. I avoid transferring outdoor soil directly to my grow tent just in case a nasty that needs fresh plants is living in it. I also purchased some Stratiolaelaps scimitus (hypoaspis miles predatory mites) and some beneficial nematodes that were added shortly after setting up the soil before the first grow.

I have an abundance of springtails from the worm castings whose larvae continually feed the S. scimitus mites, and also help with nutrient cycling of organic material. Normally I don't see them unless I've just watered or move the mulch away to look at the soil surface. Here's a little video I took a couple years ago of this same soil right after watering:


I know that would scare a lot of people, but they are well behaved and stay where they belong. There is also a very diverse mix of millions of oribatid and other soil mites.

About those potential undesirables. About 3 years ago I spotted a good-sized centipede - the kind you sometimes see in the garden. They are predators and could potentially eat my poor wormies! Luckily they never really multiplied and I only see one a couple times a year at most. It could just be the same one. The worms in the tent are still thriving in any case. The other thing I noticed were hundreds of millipedes, the little ones that you often see curled up in garden soil near or in the root zone of plants. They're still there but don't seem to ever affect the plants I grow in it. Perhaps there is so much dead organic material and detritus around that they leave my plant's roots alone. Anyway, I'm stuck with them.

I avoid isopods like pill bugs and such because they love to wander around after lights-out and may not stay where they belong.
 
Watching these ghost pepper pods ripen is worse than watching paint dry. I'm almost getting a little impatient. Here is the same pepper now that it's been ripening for more than a week after the last photo (taken minutes ago):

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A couple of these look more ripe, but it could be the lighting because in real life they still look a dark shade of orange to me:
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Have to be careful with "ripe" colors... I have often picked peppers that look ripe under sunlight but are still greenish when taken inside...
 
Hot sauce making day! I decided I had enough peppers with today's record harvest, along with a couple freezer bags full I've been gradually saving from this grow:

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Destemmed and chopped up the total weight was 2,516 grams. I added some black garlic I made, along with regular garlic, one large onion, some pineapple, and an apple which brought the weight up to 2,880 grams. I decided to go with 2.5% kosher salt (63 grams). I'll let it go for a month or two. Here she is:

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One of the ghost peppers was extra gnarly, so I decided to snap a few phone pics of it. It was kinda sad cutting it up for hot sauce :(
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My gnarliest habaneros:
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