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Thebat's starting 2023 early glog

I want to start off by saying I'm excited to be trying my hand at growing peppers again. This is the first time I'm doing any gardening aside from growing some countertop kitchen herbs in the last 8 or so years.

Anyway, I picked up a bunch of seeds from Texas Hot Peppers on Black Friday (fantastic sale), way more than I needed for myself. So I'll be starting seedlings and giving them away to friends and family as I decide what I want to keep in my garden this year. I'll add a post to the glog with the list later once I start prepping plants for what will be going outside, but for now, I'm just growing a few plants for indoors.

Photo for "cover art" purposes

Equipment info if anyone is interested:
  • Spider Farmer SF1000Dv2? v3? Has a dimmer knob and uneven led spacing to get more light to the edges and lessen the hotspot in the center
  • HLG 100 Rspec (both lights purchased secondhand at great prices from facebook marketplace and ebay, just check frequently and you'll find deals eventually)
  • Mechanical timer for the lights
  • iPower 2'x4'x5' grow tent. Quite a few reviews say it leaks light/has pinholes. Well, I imagine most tents would have pinholes around the zipper areas. Almost no light leak for me and I was often having to check closely to see if the lights were still on. I'd definitely buy this tent again or a larger one if I ever needed another.
  • 10x20" seedling heating mat with Inkbird ITC-308 to turn it on and off

12/8 - I started some seeds:
2x Sugar Rush Peach
2x Hot Paper Lantern
2x KS Lemon Starburst
3x Red Shark

12/17 - Got some sprouts after about a week to a week and a half. Unsurprisingly, the fastest to sprout were the SRP and then hot paper lantern. By this point, those are the only two to get sprouts. I have the heat mat on top of a folded towel and two small cardboard boxes to try and keep the heat from going anywhere other than into the seedlings.

The SRP came in a little odd. I assumed the one on the left was just wanting more light, so I upped the strength of my light (Spider Farmer SF1000D v2? has a dimmer knob so I can hang it close and lower the power on it and save some electricity rather than use full power and adjust the height). Not sure about the one on the right, but it's survived so far, so I'm not too worried.

In this photo the light is probably 6" from the top of the dome, I've since lowered it, and is probably around 3" now.

12/21 - SRP first set of true leaves started to grow along with the hot paper lantern sprouts

Around 12/25ish one of the hot paper lanterns dried out despite all the other cubes having sufficient water. Also, one of the KS Lemon Starburst had started shooting its seedling root out, so I left it to do its thing. But it never tried pushing its way up and out of the rockwool cube, also the casing was turning black. So I tried to help it and right when I touched it it all fell apart and was soft and mushy. I'm guessing it stayed too wet after it had tried to grow? Anyway, I didn't take a photo of that or the other dried seedling.

12/27 - Added more seeds after my order from Baker Creek Peppers came in:
Aji Charpita
re-seeded another 2 KS Lemon Starburst as I really want one of these to grow

Since those seed packs came with so many seeds I tried splitting a rockwool cube in half and putting 3 seeds on each, I also tried starting a seed or two on tiny pieces of rockwool to see if that'd end up working or not as a little experiment.

Also, one of the red shark sprouts has purple leaves and was the first one to sprout. So I'm hoping the pods have the dark purple to red coloration as well. If they do, I'll definitely be saving those seeds, hopefully moving another generation closer to being stabilized.

12/29 - Transferred my big SRP sprout into a Kratky method hydroponics bucket. The buckets are 2gal buckets that I got from a friend who works at a bakery. Apparently, they sell the 5gal buckets that they get ingredients in 2/$1 and these small 2gal buckets are free since they have so many that normally just get thrown away.

I only used General Hydroponics Maxigrow for now as I figured I'd want more nitrogen than other things to get these sprouts to grow quickly. I know sprouts need weaker ferts so I used ~1.5tsp for 1.75gal of water (the bag said 1-2 tsp per gallon), I balanced with some PH down to get between 6.0-6.5PH as I've heard that's more ideal for peppers.
(If anyone has experience with hydro pepper grows, please let me know if I'm getting my amounts/numbers wrong. I want all these little seedlings to live!)

I've also got a 3D printer as that's another one of my hobbies. I found these little square netcups online and decided to try those as I didn't have round netcups or the filler materials people often use with them. I resized the cups as they were designed for 1" cubes but I had 1.5" cubes that I got from the person that sold me the HLG 100 light.


The seedling was starting to get roots to the bottom and even sides of the rockwool cube which surprised me.


I also painted the bucket black to try and block out light from getting inside and growing algea.

Unfortunately, I can't lower the HLG 100 any further (probably ~20-26" above the bucket) with the cheap straps that came with the grow tent. The ratcheting cords that came with the SF1000D are nice but I'm not going to buy more of them. For the time being, I'll probably just put the bucket on top of another bucket while I 3d print some mechanism to work with some paracord I think I have lying around somewhere.

I'm looking forward to being able to update this glog every few days or whenever any significant progress happens with the plants/grow set-up.
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Nice early start. Will you have room for your bigger plants in 3 months? I noticed you were in MN so will be needing some time before going outside. Those sugar rush plants get fairly big.
I'm definitely early. Seems like other pepper growers in MN typically start around midway through February or a little later if they're trying to start early.
As for space, I don't plan on keeping all of them and for the ones I do, I figured I could prune to try and keep to a manageable size. If that doesn't work out, I'm sure I can find more space for them in the house somewhere.
Never too early! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Is that red shark a creation of your own?
No, I got it from Texas Hot Peppers, the listing was saying they think it's F4, other places are selling them saying different generations. I'm just hoping it gets the purple leaves/purple to red pods coloration since it's not stabilized yet.
Your setup is boss! I have some Spider Farm SF1000 grow lights (not the dimmable ones unfortunately), but they are placed in the (non isolated) garage on a windowsill.

Your grow tent is a dream. I unfortunately don't have space for a proper grow tent in there (I had to fight my partner for window sill ownership), but I have a small polytunnel of sorts with a heating mat inside to keep the temperature up once the small seedlings are up and growing. This conquers the cold temperature inside the garage during february and march.
Your setup is boss! I have some Spider Farm SF1000 grow lights (not the dimmable ones unfortunately), but they are placed in the (non isolated) garage on a windowsill.

Your grow tent is a dream. I unfortunately don't have space for a proper grow tent in there (I had to fight my partner for window sill ownership), but I have a small polytunnel of sorts with a heating mat inside to keep the temperature up once the small seedlings are up and growing. This conquers the cold temperature inside the garage during february and march.
Thanks! I just kept checking websites frequently and eventually got lucky finding these lights. Both seem really good and I hope the far red helps with fruiting.
The tent is the perfect size to fit next to the stairs out of the way in the basement next to a storage closet. If I could have, I would have gotten a 4'x4'x5' tent but there's no chance I'd be able to keep a tent in the garage (and keep it from freezing) or elsewhere in the house.
A windowsill is better than nothing though!
Haven't been on for a while as my peppers were growing nicely (for the most part). Felt it's about time to post an update since I decided to start my trays of seeds for the outdoor 2023 season for Minnesota.

Dec 31




















Transplanted a KS lemon starburst and red shark to soil to ideally be able to give to a friend



Not many photos of the second sugar rush peach as it's smaller than the first one transplanted and the hot paper lantern is growing really slowly.




At this point I've not replaced the water in any of the kratky buckets and the water depleted is what has transpired and been used by the plants.



Seeds planted for the 2023 outdoor season in MN. I'll update this later or make another post here with the full list of seeds. I put 3 seeds in each cell and did 3 cells for each type. Hopefully, I can ensure at least 3 strong plants for each variety.




You can see the red shark in the soil to the left is growing surprisingly well. It was slow for a while and then I started giving it and the KS lemon starburst a little more water than I normally was and they seemed to take nicely to that and growth started taking off again (the KS lemon starburst isn't nearly as large as the red shark, I think it was a bit shocked from the transplant).


I started noticing my oldest SRP had the edges of leaves browning and starting to yellow, the plant didn't seem as perky as the hot paper lantern and red shark. I didn't think too much of it at the time. I think the next day I replaced the water in the buckets with fresh nutrients thinking it may have been some sort of nitrogen deficiency. They started growing some buds, so maybe the lack of nutes and growing those/me pruning those off caused them some stress? The following photos from 2/16 shows the leaves yellowed more.









The following is mostly copied from a reddit post I made in r/hydroponics asking for help on the issue.

During the day the temps in the tent are around 70-80F but probably are around 55F at night when the lights in the tent turn off.

About a week ago I noticed the leaves of my c. annuum peppers were starting to brown at the edges and yellow a little bit. So I thought it must mean I needed to refresh the solution in the buckets (I had never done this before as I've seen people saying kratky is intended to have enough water until the plant goes to fruit and then runs out of food/water after that. However, you can refresh it to keep the plants going longer than one harvest). I dumped out the old solution, cleaned the buckets with water and a half cap/cap of bleach and rinsed the buckets 3 or 4 times after I scrubbed them, and made some new solution at 6.0PH and around 850ppm. I filled the buckets about halfway (~1gal full in 2gal buckets) It's been three days since I changed it and it doesn't seem that the yellowing has gotten any better and it may have gotten worse since then. Oddly, my c. chinense peppers are doing just fine for the most part. My red shark plant (the purple/black one) developed a spot that ended up drying out and turning into a small hole, but no burnt edges or yellowing on the c. chinense plants.
Do I need some supplements for the plants that the maxigrow isn't providing? Is it temperatures? Should I change the 2gal buckets to DWC? I really don't want to lose these plants and be set back a few months of growing.

Also, seems like they're growing kind of slowly, not sure of the cause, maybe temps or they ran out of nitrogen in the buckets? I started the seeds back at the end of Nov and transplanted them into kratky buckets at the end of December. So they're probably around 85 days old. They seem small compared to others I've seen online. They're maybe around the same size as peppers grown in quart mason jars from what I can tell. The roots definitely haven't grown out a ton and filled up the buckets either telling the plants to stop trying to grow and instead start fruiting. The oldest plant is now growing flower buds which I'm trying to pick off to get the plant to focus more on plant growth instead of fruiting/fruit growth.

Today, I ordered some Bloom City Cal-Mag+ thinking that they might be lacking some micronutes. If anyone has any knowledge or insight they can offer, it'd be greatly appreciated. I know some people were thinking that the plants might get too large for my tent, but as it is, it doesn't seem like it since they're already trying to flower and aren't much wider than the bucket or the same size as the bucket.
Haven't posted my full grow list yet so here it is. I may have started too many varieties, but I think I can fit enough cloth planters around the house and the garage on the south-facing side. Speaking of cloth planters, I was thinking of using 7-gallon ones as those didn't seem like they'd be too big or too small allowing the plants to mature and fruit in the shorter MN season but get large enough for a decent yield.

2023 Grow list
  1. 7 Pot Douglah
  2. Armageddon Chocolate
  3. Chocolate Fatalii
  4. Dragon's Breath
  5. Naglah
  6. Red Shark
  7. Hot Paper Lantern
  8. Orange Trinidad Scorpion
  9. Bahamian Goat
  10. Aji Mango Drop
  11. Sugar Rush Peach Striped
  12. Hanjiao 3 Solar Flare
  13. Pineapple ghost
  14. KS Lemon Starburst
  15. Fatalii
  16. Datil
  17. Lemon Drop
  18. Golden Primotalii
  19. 7 Pot Slimer
  20. Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion
  21. Devil's Tongue White
  22. White Lightning Bolt
  23. Chupentinho White
  24. Poblano
  25. Shishito

And some photos of the plants


The dark foliage on the red shark is amazing


Luckily, 3 of the 5 red shark sprouts that came up are looking like they got the dark leaves genetics. Likely to plant those and keep the strongest while giving one or both of the others away. I plan on keeping seeds from that and the kratky red shark to plant again next season and try to further stabilize that dark foliage.

As for the issues in my previous post with the plants starting to yellow

I got help from people on r/hydro and my post ended up at the top of the "hot" list for a while which shocked me, but I got a lot of good info about kratky and DWC growing for peppers.

1. It seems that my plants were most likely lacking in nutrients (I didn't account for the ppm of my tap water so all the food was mixed weak, great for sprouts, bad for maturing plants.) EC was below 1, replaced the water, and raised the EC to 1.8 so as to not shock the plants. Next replacement in a week or two I'll go to a 2.2-2.8EC.​
2. Airflow was lacking so I added a second fan blowing at the plants themselves. Hoping the fan increases transpiration which in turn will bring more nutrients up into the leaves. One SRP rebounded nicely with these changes, and the other one is lagging behind, but that could be due to genetics and not as much environment. The red shark really seems to be liking the kratky system and is growing quite well in these cooler temps. The hot paper lantern is doing decently, not as big as one SRP or the red shark, but the leaves and growth have been green and healthy. I've also started adding calmag+ to the water when I replace it and giving the plants a weak foliar spray of calmag+ twice a week.​
3. Temps could be higher. I changed my lighting cycle to be on at night and off during the middle of the day. This will not only help keep tent temps higher at night and consistently higher temp, and it could also lead to a small savings on the electricity bill since less electricity is being used during peak hours.​
After making these changes growth has mostly returned to normal and seems to progressively be getting better. The next thing to change is temperature management in the tent. I want to keep the temps a tad bit higher than they are now ~60F with the lights off during the day and ~70F with the lights on at night. Hoping I can find a decent solution to raise the temps about 5F for both night and day.