Growing vegetables in a hydroponic system provides you with fresh produce all year. Peppers are easily grown in a hydroponic grow system and will have the same nutrient value and flavor as traditional soil grown peppers. Hydroponic systems can be purchased at your local garden center or through online dealers. There are several different choices for hydroponic grow systems. Ebb and flow systems are easy to set up and maintain and recommended for people who are just beginning to grow hydroponically.
Select the area you wish to use for your hydroponic garden. This may be a garage, basement, or greenhouse. Install rubber stall mats where your plant to set up your hydroponic grow system. This will prevent you from slipping when water splashes on the floor.
Set up your grow system. Ebb and flow hydroponic kits come equipped with two tanks, pump and pipes. Place the grow tank (where your peppers will grow) on a table (purchase one from your garden center specifically for hydroponic gardening). Place the reservoir tank below the table. Connect tubing (that comes with the system) to the pump. Place the pump in the reservoir and connect the other end of the tubing to the fill drain located on the bottom of the grow tank. Install the overflow pipe tube in the grow tank. The pump will cycle the growth medium into the grow tank and excess water will flow back down into the reservoir to be used again.
Install grow lights above your grow tank. Peppers require six to eight hours per day of sunlight. Use the grow lights to supplement sunlight on overcast days in greenhouses. Use grow lights set on timers when gardening indoors in a basement or garage that is not likely to have windows that allow sunlight to filter through.
Place two to three pepper seeds into a cube of rock wool and dampen. Place rock wool into small net pots. Seeds will germinate in two to three weeks. There are peppers that have been developed specifically for hydroponic gardening, howeve,r according to betterbuyhydroponics.com, carry out trials to see what varieties are best suited to your growing environment. Common varieties that you would grow in soil will work in hydroponic gardens.
Add one teaspoon of growth medium directly to the net pots once seeds have sprouted. It takes two to three days for rock wool to absorb the nutrients and pass them into the plants. Growth or grow medium can be purchased from your local garden center. It will contain macro and micro nutrients necessary for plant growth.
Transplant seedlings from small net pots in to large net pots once they are two to three inches tall, it takes two to three weeks for the peppers to reach this height.
Add grow medium (plant nutrients) to the reservoir. Check the pH balance of the water. Recommended pH for most vegetables is 5.5 to 6.5. Monitor the pH balance and add grow medium as needed. Most systems require medium to be added every two weeks.
Drain water from the hydroponic grow system and add fresh once every three weeks. Completely drain both the grow tank and reservoir and fill with fresh water and grow medium. Peppers should be ready to harvest in approximately 90 days, depending on the variety selected.