Have you ever heard of hydroponics? It’s a way to grow plants without soil. Instead, you grow the plants in water that contains all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
I first heard of hydroponics during one of our long winters a few years ago. Now, as you may know, I have a lot of houseplants. Well, I was having a particularly bad infestation of fungus gnats that year. Soil gnats live and breed in the soil of houseplants, so the idea of growing plants without soil was very intriguing. No soil, no soil gnats! So, I did a little research and found that the kits are kind of expensive. Definitely not feasible for all of my houseplants.
There are ways to make your own hydroponics growing system, so you don’t have to buy an expensive kit. But making them for a few hundred plants sounded like a lot of work. So I dropped the idea.
Well, last year, my husband got excited about this idea as a way to grow vegetables during the winter. There is a store near us where they sell hydroponics supplies, and they have some huge vegetable plants that are several years old. They grow peppers, among other things.
Buying fresh peppers during the winter is very expensive, and we eat a lot of peppers. My husband decided we should buy a starter kit… he didn’t really have to twist my arm, because I’m always game to try something new in the gardening world. As I mentioned, they are a bit pricey. This kit cost us about $60.
|Growing a jalapeno pepper plant hydroponically|
I know, many of you are thinking “But what about the chemicals?”. The chemicals that came with the kit are not organic. I didn’t even think about this when we got the kit. My mind was clouded with visions of fresh peppers dancing through my head. But again, this is just an experiment to see if we could get peppers in the middle of winter. If we decide to do this long term, I will find organic chemicals.
My husband was good about pollinating the flowers, and sure enough… our first pepper started to show up in January. January! In Minnesota! We were so excited!
|Our first hydroponically grown jalapeno pepper|
Then another pepper started to grow, and we had our first harvest of our hydroponically grown jalapeno peppers in February. Wow, there’s nothing like harvesting jalapenos when it’s below zero outside.
|Hydroponically grown peppers ready to harvest|
I was worried that the peppers wouldn’t be very hot since we grew them inside. But, my worries diminished as soon as we took a bite. They are definitely hot.
|Hydroponically grown pepper, they are HOT!|
Our little jalapeno plant has grown quit a bit over the last few months. Especially amazing when you consider that all of this growth has occurred through the winter, and not during it’s active growing season. We can’t wait to see how big it will get this summer when we move it out to our porch.
|The jalapeno plant has grown quiet a bit in a few months|
So far, we’re happy with our little hydroponic growing system, and we have tons more jalapenos on the way. We really want to try doing this with a bell pepper plant next. I wonder how well that will do.
It is an investment to buy the kit though, so if we decide we want another one, we’re going to research making our own. The only ongoing costs would be the chemicals (well, and electricity), but you don’t need a lot of those, we’re not even 1/2 way through the bottles that came with the kit.
Have you ever grown anything hydroponically? Share your tips in the comments section below