This is my first instructables (please go easy on me). I had a few pepper plants planted in regular compost and they seemed to be stalled... I planted them two months ago and they grew until a certain point and then they stopped. Even though they seem healty they look like little bonsai trees... :) So I decided to try something different. Let's see how it goes.
Step 1: What You Need:
Something to punch/drill 5mm holes
3 x Ikea TROFAST boxes (see pictures)
Air pump with tubes and airstones
The boxes don't quite fit together so you're gonna have to remove the little plastic thingies in the corners. It's extremely easy and fast with some pliers. (just rip it off)
Step 3: The Holes
Drill some 5mm holes in the bottom of the small boxes
Add something to hold your plants (I used expanded clay)
Give them oxygen by adding the air pump (I'm using a pump with 2 air ways) and airstones. The top bins are barely touching the water - the idea is that the roots "chase" after the water and grow as the water level slowly lowers. In the beginning it's important to check if the expanded clay touches the water so that the plants don't die on you. The expanded clay acts like a sponge and you will be surprised to see that even though your top containers are barely touching the water, the top clay balls get a little moist. I Added a timer so that the pump shutts off from time to time but when the roots get all submersed in the hydroponic solution I will probably bypass the timer so that the roots get oxygen 24/7.
Step 6: Give Them Food
Add your favourite nutrients to the water. I use a 3 part hydroponics solution from General Hydroponics (flora grow, micro and bloom). I usually let two 15 liters jugs of tap water resting outside for 3 days so that the chloride evaporates or dissipates (or whatever) and then mix the solution inside the jug one of the parts at the time.
Step 7: Check PH Level
Keep your hydroponics solution pH under control. I keep mine between 5.5 and 6.5. To tune the pH I add a few drops of lemon juice to a glass of water and then add that water gradually to the hydroponic solution until I'm happy with the value (lemon juice to lower the pH and baking soda to rise the pH level)
Step 8: 3 Weeks Later...
Update #1 - three weeks later they are looking good and strong. The bigger one is starting to flower witch means that hopefully there will be a pepper or two there very soon. ;)