Things you'll need:
- plastic container with lid
- plastic tubing
- air stone
- air pump
- net pots
I purchased a basic container used for storage for $10 at my local Lowes store. I am using the 18 liter size, but I think a 10 liter size would also work. A smaller container will make it a little easier to move it once it's filled with water if you need too.
The plastic tubing, air stone, and air pump can be purchased at a pet store or the local Wal-Mart for another $10 or so.
The nutrient is the key to any type of hydroponic system, so you'll likely want to spend most of your budget on quality hydroponic nutrients. As a low cost budget alternative, I have been experimenting with fish emulsion and bone meal with good results.
I purchased the net pots at the local Worms Way store for less than $3. They come in a variety of sizes. I chose the 3 inch posts for growing peppers.
Cutting the holes in the lid turned out to be the most difficult part of this project. I don't have a lot of power tools, so I did it the hard way (with a butcher knife). I do not recommend you do it that way. It's very likely you could get injured. If I make another one, I'll make a trip to Home Depot to purchase a hole saw to make cutting the holes easier and much, much safer.
Hydroponics is new to me and this is just a just for fun experiment, so I'm afraid I can't provide many tips or tricks regarding nutrients. I started out using 5 tablespoons of fish emulsion, 5 tablespoons of bone meal, and 5 tablespoons of micro nutrients for hard water purchased from Worms Way. I'm sure it's overkill, but the growth of the peppers has been phenomenal. I changed the water every 10 days for the first month and lately I've been changing it every 14 days or so.
The picture above is 3 weeks old at this point. The peppers are much bigger now and the roots are tremendous. I've been surprised with the growth. The roots are 6 inches long and getting longer. Aerating the water seems to be working very well.
I've been doing some more research and reading on the web and have learned that once established, peppers will actually produce more fruit if the nitrogen source is reduced significantly. Apparently, too much nitrogen creates more plant growth and less fruit production. Based on what I've been reading lately, with less nitrogen and proper pollination conditions, the peppers should begin producing more fruit.
I've cut the nutrients back to 2 tablespoons of fish emulsion, 2 tablespoons of bone meal, and 2 tablespoons of micro nutrients. This seems to be working. The plants have been flowering like crazy since I've cut back, but I don't have any peppers yet. Pollination where are you?
I'm open to suggestions if you have any to offer. I'm sure there are many others with more experience than I that can point out the error(s) of my experimental methodology.