Week 1: Germinating Bonchi Seedlings

A week has passed since I planted my chilli pepper seeds, and already there is growth! I have 10 out of 15 seeds showing life. Not bad, especially considering I was worried about the potential heat my seeds endured during shipping. Some seeds can take months to germinate as well, so there is time.

Week 1 Birds Eye Baby Chilli Pepper Seedling
Week 1 Birds Eye Baby Chilli Pepper Seedling

I currently have 5 cotyledons, which are the plant’s first leaves.

There are 5 seeds showing rooting activity, though they have yet to develop their first cotyledons.

Unfortunately algae has managed to grow on my rock wool. The presence of algae suggests my materials were not fully sterilised. Sometimes this is avoidable, such as using bleach when cleaning the bucket and net cups. Sometimes its unavoidable, such as being introduced through your water supply. I’ve generally found that the algae doesn’t do any harm as its isolated to the rock wool and not the water inside my buckets, however I do suspect that if the seeds haven’t developed root by the time the algae takes over, they are unlikely to grow due to deprived oxygen.

Bonchi Era Has Begun: Planting Seeds For The Future

My seeds finally got delivered! Of course that meant it was time to clear out my hydroponic grow room and plant lots of seeds. Chilli pepper seeds.

With some clever organising I was able to make space for 15 net cups. Since the Fatalii seed packets come with an average of 7 seeds per variety, I decided to try only germinating one seed at a time. The seeds I planted are:

  • Aji Jobito
  • Bird’s Eye Baby
  • Bolivian Rainbow
  • Bonzi
  • Carapita
  • Chinese 5 Color
  • Habanero, Orange
  • Habanero, Pink
  • Italiano
  • Marbles
  • Mini Bell Pepper, Orange
  • Numex Twilight
  • Pimenta Caixo
  • Starfish
  • Trepadeira Werner

If you want to see photos and more details of each variety, you can check out my previous post Bonsia’s in Kuwait? Let’s Try Bonchi instead!

Bonchi Chilli Pepper Seed Planted In Rockwool
Bonchi Chilli Pepper Seed Planted In Rockwool

There isn’t much to show right now, as I have just planted the seeds into their respective net cups. Even so, it can be helpful to know how fast or slow the seeds germinated. Fingers crossed within a few days, or weeks, I’ll get some growth showing.

Bonsia’s in Kuwait? Let’s Try Bonchi instead!

It’s hard to grow bonsai’s in Kuwait. Not many stores sell semi-mature trees, especially a variety of species, or the materials needed. Also many tree varieties have specific needs that are difficult to meet in our climate.

Then I came across the practice of bonchi’s – growing bonsai’s out of alternative plants such as peppers. The greatest benefit is that pepper plants can grow incredibly fast; you can grow a complete bonsai from a seed within one to two years. After all, who wants to wait forty years or more for a bonsai plant to grow! Also, many pepper plants turned into Bonchi will still bear flowers and fruit- making them very pretty.

One of the leaders in the field of bonchi’s is Fatalii (buy his seeds here); he’s a Finish guy famous for cultivating many different varieties of peppers. He’s even grown his own unique varieties! I haven’t found a website or company that grows such a range of pepper species. It didn’t take me long to order several different varieties in order to start my own Bonchi plants. Some plants are mostly ornamental, though almost all will bear flowers and fruit that are edible.

All the pepper varieties I have ordered are considered ideal for making bonchis, and are classified as easy to grow indoors/in pots. These are the varieties that I have ordered:

Aji Jobito

Aji Jobito Pepper Fruit
Aji Jobito. Photo courtesy of Fatalii.

Fatalii describes it as a “very, very mild habanero relative has a great aroma! One of the best mild varieties there is. Perfect for people who want just the taste without the heat.”

Orange Mini Bell

Miniature Red Bell Pepper Fruit
Red Mini Bell Pepper, Photo courtesy of RareSeeds.com

Think of your local store bought bell pepper or capsicum, only miniature in size! It’s so cute! The variety I ordered predominately produces orange bell peppers. On the Scoville Heat Units scale, bell peppers score a 0 and are considered sweet.

Birds Eye Baby

Birds Eye Baby Pepper Bonchi
Photo courtesy of Fatalii.

One of the first photographic examples of how a pepper can be turned into a bonchi – a photo that made Fatalii famous.

These peppers are considered hot, hitting around 30,000-50,000 SHU.

The leaves of this variety are rather small, so it’s a perfect option for anyone wishing to create the look of a bonsai tree.

Bolivian Rainbow

Bolivian Rainbow Pepper Bonchi

A couple more photos that made Fatalii famous, showing the beauty of a pepper plant being made into a Bonchi.

Bolivian Rainbow Pepper Bonchi

The Bolivian rainbow variety is often used for ornamental reasons – from the photos you can probably guess why. The peppers themselves are actually edible, with a SHU score of about 30,000-50,000. That’s 4 to 12 times hotter than your store bought jalapeño.

Bonzi

Bonzi Pepper Plant, Image Courtesy of Fatalii.
Bonzi Pepper Plant, Image Courtesy of Fatalii.

This species grows as a very small bush, so it is a perfect option for bonchi. The fruits tend to be quite small, and point upwards.

Cabaca Roxa

Cabaca Roxa Peppers, Image Courtesy of Fatalii
Cabaca Roxa Peppers, Image Courtesy of Fatalii

These are my second hottest variety of peppers; they are considered extremely hot at 50,000-100,000 SHU. That’s 4-20 times hotter than a store bought jalapeño!

Cabaca Roxa Peppers, Image Courtesy of Fatalii
Cabaca Roxa Peppers, Image Courtesy of Fatalii

The peppers look really gorgeous, typically looking like a cherry (rounded and bright red), and fruiting in small bunches.

Charapita

Charapita Peppers, Image Courtesy of Fatalii
Charapita Peppers, Image Courtesy of Fatalii

These is probably my smallest pepper fruit variety, and I’m quite excited to see them grow! They are described as “candy looking”. The plant produces hundreds of pods, and is considered to be highly fruitful.

Chinese Five Color

The Chinese Five Color pepper is another hot variety with a SHU of 30,000-50,000. However it is often grown as an ornamental due to its gorgeous colours. Just like the Bolivian Rainbow (above), this variety will bear fruit that ranges from purple, to yellow, to orange, and finally to a red.

Habanero, Orange and Pink Varieties

The habanero is one of those peppers everyone has heard of. But did you know they grow in different colours? And did you know that the different colours do not have the same heat levels?

The orange habanero has a heat level that you have come to expect from peppers – sitting at 100,000-350,000 SHU!

The pink habanero however… this pepper is perfect to carry around a party and to eat hole, impressing others at your ability to maintain perfect composure when eating something so hot. The pink habanero, despite its name, has very little spice what so ever! It’s closer to a spice level of a capsicum than it is to a jalapeño!

Italiano

Italiano Pepper, Image Courtesy of Fatalii.
Italiano Pepper, Image Courtesy of Fatalii.

The italiano pepper variety is suited to growing in small containers, making it a perfect option for Bonchi.

What attracted me to this variety is its fruit – the peppers are small and long, and grow in clusters that point upwards. Very pretty!

Jalapeno

The Jalapeño is the most common pepper that people buy at the stores fresh. We really enjoyed growing and eating our last plant (before I killed it to make room for other plants – oops I didn’t know I could make it a Bonchi then).

Marbles

Another very pretty variety of peppers; just as the name suggests, these fruits look exactly like marbles. The fruit are quite small, only getting to be about 1/2″ in size (1.3cm)! It is an ornamental variety, but the fruit apparently still can be used in cooking.

Numex Twilight

This variety is another ornamental designed to catch your eyes. Just like several other varieties, the fruit will shift from purples to reds as it ripens.

Omnicolor

The Omnicolor Pepper Variety. Image Courtesy of Fatalii.
The Omnicolor Pepper Variety. Image Courtesy of Fatalii.

Apparently the omnicolor variety are very popular among pepper growers; its easy to grow, and has a unique taste that works great as dried flakes or powder.

Pimenta Caixo

This is another pepper that grows fruit in clusters. From the photos, it appears that this fruit doesn’t hang as much as other varieties, but rather forms closer to the branch stems.

These peppers are considered extremely hot with a SHU of 50,000-100,000.

Starfish

Starfish Pepper. Image courtesy of Fitalii.
Starfish Pepper. Image courtesy of Fatalii.

This plant produces very uniquely shaped pepper fruits – they look quite like stars!

These peppers are medium hot at SHU 30,000 – 50,000.

Size of leaf on a Starfish Pepper. Image courtesy of Fatalii.
Size of leaf on a Starfish Pepper. Image courtesy of Fatalii.

Unfortunately the leaf size of this pepper variety is quite large, so its not generally suited to Bonchi methods. It doesn’t mean we won’t try!

Trepadeira Werner

Trepadeira Werner Pepper. Image courtesy of Fatalii.
Trepadeira Werner Pepper. Image courtesy of Fatalii.

Another interesting looking fruit; the Trepadeira Werner peppers look very much like cherries!

These are considered mild peppers, with a SHU score of 1000-5000.

So which seeds will I be planting first?

I love that the Bolivian Rainbow has fruit that’s long, clusters, and points upwards. More importantly, I love the color variations. Because of this, it gets preference over the Birds Eye Baby and the Italiano.

The Marbles variety has gorgeous little round fruits, which are such a unique shape compared to most other varieties. Closely behind this variety is the Charapita, with the miniature yellow ball shaped fruits.

Since I’m not a huge fan of spicy food (yeah I know, I’m growing spicy peppers…) I will definitely be planting the Miniature Orange Bell, the Pink Habanero, the Aji Jobito and the Treeadeira Werners.

The Starfish variety was a personal preference of my husband, so I’ll definitely start growing soon.

Ikea Nypon Pot.

Coming up in a future post, I will talk about how I will convert my Ikea Nypon pots into hydroponic containers, suitable for growing a hydroponic bonsai or hydroponic Bonchi in.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 8

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 8 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 8 Growth

When I first planted the Jalapeños they were probably the least exciting plant for me; they were my husband’s request. I’m not a huge fan of spicy-hot, and for me Jalapeños can fall into that category depending upon ripeness.

Having watched the plants grow the last two months has been really rewarding, and to see the fruits getting so large… I am now quite excited to harvest. Jalapeño poppers, anyone?

Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 8 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 8 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

The peppers are still a little bit small to be picked. But its amazing to see how much they have grown in one week! Imagine if humans grew this fast; have a baby and nearly two months later they are nearly adults…

Have you tried growing Jalapeño peppers hydroponically? I’d love to know how your peppers tasted. Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 7

It’s an exciting time in our household! We have babies! Jalapeño babies, that is.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growth

Here is our primary Jalapeño plant; we have two plants but this guy here is definitely the largest. He is 15″ (40cm) tall from base to highest leaf. Typically Jalapeño plants will grow to be about twice that height, so my little guy is only a teenager. The plant is often called an annual, however if kept in ideal temperatures (not exposed to frost) they will keep growing and producing.

Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht
Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht

Over the last couple weeks our Jalapeño plants have been flowering. Since we are growing indoors with no bees or insects to pollinate, I have to do it myself. An old toothbrush head on the electric toothbrush really helps save the day; the vibration is just enough to get the pollen shaking loose.

Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht
Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht

As the flower gets older, it starts to wilt. But its what emerges from beneath the aged flower petals that’s the most exciting part:

Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

I aided this guy by very gently removing the old petals; only a couple petals were left attached, and the fruit was mostly visible. You can see some of the left over pollen on the fruit. Each fruit appears to be about 1.5-2cm in size (0.5″ give or take).

Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

We have multiple fruit starting to appear. I count four peppers so far, with several older flowers that are beginning to bulge. I don’t want to go disturbing the flowers yet in case I break them off, or ruin the chance for them to bear fruit.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 6

Opps. The last time I shared an update on the Jalapeños was when they were four weeks old. I didn’t realise time was going by so fast and somehow I didn’t remember to write an update.

Well guess what: it flowered!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth

The very first flower opened today in fact. It’s so dainty looking; a stark contrast to the hot and spicy fruit that it’s going to produce.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth

There are plenty of other flowers growing on each of the branches, most at that point of about-to-open. Give them a day or two and the whole plant will be flowering, and in need of pollination. Domestic varieties of Jalapeños are self-pollinating, but they benefit from the electric toothbrush method.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth

I’m surprised at how small the plants are to be honest. They can grow to be 30in (or 76cm) tall, yet my plants are both around only half that.

My husband is very excited about the jalapeños growing, and his excitement is catching; I am looking forward to making some yummy meals like Jalapeño poppers!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update 1 Month

It’s hard to believe that its been a whole month since I first planted the Jalapeño seeds into the rockwool.

Last week (photo below) we saw the Jalapeño forming much larger leaves and thickened stems:

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth

So how have the jalapeñoes grown over rthe last week?

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth

They have gone through that initial growth spurt that I have come to expect from most plants once their first leaves start growing. The plants have grown larger leaves, and what were once small leaves are now quite a decent size. They have also started growing new small leaves – will these be big next week?

One big change is that we have gone from 5 pepper plants to one! No they didn’t die. Jalapeño plants are quite a lot bigger than lettuces, and I want to make sure that they have enough space to grow. So I have removed all but one pepper plant from the bucket.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth

I did wait a tad bit too long to transplant them, but here they are getting ready to be moved outdoors. We have a family friend with a garden that’s ready for “winter” crops – most of the year in Kuwait is too hot to really grown plants, we tend to grow during “winter”.

Did you see that little sad looking Jalapeño at the front right in the photo? That’s what happens when a couple of the plants grow faster than others in Kratky; some plant roots start sucking up water before all plants have necessarily put out their roots, dropping the water level in the bucket. I should have maintained the water level with slight top-ups. Whilst the plant does have some green leaves on it, most fell off with the slightest of touches. I have given it plenty of water, but chances are that one seedling will die.

We still have 3 other plants, plus one growing in my Aerogarden Bounty. I hope we get a good harvest of peppers out of all these plants.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 3

Three weeks ago I got some Jalapeño seeds as a present from a friend; thank you friend! My husband is a big fan of Jalapeño poppers recipes; I’ve only tried them once and enjoyed them a fair bit too. Biggest issue was finding jalapeños large enough to easily stuff. So it makes sense that we planted some Jalapeño pepper seeds into some rock wool to grow our own (hopefully large peppers).

It’s now time to do the three week update!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth

The peppers are taking off! I wanted to say that they haven’t grown that much, but looking back at week two they were only little seedlings:

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

The week three jalapeños have clearly grown much larger leaves, and are now growing their third and fourth true leaves.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth

I am concerned about the size of the bucket that I am growing it in – ideally I would have only one or two plants in this sized bucket long term, and I am growing five! I think that I will give some seedlings away to family (to plant traditionally in soil) and keep one or two for myself.

Have you grown Jalapeño peppers before? How long did yours take to fruit? How big were the peppers? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 2

I’m not a huge Jalapeño fan, but my husband is. I think I made his day when I told him that I had planted some jalapeño seeds for him.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

I think he’s a bit disheartened, as many new gardeners are, that they aren’t growing faster. He’s been checking them daily and when you see something so often its hard to see the changes. That’s why I love posting my weekly updates – I get to see and compare to photos a week ago. In this case these plants didn’t even exist two weeks ago!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

These seedlings have all put out their first true leaves, and in a couple cases they have started to grow their second sets of true leaves as well.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

As with all the other plants I have grown hydroponically so far, once the seedlings start producing a couple of their first leaves they go through a very sudden growth spurt. I expect that these jalapeño seedlings won’t look so small and vulnerable within one or two weeks.

Since it’s the first time growing jalapeño’s, I am unsure just how big they will get. I have them distanced only about 2-3″ apart from each other, so they are quite close. I expect that I am probably going to have to transplant some else where – luckily the weather is getting cooler in Kuwait so I can probably place in the soil. It’s currently (at time of writing) 48°C (119°F) outdoors… umm it is getting cooler, right?

Have you grown jalapeño’s or peppers? I’d love to hear about your growing stories in the comments below!