Szechuan Pepper Info – Learn How To Grow Szechuan Peppers
Growing Szechuan Pepper Tree: A Guide For Beginners
by Zhenya Tsvetkov (ZT)
The most common question I get asked when it comes to growing szechuans is “How do I grow them?”
There are many different ways to grow szechuans, but the one that’s easiest for beginners is using hydroponics. Hydroponic systems allow you to grow plants without soil or water. They use nutrient solution instead of soil and water. This method allows you to grow your own food with minimal effort, while still getting all the benefits of growing in soil.
Hydroponics is a type of gardening which uses the cultivation of aquatic plants such as fish, shrimp, cucumbers etc., grown under controlled conditions. These plants have been cultivated from seed and then planted into specially designed tanks filled with a nutrient solution. The tank contains living organisms called ‘natives’ which provide the nutrients needed for growth.
There are two main types of hydroponic systems: aeroponics and aquaponics. Aeroponics is the most popular system used to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers and other similar items. The other method, aquaponics, is a combination of hydroponics and fish farming.
In this tutorial we are going to be focusing on aeroponic gardening as it’s less of a hassle than aquaponics. This method of hydroponics is the simplest system to build and maintain, making it ideal for first-time growers.
What You’ll Need
There are several things you’re going to need in order to build your own aeroponic system.
Plant Support and Growing Medium
Aeroponics uses no growing medium whatsoever. Instead, the roots of your plants are suspended in the air. Because aeroponics uses no growing medium, this allows you to grow things in places where growing anything is impossible, such as sand or a rock garden.
There are many different types of plant supports that can be used. One of the most common is a simple plastic drinking cup with both ends cut off. Another good support is a plastic plant saucer.
These supports hold the plant in place above the reservoir of nutrient solution. You can secure the plant to the support in any way that is most comfortable for you, either with string or wire.
Because these supports are not porous like soil, you will need to add some sort of mesh netting or screen to act as a filter to prevent any of the growing medium from clogging up the pump and other parts of the system. This mesh netting can be purchased at most hardware or home improvement stores.
Aeroponic System Reservoir
The next thing you’ll need is an air pump, some air tubing, and an air stone. An air pump is used to send tiny bubbles of air down the tubes and into the reservoir. These bubbles provide oxygen for the plants.
Next you’ll need an electrical outlet close to where you plan to set up your aeroponic system. You’ll also need some kind of container to hold the nutrient solution, and all the various nutrient solutions that you’ll need.
There are many different kinds of nutrient solutions available to buy. These solutions are typically some kind of powder mix which you simply add water to. The nutrient mixes are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the plants you want to grow.
While the nutrient mixes sold at your local garden center are more than adequate for the average home grower, they don’t provide everything that your plants need. Because aeroponics is a soilless growing system, you need to add a couple of additional nutrients that would normally be present in soil. These are calcium and magnesium. You can add these in the form of specialized nutrients or you can add them in a more natural way by using a base fertilizer.
To provide even more protection against disease and fungus you should also sterilize all your equipment before using it. You can do this by baking everything at about 250 degrees for about an hour. You’ll need to place your containers and other items on a cookie sheet before putting them in the oven, to prevent them from over-flowling with moisture as they bake. This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s really not all that onerous and will help to prevent possible contamination of your system.
Lastly, you should have a grow lamp. This provides the light your plants need to grow, and you’ll want to pick one that has the right color temperature for the plants you want to grow. For example, if you are growing tomatoes, which do best in a cool climate, you’ll want to get a grow lamp that gives off more blue and red light and less yellow. If you are growing cucumbers, which need to grow in a hotter climate, then you’ll want to get a lamp that emits more yellow light.
So look at your seed packets to see what kind of light they need.
With that out of the way, you are ready to build your system!
Home Made Aeroponic System
You can make your aeroponic system as large or as small as you want. The one in the picture is designed to hold four plants. Each plant has its own spray nozzle and hydroponic pan. The pump, air pump and oxygen tubing keep the nutrient rich water flowing through the tubes, where the roots hang down into the current.
Start off by setting up your hydroponic pan. The one in the example is a simple plastic tray from the home improvement store. Fill it up with your soil substitute, and place your net pots with the seedlings in the middle of the pan. Fill up the reservoir with water, and mix in your nutrient solution.
Now you need to build the top part of the system, which will keep the plants suspended over the nutrient rich water. The top part of the system needs to be made out of a lightweight but sturdy material, like thick plastic or wood. In the middle of the top frame you will need to cut out spaces for the plants to fit in.
The example has four holes, but you can make yours larger or smaller depending on how many plants you are going to grow. Place the pots with your seedlings in them into the frames. Make sure the holes in the frames are large enough that the net pots with the plants can easily slide through them.
Once all the plants are in place, place the top part of the aeroponic system on top of the bottom part. The top and bottom should snap together, or be held tightly in place somehow. You may need to use a bit of pressure to push the two together.
The last thing you need to do is place the spray nozzles in the center of each hole. The nozzles need to be held above the top of the pots, but not so high that it would touch the plants. If you are using regular tap water, you will need to add a few drops of anti-freeze to prevent any possible freezing in cold weather.
Plug in the air pump, and place it at the bottom of the reservoir. Once the plant containers are suspended in their frames with the roots soaking in the nutrient solution, your system should be ready for use. The pump will keep the water moving, and the spray nozzles will provide a constant mist over the roots to ensure maximum growth.
You will need to add a few drops of anti-freeze each day. Also, depending on the size of your plants, you may need to replace the reservoir every so often, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when designing your setup.
You can also try using different liquids instead of water with your aeroponic system. For example, if you are growing marijuana, you may want to let the plants grow for a few weeks, and then change the water with a nutrient rich nutrient solution. You can also let plants grow for a few weeks, and then give them plain water for a couple of days before harvesting.
The plants will grow much faster with the aeroponic system. The roots are always soaking in a nutrient solution, so they have access to more food. They also get access to plenty of oxygen, which makes the plants grow faster.
It’s best to keep your aeroponic system indoors, unless you live in a very warm climate. It’s also best if you can keep it in an area that is not easily accessible to the public. You wouldn’t want just anyone walking in and using your system.
DWC, which stands for Deep Water Culture, is a hydroponic method that uses a water culture system to grow plants in a nutrient rich solution. This system consists of a container, much like a small aquarium, that contains the plants.
The container is filled with a nutrient rich solution, and the roots of the plants are placed in this solution. A submersible aquarium air pump is used to keep the solution well oxygenated. This helps keep the nutrients from getting used up by the plant and also encourages fast root growth.
There are many different types of DWC systems. Some use different sized containers while others use different types of lids. For the purpose of explaining how to make a DWC system, we’ll be discussing a standard system that uses a five gallon container with a standard lid.
Begin by getting a five gallon food grade plastic bucket, or you can use something else as long as it’s food grade. You will also need some nylon rope or fabric. The lids used for these containers come with a hole in the middle for pouring water out of the reservoir. If you use a different container, you may have to cut a hole into the lid yourself.
The next thing you will need is something to place the plants in so they are suspended over the nutrient solution. You can get a specialized pump, but this isn’t necessary unless you want an extra one. A five gallon water jug with about an inch cut off the bottom works perfectly. The plants can be tied to this so they stay suspended over the nutrient solution.
Now you’re going to need a few other things to get your system up and running. You will need a small air pump that can be bought at any pet store, or you can even get one for a fish tank if you want more bubbles. There are different sizes of these pumps depending on how big you want to make your reservoir.
You will also need an air hose and an air stone. The air stone goes into the pump and breaks up the stream of bubbles that it puts out. These bubbles then go through the hose and into the reservoir.
You will also need some nutrients to get the system started. You can buy these at the store, but they tend to be expensive and you need to use a lot of them. It would be better if you could use something else, so what you need is some sort of sugar based nutrient. You can use ordinary white table sugar.
If you plan on expanding your operation, you might want to get an air pump with a built in filter. This will keep the reservoir from getting gunked up.
Now that you have all the materials, you can get started building your system. You are going to want to drill several small holes in the lid of the container to allow air to get in while keeping water from leaking out. The size of these holes will depend on the size of your tubing and air pump tubing hole.
These holes need to be evenly spaced around the top of the container. It’s best to work from the inside of the lid and drill the holes from the inside out.
After the holes are drilled, take your air tubing and start running it through the holes. Leave enough slack in the tubing so that it can reach the bottom of the bucket when it’s sitting on its side. Make sure that none of the tubing is kinked since this will cut down on the amount of air flow that reaches the reservoir.
Now you can take the air stone and put it into the pump. Attach the tubing to the air stone and then run the other end of the tubing through one of the holes in the top of the lid.
Fill up the container with water, but don’t fill it all the way to the top. Leave around an inch at the top so that there is enough room for the plants without overflowing.
Add the sugar to the water, but don’t stir it in. If you want you can put the plants into the container at this point and let them soak for a while in the water before continuing. The plants will absorb some of the water.
The tubing from the pump needs to be submerged in the water in order for it to work properly. It doesn’t really matter where the tubing is placed as long as enough of it is underwater to allow for an air tight seal.
If you have the filter pump, now is when you would want to put it together. These pumps use little disks that expand when they get wet to push the water up through the pump and out of the reservoir. You need to soak these in water first before you put them in the pump or they won’t work very well.
So that’s pretty much it for building your own system. There isn’t really too much to it. If you want to grow the best plants you can, then you should put some extra time into planting the right strains and care for them as best you can.
This system will work for a single growing cycle, but since you are using sugar to feed the plants they won’t last very long before they start deteriorating. You may get one or two grow cycles before everything starts falling apart. You can fix this problem by using some of the materials from the hardware store.
You can also use your own compost to feed the plants, but this will take a lot more effort and time.
It would be best if you could find a way to fertilize the plants while they are growing, so that you don’t have to worry about replacing all the nutrients every month or so. You can do this with help from a local chicken farmer or rabbit breeder. They should have no problem giving you a few dozen chicken or rabbit droppings.
You can also try asking a local gardener or someone that has a green thumb. They should be able to give you a few of their compost and dirt without charging too much.
When it comes to containers, you can either use garbage cans, buckets, or any other large container. Just make sure they are suitable for what you need to do.
Decide on what you want to grow. You can either just grow marijuana, or you can try to grow a few different types of plants to make the most out of your garden.
You may need to experiment a little with the lighting and watering system before you get it right, so don’t blow all your money in one shot. You should be able to build everything for less than $500 if you scrounge around for the parts and have a little know how.
Sources & references used in this article:
Pungent agents from Szechuan peppers excite sensory neurons by inhibiting two-pore potassium channels by DM Bautista, YM Sigal, AD Milstein, JL Garrison… – Nature …, 2008 – nature.com
Potential of Szechuan pepper as a saltiness enhancer by T Hong Le Bao, S Chaiseri… – International Journal of …, 2018 – Taylor & Francis
Characterization and Evaluation of Changes in the Aroma-Active Components in Szechuan Pepper (Zanthoxylum bungeanum Maxim) Under Different Cooking … by Z Li, J Jeon, SY Kwon, R Huang, HH Baek – Chemosensory Perception, 2019 – Springer
Identification and detection of Tomato spotted wilt virus and pepper mild mottle virus infecting peppers in Sichuan using small RNA sequencing. by S Han, HQ Zhang, J Wu, HH Li, YD Xi – Acta Phytopathologica …, 2020 – cabdirect.org
Determination of Recognition Threshold and Just Noticeable Difference in the Sensory Perception of Pungency of Zanthoxylum bangeanum by LL Zhang, L Zhao, HY Wang, RC Zhi… – International Journal of …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis
Compounds from Sichuan and Melegueta peppers activate, covalently and non‐covalently, TRPA1 and TRPV1 channels by CE Riera, C Menozzi‐Smarrito… – British journal of …, 2009 – Wiley Online Library