I'm happy to report the indoor chilis are doing pretty well.
Having said that, a lesson I learned quite clearly from last time is to do it "by the book"...literally. Last time, I let the pepper plants grow and neglected to prune them, which resulted in a bunch of top-heavy plants that ended up collapsing.
This time, I took the instructions to heart. First, I thinned out the plants so that each pod only had one plant. Of course, this meant chopping off one and in some cases two very healthy plants to allow their stronger sibling to take over the whole pod.
As hard as it was to do that, the harder part came in the next step, where for each of the four remaining plants, I had to chop off all the growth over the third "stem".
This was especially hard, since the plants looked so healthy and one even started to have little flowers on them! But again, learning from the last time it's important to make sure the base of the plant is strong. In some ways, pruning the plant like this is a lot like bonsai--on an outdoor plant you'd let it grow and grow, but indoors you need to shape it so that it grows to proportions that work indoors.
Here are how my trimmed plants look now:
In other news, I am on the cusp of officially retiring my other Aerogarden, which was still hanging on with one parsley plant and one basil plant. In an odd turn of events, I noticed that the plants were dying and that strangely there was a ton of dried gunk caked-on the front of the Aerogarden unit. I realized that the pump had failed and somehow the minerals in the nutrients were evaporating and forming on the outside and by the pod openings. When I examined the unit, the contacts on the arm that connect to the pump had completely oxidized.
I transplanted the parsley into a pot. As for the basil, it's not in great shape so I figure I'll let it ride in the Aerogarden (which I got the pump working for again) a few more weeks and see what happens.