A New Season is Upon Us

Greetings friends,

In south Louisiana, Mardi Gras is over and the golden rods are blooming.  That means 2 things:  Its crawfish season, and its pepper growing season!

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I ordered my seeds this year from Pepper Joe (www.pepperjoe.com) and I still had some left over from last year’s order (from http://www.pepperlover.com).  I highly recommend both sites!  The seeds from last year (Moruga Scorpion and Naga Viper) sprouted quickly, and the plants were very bountiful.  Also included as a bonus in last year’s order were some 7 Pod Jonah and Trinidad Doughlah seeds.  I am planting those this year along with the 5 varieties I got from Pepper Joe:  Purple Jalapeno, Kung Pao, Chocolate Fatali, Hungarian Wax, and Garden Bird peppers.

Before I get to the sowing of the seeds, I’ll touch a bit on how to keep plants over winter (known as “overwintering”).  Pepper plants like warm weather, but are pretty tolerant of the cold.  Being in south Louisiana, I can get away with leaving them outdoors a good bit, but i bring them in for a couple weeks at a time if the low temperatures are below the mid 40s.  Its best to prune the plants back a little bit, since they go somewhat dormant.  They also will stop producing peppers.  The goal is just to keep them alive, as they will take right back off once spring arrives.

Here are some pictures of my overwintered plants:  2 Moruga Scorpions, 2 Naga Vipers, and 1 Jalapeno (now my oldest at 3 years).  You can see how the bigger leaves from the summer drop off, and smaller ones replace them, this is part of the plants “dormant” stage.

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I am planting 5 varieties of seeds (for now), which is the most I’ve done so far.  Here are the seed packets:

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And a close up (but blurry) view of the seeds:

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I’ve had great success with starting seeds using Jiffy pods and greenhouses.  The pods are a form of peet that has been dehydrated.  Just add water and they puff up to about 4 times the original size.

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After they are hydrated, I “till” the soil a bit with my fingers, and then create little holes where I put the seeds.  I’m putting 2 seeds in each pod, hopefully I get 3 seedlings of each variety, then I’ll decide how many I’ll keep and give the others away as gifts.  (so be nice!)

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The lid is on, now the wait begins.

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This is the earliest I have started seeds, but later than alot of people do.  I’m lucky to have a long growing season.  The plants will be inside and under lights for the early part of their life, and hopefully the weather will be nice and warm by the time they need to move outside.

I used a grid system to keep track of which seeds are in which pods.  ABCDE down one axis, 12345 down the other.  So A1 is a Purple Jalapeno, and B2 is a Kung Pao, etc etc.

I’ll update as they sprout, stay spicy!

-Papa

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Pepper Porn

Hola amigos,

I’ve been stockpiling peppers in my freezer, preparing to make a batch of hot sauce.  I have a one gallon ziploc full as of this post.  I am still too scared to eat one, after tasting a tiny sliver of the first ripe scorpion.  The temps are dropping into the 40s (F), so I have the plants inside right now.  I’ll do a more in depth post on how I keep the plants over winter soon.  I also just got a new camera, so I present to you some high quality pictures of some peppers I just picked.

Here we have 2 red Moruga Scorpions (bottom left), 2 red Naga Vipers, and 3 yellow Naga Vipers:

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Of the 2 yellow Naga plants, one plant seems to be putting out “bumpier” peppers:

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A close-up of the scorpions:

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That’s all for now, up next, hot sauce!

-Stay Spicy

Almost Ripe

What’s popping pepper lovers?!

I’ve got some peppers that are in the process of ripening and they are looking absolutely gorgeous!

I had one scorpion last week that started to ripen, but fell of the plant (it must have been dying and ripened a little early), and I tried a small piece.  It was extremely spicy.  I now have no idea what I’m going to do with these things.  They scare me.

Here are the Scorpions:

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And the Naga Vipers, which I assume are going to stay yellow:

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That’s about the size of things.  It feels good to finally see the fruits of my labor.  Now I must grow some cahones and eat them!  Stay tuned, I might try them out on some friends a post a video…

PEPPERS!

Just a quick update, but a pretty big one.  I am proud to announce that I FINALLY have some Moruga Scorpion Peppers growing!  And some Naga Vipers!

Scorpion – you can see the little “stinger”:

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Naga

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I probably have at least a dozen of each, all still very small, but growing everyday.

Ripening is another issue.  I have observed that the first batch of peppers a plant puts out tends to take a longer time to ripen than the subsequent batches.  I believe both should turn red, but we will see.

I’ll update next week some pictures of the peppers as they grow.

Stay tuned and stay spicy!  Vaya con fuego

Buds, Flowers, and… Peppers?

Greeting pepper fans,

Its been a while since the last update because frankly, not much has happened.  I know that’s boring, but it’s a good boring.  The plants have just been growing, and they are quite big and healthy.  But now, we have something.  The plants are all putting out buds, flowers, and as of now one potential pepper pod has formed!

Below is the farm, as you can see some of the new plants are almost as big as the cayennes.  

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Here’s a shot that shows how many buds and flowers are popping up on the biggest Trinidad Moruga Scorpion plant:

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Here’s a good look at a flower:

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And a potential pod, that little straight thing poking out is usually a sign that the flower was pollinated and has dropped off, and a pod is coming!

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So things are happening!  I’m keeping a close eye, and I’ll post another update, hopefully with a baby pepper!

Thanks for reading, stay spicy!!

Topping

Its almost like I know what I’m doing.

Well folks, the peppers are growing very well. I’m going to get kind of technical in this post, so grab a cup of coffee.

I now have all 5 of my superhot plants in larger containers. I am doing some experimentation with a technique called “topping.” This consists of cutting off the very top of the plant when it is young, to encourage denser growth. By denser growth I mean more branches forming lower on the plant, instead of a tall plant that branches higher up. I have some good pictures to illustrate.

I was afraid to try this last year (who would want to cut off part of a plant that they worked so hard to grow?!), but now that I see the results I am amazed.

Below are the 3 plants that were still in solo cups, these are the ones I topped. Below is immediately after topping, I just cut off the few leaves at the very top, leaving the main stalk and bigger leaves.

 

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You can see on the bottom plant that some small leaves were already starting to sprout.   Topping allows more light to reach these leaves and encourages more leaves and branches to form on the main stalk of the plant.

Here is a shot from a couple weeks later comparing a topped plant to an un-topped plant:

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Un-topped:

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As you can see the un-topped plant has a pretty barren stalk, while the topped one is much bushier.  This should lead to more branches, which hopefully leads to more peppers down the road!

Another topic I mentioned in previous posts is the roots of the plants.  I put some plants into reusable grocery bags so the roots will “self-prune.”  This is more similar to how they grow in the ground.  In a solid pot, the root will reach the side of the pot, and then make a turn and keep growing.  In these bags, when the root hits the side it can sense the air (since the bags are porous) and will stop growing.  This is “self-pruning.”

Below is a picture of the roots of a plan when removed from the solo cup.  You can see how the roots keep growing along the side of the cup:

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That’s enough technical jargon for one post, hope you learned a thing or two.

Here are the 5 plants all together:

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And a nice harvest today!:

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Stay tuned and stay spicy, there will be more to come!

 

Things are growing

Greetings and salutations, the pepper farm is doing its job, things are growing.

Since the last update everything has been good, no tragedy to speak of.

The 5 “Superhot” plants are growing nicely (3 Naga Morich, 2 Butch T Scorpion).  The Carribean Red is producing nice pods, no ripe ones yet though.  I did get to try the first ripe pod from my Bastard Scorpion plant, it was a little spicier than the one I got to try at the end of last season, about the heat of a Jalapeno.

Speaking of Jalapenos, that plant is doing much better after a re-potting,  It was looking diseased and had brown spots on all of the leaves.  I re-potted it in a Dollar General re-usable shopping bag.  This is a $1 alternative to more expensive “Smart Pots” which allow the roots of the plant to self prune for a healthier root system.

Also, I was cleaning up around the house, and upon opening the seed starting greenhouse, I found 2 more Naga Morich plants had sprouted!  A pleasant surprise, I’d estimate they took 25+ days to germinate when the others took 9-10.  They are sitting on the ground outside, and seem to be doing ok.  I’m going to see if they can survive being raised in less protected conditions.

Below are pictures, enjoy!

Here is a sequence showing the growth of the 5 super hots (from oldest to most recent):

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As you can see, they look very healthy!  I will probably move them to their final containers, the grow bags, in the coming week.

Below is the Jalapeno plant in one of these bags, you’ll notice in the 2nd photo that after a couple weeks, there is alot of new growth sprouting

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And here are the 2 “volunteer” Naga Morich plants:

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A look at the Caribbean Red’s unripe pod, I assume they will turn red

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And some shots of the Bastard Scorpion, it was pleasantly spicy, and should be useful in the kitchen:

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And the Cayenne’s are still rocking of course!

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That’s all I got for now.  Next steps are to re-pot the super-hots and keep them healthy and growing,  I’ll also be working my way up the heat ladder when the Carribean Reds ripen, gotta get my body ready for the Nagas and Scorps!

Vaya con dias