Another newbie to pepper growing

Siouxzn(7)March 10, 2014

This is lengthy and I apologize in advance, just want you to have the whole "ignorant me" picture..

Last year as a noob, I started seedlings on the following varieties:

Yellow Wax
Habanero Blend
Cherry Blend

I had no idea what I was doing, just winging it really.

I used a seedling tray (burpee tray with wicking mat) indoors in a window and once they got root bound (late April-ish?) I transplanted into a 6 inch round container using Promix-BX and shoved them into a small portable greenhouse until Late May when they again got root bound. I then stuffed 4 � 5 of each type of plant into 9 gallon resin container that I pounded 4-5 nail holes into (for drainage) and hooked these up to a drip system. My drip emitters were 1 gph and the drip was set up to run 1-3 min per hour. I did not add any nutrients to these, just let them grow and then harvested as needed. Hell, didn�t even stake them, they just flopped over and did their thing.

With this approach (again, I had no clue what I was doing) I had what I considered a good sized harvest. The jalapeno, yellow wax, Serrano and cayenne went nuts. Many (100 or so?) fruit each on 3ft tall shrubs (probably very stunted due to overcrowding in the planters). The habanero had probably 20 or so fruit and I wasn�t able to harvest these until October. These were very small but HEY! I got some, so YAY me!

So THIS year, being the pro pepper grower now (sarcasm intended) I am now growing around 40 varieties including super hots. I started this year VERY early (after reading that super hots take a long time to germinate and are much harder). I thought I would try the dirt blocks technique (using Sunshine natural and Organic Profession potting Mix) and I started 6 of each variety hoping that I would have at least a few varieties geminate. These were placed on a heating mat with a wicking mat on top. I did not intend to end up with this many varieties, I figured most would fail, but low and behold 90% or more germinated within 5 days and I now have fricking plants everywhere. I have had to transplant twice and have no idea what to do with all of them at this point.

So where am I going with this wall of text? Well.. I still have no idea what I am doing, and so far I have kept all of these peppers plants very wet (sometimes sitting in standing water in a tray) and have yet to add any type of fertilizer. They are growing like crazy and I cannot keep up. I figured I better start doing some research to make sure I do not do anything wrong.

So after perusing this amazing site I find out that peppers hate being wet and seem finicky (nutrient-wise). So my question is, have I just been really lucky that I have not killed all of these? How have I not caused some plant-based implosion inside my home doing all the wrong things with these wonderful pepper plants?

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lundaesundae(Zone 6)

i like your post it was enjoyable to read =). as for the pepppers, they do enjoy it more dry than wet. you may have been lucky not to get any fungus but dont count on just luck moving forward. as a rule of thumb if you stick per say a chopstick in the soil and it comes out with soil on it, your fine to hold off watering. fertilizing you can do diluted when the second set of true leaves appear but by all means if theyre growing dont fix what isnt broken. as for too many plants id find friends family or neighbors who will take the plants off your hands. i had the same problem on a smaller scale and some of them were very glad for the gift. best of luck to you

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:59PM
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Thank you for the reply :)

I agree, I think so far I have been extremely lucky. Right now the plants are 6 to 8 inches high. I did notice last night that the Bhuts appear to have evidence of some puckered leaves. Calcium? I found some bone meal in the garage but I read that Cal Mag is better?

I did give some plants away already, the Cajun bells already had some flower buds and were getting way to big.

I will for sure give away more as I run out of room.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:50AM
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This is a photo I took 2 weeks ago. These have been transplanted at this point and aren't as crowded together.

The lower light is a cheap one of amazon and the upper light is an IPower LED grow light I found on Woot. Not sure which works better.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:54AM
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Another pic for sizing

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:56AM
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lundaesundae(Zone 6)

sorry unfortunately ill not be the one to ask for lighting or fertilizing (although im sure bone meal is fine) but im hoping thisll bump you to the top and someone with more knowledge will get back to you =). otherwise peppers look awesome! although id suggest propping those new seedlings closer to the lights maybe an inch or two away if they are cool lights. just look to be reaching

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:43PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Use the bonemeal in the garden....get yourself a proper Cal/Mag supplement for the plants in containers.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:12PM
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Ok, I will get some Cal/Mag this weekend. I did use some bonemeal yesterday though before I saw these new posts, I hope I didn't hurt anything. If I already used a bit of bonemeal sprinkled in the dirt should I wait to use Cal/Mag?

Also, propped up the seedlings closer to the light. Thank you for the help! :)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:23AM
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And another question.

Since I started these way too early, and I cannot put these outside for a couple of months, would turning down the length of time the grow lights are on slow down the growth? or just cooler air blowing on them?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:34AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The bonemeal won't breaks down very slowly, especially in a container setting.

As for the lights, yes you could reduce.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:11AM
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I, myself, wouldn't cut down the light. I would just pot up. Of course, space under the lights can be an issue.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:59AM
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Does potting up slow down the growth? Those pictures are a few weeks old. I already put about 30 of the larger peppers in 4.5" round pots (they were all originally in 2x2 square rose pots).

Space under the lights is definitely an issue (as you can see I already have too many for the two lights that are there)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:55PM
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It does for a week or so because of adjustment. Looks like you have the shelf space -- you just need more lights. Are they all peppers? If not, list what you have. Maybe we can create some more room.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Top left shelf is tomatoes which is now in another room in front of a window
and bottom left is basil and oregano which is also gone (replaced by more seedlings)

The rest are: (I may be missing some, I am at work and this list was on a spreadsheet I made)

Black pearl
Peter pepper Yellow, orange and red
Trnidad perfume
Jamaican hot chocolate
Jamaican hot yellow
Peruvian White lightning habanero
Trifetti ÃÂ
Peppa Purple Tangerine Pepper ÃÂ
Garda Fireworks Pepper ÃÂ
Garda Chandelier Pepper ÃÂ
Alma paprika
Ancho Ranchero
Paper Lantern
Peru Purple
Purpl Flash
Jigsaw hot
Medusa Hot
Caribbean Blend
Cajun Belle
Hot Portugal Pepper
Bhut Jolokia
Bulgarian Carrot
Fish Pepper
Burning Bush H
Joe E Parker
Early Jalapeño
Hungarian Yellow Wax
Pasilla Bajio
Santaka Hot Asian
Scotch Bonnet
Thai Hot
Sweet Cherry Blend
Trinidad Scorpion
Butch T

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:31PM
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And you're just a beginner? I'd say it's time to go down and get more lights and shelves. I don't know what your plans are for all of these and how many of each, but there are some varieties there that have fairly close matches. For example -- Anaheim and Joe. E. Parker -- both anaheims , but the Joe E. is a tad hotter on the scoville scale.

Perhaps if you don't have funds for more lights and space, you may want to give some away. You have a busy summer ahead of you!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I know I know.....sigh

I tend to go overboard when I get into something, but in my own defense I did not expect to have this many actually grow!!! I did not think I would get the hot varieties to germinate, let alone thrive.

That and... they are so beautiful! I couldn't resist! the Black Pearl is STUNNING!! even without fruit!

I will end up giving a lot away and my plan was to keep one of each, though even that may be too many.

I guess I have to go buy some lights this weekend. Luckily the PVC shelf I threw together is not glued and can have another level added.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:52PM
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Certain ones you may want to keep more than one, particularly the larger fruited ones like poblanos and anaheims. If you use these fresh, kind of not worth harvesting just a few and not having enough to make a meal. All the superhots(chinense), should put out tons per each plant. A lot of those annumms, like jalapenos, serranos, and the asian varieties will put out plenty also.

General rule -- the smaller the pepper, the hotter and more fruit. The larger the pepper, the milder, and less fruit..

It is addicting, isn't it?


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:09PM
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Oh good to know! I am glad I did not give many milder ones away yet.

I do intend to make (freeze, can, dry etc.) what I can and the milder ones will go to make sauces etc.

Yes... very addicting...Is there some sort of support group available?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:25PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

That would be us. Kinda like the blind leading the blind, eh?

Hello. My name is Dennis, and I'm a chilehead.

[chorus: "Hello Dennis"]

Nice selection! I did the same thing last year, planting multiples of each (not quite as many) variety and ended up with 100+ babies. By the time they got up to half gallon pots I had 80 or so. I put an ad on craigslist and gradually sold them down to 35 by September. Met some very interesting people that way.

Ghost, any chocolate variety, ornamentals sold well. One guy bought four of my five red fatalii. Scorpions ("world's hottest"), thai, and korean did not sell as well as I expected. I guess I made about $120, but that wasn't as important as finding them good homes.

Rather than thin the herd now, I'd try to keep them as long as possible. No way I thought I'd be able to support 60 large pots but it worked out. Here's a hint: use wire shelf racks - the kind with the bent-over edges - to hold the pots up off the ground and you can set them out on the lawn without killing the grass.

Let us know how it goes. And know that -- we're here for you.

This post was edited by DMForcier on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 13:35

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:32PM
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I did a count last night and not including the seeding tray (which has about 20 or so popping) I have 105 plants remaining that are 6-8 inches right now. I did give away about a dozen so far of the ones I had 5 or 6 each (Cajun belles, jalapenos and serranos). I kept two each of those.

Only have one chocolate and one white habenero so hopefully I can keep those ones alive.

will take your advice and keep the rest as long as possible.

Never thought of using Craigslist, but I have have several neighbors hovering so I will have no problem finding homes. And the nice part about that is we all share harvest anyhow, so even if I give the babies away I will still have visiting rights!


I took the following pictures last night (the stand is level, the pic was taken at a weird angle)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 9:41AM
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And a closeup

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 9:42AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)


And you're just a beginner?

Thats what I say too. But good luck anyhow.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 10:44AM
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