DaMonkey's Pepper Log 2012-2013

DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)July 29, 2012

Well, my season is now offically underway! I've picked my seeds for the year, and I've started building my mediums. For those of you who care to follow on the journey...welcome! I'll start at the beginning....

My pepper lineup is much less about scoville units and much more about usage and application. I mean, don't get me wrong...I like a blazing hot face melter as much as the next guy, but the reality is, my friends and family are not so tolerant - so I'm going for crowd pleasers as well! I will be growing:

De Arbol Blood - for powder, flakes, and dried pods

Ping - for pickling

Bulgarian Carrot - for chutneys and such

Corno di Torro - for roasting and stuffing

Red Cayenne - for everyday hot sauce

Yellow 7 Pod - for pain and suffering

There's also a rumor that I'll be growing a Chocolate Hab...but that's yet to be seen....

(jk, dude...LOL!!)

My seed starting mix will be:

3 parts pine park (1/8" to 1/4")

3 parts perlite (1/8" to 1/4")

1 part pine bark (1/16" to 1/8")

Here are some pics:

This is the lot. I've got plenty of time, and I hate the thought of needlessly killing the little guys who don't quite make the cut...lol....so I'm putting out 2 seeds for each intended pot, may the best man win. I'll start new ones if needed, but I've been having really outstanding results in my outdoor summertime germination and growth trials....so I'm pretty confident at this point that 2 will do.....famous last words, right?!?!?

FYI, these cups are not exactly what they seem. They are common here in Miami, as they are used in Cuban Cafe's. They are meant for Cortadito's and Colada's, and are less than half the size of the cups your probably use too.

A close up. I lay down a layer of fine (1/16" - 1/8") turface as a bed for the seed.

Then cover it with another thin layer. This keeps a tight fitting, evenly moist blanket around the seed.

Then water in, cover with plastic wrap, and into the seedling hut. It's a el cheapo storage bin with some cut outs covered with insect screen. This contraption will protect the little guys from the torrential south florida summer rain and act and a jungle bug deflector shield.

The final pot mix will be as follows.

5 parts pine bark (1/8" - 1/2")

1 part pine bark (1/16" - 1/8")

1 part perlite (1/8" - 1/4")

I'm changing strategies a bit on this, partly because of my previously mentioned turface scandal, and partly because I found some retention deficiencies in my previous mix. The high humidity, coupled with the constant summer rain actually causes more hassle than the extra retention during the dry months is worth...so I'm gonna move to a little chunkier mix this time around. It may require more watering in the dry months, but the extra drainage will be beneficial next summer.

Final mix looks like this. FYI, the first bag of bark was not very good. It was way heavy on sapwood. I'm glad I only bought one bag off that pallet. Hopefully the next one will be of better quality.

I had a great idea that I'll share with you re: screening. I used my homemade 1/2" screen and ghetto rigged it to a "Container Store" bin that I use as my 1/8" screen.

It starts with the 1/8" screen and a bungie cord.

Then I strap the 1/8" to the bottom of the 1/2".

Side angle.

Worked great!! It really cut down on the number of steps required to generate the desired particle range of the product. I was contemplating a third level, but I thought that would be like a dream within a dream within a dream...and I was starting to run the risk of getting stuck in limbo.....anywho....


Back to reality....with my travel schedule, I'm hoping that my wife doesn't kill everything - lol - she's doing good so far though, so I've got some hope. I'll keep you posted!

I hope my year goes as well as yours are going (very impressive stuff going on out there!).....good luck and happy plantings y'all!!


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Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Looks great, too bad I don't have 24/7 365 of growing season, but can't complain as I am in zone 7. I will be using the 5-1-1 Mix and like the screening tools you have come up with. Keeps us updated with lots of pics.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:37PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

PJ, your set up is impressive! ;-)
Always a keen eye to useful items that might cut down on labor!

A nice list of peppers, too.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 12:22AM
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After spending hours sifting pine bark mulch.......I'm envious of your screening setup PJ. If you could mass produce those, you could probably sell them like hot cakes around here. Good luck with the wife taking are of the start ups. I know how hard it is to depend on someone else, even if they are more than capable!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:28PM
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DaMonkey007: Nice setup! What exactly are Ping peppers?

Here is a link that might be useful: BANANARAMA! Harvest Update July 31, 2012

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:28PM
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Nice, and very interesting. Keep us posted, sir.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:37AM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Thanks everyone for the well wishes! I'll keep you posted!

I honestly don't know much about the Pings, this is going to be a blind trial. I came across them at "The Hippy Seed Co" (THSC) and they fit what I was looking for to fill that spot in the lineup. Both my wife and my daughter love pickled peppers, but they like them more mild. The Hot Cherries that I pickled this year were too much for my little one, so I wanted to back off on the heat for her. They will probably be too mild for my liking, but I'll combat that my throwing in a Yellow 7 or 2 for my jar..lol! Done and Done.

From what I gather, the Ping is a cherry type, native to Asia, and is quite mild, getting a 4/10 on THSC heat scale. I see from your link you're a pickled pepper fan too, so I'll keep you posted on how they turn out.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:43PM
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Thanks for the info PJ. I share your philosophy about growing a few crowd pleasers for the fam and a few exotics for yourself (and focusing on usage and application). The Corno di Toro is my favorite sweet italian frying pepper, really great flavor ( I grew 1 CDT plant last year, 2 plants this year). good luck!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:18PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Speaking of the Corno Di Toro, I went out after work today and both of them had woke up to the world.....

Day 4

Wakey, Wakey.....


    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 7:44PM
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Hey, Wow, this post has got a lot of attention. You have as many replies as my log does and your seeds just popped out of the soil? I can not wait to actually see some plants growing.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Congrats DaMonk - Those sprouts love that mix.
Here's a pic of a Corno di Toro from last year(the big yellow one), they fry up nicely and taste so sweet and fresh right out of the garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: PEPPERMEISTER! Hot pepper gardening, tips, and recipes

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 2:59PM
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I was just looking at your seed starting mix. I am very interested in it. It looks perfect! Are you going to use that for bigger plants? It looks like it would work perfect. I want to make something just like it, and keep fine particals out of my mix all together.

Can not wait to see how this grow comes along.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 9:33PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)


Aparently, while I was out of town last week, my daughter got curious about the seed cups, moved the tray, spilled the tray, didn't tell her mother, it poured rain, my wife had no idea.....yeah.

Say a prayer for my fallen commrades....

...taps is playing in the background right now....


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:27PM
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Devastating man. Were there any survivors? Are you able to pretty much plant peppers year round in miami?

I've got a few seeds i can send your way if you need to start from scratch.

P.S. While on vacation last week, beer in hand, toes in the sand, I whispered to my wife as the sun set........
"I miss my peppers"

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 10:15PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Shoot, I'm sorry, PJ :-(
I hope a few pull through....


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:24PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Nah, it's basically a total loss. They were on the ground for quite a while through some pretty heavy rain, and my wife really didn't know how to handle the crisis when she found them, so...

Anywho, I started a new batch over again from scratch, I had enough seeds left and I have plenty of time (all year..lol), so it's not the end of the world. It does register pretty high on the ol' suck-o-meter though!

My poor daughter was beside herself when I questioned her about it....poor thing....I couldn't even be mad....and I really, really wanted to be too!!

LOL, well I'll check back in with the round 2 update in month or so...barring any more 3 yr old natural disasters...lol


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 5:47PM
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Wow, that's tough. I feel for ya.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 6:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You've got a good attitude about it, PJ!

Hey, I hope the job ain't workin' ya too thin!


    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:33AM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Hey Y'all!!
I'm alive!!! Haha. I just finished a run where I've been on the road for 6 of the last 12 weeks. Yikes! I have a nice little stretch of local work now where I'm hoping to be able to get some of my seedlings in there final pots. Things have been terribly slow. My wife has been taking care of the established plants and the seeds and seedlings while I've been away. She's done quite well, I mean, nothing died...exactly. The established plants are just fine, but the seeds and seedlings just haven't been getting the attention that they need. I'm about to change that, thankfully.

As you know, I took a "Let mother nature take it's course" approach. Germinating and growing all varieties outside, rain or shine. My wife just didn't have time to take them in and out when it rained, and she wasn't confident enough to gauge water needs on her own, so I had to put her on a schedule, unfortunately. This undoubtably resulted in both over and under watering while I was away.

I also had to give up on the little seed hut that I was using. No matter what I did, it was holding WAY too much humidity. Then, with the terrible germination rates I was getting, I had to expand my seed cups, lol. The bugs were incredibly light this summer for me, so that part, at least, wasn't a big problem.

So now I've built a make shift shade structure out of bamboo stakes, twine, and a section of willow scissor fence for the surviving seedlings to call home. I've got them out getting about 6 hours of dappled sunlight, and they are beinging to get thier legs. The weather also finally broke. The rains have subsided, the highs are down into the high 80's and lows into the mid 70's, and most importantly the intensity of the sun is beginning to wane...pepper growing weather. Honestly, next year I'm not even going to bother starting seeds until the 1st of October. It's just too hot and too wet.

I've currently got 19 candidates for 12 spots (shout out to Bruce for hooking me up with some HHW's...they are growing nicely!), so in the next few weeks I'll be deciding which of the little guys are going to win the lottery of life...lol!

Anywho, here is the shade structure and my strongest seedlings:

I'm also not going to use those cups again. They were too big for starting seeds, and too small just to let them grow...I actually potted a few up way early to get them out of there. Good from far but far from good...oh well, live and learn. On a positive note, my seedling mix is money. There's no way I would have as many survivor's without it. I'll be improving upon that general idea for the future.

I'll keep the updates coming in as I get them. This should be an interesting season, with all the travel and what not, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.

Cheers and GO CANES!


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:39PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

PJ, hey man it's great to see you back among the living! ;-)

And a nice new shade structure you've built, too! Dealing with that Florida weather
presents so many unique challenges. I'm sure you've written everything down so that
you'll know what to expect and when to expect it next year. Keep the updates comin'!


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 2:04PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Yeah, I really like the shade structure. We tend to think of them as these monumental constructions, like a pergola or a tent, but that should be good enough. I wonder could a kitchen rack or even an oven shelf or two be pressed into service? Now you've got me thinking small.

You know, the first time I visited Florida (Tampa) I nearly froze my keester off because you people down there don't have heat in your houses. [tsk]

Do you actually get a 12 month grow cycle?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 3:33PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Hey Josh!
Good to hear from you! I'll tell ya, this gig is crazy. Good money, but man, I don't think that I'll be able to keep it up for more than a year or so. I think I'll just grab as much knowledge as I can and move on. Idk. Craziness.

Speaking of CRAZY. The Florida weather IS crazy, especially way down here in the Miami. Fact is, we are a tropical climate here. The only such wet/dry season climate in the continental US. To say that it's a challenge is an understatement. It's either really, really dry and cool(er)(~meaning spring/summer for most~)....or really, really wet and HOT, HOT, HOT - not to mention the constant seasonal threat (and occasional reality) of tropical storms and hurricanes........

* *

A thought jogs his memory and he reflects:

".......I stood in amazment one late August afternoon, when my simple garden thermometer read 95 degrees with a delightfully refreshing 89% humidity, all this without a cloud in the sky.....the jungle.....it's just like the jungle here..."

He remembers dark times long past:

".....Everybody wanted me to do it, him most of all. I felt like he was up there, waiting for me to take the pain away. He just wanted to go out like a soldier, standing up, not like some poor, wasted, rag-a$$ed renegade. Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that's who he really took his orders from anyway......."

He snaps back to the reality of his computer screen and chuckles.

* *

You'll either enjoy that APNow reference wrapped up in my garden reality, or wonder if I'm a serial killer....LOL ;)

Anywho, switching gears....

Ya know, I had the same epifany myself. My yard is wierd in the sense that I really only have full shade, or full sun. I mean, I do have some shade, but it's not optimal, and it's not in the right spot - it really just doesn't work for me. So I thought one day, "I'm going to make my own shade....and it's going to be mobile." The rest is history. I figure, if your not trying to make what you have better...you're just falling behind.

Regarding the 12 month season: Yes and no. Many things grow here year round...many of those suffer during the summer and rebound in the fall. Few tolerate summer without some affect, while even fewer flourish during those months..but there are certainly those evolutionarily select few natives that love it here. Peppers, specifically the hot ones, are tropical in origin - so they can tolerate summers ~if~ you provide a mostly shade environment. They get crushed in full summer sun, I know this from experience ;) That being said, the sun is not the real summer enemy for vegetable crops here, specifically containerized ones, its the bugs, the rain, and the disease. So again, yes and no. The better you are, the better chance your plants have down here. That's the skinny, straight and narrow.

Good to be back.



    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:10PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Cool flashback. I wonder how much of that was Coppola and how much Conrad? And how much you?

I lived in Boca for a couple of years, working at the birthplace of the PC (literally). IIRC, it snowed once, but the begonias didn't care.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:48PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Whether Conrad or Coppola, Marlowe or Willard, Kurtz remains the common denominator. He lives at the crux, the nexus, he is at the center, residing along side of the light - in spite of the light. Without Kurtz, there is no Conrad...there is no Coppola..there is no me or you. Without Kurtz, there is no....well....Darkness....

...and without Darkness, how could there be Light....

...and without Light, how could there be.......





I really brought that back from the brink...HAH!

Good Stuff.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 7:07PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Yeah, that was close. Living on the edge can be as .. well, edgy .. as eating weaponized fruit for fun and profit. Addictive, though arguably not all that good for you.

The first time I saw Apocalypse Now (long my all-time favorite film) was with my GF in the theater in an, shall we say, "altered state". Great flick, but we didn't realize how affected we were until next day we go out to a rather wild part of the lake for a picnic and whatever. Suddenly huge helicopters appear flying NoE as if about to start dropping troopers. We bolted and hid in the brush as they swept the shore for gooks. Ahem.

Turns out there was a missing girl and they were looking for the body (she was okay), but something primal was triggered. There's nothing that quite focuses the mind as the imminent treat of death, imagined or not.

Or horror. I look at this bumpy pod and go back to the jungle. The jungle. Damn right.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:02PM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

HAHA! That's a great visual DM! It's funny to go back and see how the conversation turns after a full day of watching college football - kickin' back stronger than normal, well crafted, hoppy adult beverages....LOL!

I forgot to add a few other "lesson learned" items that I stumbled accross this year so far. First, regarding the 5-1-1:

I started making my mix really early, knowing that I had a ton to do, and that I would be traveling alot. I also modified my mix this year to be a little more "chunky", based on past experience - and my eternal desire to improve upon existing processes. As we know, I had an unfortunate pepper "apocalypse"...well placed, sir (he pats himself on the back)....and I lost my entire first lot. Then, as we also know, the second round has been S L O W to develop. Anywho - my 5-1-1 has REALLY benifited from sitting around for a few months.

Here it is the day that I made it:

And here it is this morning:

As you can see, it's really starting to do it's thing. Because it was so chunky to start with, and I stir it every weekend, it hasn't really broken down at all, yet it's donned the rich, dark characteristics that is just so appealing to me. My plants are going to love this stuff, I can just feel it when I run my hands through it.

Second, regarding Neem Oil. I never looked at the directions for this stuff until recently. I've always just made a 1% or 2% solution based on need, and I've always used Murphy's Oil soap as an emusifier. That being said, I've also only ever had marginal results - with it simply not working at all on whiteflies. So, I happened to notice on the packaging that it suggests either using soap as the emusifier OR Pro-Tekt. What? I have Pro-Tekt, as it is part of my fertilizer regime, so I gave it a shot. WOW! I mean WOW! No bugs anywhere...seriously, not even the whiteflies. Not to mention everything just LOOKS amazingly happy after application. Highly, highly suggest this approach. You really need to use HOT water for the Pro-Tekt to emusify anything, that being said, maybe ~some~ soap would help the process along. I'll try that and get back to you. Regardless, forget the soap only approach - Pro-Tekt is a must.

Happy Sunday!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:49AM
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