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Running out of time?

Posted by MikeUSMC CT 6a (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 20:20

Hi everyone. I'd just like to thank everyone in advance for all the help you've given me in my first year pepper growing journey. Tons of nice, friendly, helpful people on this forum, and you've all helped me IMMENSELY whether you know it or not! Anyway, my question is about "blossom drop." I've got about a dozen plants (a few Habs, Scotch Bonnets, and Ghosts) in decent sized (around 7 gallon) containers in 5-1-1 mix. Containers are very well draining, have great aeration for the root systems, and I'm extremely careful not to overwater. I fertilize with Neptune's Harvest (3-1-2) fish/seaweed emulsion every 2 weeks (roughly), and Tomato Tone on alternating weekends. Each plant is around 2 feet tall, and all look healthy, and are producing TONS of flowers, but they fall off to the touch (sometimes before they even open. The only thing I can think of is the heat (mid/high 80's lately, about 70 at night). The plants are in the shade in the afternoon now, only getting morning sun.I have 2 pods. Yup. 2 stinkin' pods. Each the size of a quarter. I'm nervous about the short growing season here in New England, and hope this whole season wasn't a waste of time. Not really interested in overwintering this year. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again in advance. -Mike


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Running out of time?

If you are in CT, zone 6a, I wouldnt worry about the "short season." You're not in Northern Maine. Your plants can produce to the end of October. You'll be fine once plants are acclimated.


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RE: Running out of time?

Except for that freak frost early Oct. But just cover them then. 7 gal is a big container, but do you have room inside? I don't know about Habs and Bonnets but the ghosts can be slow to start. Might want to overwinter those. I've got some that I've had for over a year (have to think when I started them). Sadly, some will have to go since they need bigger containers (I've got a 5 gal and 4 gal Douglah and 3 2 gal bihs) and DH insists that we have room for a Christmas tree...

Anyway, that's not too hot for them, can't be blossom drop due to heat, are you sure you're watering enough? I'd move them into all-day sun if you have it (make sure to do it slowly if all they've seen is AM sun). Peppers LOVE sun and heat, don't worry about it until we get into a stretch of 95+ degree days like last July.

I'm just starting to get buds/flowers on mine, and now the nighttime lows are going to be falling back into the 50's next week so I hope I can get some pods.


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RE: Running out of time?

Mike, I'm in So. Calif where we are in the mid 90's right now. I have shaded my plants containers with plywood and am still getting blossom drop on my superhots.
Eventually they will kick in. I'm a firm believer that the plant will pod when its ready.

Stoney


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RE: Running out of time?

Flower drop probable causes:

1. Day temp too high >95F
2. Night temp too low <65F
3. Too much nitrogen fertilizer
4. Too much water
5. Low light levels (reduces fertility).
6. Very low humidity (reduces fertility)
7. Poor air circulation (air circulation contributes to pollination).
8. Lack of pollinating insects.
9. Size of pot
10. Too much mineral in feedwater.
11. Too much grower attention/anxiety.

Copy and paste... thanks willard3

Which do you think applies to you? Also, I'm not familiar with tomato tone but I do know that fish emulsion is an organic fert and with 5-1-1 is contradictory.

Kevin


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RE: Running out of time?

2. Night temp too low <65F

%%%%%%%%%%%
Hmmmm. So far this season our night lows have been 58F and lower. It is forecast to to break 60F barrier in a few days from now. even the it will be <<65F
Not a pepper climate, I think.


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RE: Running out of time?

Thanks for all the quick responses everybody.
-ajsmama- The plants were and have been in all day sun since around Memorial Day. They were all properly hardened off, and had no problems getting to the size they're at, and they're definitely acclimated to the weather by now. I just put them in a spot in the yard with AM sun and PM shade about 3 days ago because I thought it was from the heat. That would wilt a little by the end of the day, but perk up after the sun went down.

Kevin- I've seen that list from willard3 about 50 times on this forum, ha ha! But, thank you! I've read through it about 300 times! I started thinking it was #11, so I left my plants alone, and only went out at sunset to see if they needed watering, hoping to be surprised one day with tons of pods, but so far no luck. I didn't know what else to do, so I figured I'd ask everyone. Also, I've never read that organic fish emulsion was contradictory to 5-1-1. I dont care if I have to shoot steroids into the stems! Doesn't have to be organic, just heard a lot of good things about it on this forum. Any recommendations for ferts?

-Stoney- I guess I was just wondering if there's an "average" time from flower to ripe pod. I understand every type is different, and the hotter the longer. My main concern is that I won't be able to keep flowers from falling off until the season's almost over.

I guess time will tell.


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RE: Running out of time?

Missed the 5-1-1. Neptune's might work, I use it for my seedlings when first potting up so there's no microherd, but I don't know if Tomatotone will work at all. Kevin was on the ball - try an inorganic fertilizer. Pix would help. How's the color?

Sorry I misunderstood that these guys have been in afternoon shade for a while - if it's only been a few days no need to harden off again.

I've never seen that list, don't think any of those apply (assuming normal insect activity, and plants are small enough even if pots are touching I'd think there's air circulation). Could be they're just not getting pollinated, but I'm still wondering if you're watering enough (will drop blossoms if too dry as well, though if not seeing morning wilt you should be OK) and now the new concern about not *enough* fertilizer since I missed the 5-1-1 reference.


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RE: Running out of time?

Color seems fine, as far as foliage goes. The stalks of the plants look fine, too. The "stems" of the flowers look good from the beginning, then slowly turn yellow and fall off.


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RE: Running out of time?

I guess those containers are only about 5 gallon. Like those? Ha ha! LOT cheaper than potting containers! Got them at a dollar store. Lined with weed block fabric, filled with 5-1-1. Figured the roots would have great aeration. Good for drainage, too. Not the prettiest things to look at, but, oh well.


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RE: Running out of time?

They look fine. As far as temps, the only thing I'd concern myself about with your setup is that the fabric is black. Otherwise, your daytime temps are perfectly fine. Check the soil temp in the heat of the day though. If too high, you may want to shade with plywood or something. Anything to get the direct sun off the fabric.

Are you losing ALL flowers or just "some?"

I wouldn't worry too much about overwatering with 5-1-1. That's tough to do. But still do the whole " water thoroughly, let dry out, water thoroughly" thing

The reason why fish ferts are contradictory for 5-1-1 is, as ajsmama said,.. there's no(or little) microherd to work with. I'm not saying it isn't a great fertilizer, but one of the key facets behind 5-1-1 is a medium that doesn't break down. If using organic ferts, the small amount of microbes would cause it to break down faster, no? if you made your 5-1-1 the original formula, then you added lime and CRF's. So, weekly doses of Miracle Gro AP or Foliage Pro at half strength is all that's traditionally recommended. Occasionally, I'll add some epsom salts to my ferts for Mg, but only if my plants show they need it. I do this because I use gypsum for my Ca. Lime raises ph, so i opt for the gypsum since my water's ph is very high. With lime, you get Ca AND Mg.

Little thing I noticed about 5-1-1, it works much better in years subsequent to the 1st year.

Kevin


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RE: Running out of time?

Thanks Kevin. Yes, I mixed the 5-1-1 just as Al Tapla?/Talpa? (Spelling) recommended, with the addition of the dolomite lime, bone meal, and blood meal. Can't remember if it was 1 or 2 tsp per gallon. I wasn't too worried about overwatering because those laundry baskets drain EXTREMELY well. I WAS concerned with the fish emulsion running right through and out the bottom of the containers, since they drain so well. I did add slow release Osmocote granules back in May, but only at 2/3 the recommended amount, though. They were still pretty small then, maybe 6-8", and didn't want to "burn" them. In hindsight, I should've mixed it into the mix before potting up, but forgot to. I dug up about 2" around the base of each plant and spooned some in. I figured it might not be the temps, since lots of people have great success in SoCal and Texas, but I was out of ideas. I'll check the soil temps anyway. Like I said earlier, this is my first year trying to grow anything ever, so I don't know much about anything. I'll have to Google "microherds" to see what that even means, haha. I've read on here about Epsom salt sprays to help with flowers blooming/pollinating. What do you think? Give it a shot, or just wait and see what happens? As far as 5-1-1 being better the next year, I found a 5 gallon bucket with a lid on it hiding in the corner of my garage. I opened it up, not knowing what was in it, and it smelled like absolute "death!" It was leftover 5-1-1 that I'd mixed up early in May. I'm guessing this is somewhat "composted?" The bark fines I used weren't, so I'm wondering if I should spread some around on the top of the containers. Let me know what you guys think. Again, thanks so much, everyone. I'm not sure why I waited so long to join this forum (just joined yesterday). I've been reading it a few times a day since March, and have definitely learned A LOT! Lots of great people more than willing to help a beginner out. Thanks guys.
-Mike


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RE: Running out of time?

Sorry, Kevin. I never answered your first question. I felt like I was writing a novel with that last post, but I figure, the more info the better. Anyway, it's honestly too hard to tell if I'm losing "all" or "some" of the flowers. It seems like new ones keep popping up and the older ones keep dropping. To hard to keep track since a few of the Habs and Scotch Bonnets probably have 50+, which I thought was a good thing. The Ghosts have less, probably a dozen or so, but those are starting to drop too.


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RE: Running out of time?

ok. Actually, it's 1 TB of lime per gallon of mix.

Also, the blood and bone meals. Once again... Organic ferts. I'm not saying they can't work in containers. I use them in VERY large containers, like barrels, without 5-1-1. But, it's difficult to support the microbes in smallish containers, like yours. And once again, if they do work, they'll break down the 5-1-1 quicker than without.

Do NOT use rancid 5-1-1. throw it in a compost pile if you have one. What I do is at the end of the season, I dump all my 5-1-1 into a bag and poke holes in it and leave it out in the winter rain. Never cover it... anaerobic bacteria will ruin it.

Epsoms.. I don't do the foliar thing. if need be, I add a tsp/gal to my other ferts. Need be would be a yellow splotchiness in the foliage.

Blossom drop is actually a pretty common thing, but you should still be holding onto some, with some of those developing into pods.

You've mentioned what you fertilized with in the beginning.. what have you used besides those and the fish ferts?

No need to worry about how you added the osmocote. I do the same thing.

Kevin


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RE: Running out of time?

Besides the 2/3 dose of Osmocote back in May, and the fish ferts, I gave them all 1 dose of this "Tomato Tone" about 10 days ago. The bag says to apply directly to the soil right before watering every 2 weeks. Haven't used it again since, was planning to again this weekend. Again, organic. Recommended for tomato and pepper plants by the guy at the local nursery. I was alternating weekends with fish/tomato tone. I'll quit if it's not going to do any good. No big deal, like I said, I couldn't care less if it's not an organic fertilizer. Just happened to be a coincidence that everything I picked up was. Was afraid to use Miracle Gro since it seemed like I was already adding so much stuff to the mix. So, you think Miracle Gro AP? Water soluble? Or should I add more Osmocote slow release granules? Will the 5-1-1 "hold on" to water soluble ferts without just pouring out the bottom of the containers?


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RE: Running out of time?

Yep. Use synthetic with the 5-1-1. Not to worry about it draining out. Give half doses of MG AP weekly. In a few weeks, you may just want to add a tad more Osmo.

Save the organic stuff for some IN-ground plants. Good stuff!

Kevin


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RE: Running out of time?

Outdoor containers and under-pot trays usually don't mix. But if my medium drains as readily as 5:1:1, I will use a tray (temporarily) to catch the ferts and let the medium soak up as much as it can.

I also have to do it with a relatively hydrophobic mix like the local MGMC. These basil trees transpire so heavily that the 1 gal pots dry out nearly every day. Letting the dirt suck up the water like a sponge lets them go two days. (You have to dump the excess in the tray (if any) or the mosquitoes will take advantage of you twice.)

Dennis


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RE: Running out of time?

Kevin, thanks so much for all your help! (Peps22, seysonn, Stoney, and ajsmama, too). I'll grab some MG and monitor the soil temps, and just keep doing what I'm doing. Put the plants back out in full sun today, so we'll see. I guess (like Stoney hinted at) that I'm just getting anxious. Patience is DEFINITELY not my strong point, haha! This pepper growing thing is addictive, I find myself outside trying to "watch them grow." Haha! Maybe I need a new hobby to distract me from my new hobby... Anyway, thanks again, and I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck!
P.S. I was stationed in SoCal in 29 Palms back in 2000. I don't know how you guys deal with that weather year-round! So hot! I need my 4 "distinct" seasons!
-Mike


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RE: Running out of time?

Good call. Thanks, Dennis. I might have to try that


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RE: Running out of time?

I have experienced exactly what you are having. When I saw your containers, it just reenforced what I was already thinking.
People write to me every month asking me why their sagos are getting dry leaves. They tell me that they made sure to only water once every two or three weeks so they didn't think they were watering to much. The problem is the lack of water was making the leaves dry out.
I am growing some Cycad debaoensis plants in home made super deep pots made with ground cover and table wire, so I have a lot of experience growing in the same basic thing you are using. Those dry out a great deal faster than regular plastic pots. Your plants look real good. I was experimenting last year about this time with withholding just enough water that it would increase the scovilles of the peppers, but still had enough water to make the plants look good. What happened was that the flowers all fell off. I have now found out, that in my case, I need to set the flowers first, see the small peppers forming, and then withhold the water.
Anyway, I think you are worrying so much about over watering, that you may want to go the other way. I can't see how you can waterlog that soil when you have drainage from all sides. I know I water all my 3 and 7 gallon plants every morning and they do fine. Since I am using my cycad soil mix, I know drainage isn't a problem, even with using the regular plastic pots. (3 gallon pots are .33 each and 7 gallon pots are $ .85 each)
I am going with the amount of water as the problem, but just in case, when orange trees and other fruit trees drop their blossoms and don't set fruit, growers use gypsum to help them set flowers. So, if the extra water doesn't do it, I'd try the gypsum.


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RE: Running out of time?

Thanks plantsman. At first I was only watering when "the plants told me to." But, after seeing just how fast the mix drains and airs out in those containers, I've been watering every 1-3 days. I did notice that it'd be pretty hard to drown the plants or have to worry about root rot. Maybe I was looking at "decorative" pots and didn't notice, or maybe the price tag was wrong, but Home Depot by me had 3 gal and 5 gal pots for $20 and $25 each! Not $0.85. Granted, they're a lot more appealing to the eye than 5 gal buckets, but... I definitely wasn't about to spend $200+ on pots. Hence, my dollar store laundry baskets. At least my neighbors can't see them from their porch, ha!
-Mike


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RE: Running out of time?

I don't know what's you live, but around here, were are getting 1 to 4 inches of rain every day now, or at least 5 days a week, and they are loving it. Try giving them about a half inch to 3/4 of an inch each morning and see how well they start setting flowers. You get way better production with extra happy plants. Another thing I found with my bhuts, that they set much better when they are hand pollinated.
On the pots, if you end up needing a lot more, if you live in an area where there is a lot of landscaping going on, many landscapers don't use the pots and will either give them away to anyone who is willing to cart them off, or sell them at prices, as used pots, for about half the price I mentioned. I was quoting new pots bought at a supply place. We have 3 such places near me, but there again, I don't know where you live.


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RE: Running out of time?

All the Lowes garden departments run a "pot recycling" program where people can drop off their old plastic pots - or pick some up. There is a rack in the back, but usually the pots don't seem to make it past the checkout desk.

You have to check regularly, but there's nothing like a free pot or 20!

Dennis


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RE: Running out of time?

What Dennis said. Though, somebody must've caught on at mine this year. I keep going and finding NOTHING. I was able to get a few 4" earlier, but nothing since.

Good thing I picked up 5 15 gal for a buck a piece when I took a trip in April to buy an avocado tree.

Kevin


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RE: Running out of time?

Thanks, guys. I'll have to check into that "pot recycling" program, but probably not til next year. At this point, I'm not sure transplanting would be a great idea. I don't really want to "shock" the plants, seems like they have enough problems as it is. I haven't gotten around to checking the daytime soil temps yet. I doubt that was even the problem, but I was out of ideas. I just got home from the night shift at work, hit them with the first 1/2 strength dose of MGAP, and to my surprise found about a half dozen pods the size of pencil erasers. Maybe this post was just a few days premature? Man, I wish I'd known about "Organic Ferts vs. 5-1-1" earlier! I really thought I'd done enough homework on this stuff. I feel like I would've been so much further along by now. Rookie mistake, oh well. Still dropping blossoms like crazy, but those few little pods gave me some hope! They must've heard me screaming at them! God knows the neighbors probably did, haha...


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RE: Running out of time?

3 weeks later, and I'm feeling so much better! You guys nailed it. Wrong ferts, and not enough water. Watering daily now, and full doses of MG AP weekly. Thanks so much everyone! I've got more pods coming in than I know what to do with now! Here's one of my Scotch Bonnet plants. This one alone probably has 70-100 pods on it! Maybe not a huge deal to some of the "professional growers" out there, but for my rookie year, I'm ecstatic!!! Thanks so much again, everybody!


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RE: Running out of time?

Orange Habs


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RE: Running out of time?

About a dozen little Bhut pods. Hopefully they'll ripen by Sept/Oct


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RE: Running out of time?

Bhut


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RE: Running out of time?

Mike - I'm one of those "professional growers" (or trying to be) and your plants are producing so much better than mine. Mine are in the ground, we've had a good amount of rain this month, and cooler temps, maybe not enough sun. Then again, I may have too much "fertilizer" since I planted in straight composted horse manure/bedding. Even though it tested Low in N. Just getting flowers on most, have some pods on Hinkelhatz (cool weather tolerant so that's why I'm thinking it's been too cool for others). Aji Limon doesn't even have flowers.

I'm beginning to think I'm running out of time. I can cover them with plastic since I planted in a soon-to-be tunnel (have to buy 70ft x 24ft plastic and get end walls built) but still at this rate I don't know if I'll have any ripe pods, even if I can extend the season until Halloween. And market ends Oct 1 so that won't help much anyway, except for personal use.


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RE: Running out of time?

@ ajsmama- That's a shame. Hopefully things take a turn for the better for you! The 10 day forecast looks great in CT as far as I can tell. Supposed to be low to mid 80's during the day, and mid 60's at night. From everything I've read on this forum, that sounds like premium pepper growing weather. To be totally honest, I'm absolutely SHOCKED at how well my plants are doing. Like I said before, this is my first time growing anything EVER. It started this winter at a chain restaurant that has the absolute best Mango Habanero sauce I've ever tasted, and I thought, "I should try to make that!" to "I should try to grow a habanero!" (singular) Long story short, (and almost 150 plants later- 2 72 cell starter trays), I gave most away and kept the dozen strongest after about 2 months in. I'm totally hooked. I'd never even heard of 3/4 of the different types of peppers everyone here is growing! So many different varieties! I had no idea! That NuMex Twilight is definitely on my grow list for next year. So is the Aji Lemon. I'm a big fan of citrusy heat.
Sorry, caught myself going off on a tangent there. Anyway, hope your luck turns around, maybe the weather will help. What "market" are you talking about?

P.S.- Maybe the secret's in the laundry baskets! Haha!


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RE: Running out of time?

Just got back from a short survey after T-storm last night - some broken branches but low and just a couple plants next to each other, I really think it's a rabbit or rodent of some kind b/c they were low branches. Tied up some more tomato plants (going crazy with foliage, maybe it IS too much N!) and picked some green beans.

Still no ripe tomatoes but I've got pods (green ones)! Good-sized Hinkelhatz on more than 1 plant, some saved seed I hope are Hot Portugals (may be cross so who knows), and definitely some of those mini-sweets though the biggest one is looking almost bhut-ish so it will be interesting to taste. Flower buds now on Aji Limon and flowers ready to open on Alma Paprika.

But last night's low was 56. Will be warming up this week so we should stay in the 60's overnight and 80's during the day so I hope everything (not just peppers, my cukes and melons are behind too) starts producing. I just seeded some more summer squash in the tunnel b/c the SVB is getting my zukes and I've only been picking them for a week. Funds are low (unscheduled brake repairs on truck this weekend) but I've got to get some plastic - even if it's cheap construction grade and not greenhouse grade stuff, just needs to last a couple of months this year.

Mike - I was planning on selling at the East Granby market where I was last year. Maybe next week? Don't have enough to bring right now and it's $20/week plus gas money. I hope I can at least hit the last 6 weeks of market from mid-Aug to Oct 1, if the tomatoes ever start ripening.


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RE: Running out of time?

Again, best of luck to you! I really hope things turn around for you, and hopefully you can turn a profit! If I wasn't so darn busy lately, I'd definitely come check you out at the market. I've been working the night shift lately (Mon-Fri) so my Saturdays are pretty much shot (trying to sleep). That, and I'm right in the middle of selling my house and just moved to Cheshire. All that, (my wife's unexpected car problems too!) and 3 little kids at home, it's really tough to find ANY free time! If I can find some free time, I'd love to make the trip up there! Sounds like fun, all of this is still so very new to me. Great new hobby.


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RE: Running out of time?

Hey Mike, Cheshire is a ways away but if you're ever up near the airport give me a shout (check my Facebook page Briarwoods Farm for the number, I don't always have time to check email esp. on Wednedays which are market days).

Sheila

PS I can't give farm tours (insurance, no PYO either) and parking is a PITA so I'm going to be at someone else's farm giving a canning demo on Sept 6 - Open Farm Day in Granby. That may be something you want to bring the kids to - lots of stuff to do that day (Sat). I'll be posting info on my page a few weeks ahead of time - still trying to get Facebook and maybe a website set up.


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RE: Running out of time?

Ugh, I went to a farmers market in Granby last night (East Granby is tonight) just to check it out, bought 1 tomato. The guy had some HUGE bell peppers - when I asked how he got them so big so early he said they were a friend's (and this was supposed to be a producer-only market). I'm wondering if they were from a greenhouse - either that or it's a lot warmer in Windsor (if his friend is from the same town).

But the small garden at the Y where the market is held also had pepper plants bigger than mine with good-sized pods on them (looked like some kind of Italian frying pepper). It is warmer in the middle of town than here in the hills, they couldn't remember when they planted out (said it was during final exams at the high school so thought May but DS was taking them early-mid June, that's the same time I planted out). I'm wondering if they put out some really big transplants, maybe that were already 3-4 months old?

I'm feeling inadequate - and yes, I have pepper envy! I don't mind it when Josh or Kevin or Jay post their pix, I know they've got a better climate and a longer season but boy seeing another garden in town with stuff earlier than mine really rubs it in!

(Mike - I know you're in a warmer area too, no hard feelings - are those peppers in Cheshire at the new house?)


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RE: Running out of time?

Yes, new house. From Hamden to Cheshire. Just move in Sunday the 20th(?). You can probably tell by the back porch. I've been watering every single morning since my original post, and using MG AP (1 1/2 tsp/gallon) weekly. Totally different sun schedule here, too. Last house, plants were in the backyard (west) getting full sun from around 11:30am to sunset (8:30pm-ish). Hot, unfiltered (no trees or shade cover), blistering sun. Probably the reason for the blossom drop. Containers dried out too quick, and were underwatered. This house, plants on back deck (east side of house, lots of tall trees), getting "filtered" sun (trees) from sunrise to approx. 9-10am, then full sun til 3:30/4pm when the sun goes over the house. Could have been a combination of a lot of things, but whatever it is, it's working! Now if I could just get these things to ripen!!! My first 2 pods (habanero and Scotch Bonnet) that I mentioned in the first post, are still the same EXACT size (slightly larger than a golf ball) and color (Hab-light green/SB-dark green). It's been 3 weeks, and no changes at all. Any idea how long it'll take? (I know there's no way of telling, but COME ON!!!! UGHH!) no patience


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RE: Running out of time?

Yes, new house. From Hamden to Cheshire. Just move in Sunday the 20th(?). You can probably tell by the back porch. I've been watering every single morning since my original post, and using MG AP (1 1/2 tsp/gallon) weekly. Totally different sun schedule here, too. Last house, plants were in the backyard (west) getting full sun from around 11:30am to sunset (8:30pm-ish). Hot, unfiltered (no trees or shade cover), blistering sun. Probably the reason for the blossom drop. Containers dried out too quick, and were underwatered. This house, plants on back deck (east side of house, lots of tall trees), getting "filtered" sun (trees) from sunrise to approx. 9-10am, then full sun til 3:30/4pm when the sun goes over the house. Could have been a combination of a lot of things, but whatever it is, it's working! Now if I could just get these things to ripen!!! My first 2 pods (habanero and Scotch Bonnet) that I mentioned in the first post, are still the same EXACT size (slightly larger than a golf ball) and color (Hab-light green/SB-dark green). It's been 3 weeks, and no changes at all. Any idea how long it'll take? (I know there's no way of telling, but COME ON!!!! UGHH!) no patience


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