Slow going… what to do??

Well it’s 1 1/2 weeks since sowing my seeds and there are only a couple that are showing signs of an emerging radicle. So what do you do in the mean time while you wait for the season to arrive? If you’re like me, you like to read as much as you can about peppers!!

Here’s a list of some of the books in my pepper-patch library:

What about links? What are some of your favorite pepper-related websites? I visit sites like Cross Country Nurseries year-round just to reference the wonderful database of images and information that they’ve compiled over the years. What other hidden-gem websites are out there? Let me know in the comments section below!

Starting Seeds for 2011!!

Well, it’s a couple weeks later than I usually start (Valentine’s Day has always been my tradition), but today I started some seeds for the 2011 pepper patch!

There’s a bit of a story here about some of the seeds… you see, I put a bunch of bhut jolokia and aji chombo pods in a shopping bag to deliver to some people at work and forgot about them… all last fall and all winter. I found them today, moldy and mushy in the bag in the garage. They STUNK! But I figured it would be a worth-while experiment to try and see if I could actually get the seeds from a few of these putrid-pungent-pods to germinate.

I selected two bhut jolokia pods and two chombos and harvested some seeds from them. After cleaning them off a little bit, they looked none-the-worse-for-wear. So who knows? Maybe they’ll be just fine.

I also started seeds that had been saved from last year in a more traditional way, including several Indian and Pakistani varieties.

I’ll update this blog as things progress! Have you started your seeds yet?

Fungus & Bacteria & Yuck!

Well, unfortunately, some of the peppers I did NOT start myself have some type of pathogen in them which is starting to transfer to other pepper plants that are close to them.

The leaves on the store-bought jalapenos started to display spots, yellow, and curl up about a week ago.

I consulted my favorite expert, David Halsey, at the Schedel Arboretum and Gardens, and have taken his advice to clear the patch of affect leaves and then apply some copper fungicide. It’s a relatively mild, and natural fungicide that might be all it takes to knock it out. If I don’t see improvement in a week or two, I may resort to more traditional chemical solutions.

The garden looks great, on the whole. Tomatoes are giant, we’ve already eaten half-a-dozen eggplants, the onions look great, the carrot tops are getting bigger and bigger (my first time ever growing carrots). Here’s a look at some photos from yesterday.

Most of my peppers are in the (expanded) garden!

Pepper Patch of the Past
Pepper Patch of the Past

It’s a great feeling to have a majority of my pepper plants in the ground! Yesterday I planted 19 pepper plants! I have another dozen coming mail-order from the great people at Cross Country Nurseries later this week, and maybe a few more from my good friends at the Schedel Arboretum and Gardens here in the town where I live. In the past, I wouldn’t have had room for all these peppers, let alone even more plants in the garden… what you see to the left is a photo of the garden as it’s been in the past. I’m not sure of the square footage, but it was probably around 8′ x 12′.

After day-one of tilling
After day-one of tilling

So… About a month ago, I purchased a new Mantis tiller with the intention of maintaining the pepper patch a little easier by using it as a cultivator, and also putting it through the paces by converting some of the surrounding lawn to garden space. Mantis assured me it would be easy… and to their credit, it WAS!! I now have a lovely 12′ x 18′ garden, an increase of about 100 sq. ft. The Mantis really made quick work of turning lawn into garden with very little effort in virtually no time! I probably only spent 2 hours total with the tiller running to get that grass whipped into a lovely bed of dark, rich soil. This little sucker can RUN! And the way they have designed the tines, I only had to stop a time or two to clear out clogged clumps of soil.

I prepped the new portions of the garden with compost from my compost bin, layering it on about an inch thick and then just hand “tilling” it in when I put the plants in the ground. I made sure to push a good amount of compost into each hole before putting the plant in. Hopefully this will give them a good start and help them out in the first year soil.

What did I get planted?

  • 2 Chombo
  • 4 Red rocoto
  • 2 Demre
  • 4 Yellow rocoto
  • 1 Bocskor
  • 1 Bogyiszloi
  • 2 PCR
  • 1 Kathari
  • 1 CHOT
  • 1 Dundicut

I’m really excited about many of these varieties because they’re not widely available (if available at all) from seed/plant companies in North America. Several of the varieties are from India directly, others from Hungary, and finally, the Chombo pepper is probably my biggest excitement for this season, it’s “THE” hot pepper of Panama, where I was born! I’ve never seen them for sale before, and have only seen pictures on a Canal Zone website… but a lady in Indianapolis swapped me some seeds and I’m so excited to grow them!

So, that’s the update for now…. keep an eye on this space as the season grows along!

My “famous” bhut jolokia videos

Well, the reason most people stumble upon this site is because of a couple of YouTube videos I’ve done in the past few years. I just checked into it and was BLOWN AWAY by the fact that the two videos below have been viewed over 300,000 times! Staggering!!

Well, the reason most people stumble upon this site is because of a couple of YouTube videos I’ve done in the past few years. I just checked into it and was BLOWN AWAY by the fact that the two videos below have been viewed over 300,000 times! Staggering!!

This first one was maybe the second or third bhut jolokia video on the Internet as best as I can tell, now there’s hundreds, if not thousands! Just call me a trendsetter! 😉

The second video came a year later (2008), and was a response to many of the criticisms I received from the first video. It’s now gotten over 100,000 views!

These videos aren’t only fun to watch, but they’ve really opened up the door for several meaningful contacts from people regarding swapping seeds, looking for information, neighbors, and people from around the world. I even got a call from the TV show, America’s Got Talent wanting me to come to Chicago and eat a bhut jolokia as my “talent” for a private audition and virtually guaranteed me I’d get sent to L.A. (Yeah… seriously… they wouldn’t stop calling!) I still get 5-10 emails a day from people asking about the peppers, how they can grow them, and if I still have some to share. (I DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT NOW!!!)

I just had to give a little tip of the hat to those videos…