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.

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…

I started my pepper seeds tonight!

Well, I normally start them on Valentine’s Day. Not sure why I waited a couple more weeks this year, but I did. I’m excited though! I started seeds from 9 different varieties of peppers this evening, while I wait on two more varieties to show up in the mail this week.

I started two-per-cell from seeds that I saved myself and had an abundance of, while I only put one seed per cell of those that I traded for. The left-over seeds will be delivered to the Schedel Arboretum and Gardens tomorrow for them to start in their greenhouses and grow out in their gardens!

The varieties I started tonight are:

    Naga Morich – (saved from my garden)
    Bhut Jolokia – (saved from my garden)
    Red Rocoto – (saved from my garden)
    Yellow Rocoto – (saved from my garden)
    Demre – traded with The Chile Woman
    Chombo – variety from Panama – traded with The Chile Woman
    Bocskor – from Hungary – traded with Zoltan Aladics
    Bogyiszloi – from Hungary – Traded with Zoltan Aladics
    PCR – from Hungary – Traded with Zoltan Aladics

I used the Burpee Ultimate Growing System again this year because it was really successful last year. The growing medium is made from ground coconut shells and seems to be just what the plants need.

I also placed an order for the Burpee Table Top Grow Light. Last year, the only issue I had with starting my own seeds was that they got long and spindly due to lack of light. Even starting them in a south-facing window doesn’t get the seedlings the double-digit hours of light they need to develop a strong and sturdy photosynthetic system that will support them when it’s time to set them out into the “real world.” This should remedy that problem. The light system is adjustable so that it can be raised or lowered as the seedlings grow… and I can put it on a timer so that natural sunlight take care of much of the seedlings’ needs.

Oh, and a word of caution… even when just handling a dozen bhut jolokia seeds, exercise EXTREME caution!! I made the mistake of rubbing my eye 3 hours after-the-fact tonight and experienced what was just about the worst pain I’ve felt in my life. Wear latex gloves… wash your hands well… and remember what you’re dealing with!

Update from my Hungarian pepper-pal!

I received a few photos of “my babies” from Zoltan yesterday so I thought I’d share them here. Good to see my pepper seeds germinated so well for them! Looks like they’re going to have a healthy crop of seedlings!

Speaking of seedlings… I’ll be starting my seeds THIS weekend! WOOOO!!!