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!

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!!!

So, what are you growing this year??

Here’s the list of peppers I’ll be growing this season. These are all seeds I’ve either saved or swapped for….

My seeds are just about ready to be started.  In the past, I’ve always started seeds on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14).  This year, I decided to hold off a couple of weeks though, because I’ve had troubles in the past with spindly seedlings that end up just flopping over on their side because I can’t get them enough light.

Here’s the list of peppers I’ll be growing this season.  These are all seeds I’ve either saved or swapped for….

From Hungary in and a seed swap with Zoltan Aladics:

  • Bogyiszloi
  • Bocskor
  • PCR

From a seed swap with “The Chile Woman” from Indiana:

  • Aji Chombo (from Panama)
  • Demre (from Turkmenistan)

Seeds I saved from last season’s pepper patch:

  • Red rocoto
  • Yellow rocoto
  • Bhut Jolokia
  • Naga Morich

I’ll detail each of these varieties a little more thoroughly in the weeks to come, but for now, that’s how things stand in the pepper patch.  I’m always on the lookout for interesting varieties in my local garden shops, and my friends at the Schedel Arboretum and Gardens usually drop a variety or two in my direction… so there may be additions to this list.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

So, what are YOU planning on growing in your pepper patch this season?!  Leave a comment!