Friday, March 25, 2016

Plenty o' Peppers


This is my third year growing peppers and, not surprisingly, my collection of varieties keeps expanding - from 2 (2014) to 10 (2015) to 16 this year.  Of course, I only have a limited amount of space for peppers in the garden – this year I’ll be squeezing them all into one 8'x4' bed – so I’ll be growing only 1 or 2 plants for most varieties.

Pepper Seedlings - 5 weeks old
Last year, most of the varieties I grew were hot peppers:  Hungarian Hot Wax, Italian Pepperoncino, Ostra-Cyklon, Padron, Anaheim, Tam Jalapeno & Corne de Chevre.  I’ll be growing all of the same varieties this year and adding a new one – Lemon Drop (aka Aji Limon).  This variety is listed as taking 95 days from transplanting to maturity (presumably the green stage) which will make it the longest maturing variety in my collection.   It will be interesting to see how many peppers I actually end up getting.

The majority of new additions this year are sweet varieties:  Chervena Chushka, Feher Ozon, Carmen and Odessa Market.  In addition, I’ll be giving a bell pepper variety, Orange Blaze, a try.  The seeds were sent to me in error when I ordered some Orange Blossom tomato seeds last year.  Bell peppers are not usually the best producers (my one experience with them a couple of years ago was pretty bad), but I just didn’t feel right tossing the seeds aside without giving them a try first.  I'll also be doing repeats of all the sweet varieties from last year (Jimmy Nardello, Stocky Red Roaster & Melrose).

2016 Pepper Varieties
I started the seeds back on February 17 and, for once, everything went rather smoothly.  I’ve have a few rough starts with peppers seeds in the past but I think I’ve finally nailed a method that works well for me which involves pre-germinating the seeds & then sowing all of them (including any extras).

Last year, I had a couple of seeds that germinated, but then failed to come up once sown.  By the time I realized there was an issue, I had already gotten rid of the “extra” seeds.  This time round, when I sowed the final seed for each variety, I also sowed all of the remaining seeds in the same pot, which gave me that extra bit of insurance in case any of the pre-germinated ones failed to come up.

I have the exact number of each variety that I need, so no juggling things around this year, which is a first!  I decided to keep the seedlings on the heat mat at this early stage.  The one issue with this is that they tend to dry out a lot faster - I inadvertently let them get too dry a couple of times, but they have since recovered & I've been more mindful of their thirstier ways.

I usually like to pot up the peppers once they have their 2nd set of true leaves, which has been around early to mid April for the past couple of years.  This time round, some of them are ahead of schedule (perhaps due to their toasty home?):

Several seedlings that are ready to move into larger quarters
These guys will be potted up in the next couple of days and then no more coddling.  They will be left in the relative cool of the basement (not on the heat mat) until they go outside in another couple of months.

And while my seedlings were nice and warm inside, outside an ice storm slowly tracked through Southern Ontario.











Beautiful? Yes.  But the 8 hour power outage we had was not appreciated!

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

34 comments:

  1. Hi Margaret-sorry you got an ice storm. I agree-they make things very beautiful, but it's tough on the trees and power lines. We got 6-8 inches of snow-but the temps will be warm enough in the next couple days so that should be the end of that.
    That's a huge variety of peppers---you must really like them a lot. I'm the only one around here that eats them. A half dozen plants is enough...but I do love that you try so many different kinds.
    Happy Easter

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    1. Thankfully, this was nowhere near as severe as the ice storm 2 years ago & there has been only minimal tree damage. And we will also be up by Sunday to around 15C/59F - I'll be breaking out the shorts & doing lots of outdoor puttering (after the Easter egg hunt, that is)! And we do love peppers - everyone except my daughter but we are working on her :)

      I hope you enjoy the warm-up & have a wonderful Easter!

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  2. Oh, you had the ice storm, too. We did, too. Not fun. It was really pretty earlier today, but I was worried about all my spring-blooming bulbs. I guess that's the yo-yo weather of March in the north, right? Your photos of the ice are great! Your pepper plants look so healthy!

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    1. Thanks Beth! Yo-yo is right - we are getting temps up to 15C/59F tomorrow! The few spring bulbs I have planted were only a few inches tall & I'm hoping I haven't lost the blooms this year. Fingers crossed that yours pull through ok!

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  3. Glad you made it through the storm okay. We had a similar outage in our area. Gave me time to get through all of my paperwork so now I'm ready for income taxes!

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    1. That's one of the benefits of a power outage - you are more or less unplugged and it can be so restful - not that tax prep is necessarily a walk in the park! I didn't see a lot of damage from the storm this time around; hopefully you didn't sustain much on your end.

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  4. Oh, dear! 8 hours without power must have been hard! I hope your peppers continue to do well for you! Have a nice Easter! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy - I took full advantage of the technological down time to relax, sit in front of the fire and knit. I would never think to do that in the middle of the day normally, but you know, I really should!

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  5. Hi there, just come across from Jo's blog ...
    I love peppers, such great tasting food ... lovely to use in recipes.

    We have strong winds on the way in the UK - perhaps not quite so bad as an ice storm!

    Hope you enjoy your weekend.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hi Jan - I'm glad you popped over! Peppers are a favourite around here too and when you grow your own, there is certainly no lack of varieties to try!

      Out of all the "normal" weather phenomenon, I would say that I get the most worried about high winds - they can do such damage! Fingers crossed that they don't wreak too much havoc on your end. I hope you have a great weekend too!

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  6. We grow all our peppers in the greenhouse - maybe we should try some outdoors.

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    1. I'm sure they appreciate the toasty environment!

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  7. Wow, your seedlings are huge already! I haven't sown a single pepper seed yet, but I'll be starting this coming week. This year I'm going to do a lot more pre-germinating. I tried it with a few varieties last year after seeing your success with it. I'm like you, lots more sweet peppers than hot ones.

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    1. It's only been a few years, but I'm finally beginning to understand the differences in our seasons :) You may not have sown any pepper yet, but you'll also be harvesting peppers from gigantic plants while the snow flies here!

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  8. Goodness, eight hours without power, your photos are beautiful though, the ice does make things look very pretty. I think peppers are like tomatoes, you can really go made choosing and growing lots of different varieties, there's so many out there. I've only grown them a couple of times myself, and then only for their ornamental value as we're not lovers of chillis.

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    1. The solanaceaes are such an incredible family, aren't they? And chillis are so pretty - it's one of the few veg that is at home both in the edible and ornamental section of the garden centre.

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  9. Those pepper plants are looking good! I have transplanted mine but they are nowhere near as big as yours. I have the same problem with things drying out on the heating mat, and I mostly get them off it as soon as I can. But then I have a greenhouse to grow the plants on, so that helps get them to size up. I'm trying Lemon Drop here too, but I will likely keep it in a container. I have a long enough season to get the baccatum peppers to ripen, but not enough garden space to grow all I want to grow!

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    1. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to at least get a few chillis from the Lemon Drop. I suppose a lot of that depends on our summer weather. Hopefully we have a repeat of last year and I'll be able to fully take advantage of it this time round. It will be fun to see how our Lemon Drop peppers compare!

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  10. Sounds like you are now hooked on growing peppers / chillis! It's a very addictive pastime, I can tell you. The Lemon Drop / Aji Limon chillis are amongst the last to ripen in my garden, but very worthwhile. Their taste is amazing - very citrussy.

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    1. It was not only it's good looks but your description of Aji Limon's flavour that had me placing it at the top of the list this year. So many times an herb or veg is named in an enticing way (suggestive of a given flavour) but then I'm disappointed when it doesn't taste at all as it "should".

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  11. The last time I grew peppers I mixed them in with flowers, thinking they would be beautiful as well as ornamental. But the flowers shaded them and the peppers ended up being small and red instead of large and purple. The company said several types of seeds ended up in the wrong packages. It was a fun surprise but I just buy them at the farmer's market now. But I so wish I could shop your blog and eat what you grow!

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    1. Oh, thanks Tammy :) How disappointing that you didn't end up getting what you thought you would - seed mix ups are not that uncommon. The same thing happened to me with some kale a couple of years ago. Maybe you'll give peppers another go at some point. Chillies are so rewarding - even one plant can give you a mound of little chillies that you can then plonk into the freezer to use whenever you need that bit of spice in a dish.

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  12. Those seedlings are looking very good! I always have started my tomato/pepper seedlings on a heat mat (in peat pellets) but I have one new step this year. They stay on the heat mat all night then I have been moving them under the fluorescent light for 17 or so hours (as opposed to just staying on the heat mat with only natural lighting the entire time). Seems to have worked well as most have already reached the stage for transplanting.

    I wish us both luck with the sweet peppers this year!!

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    1. It sounds like you are doing great with your pepper plants! Isn't it wonderful when you "tweak" a method and it works out so well. I was going to transplant mine into larger containers yesterday, but then realized that I didn't have any potting soil, so I'm off today to get some. I'm hoping to get them settled into their new bigger homes by tonight. Looks like this is shaping up to be a great pepper year for us!...and now I'm hoping this doesn't jinx things :)

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  13. Heard about your ice storm, pretty bad according to my sister in Ontario. How do you manage to keep track of all those peppers? You must be a very methodical and organized person.

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    1. It wasn't good, but nowhere near as bad as the one a couple of years ago. Yes, keeping track when you have so many different varieties can be tricky. What I've learned is that you have to slow down and take your time, taking care of one seedling at a time - when you rush, that's when the labels get mixed up or forgotten altogether & then you are wondering what you planted until you get your first harvest (or even afterwards, sometimes!)

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  14. Again such a super informative post! I love eating and cooking with peppers- I grew some last year and they were great! Maybe as I get more experienced and confident and organized I'll start raising plants form seed.we have family in Southern Ontario and I heard about the icky weather. Your winter is late to the party but I see you could get another cold blast :( yuck!!

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    1. Oh, thank you Chris! And yuck is right! It seems I'm outside for a day, trying to get caught up on cleaning the ornamental beds and then I'm stuck inside for 3 or 4 days afterwards as the temps dip and we get rain/snow. Where's the consistency?

      Growing from seed is rewarding, but can also be a challenge. I didn't do anything from seed in the first couple of years except for veg that you seed directly outside like beans & peas. Gardening is so much more enjoyable when you take small(ish) steps rather than giant leaps which can so easily lead to frustration.

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  15. Your peppers are looking good. I'm a little behind and just put the pepper seeds into baggies to pre-sprout. I think I learned that technique from you. I decided to try Lemon Drop again but like Mark and Dave, will grow it in a pot to bring inside when it gets cold. They take a long time to fruit and ripen, just about the time of first frost here.

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    1. Thanks Dave! I would love to try some peppers in pots, but I am so notoriously bad at keeping containers watered. I do have a couple of extra pepper seedlings - maybe I'll plonk one of those in a container and see how it goes. I have gotten much better with indoor plants over the past year, so maybe that will rub off on outdoor potted plants too :)

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  16. You go girl, nice to see someone who starts from seed. You're one of a few who start up plants like my husband and I do.

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    1. Thanks Patsi! Nothing beats starting from seed, both in terms of knowing exactly HOW the plants were grown but also when it comes to the incredible selection of varieties.

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  17. I enjoy knowing someone else grows from seeds indoors. It's so rare. Sure is a nice way to get through the end of the winter blues.

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    1. You said it - nothing says spring is near quite like a tray full of babies (seedlings that is!) under the grow lights.

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