(image of a Jalapeno pepper plant)
Why am I growing peppers?
I just wanted to grow something edible.
Through some online research, I figured peppers are pretty cool; they are pretty easy to grow, they self-polinate, requires little space, are productive, and takes about 3 or 4 months from seedling to fruit. I also live in great pepper-growing climate. So why not!
I enjoy spicy food, and so I also plan on making some hot sauce and pickled peppers.
Peppers are make great ornamental plants around the windowsill! I have a variegated jigsaw pepper plant. And an ornamental black pepper plant that look as good, if not better than flowers.
A lot of hobbyists grow peppers to hit novelty high-scoville scores; however, I'm not really specifically interested in the (generally inedible) superhots (think: award-winning Carolina Reapers, Ghost Pepper, etc.).
Lastly, this project serves as a symbol of continuous but slow growth. It was immensely motivating seeing my seeds grow up to become fruit-bearing plants.
Through growing peppers, I also learned a lot about growing plants in general.
Trials and tribulations of a bedroom farmer
- Growing in season. Even though I live in excellent pepper-growing climate, I should have aimed for a couple of months later. I think cold 50 degree nights contributed to the stunted growth of some of my peppers.
- Broad mite infestation. A month before fruiting, I discovered some curls on the leaves on my pepper plants as well as some white specks. It took me a long time to diagnose but I bought a Jewelers Loupe (magnifying glass with 60x magnification and light) and discovered legions of broad mites. Broad mites are terrible because they suck the sap out of your leaves and are pretty much invisible to the naked eye. I had to throw my Buena Mulata pepper due to the crippling infestation. For my salvageable plants, I cut off the infested twigs and leaves, sprayed some flying skull nuke-em to kill off most of the living mites. I also bought some predatory mites which really helped decimate the broad mite population. In general, I find predatory mites great countermeasures.
(image shows pepper plant with broad mite infestation.) * Bad soil and over-watering. Some people recommend that you should water mature plants twice a week, but due to the absorbant soil, I should have only watered once a week. I should use a higher-quality looser soil and water less. Over-watering plus the overall lack of indoor air-circulation results in plant edema. * Caring too much. I have consumed tens if not hundreds of hours of pepper content on youtube. There are videos on variables affecting germination rates, videos on different fertilizers, videos on . However, in the end, it really doesn't matter that much; mother nature has a way of making it happen. I got some edema and funal gnats, but as long as the big issues are taken care of, the peppers will burgeon just fine over time.
Varieties and sharing
Some varieties I grew: Jalapeno, Cayenne, Jimmy Nardeloo, Tabasco, Black Pearl, Cayenetta, Santaka, Fish, Jigsaw.
Plus some cherry tomatoes.
Too many of my seeds propogated and I had too little space, so I ended up sharing a lot of my seeds to friends.
(image shows flowering cayenne plant)
(image shows leaves of a jigsaw pepper)
(image shows some sprouted plants I’m giving away)
(image of sprouted pepper varieties — I ended up giving most of these away)
Future green thumb projects
I grew peppers at a really awkward time. I left the peppers in cold nights in the hallway of my apartment for 3 weeks. I think that stunted the growth. Despite being relatively hands-off, they still require a lot of attention. If I do grow, it will be a few months later and I will time it to be in the spring/summer months.
I think in the future, I will pick some more prolific and edible varieties. I will still choose to grow non-superhots. I think I also prefer larger containers. Perhaps a lemon drop or tangerine ahi. Less tabasco, more jalapeno. Less fish, more cayennetta.
The tomato plant (that I grew from a cherry tomato I got from a salad) also grew immensely quickly. I may want to explore some non-pepper options, perhaps some flowers or some herbs.