I'm new to growing, quite frankly, anything other than pumpkins (the irony is that this year my pumpkins are barely surviving). This summer, though, I decided to expand into a full-fledged outdoor garden with lettuce, carrots, onions, etc.
Before this summer I usually avoided garden centers with a passion, but decided not to be totally stubborn about growing more than pumpkins and to seek advice. As it happens, in my travels, I came upon young plants of both Cayenne & Habanero Red being sold. I bought up a few, took them home, and realizing that our summers don't last long I decided to grow them inside.
Somehow this act of buying the first of these, coupled with me subtlety - yet, ever-growing - love of spicy foods, sparked me on a pursuit to delve into learning all about them. As a result, I found myself buying hot pepper seeds where I could find them (very few - they aren't common in our area), researching online about growing and looking up suppliers, growers and the like.
Having seen videos of people eating Ghost peppers I decided the next logical step would be to start researching to see what the hottest of peppers out there are and if it would even be possible to order seeds to grow them myself. This resulted in me stumbling upon Pepper Joes back in June. I order a pack of Carolina Reapers from his website and (due to far too many years of being online and earning a healthy paranoia) wondered if I would actually get what I had ordered. And I did. Even got far more than I had expected. I received my Reaper seeds and two free packs in one envelope, but was surprised to find a second containing seeds for Bhut Jolokia, Naga Morich and Trinidad Scorpion. I'm not trying to promote here - just part of my short history leading to where I am now.
Zealous and VERY naive, I planted most of the seeds I got in a mix of 3-in-1 soil and compost from our yard (a result of wood shavings and pigeon droppings). That was the first mistake, as I discovered.. This was followed by numerous more that resulted in a failure of my own doing and a loss of all my seeds, that included:
- Not considering the potential difference in PH levels in our area compared to, say, the southern U.S., and adding sulphur to the soil.
- Using a spray bottle to spray down the soil & leaves, thinking that would be enough to do the plants
- Losing several Bhut Jolokia plants to experimenting with adding sand to the soil (painfully making the mistake of using traction sand!)
- Not realizing to that plants reach -plant feed-
Following this, my starter plants of Habanero & Cayenne somehow survived and so did the tomato plants I had planted from seed and ONE Carolina Reaper. And not wanting to give up (and not wanting to lay waste to my few remaining seeds), I started to really hardcore research & study up on how not just to grow hot peppers, but -plants- in general. I started spending hours reading online, and talking to workers at stores and garden centers for advice.
As luck would have it - maybe it was a sign - a local SuperStore grocery store started bringing in packages of Bhut Jolokia (imported from Europe), so I FINALLY got to try the Ghost pepper! (it was only last year in the summer that I got to try my first Habanero)
Thinking it was a freak occurrence since I only saw one pack, and nothing more in the next couple of weeks, I decided to harvest the seeds from the few peppers that came in it and to give it a shot at growing some plants from them. Sadly, many of these were the ones I lost to my traction sand experiment. *cringes*
Fast forwarding some time:
- I finally learned what type of lighting I need to use and started investing in fluorescent grow lights.
- I began watering my plants regularly
- I picked up a 2-in-1 temperature & humidity reader
- I began investing in and using 20-20-20 plant feed (PlantProd), tomato feed (5-7-7) and bonemeal
- I began using a mini spacial heater to regulate the heat in my small "plant room" (aka my mini greenhouse) in my house to around 28-32C
Fast forward some more to where I am now with an update on my Facebook page (with a few photos):
P.s. My name is Mark. My career for over a decade has been working in IT as a web developer & graphic designer. Photography and writing have always been a couple life-long passions and at this point - due to some major changes in my life in the past year - my goal and pursuit is to turn this passion for peppers into an actual commercial greenhouse operation here in Nova Scotia!
To that end, if you've read this far, I'd love some advice on how I'm doing (see the FB link) and if anyone has any experience (here in Canada) with getting funding & applying for permits & the like for this sort of business - I'd love to get some information.
I still have -tons- more to learn and I have no trouble admitting that.