So I've been pretty quiet over this last year compared to past years. Much of my personal life took a negative turn last year in April when, within the space of two weeks, my longest relationship came to a crashing halt and then my closest friend passed away.
Last summer I also launched the website for my business, but to date not a single has been placed through my website.. I attempted to promote it a bit on here and also through posts and ads on Facebook and posts on Twitter.. Looking at the database there has been the rare person here and there that has tried adding products to the cart, but that's about it.. I think the hard lesson here is that I first need to build some local trust and reputation in order to start gaining enough confidence in people that they'll be willing to order online.
That aside, this season I decided I wanted to change direction a bit. In past years I've aimed to grow a wide range of varieties - hoping that having seed and sample variety would help gain attention - but after last season I realized I need to narrow down and focus on aiming for bulk so that I can actually have enough fresh product to sell locally. From trying out the local farmer's market, having a nice range of seeds to sell and samples to show off gains a bit of attention, but what people really want is the ability to buy quantities of fresh peppers, and not just seeds. So this season I was hoping to grow around 3-5 super hot varieties and 3-5 sweet/mild varieties.
Initially I was hoping to grow: 7 Pot Primo, Brown Naglah, Chocolate Bhutlah, White Ghost & Wartryx on the "super hot" end, and Bell pepper, Jalapeno on the mild end.
I started planting early - back in November - and I even made an effort to setup my grow spaces better than in the past. I purchased new fluorescent light fixtures, plastic tables instead of stacking up boxes, lined the walls with tinfoil to help with the lighting, etc.. Yet, even though most of my seeds germinated great they would grow to around around 2nd or 3rd set of true leaves and then either die or stall out.. This happened repeatedly, even with proper lighting and watering.. Only thing I can think of is that they needed better circulation because I, sadly, wasn't able to have any fans running.
Because of this:
* Went all/most of my Primo seeds only to end up with zero seedlings (this includes having ordered additional packs)
* Went through a ton of Orange Primo seeds with nothing to show
* I spent over $50 on 5 packs of Chocolate Bhutlah seeds ($13 of that was shipping - PuckerButt has some insane shipping costs for sending to Canada) and I've ended up with only -3- seedlings
* I planted a bunch Chocolate Primo Reaper seeds to end up with zero seedlings
* I ended up with zero Wartryx seedlings
* I planted a ton of White Ghost pepper seedlings only for them all too fail
* I planted a ton of Brown Naglah and though I have maybe 30-40 seedlings they are all struggling to survive
* I encountered the same with the Bell and Jalapeno seedlings to the point where I had to buy seedlings for these from local garden centers
(again: germination wasn't the issue, so I'm most definitely not faulting any seed providers)
After all this, the seedlings that have survived were ones that were planted well after January, so who knows if they'll have enough time in the season to produce.
I also had a full tray of around 36 Naga Jolokia seedlings that sprouted just last week, but I forgot to take the lid off the tray when I put it out in the greenhouse and they ended up roasting.. The same happened with another tray that was half Cayenne, half Sweet Banana.. So now I have 3 more full trays of seeds I'm trying to germinate: Naga Jolokia, Brown Naglah and White Ghost... But even if they take? Starting -this- late I feel like they probably won't stand a chance at producing.
There is one positive out of all of this - I finally started getting tables setup in my greenhouse! In the past my plants have always been on the ground, but instead of attempting to expand the greenhouse again this year I put focus on new soil and setting up tables. This way I have room for more plants and they'll be off the ground - helping to limit the chance of snails/slugs/etc and of grass/weeds growing up into the pots or around the plants. Should hopefully make a definite difference.
I've also decided to try my hand at more than just the peppers. Last season I tried growing some catnip and this season I'm trying the same - only I'm hoping to ramp up to at least 10-15 plants this time around. My cats (and others that have tried it) absolutely LOVE homegrown catnip so I figure if I grow this in a bit more bulk I can sell some fresh nip on the side locally - there's definitely a market for it. I'm also working on growing beans, peas, beets (for a friend) and corn.
I still have a ton of clean up to do of the plants/pots from last year, but I've been making some great progress setting up the new tables and getting seedlings transplanted. Below is a photo taken a few days ago and a video clip taken over a week ago showing some of my progress.. Since then I've transplanted quite a few more seedlings with plenty more to go.