are peppers robust enough to sustain a bit of root damage on transplanting?
Yes, pepper seedlings are quite resilient. I first try to gently untangle the roots, and that usually works for me. But if they are just too entangled to separate, I will use scissors to cut them apart. As long as each seedling gets its fair share of the root ball, they are almost always fine. So I wouldn't bother with cardboard dividers in the cups.
Haha, nope. Black Fatalii (PL) was the first pepper variety to sprout in my first grow. So it was my very first pepper plant, although the pods actually ripened to a mustard color and not black. It tasted alright, but to me the flavor was not as outstanding as the 4 that I listed.
Mild peppers and hot peppers are like apples and oranges to me. So I will name one mild, medium, hot, and superhot: Brazilian Starfish, Yellow Monkey Face, West Indies Red, Yellow Brain Strain. Main reason is that they are all great tasting peppers IMO. The last 3 can also put out pretty nice sized pods.
I can't imagine it'll be all too long before we're lamenting the loss of classic & landrace strains, which we're trading for unstable levels of generic diversity...
I get what you are saying, but I really think everything will be OK. New, unstable crosses are being treated as their own thing, different from their parent varieties. The original varieties haven't been going away just because a lot of new crosses are being created. The original red Bhut has been used in many crosses: JPGS, Pink Tiger, Black Bhut, Yaki Blue, Chocolate Bhutlah, and the list goes on. And yet, pure red Bhut seeds are still readily available, because the crosses made with it are seen as their own unique varieties, separate and distinct both from their parents and from each other. The original red Cayenne can be found everywhere, despite Bonnie distributing their Dragon Cayenne variant far and wide, because they are two different varieties.
Don't get me wrong, I can understand why you are concerned about losing the original varieties. But when I look around, I just don't see that happening. It seems to me that new crosses are only adding to our possible grow options, and have not been bumping existing varieties off of the list.
Here are some of the seed vendors that I trust, listed in no particular order. If you check the customer feedback in the Vendor Vault, you will find more good vendors. Doing that should also help answer your question about Pepper Joe.
That has not been my experience. I grow both outdoors in pots and indoors under lights hydroponically. My indoor grown pods seem pretty much the same to me as the ones grown outdoors. They are certainly not small or misshapen. I think that as long as you are providing the plant with everything it needs, good lighting (this is very important indoors of course) and enough nutes, the pods should develop normally. Pictures of the pods would help, but if your pods look strange I would say there is a fair chance that the seeds could have been crossed. Also, sometimes the very first pods that a plant throws will look a bit off, but then later pods are fine. I don't know why that is, but I have had that happen with both outdoor and indoor plants, so growing indoors is not the cause.