Bikes. Making food/beverages. Growing food. Espresso. Metallurgy. Reggae/Bashment. Chai.
Born and raised in NJ. Lived, briefly, elsewhere a couple of times. Got a Master's in SpEd. Work as a manager of a Day Program for Adults w/ Disabilities. P/T at a coffee shop, making veg chili, hott sauce, and various other cafe-type products, most of which aren't chile-related...(I put plenty of chipotle flakes in the refrito, though.)
So, I´d read on the interwebs (not on THP, i don´t think, but on other forums/messageboards) that the seeds in dried pods tend to be destroyed by the drying process, which i fully believed without any skepticism, b/c in those days, I knew very little about chiles, and assumed that everyone else knew EVERYthing about´m. Then, I happened upon this thread by Peter Stanley, who is apparently one of these guys who DOES know almost everything about chiles:
Well, that got me to thinking, which of course led to me experimenting, which in my experience is the quickest way to learn new shit. One of my jobs is at a cafe, where I go through buttloads of these cheap little dry red pods i get at the Pakistani-style market; I cannot tell if they´re Tien Tsins or Japones, I´m guessing the latter but who knows? Tien Tsin is the cooler name, and while I think i could easily tell one from the other if i had one of each, I really have no basis for comparison. The label just says ¨Chilli(sic) Whole¨... So, I been calling them Tien Tsin.... They´re red peppers, dried up and very cheap, and they have very little heat and arguably even less flavour. I use them to make my Chile, Basil & Garlic Bagels (aka CBGBs) and the white women really like them.
Anyway, I had kicked another plastic sack full of these ¨Tien Tsin¨ pods and was about to crack open another, and I noticed that the empty bag had a buttload of seeds that look just as good as the ones i buy from seed vendors. So, I took´m home, wet up a paper towel, bagged´m up in a ziploc, and tossed it on top of the fridge. Result: 90%+ germ rate. I was enthused.
I made some bullshit beef chorizo out of some Guajillos a few weeks back. I´m calling it ¨bullshit¨ b/c i didn´t like use any casing and i didn´t hard-cure it or anything; I just whipped it up quick as a special for the cafe and for me to eat at home with eggs or on homemade pizza, but whatever.... it tasted delicious and i only let it cure for 24 hours. The recipe called for Guajillos, which I love and they´re cheap and easily obtained, so I bought a sack of those at the mercado and had at it. The recipe also suggested de-seeding the pods, which I did and of course i set a few aside and tried to germ them. I got a pretty good germ-rate out of those, too. Probably 80%?
Blurry photo of Guajillo sprouts... note that there are a few duds, but most sprouted
So, the other day, a THP member named arrgh posted bout Pasillas and I brought up Puyas and I realized that I like Puyas and I wanna make beef chorizo out of those, and see if those seeds were viable, too. This time, for the sake of discussion, i figured I´d document it in a post, with some low-quality pictures and such.
My thoughts on this are kinda like, I can buy a pound of dry pods for $4 and get hundreds of seeds for ¨free.¨ And, while I have no way of knowing this, I suspect that these peppers come from commercial farms, where vast fields of a single variety are grown.... I´m thinking that the likelihood of unintended cross-pollination in the midst of a massive Puya plot is pretty small? And, even if i´m wrong, we are talking about free seeds that come in a big, cheap bag of pods.
Big sac of Puyas.... 1 pound, hundreds of seeds.
Basically, Puyas can be described as turbo-Guajillos... same basic idea, but with more heat. At least, that´s how they tend to be regarded on the internet, but as i recall, there´s more to it than that. Guajillos make me think of tobacco, whereas Puyas have a bit of a licorice vibe to them. Other differences include size, color (to an extent, but both are pretty variable. The Puyas tend more to dry brown with some reddishness, whereas the Guajillos dry to more red with some brownishness.)
Guajillo on the left; Puya on the right.
The first thing I noticed while examining the Puyas was, the seeds looked shittier than the Guajillos' did. I´ve worked with a lot of dried pods; of course Chipotle seeds are beyond destroyed, and I´ve found that Anchos, Mulatos, and Pasilla Negras tend to have some pretty roached-lookin´ seeds in them. The Puyas in this particular bag had some seeds that looked a little skanky.
Roachy Puya seeds on the left; viable Guajillo seeds in the blue dish on the right.
So, I dug around the bag a bit to find some more vibrant-looking Puya seeds. I found a bunch, selected 10 of them, and gave´m the paper towel treatment to see how it goes. I figure that, with ten, it´ll be really easy to calculate the germ rate, right?
Ten test-monkeys, ready to germinate..?
So, for the hand full of ppl who might have actually read this far, do you have any experiences, thoughts, or theories to starting seed from dry pods bought at the market? Would you try it? I realize that none of these varieties i´m looking at are ¨rare¨ or ¨special,¨ but they can be hard to come by in fresh form, and you rarely see them offered on seed vendors´ lists.
I´ll be back to report on how these seeds did, in terms of germination.
So, I´m growing some plants at the local Community Garden and I was mortified by something I saw when I was checking my plot earlier today. A lady is growing Kale in a bed right next to mine, and her kale plants were looking pretty grim, with all sorts of zombie symptoms, such as grey discoloration and wilting. We´ve all seen the TV programs, right?
So, upon closer inspection, i noticed these shitty tiger-striped bugs all over her kale. There were probably about a dozen or more within clear view; who knows how many more were lurking among the foliage? Most of the ones in plain sight were joined at the azz, and were clearly banging one another. I immediately panicked, and checked my plants for any sign of a similar infestation. Fortunately, i saw none on my chiles, nor on my wife´s tomatoes...
Now, wanting to be neighborly, i went back to the kale thinking i smash those little scumbags for the other gardener, and for the better good of the Community Garden. My wife said i ought not to; her line of reasoning was that we shouldn´t muss with another grower´s plot, and we might do more harm than good. I suspect she was more concerned that I was going to plaster myself with bug guts before getting back in her car and heading to the gym, but i acquiesced, vowing to do some more research on the critters and the level of threat they represent.
Turns out, the tiger striped bugs are Harlequin Bugs, Murgantia histrionica. These are a kind of stink bug, and they can be pretty brutal. Apparently, they prefer to eff with cruciferous vegetables, which might explain why they were mobbing her kale but leaving our nightshades well enough alone, but my research suggests that they WILL move onto the tomatoes and even the peppers once they´ve exhausted the kale. I´m panicking quite a bit about these things, now.
Example pic below; warning: NSFW.
So, what do y´all think? Should I have crushed the bugs I saw? Would that be a step across some sort of line; is it a violation of gardening manners? Personally, I be grateful if someone squished pests on my plants; further, i be thankful of anyone who worked to keep the entire Community safe from these things. Should i go back and stomp´m tomorrow? Or should I let the other grower deal with them herself, and worry about my plants if/when they migrate to my beds?
I'm trying to encourage some of my plants to start flowering. It's one of those situations where a lot of my plants are setting pods, but some of the others, right next to'm in the bed, are looking healthy and growing nicely, but few or no buds at all. I'm guessing i've gone too hard on nitrogen, but not enough of the "right stuff." A lot of my research points to phosphorous, but i've also seen posts here in THP that suggest that peppers don't like phosphorous as much as other plants do....
I guess i'm seeing some conflicting info, so I'm looking for advice; to see if we can find a consensus view here on THP. (Wishful thinking, maybe?) I'm just running out of time here, and i'd like to see some of the lazier plants pushin' out some pods, as some of the more productive ones are....