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2019 Hay Bale Pepper Patch

I've been a member for a while but never posted a grow log. My usual garden is too boring for that. I use 20-30 pots and overwinter my mama plants in a hillbilly winter shelter. Our ground here isn't good for in soil gardening and I've not been enthused enough to undertake the work and expense to build raised beds.
Now I have my peppers working the way I want and have the need for a much larger grow to supply a project. The main peppers I'll grow will be reaper, douglah and fatalii. For a couple of years I'll do hay bale gardens and heap tons of organic trash into the area. I have monumental amounts of pine straw, oak leaves and bonfire ash every year to dump in the walkways. I think this will do a world of good to make this new garden area mo'betta for eventual in ground growing.
I closed off a 38x38 patch in the NE field that gets full sun. This is the area I chose. The big painted guy is my fertilizer supplier.
The little painted guy is my running buddy and load inspector.


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Thanks y'all. I hope all of us have a great season. I know I'm due for one without tons of BS to deal with.

When the tumor came up on Cody, I decided to wait until late to start plants. Not wanting to be forced into slowing nursery growth like last year and wind up with a mess. We'll see what goes on after his appointment the 29th and Lia's appointment April 10. I expect it may take a couple of weeks to actually get Cody scheduled on their machine to get him cleaned up.

If so, I'll probably start planting out after we get home and be available for frost management. I highly doubt Lia will have anything done on the 10th except positive tumor ID and her regular, quarterly scans. By them, frost will be much less of a concern.

If all this goes as suspected, I'll be able to keep the starts as they are in their small cells and peat pellets and feed them with the Masterblend hydro. If not, I'll have to plant the pepper pellets in sock pots and transplant the squashes and tomatoes to other pots and set them out mid-April.

I have 50 YNBS, 34 Amish Paste tomato starts and will have up to 34 various squash starts ready to go. I'm also starting about 10 backup YNBS and a few of my Douglah, Cardi Scorpion and Reaper. plants

The extended hard freeze in late December wasn't kind to my mama plants in the hillbilly witter shelter. I did keep several lights going in there but I wasn't aggressive enough with the 250W heat lamp. Most of them survived and should be okay but I'm afraid at least two will be toast. I'm not absolutely are what those are until I unload.


Making some progress. The patch is pretty well mulched in. I'll keep pouring it on throughout the season. I have quite a bit piled here and there.


The tomatoes are coming along. I thinned them down to one per cell on Friday and moved them out to the level 1 nursery with the peppers and squash. I'm putting some new pepper seedlings in this chamber.


The peppers didn't do a lot this week. I kept it very hot in there to continue sprouting some planted squash seeds. I know that doesn't make them happy when they're babies. I have canoe leaves too but I'm not concerned, largely because I don't know what causes them. Probably the +85° temps I maintained and turning the fan off. during the really cold times.

The Black Soldier Fly compost is looking pretty good after sitting in tubs, covered by roofing metal for nearly a year. This is when it was "fresh" Awful drek.


After sitting and drying, Quite nice. Not disgusting at all.


Here's everything that sat under the metal since last April. Should help grow some mean pepper this year.


Cody and I went to Auburn. He got the full diagnostic routine Wednesday. Chest and abdominal rads, abdominal ultrasound and a good check of his heart, blood and urine. He's all good. He really is a very strong and healthy "monster truck".

Sadly, I was very mistaken in my assumptions about the capabilities of their state of the art radiosurgery machine. I had a long talk with Dr Almond who's in charge of radiation oncology. I learned the soft tissue sarcoma tentacles and tendrils are undetectable by the on-board real-time CT imaging system so a one shot, high power, stereotactic treatment isn't possible. He said we would have to do a 17 session low dose treatment at what seems to be a very reasonable cost of $6000. The downside is Cody and I will have to live in Auburn for 3½ weeks and only come home weekends.

Happily, Dr Almond told me there's only a 7% chance Cody's tumor will come back at all and it can't come back with a greater level of danger as the original. Good news since the original was a level one with super low mitotic figures. That's fairly well contrary to what the substitute GP vet told me when she gave me her view on the pathology report and removed his stitches. It definitely eases the "red alert" status. Coincidentally, they offered me April 10 to begin his treatment. Same day Lia goes to the Gulf Shores branch of Auburn for her imaging followup and the new tumor analysis. I talked to the chief down there a while back and he's fairly certain he'll be able to ID it, one way or another. Depending on these findings, fixing up Lia will have priority over Cody's treatment. I sure can't commit to weeks in Auburn until we know what's going on with her and what we have to do to fix it.

My wife and I have been talking it over and due to the lower level of recurring cancer risk to Cody, she wants to slow down for now. I agree. We'll look at it again closer to summer when I can better arrange for shutting everything down for that length of time.

Cody the co-pilot not as enthused about this road trip for the purpose taking HIM to the hospital this time.

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Extreme Member
I did. Just heard from the lawyer this morning and they accepted our offer. They were gonna get their butts spanked good in Federal court and they knew it. This is the path of least resistance but it's done.

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Yesterday, I saw the pole beans and bush beans I planted last Monday are coming up.



I also smoked two hunks of pig yesterday. Right at 20 pounds. A while back I decided it's best to do two at the time and freeze the leftovers in quart freezer bags. Nothing like a fresh thawed BBQ sandwich or an extremely loaded baked potato.

One ready to shred, leaving the other one to rest until after dinner. It seems like a good plan to let the temp go down to 175-185° from the 205° when I take them out. It takes a while.


First one. Good stuff!


I hope everyone had a great Easter!
It wasn't such a great gardening week. The beans made some progress.

Bush beans


Pole beans


Awful weather with almost no sun for hardening anything. My nursery plants barely made it out this week. They were out for a long while Wednesday. I worked in my office all morning and went out before noon only to find the huge spray rig working the field. Of course, my plants were on a wagon out by my truck at the property line. The new farmer leased the acreage last year from the farmer I already had fairly well trained after numerous problems in the last decade. The new farmer didn't comply with any of the agreements in place last year. No notifications, moved the buffer from 60' back down to 35' and showed no respect for anything.

I put up visual aids for him this year, literally, to show him which way the wind blows because this was gonna be the year for him to tighten up. As soon as I saw the spraying I checked the windsock and it wasn't good. I went to my plants just as the dood finished the job and ran the rig behind my house. The damage, if any, was done.


I sent the farmer a text right quick which was a waste of time. He never came back with what they sprayed. Nothing by the next day either so it was time to call the man I know in the Dept of Ag whose official title is: Agricultural Consumer Protection Specialist-Pesticide Management Section. We talked it all over and he called the farmer. About a half hour later, the farmer called me to say the buffer would be fully reinstated immediately, he would be notifying me before any spraying ops and he had already put in special precautions after our March 1 conversation following the first spray job of the year. He said the spray job the day before was glyphosate... but with plenty of anti-drift agents. We'll see. So far the only thing looking a bit rough is my squash.
The new farmer didn't comply with any of the agreements in place last year. No notifications, moved the buffer from 60' back down to 35' and showed no respect for anything.

Some farmers have 💀 harder than 💎😬 . It's sad one has to make that call, but I hope your problems with him have been solved for the time being.
Last week Auburn identified Lia's new tumor as a mast cell. Not so good but much better than many of the alternatives. No grade on it since theywere able to ID by cytology rather than biopsy.

Pre-op was today, surgery tomorrow. Not sure if it's a lot more than I was expecting or Auburn is erring on the side of caution. I thought it would certainly be outpatient surgery but she'll be in intensive care for a minimum of 24 hours. :crazy:

Edit: I realized a lot of this holdover is Auburn's aggressive policy on pain management. They don't release patients until they're certain pain can be controlled with oral meds. Nobody heals properly if they're in a lot of pain.

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Lia had her surgery on the 18th. Poor kid is having it rough. The surgeon opened her up from knee to the top of her leg and did a 4" T-cut across the top all the way from her thigh to her lady parts. The good news is he was able to get the tumor with perfect margins and took a lymph node as well. Auburn pathology identified it as a subcutaneous mast cell and those don't even have a grade. The lymph node was free of disease. The bad part is the following Wednesday night the intersection at the T opened very badly due to inadequate stitching so she had to have another surgery the next day and start over. Now, two weeks later, she finally will get stitches removed this afternoon. We can take her off restricted duty and remove her Kong Donut. She is so ready for this to be over.

My imgur account has a malfunction going just now. I can't link out with my usual method but maybe this alternative will work for a while.

I got everything planted May 1. It's coming along but fundamentally two months behind. I lost one pepper plant to some critter but this year I have plenty of replacements. I planted the peppers in wide rows with a stagger. That worked well before. All mulched in and still looking kinda puny. I guess they're still focused on growing roots now.



Extreme Member
Poor 'ole Lia doesn't look to happy, but the news is great DW! She'll be out chasing critters in no time.

It's also great to see you with plants in the ground again. That pepper jungle is on the way. Congrats.
Thanks y'all. We got a good rain Thursday night. Plants are much happier. I'm still mulching and beginning to work with the tomatoes. I promise myself yet another year I'll keep up with management and training of these indeterminate plants. Will be good if we get some fruit this year. I think the Ferti-Lome pre-emergent I put down in December is working on the Chamberbitter aka gripe weed. If so, it was worth the $30. That's such a miserable weed.

Lia is better now. She was so ready to be over all this. Seemed like it went on forever to me so it must have felt like an eternity to her.
It's coming along. Some critter has eaten 3 of my pepper plants so far. Unlike last year when I gave away my reserves, I'm fairly deep with healthy replacements this year. I hope the rabbit doesn't destroy too many before they get big enough it doesn't matter. I'd like to have some to give away. It should work. I have nine good ones and more that are smaller.


We'll be picking beans in a few days.


Tomato rows are looking good. I'm keeping up with my stringing and sucker pinching. I really want a bunch of these Amish Paste this year. Need to reload a freezer with marinara.



The 2½ rows of peppers are doing okay. They should be getting it in gear soon. They were still in the jiffy peat pellets when I planted them May 1.


Squash are squash, They're doing well. Most are the North Georgia Candy Roasters. I have a few more zucchini to plant in spots I have open for them but no hurry. I should start more for even later planting.

I had to install the fence/cages way early this year. The varmint was working out hard on my pepper plants. It messed with 8 in total so far this year. I still haven't gotten a picture with the trail camera and haven't been able to trap it so I don't really know what it is. The motion activated sprinkler I added Friday did slow it down a tad but it caused more damage Saturday night so I rigged the fence up Sunday morning. The varmint still got to more plants through the fence Sunday night but not stripping them down to nothing like the first three it got. I decided I'd not replace more and give them a chance if they still had leaves. I'll add new plants inside the cage since I moved the walls out so it's 4' across. Good for jungle.

No more damage since Sunday night but we may have had an intervention. We get up early around here and my wife went outside with the dogs around 4 am Tuesday morning. Something scared the bejeezus out of all of them. One of our huge, neighborhood owls took off from up high in the top of one of the front yard oaks. No varmint damage ever since. I can't find any fur but maybe the owl had a nice rabbit dinner.

We had a nice Memorial Day dinner Monday.

Fresh picked beans with a bit of a twist. As usual, I blanced the beans for a few and then sauteed the Vidalia onions in bacon fat, butter and salt but added some brown sugar this time. That made a very nice difference.

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Second post required. Not sure what's going on with Imgur but I had to make a second post to get the brisket pictures to show. I was getting a Red X error.

I also did an 10.5 pound brisket. I put it in the Kamodo smoker at 6 AM and held the temperature at 220° until 3:30 PM when the flat reached 198 and the point hit 205. I never had to open the lid all day. Very nice autopilot job. I love it when that happens.

Brought it in and wrapped it for resting until both probes went to 170° at 5 PM and sliced. This thing was obscene. I couldn't stab and lift a slice with one fork. It would fall apart.