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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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The varmint is gone. Good owl. No more pepper plant damage. All the damaged plants I didn't have to replace are recovered and doing well. I planted in most of my spares and they established quickly. Everything is slow but no concerns. I have 45 good, healthy pepper plants in the ground that will work me hard with production before it's all over.


I added a bunch of the leftover tomato plants where I normally don't plant.

All the tomatoes are doing well. After getting zero tomatoes and almost zero beans last year, it will be different this year. I'm blanching and freezing beans 2-3 times a week now. It's starting to look like keeping up with the tomato suckers will give me lots of them for marinara this year.


It sure would be nice to get some rain. We got a little spritz last night but not enough to wet the grass.
The squash area is doing well. Zucchini and butternut are doing great. The candy roaster is running behind. As usual. Scary plants since they wilt so badly in the heat.

While the butternuts are making a lot of good size fruits already, the candy roasters are just starting to make nubbins.

We finally got some rain but not enough to make any puddles. The sponge (aka our land) is drinking up every drop as soon as it lands. 2½" yesterday and 3" throughout the 6 days of red alert weather advisories this week. Some places got zapped. 10 to 20 inches of rain Friday at many locations within 20 miles of here. I guess our river valley is in the rain out-crowd lately. Boomer did came back this afternoon to interrupt my dust-free mowing but I can't complain. We got another ½" and it's still raining.

The plants are happier. The pole beans are starting to produce well and we have pods.



No bugs yet. I've found only one armyworm and that was a while ago. The weeds are easy to handle with all the mulch. All good until it's not. Ready with the BT, spinosad and Dr Bronners, etc.

In 2019 I proved to myself that tomatoes do better under 30% shade. Now, getting older and lazier, I decided to go without shade this year. The tomatoes seem to be doing just fine. I did put up some temporary shade for the new peppers I planted. Since it's simple and easy, I think I'll shade every other bay of peppers and see how it goes. The trail camera hasn't captured pictures of anything close to the garden at night except for this guy, I'll set up the camera to catch a few pepper bays with time lapse photos every day and see what goes on. It will be very simple to shade until the plants are 4 ft or so. Basically, drape the cloth over my fencecages.


Thought I'd share this. Country music usually doesn't turn my crank too hard but when I was doing chores this morning, this girl came on TV and did this song. I was pinned. It's awesome.

Maybe it works exceptionally well for me because I know the background. I saw the lights back in the mid-70's. I took a run by there with my fairly new wife in '83 but unfortunately, we didn't get to see them.

We lost our Lia yesterday morning. She quickly and unexpectedly became distressed with very labored breathing. We had a previously scheduled appointment for 9 am at the Auburn University hospital branch in Gulf Shores, 40 minutes away. This was follow-up diagnostics for Cody and a simple checkup for Lia. She was doing so well her followup scans and rads were moved out to 6 months from the initial quarterly schedule. We left really early because it was obvious she was in trouble. I wanted to be there at 8 when they opened. She walked out, took a whiz and I got her in the car, then brought Cody out and we hauled ass. Her breathing got worse. She died almost 15 minutes before we got there. I called Auburn to tell them we had a huge problem. Five people were waiting for us out in front with with a crash cart. They started working on her as they rushed her in but couldn't revive her.

We're all devastated. Poor Cody watched his big sis die. They've been totally in love ever since he was a baby, eight years ago. I feel so bad for him but Lia trained him well. He'll be okay but it will take a while.


We'll see you up at the bridge Babygirl.

My condolences DWB

Losing a dog is like losing a friend, a REAL friend. Those who don't understand this don't deserve to own one IMO.

I share your pain, I lost a few too along de way... :(
So sorry to read this DWB. I know Lia was special. Just think of the good times. It'll put a smile on your face every time.
Thanks y'all. These things seem to get harder all the time. Or maybe not just because it's never easy. I know all dogs are special but these two were a tuned in team. Probably the most special pair of 4-legged kids we've ever had.


Lia picked out Cody from a litter of eight 5 week old pups who were thrown away with the mother and all living under a shed in Mobile. She taught him how to act and did a lot of the work training him how to be a great service dog for me. She was his hero. They were always so much in love.

Lia came to us in a similarly special way. I found her early one morning when I felt I needed to go to the county animal shelter. I broke in through a back gate. I knew she had to be there and indeed she was. The euthanasia crew found me in the cage with her and said they had to take her to be put down. Not today. They got the manager who threatened to call the sheriff while I was already on the phone with our county commissioner. Guess who won that pissing contest?

My time lapse growth comparison of plants in sun vs. shade isn't coming along very nicely. The pictures are too busy, too much green, too little contrast and focus.



I've been growing this YNBS pepper in isolation since 2017. Recycling the seeds from the pods I loved the most, trying to make it better for me and my point of view. Always trying to make it sweeter, hotter, larger and prettier. All that's coming along. This is my third year of growing as an exclusive crop. The first year wasn't productive. That was the year of the explosion but it did give me a few interesting pods. Last year made good crop with improving attributes. All the pods were going in the right direction so I saved the seeds from the very largest and most wrinkly pods to plant this year. Another behind-the-8-ball year but I'm staring to see a very interesting new feature. Please pardon my very poor one-handed phone photography but these suckers are starting to grow tails. Muy interesante.

I found the first armyworm of the year on May 29. I haven't seen another one of any kind until yesterday. Not sure if it was an armyworm because it was still very small but I started treatments after that. 2½ gallons of BT.
Pods getting bigger and better. This was plenty of pickings for today since I didn't go to work until noon. Way too hot this year. I'm surprised anything can grow. I sure do despise climate change. I thought it would get all better when we got my wife an electric car. Guess what? It didn't help.

Note to self: Wear big boy pants next time. Deep mulch burns bad when traveling without knee protection.

I can eat this every day. Cheap and healthy food, easy to make and so good. A lot of olive oil, a couple spoons of bacon grease, a few Vidalia onions, 8 or so cloves of chopped garlic, shredded carrot, refried beans, a few tomatoes. Fresh peppers for color and spice makes for some good stuff. Nice to have some fresh fixings around. I cook it, chop the peppers and stir them in. I leave them to soak a few hours on lowest heat. Good for burrito or dipping chips. It's pretty spicy with that many peppers in it. I always make one for now and one for the freezer.


Marinara turned out nice this year. Olive oil, Amish Paste tomatoes, Vidalia onions, garlic, carrot, basil, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, parsley, pink salt and black pepper. The carrot kinda neutralizes the acids. No peppers in this. My wife eats it too so I'm limited to supplemental pepper powders for this. I got lazy with the seed removal this year but it's still good. Most goes into the freezer.

Another kinda boring season with the suspended animation in the pre-season nursery, late planting, weird weather and general disinterest of the grower due to everything else going on. Pretty much a repeat of last year. Meanwhile, things are moving along. The beans are done, the tomatoes and zucchini are on last legs. I should be starting a second crop of beans and zucchini but it's so stinkin' hot.

Peppers and winter squash are doing well, all things considered. I just finished a picking and have another 9.93 pounds of nice pods for the dehydrator.


Note to self: time to water if no good rain comes very soon.
Plant out time of peppers is the difference between meh and wow down here. When out in late March, they get the benefit of all the extra time in decently cool weather and utilize it well to quickly get big and strong. When out in May, they struggle from the beginning. Same thing happened last year.

Three months after planting out in late March, they look like this.


When in the ground on May 1, they look like this.