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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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It's interesting to see the plants continued to flower and set fruit throughout the miserable heat that has gone well over 100° (real temp-not feels like) many days. I'm surprised.

The worst pest of the year continues to be the birds. I have seen some army worm activity and need to spray with BT again but it's just been too stinkin hot to drag a hose through the garden and spray. Never mind that would require messing around with my carefully adjusted sprinkler settings :) I have to run those every week or so for a few cycles. 30 minutes on, 45 minutes off. Don't want the pump to overheat.

Note to self: Make a move and have the trencher guy come out with his machine, get off dead ass and lay that new, non pH adjusted water line then install the subsequent drip system promised to self for so many years now. The old system with 200' of ¾" hose works well but I can't feel comfortable feeding anything full-time and automatic with that. If a hose blows, the pump runs until the well loses prime. That would be a major PITA.

The plants are starting to produce well. Got this yesterday and a similar amount last weekend. Picture is with background of our lovely drought stricken centipede grass. More rain forecast for this weekend. I hope we actually get some this time. We've actually gotten 0.2" here in the last ~2 months. We get it good in our river valley sometimes. Sometimes not a drop while it pours nearby.

It's not jungle but it's doing okay considering we've only had 3.15 inches of rain since mid-June. I've been putting a couple inches of water a month on them to keep them going while smaller trees on our property are dying from drought. The two main rows are a pretty much cubed out block of plants 12' x 40'. The short 3rd row is pretty big too. One thing I learned this year is even with the blazing heat and perpetually clear skies, the pepper plants actually do better without shade.

From Oct 9.


From Oct 25


Cody was having a rough time getting past losing Lia so we decided it was time to start looking for a puppy for him to love and teach. On Sept 8 I talked to my neighbor (since 1999) across the field and told her we were looking. A few hours later she had set up a thing with one of her horse and dog show friends to give us a purebred Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler) with championship bloodlines. We thought this would be a good match for Cody since he's 50% heeler 50% English Foxhound. All we had to do is make a quick 520 mile road trip up to the other side of West Point GA and Cody would have his pick of four pups. My wife and I talked it over and decided to go for it. We left early the next Tuesday morning and were home by 3 PM. The interview process was quick and very much unlike when Lia picked Cody. He came from a litter of 8 puppies who were living under a shed in Mobile with their abandoned mother. It took her what seemed like hours to decide.

Cody quickly chose this baby girl (now known as Chloe) and we were on our way home. Turns out this was like a match made in heaven. She's scary smart and a very good girl. She's also head over heels in love with Cody. They're definitely gonna be a pair of aces.


Now that she's getting bigger, Cody's not so afraid he'll break her when they play. She been cleared to use the doggie door, so they're full speed ahead.

Here's the pickings from Wednesday. The stars are out in front. All are between 12 and 17 grams. Many are what I'm looking for in year to year improvements. I'll take a taste of each and what I like will become seed donors for next years crop.


I'm finding some of these this year for the first time. I saw several green ones early on but this is the first ripe one I've noticed. Interesting. I think I'll grow some of these seeds in pots and see what they make.

The last quarter of the year is always the "gravy" time for the pepper patch. The time when it becomes difficult to keep up with it. In spite of the late start, the crazy hot summer and the ongoing drought, my plants definitely are in high gear. Peppers in all stages of growth and flowering like there's no tomorrow. This is how it was looking Tuesday when I did some picking in prep for another bizarre 2 day F-word weather event that was forecast for that night and Wednesday night.

This is the west row and the buckets were picked from the west side of this row.


This is the take for the day. If I had the time I could probably find that many more out there today but I have to fill the dehydrators today. All from last week have to go in and all from this week as well that won't fit into refrigerated storage


The patch easily dodged the first bullet on the first night since the forecast changed from 33 around noon to 37 around dark. The actual low here at my particular spot was 38.3 at 7:23 AM. Easy deal. The second night was different. The forecast for Wednesday night was a straight up 32 for my particular area. I didn't want to bother putting on all the covers for one night so I went with what Devv told me years ago about running sprinklers for frost/freeze protection. I set up one sprinkler so it would cover all the plants and not work my pump too hard. One sprinkler on full runs the pump a tad less than 50% of the time. I tested it for several hours Tuesday afternoon to presoak the ground and found with the cooler 70° air temp that afternoon with my supplemental,fan cooling on high, the pump was able to run for do the job without heating above 110 anywhere on the motor case. I figured that setup would be good to run for as long as it took that night with ambient in the low to mid 30's.

As it turned out, when I got up to check things at 3 AM the temperature was 36.5 (compared to 42.1 at 4 AM the night before) so I went out and turned on the water. The low temperature of 32.9 occurred at 7:08 AM. The water ran for a few more hours since we had to leave for town at 7:15 so no problems. The very well watered pepper patch lives to work my butt off at least until the next freak cold snap hits us. I hope it doesn't come for quite a while.
Wow DW, some of those pods a HUGE! You might need a bigger freezer, or more dehydrators, lol.

I'm using 32 15" dehydrator trays and two motors. It takes a while to sterilize and prep that many pods. Did that yesterday and still have 6 of the gallon bags in refrigerators. I try to avoid temporary freezing to deal with excess. They're nasty to sterilize and prep for dehydration when thawed but I always have plenty in the freezers for my cooking use.

My big problem is we got into the habit of keeping way too much food during corona time. It's hard to find room for all the frozen food so I can reconfigure the freezigerator to a pepper cooler now. Why we need so much food for two people and two dogs is a mystery to me. I suppose if all hell breaks loose we'll still be eating good as long as I can get generator fuel :lol:
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Looking super good there, DW! Congratulations on your
continuing great harvests and the adorable new puppy!
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Looking super good there, DW! Congratulations on your
continuing great harvests and the adorable new puppy!

Thanks Paul. I've been eating so many peppers I should be turning red and yellow. The new puppy is a trip. These cattle dogs are scary smart. Like Cody, she's pretty much training herself.

Please check back in a few days. I have to write up a report on a happy accident after Cody and I get back from Auburn. Your pepper expertise and analysis will be very helpful on this one.