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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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I've learned the in-ground overwintered plants are not so hardy. They've steadily given it up. I goofed up and killed one myself by careless placing of a pot on it for a temperature that reached 30.7° the morning of March 19. I broke off the single branch and nothing came back. Most of the rest slowly lost their green stems and shoots or could have had their shoots clipped off by a critter or bug.

There are three left that are doing well and one more that may do something. Down from the thirteen that initially showed signs of life.


The electric co-op did line cleaning recently. They brought me a nice pile of mulch from the chipper yesterday. Not sure how many loads they brought but it looks like 2 loads/12 yards. This stuff starts making some pretty decent compost in about 6 months.

Right on time too. Last time they cleared lines was in late 2020 when they dumped 6 yards for me. I have plenty of that left for this year but the pile is getting small.

Working dog is enjoying all the imported smells :)

They brought me more chipper mulch Friday. That's the good part. I know for a fact this new pile is two loads. This means the pile they hauled in the week before was a helluva lot more than 2 loads/12 yards. That pile is huge compared to the new pile.

The bad part is the new driver dumped the first load right on top of the remainder of my 2020 pile and all the compost I was gonna use this year. Now I have to improvise because I probably don't even have 10 gallons in my storage buckets. I suppose can get me a couple of wheelbarrow loads by pulling back the leaf cover in the woods to scrape up a bunch of humus and mix in some dried horse poop. Or maybe just go to town and buy some bags. That'll be a first.

The in-ground overwinter experiment wasn't a complete fail but close. In the end, it came down to two survivors. Now I know and never again. It could have worked with just a few quick, hard freezes but not the extended bad weather with temps below 15. Too damn much work to bother with. The two plants that lived aren't growing nearly as fast as I hoped for when it started but they are doing nicely and are prolific. This is the one I protected from the hole digger by using the tire.


The priority this year is making life easier and learning rather than producing mass quantities. I'm going with three single-wide rows of peppers rather than double-wide rows on a stagger. I'm trying to avoid a jungle this year in favor of something more manageable for learning purposes. I'm finally going with some technology rather than doofus sweat equity this year. Automatic irrigation with moisture sensors and a superlightweight 100' non-kinky stainless steel hose for manual patch watering and a 125' hose of the same type for pot watering. I'll have many groups of pots with wide separation. I've enjoyed absolutely all I can stand of dragging kinky, old style, 100' heavy as hell hoses in and out of rows and around the yard in mid-summer heat.

I'm very late getting things into operation but that's fine by me. I delayed planting because the digging critter came back earlier and stayed later. I also wanted to take extra time to hoe decimate the first flush of chamberbitter (aka gripeweed). The pre-emergent I used last year didn't work worth a hoot and I'm not really comfortable moving up on the aggression scale.

Odd as it may seem, it appears the offender may be a canine. Specifically, a coyote. Chloe, our Red Heeler puppygirl digs the same "elevator shaft" straight down rectangular holes. It wasn't her though. She wasn't allowed out of our secure dog yard until a few weeks ago when I promoted her to "working dog".

I left the plants in their peat pellets and small hex cells for a long while but watered them with quarter strength masterblend to keep them healthy. A picture of some.


As usual, I paved the place with cardboard before mulching it in. This year I did the rows and periphery with chipper slash. The rows themselves are mulched in with decomposing yard waste. At the point this picture was taken, the only thing in the ground was the beans.


The pepper crop this year, both in ground and in pots for pure seed, are reaper, douglah, yellow naga brinstrain, my red cardi scorpion, my mutant yellow cardi scorpion, the canadian red cardi scorpion and their canadian yellow cardi scorpion mutant. Otherwise, I'm growing the usual suspects for us and the pups. Bush and pole beans, butternut and candy roaster winter squash, zucchini, Amish paste, San Marzano and Roma tomatoes.
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