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Bold Badger 2020 Grow Log

Greetings again.  As you may recall, my harvest last year was pretty terrible.  I wound up with three carboys of mash, which has been fermenting since October.  I'm planning to bottle that within the next month or so.  I'll probably just be doing Dragonfire and Smokehouse, although one of the 3 carboys is all jalapenos, so I'm really curious to see how that one turns out.  I also pickled about 30 half pint jars, which turned out amazing.  I definitely want to start selling those this year.  On that front, I sold about 1000 bottles online and at various farmers markets and events.  I'm now down to 8 cases of the plum sauce (which won 2nd place in the fruit-based category in the THP awards).
Partly because last year was so disappointing, I decided to scale up this year.  I found another spot to grow a bunch of plants, on top of my other spots, so I should have more like 500 plants total.  The most I've done in the past is half that, so it's a big step up.  Here's the list:

ID qty variety
1. 250 Yellow 7 Pot
2. 50 Original Ghost (from Sawyer)
3. 25 Red Chinense Seasoning Pepper (I forget exactly what variety these are)
4. 25 P. Dreddie Bonnets (from Sawyer)
5. 30 7 Pot Primo
6. 100 Chocolate Hab
7. 20 Gigantic Ghost
8. 4 Trinidad Perfume
9. 7 Tobago
10. 25 Duane's Reapers 2019 (from my friend Duane)

My old seed-starting rack maxes out at 250 plants, so I needed a bigger rack, and more lights.  I did some research and decided I could build my own fixtures much cheaper than buying grow lights.  If you ever get the same idea, I have a word of advice, don't.  It was way more work than I anticipated (as are most things in life).  I wound up spending about $600 on a 20 bulb T5 HO setup, all said and done.  That included the ballasts, sockets, bulbs, wood and aluminum flashing for the reflectors, switches and junction boxes, hardware, etc.  After I got deep into it I started looking around on craigslist and facebook marketplace and found tons of used fixtures that would have worked fine, for way cheap.  So lesson learned  I have two more shelves on the rack, so that's probably the way I'll go if I decide to add more lights to it in the future.



Shelf, so fresh and clean and ready to be defiled by a bunch of dirty plant trays:



I got the seeds started on 3/9, way later than I should have, mostly because it took so long to finish building the lights.  I also finished drywalling in the room where the lights are, which made a big difference in the temps.  It stays 80+ degrees in there now, which should definitely be better for the plants.  I also used regular miracle grow potting soil instead of the pro-mix I used last year.  By the time I realized the pro-mix had no fertilizer in it, it's just peat and perlite, the plants were already suffering from malnutrition.  So that should also help.



I also got the hookup on manure from a local dairy.  This is the first of 8 loads I got free free:


Here's the dairy:

The whole thing is slightly slanted.  The cows poop all day, then they flush a bunch of water from one end to the other, which pushes the poop into a big trench.  There's a conveyer belt setup on one end that separates the solids into a pile.  The liquid then gets pumped into a retention pond.  The solids are a mix of manure, sawdust, and straw.  That's the stuff I was getting for free.  It's not as rich as 100% manure but it should help nonetheless.
I also just finished adding a DIY range hood to the kitchen.


It's just a big storage tote bolted to the wall, with an in-line blower fan behind it.  I'm going to run some dryer hose from the outlet to the nearest window when I'm actually cooking sauce.  This should keep down the painful steam whilst bottling, and keep my precious mucus membranes happy.
Here's a little video:
Bye for now!
Very impressive, Josh! You've got skills, alright!
500 plants should keep you busy. And congrats
on your selling success last season. You're living
the dream, buddy!
Cool idea with the hood vent.  I guess you don't need a filter on it as you're not worried about grease?
And what are you gonna do with the pressure canner?  Is that for the pickled peppers, what do you do with those?
Yeah I don't think so since I'm not cooking with grease.
I water bath can the pickled peppers, I just got a good deal on the pressure canner.  I figure I'll save it for the zombie apocalypse, lol.  It was made in 1955 and never even taken out of the box.  I think it's about the equivalent of a modern All American 941.  I paid $120 for 3 of them, sold 2 for $200 each, keeping the other one.
Hey BB you're quite a talented guy..am so impressed with all you're putting in place to take your
business to the next level, you'll be 100% self- reliant....way to go..good luck moving on. ;)
Quick update.  Day 35 since seeds hit the dirt.  Plants are growing, but not as quick as I'd like.  Some are doing great, some not so much.
Some yellow 7 pots.  Overall these seem to be doing better than the others.

More yellow 7 pots.  The two in the back fell off the shelf and I had to scoop them back up and re-pot them.

One of the better trays of non-yellow 7 pots, I forget what these are exactly:

This one is more representative of the ones that aren't doing so well.  This is a tray of chocolate habs, but the ones with white tags are all yellow 7 pots that I transplanted in after the seeds in that pot didn't come up, or came up way late.

I'm not sure if the higher walls on those plastic trays are causing problems for the plants, maybe CO2 is pooling in there or something?  But I thought plants liked CO2?  Temps might play a role too, the top shelf gets a lot warmer than teh bottom one.  I've been rotating the plants around a bit so I'm not exactly sure if the good ones spent most of their time on one shelf or the other.   I'm also getting a lot of weird curled up leaves, and some leaves turning white for some reason.  I gave them their second dose of fish fert this evening.
After we get over this little cold snap I plan to move them outside to harden off in the yard for a week or so, then take them out to my friend's place and put them in his greenhouse until plant-out time.
That’s a passel of 7 Pot peppers, BB!
Looking nice and healthy, ready to go.
Good luck getting a handle on the chocolate
habaneros and 7 Pot replants.
Another update.
Yellow 7 pots:

Mostly 7 pot primos and chocolate habs:

The smaller ones are gigantic ghosts that I started on 3/25 to make up for all the OG ghosts that didn't come up. The larger ones are yellow 7 pots that I transplanted in.  I'm leaving multiple plants in each pot for these because I have a shortage of ghosts.

A few different varieties in this one:

Here's the cover crop at the big spot, winter rye.  The spot in the middle where it's taller is where I put the chicken poop a couple of years ago.

For reference, here's what they looked like on 5/1 last year.  I started them on the same day, 3/10.  I'm pretty relieved that I didn't have a repeat of that little disaster.

Still waiting for the lows to start holding steady above 55 or so before I move them outside to harden off.
Update time.  Still waiting on the temps to warm up to move the plants out.  They're predicting a low of 25 this weekend, it's crazy.
The plants are doing well, getting pretty crowded.  Having to water a lot more frequently now that they're getting bigger.  Giving them fish fert every 3-4 waterings.
Yellow 7 pots:

Yellow 7 pots:

More yellow 7 pots.  I let these dry out and thought they were dead, but they're coming back to life:

This tray is doing awesome for some reason:

The small curry trees, getting a lot of new growth.  I didn't cut any of these back last fall like I did with the two older ones.
Been a while since I posted an update.
So I got the plants in the ground over the week of 5-21 to 5-30, 580 or so total.  At this point they're still not really much to look at.  Here's a few pics.
The new big spot, all yellow 7 pots except one row of chocolate habs.  208 plants total I think.

Community garden spot, 24 OG ghosts.  I hoped to have more like 50 but I got pretty bad germination with them being so old.  Going to save a loooot of these seeds.

Community garden, chocolate habs:

Community garden spot, chocolate habs and 7 pot primos in this one:

Old big spot, p-dreddie bonnets, seasoning peppers, gigantic ghost, reapers:

Spot #4, 108 yellow 7 pots here.  This is the day I got them in the ground, haven't gotten a new pic yet.  I plan to save seeds from these.  My old cache of yellow 7 pot seeds is from 2016 so I might as well refresh them.

Curry trees, and a 7 pot primo in a bucket:

Got the new sauce bottled, the new Dragonfire turned out really, really good.  It's just got an extra fermented taste.  It's ridiculous how much more expensive labels are for a quantity of 300 vs a few thousand, like $1.09 each vs $.14 each.  So I think I'm going to go ahead and order next year's labels and just add the ones for this year as kind of an afterthought.  That means I need to figure out exactly what sauces I'm going to make now, working on that.  I need to find a way to print the batch number on the bottle somehow without actually printing it on the label, like a stamp or a laser burner thingie.  That would allow me to use the same labels from year to year, although it would add an extra step to the labeling process.
Until next time...
The plants have really started taking off in the last week.
The old big spot, these are probably doing worse than the other spots, despite all the manure I put down here.  At least the groundhog hasn't decimated them like last year.  I bunched straw up around the plants as soon as I got them in the ground, which seems to have deterred him.

Ran into this adorable little stinker while I was there the other day:

The new big spot, doing really well.  It's been a pain keeping the weeds under control here.  I've discovered that these hoes work way better than the traditional kind.

Community garden ghosts, all these plants were totally buried in weeds until just before I took these pics:

Chocolate habs:

Chocolate habs and 7 pot primos:

Noticed a few little baby proto-peppers on some of them already.
In sauce news, got the new stuff up on the site today.  Dragonfire, Smokehouse, and Jalapeno are all this year's sauce.  The plum is left over from last year.  I think Dragonfire is my favorite out of the new stuff, it just came out more fermented than last year.  I didn't really like the Jalapeno myself, but I have a friend that swears it's the best stuff ever.  It's really mild but it does capture the jalapeno flavor pretty well.  I think it would be good to simmer some chicken in for tacos or something, I'm going to try that soon.
Very cool. Love the curry leaf plants. I just managed to get my hands on a replacement after mine died. Do you use it in your sauces?
Yeah, I have one made with curry leaves.  I didn't make it this year because it never sells very well, and I didn't have many peppers to work with.  I've been growing them for like 10 years now, I love them.  I wish people appreciated the sauce more, lol.
Check out this recipe, it's ungodly delicious:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZEaYngbp4w
I used to just take like a garbage bag of leaves to the local indian place when I cut them back, but now they go into the sauce.  Planning to make two carboys of it this year, so maybe 350 bottles, which will be ready next march or so.
Sorry to derail your thread a little - do you overwinter the curry leaf indoors? How do you do it? I'm paranoid about losing mine again.
Yep, I cut them way back in the fall and put them under lights until spring.  I give them fish fertilizer and azalia food, because I read they like acidic soil.  Looks like one of the big ones is going to kick out 20-30 seeds this year, let me know if you want any, but remember you have to germinate them before they dry out.
I imagine you could keep them outside most of the year in TX and just bring them in when it drops below 50 or so?
Bold Badger Sauces said:
Yep, I cut them way back in the fall and put them under lights until spring.  I give them fish fertilizer and azalia food, because I read they like acidic soil.  Looks like one of the big ones is going to kick out 20-30 seeds this year, let me know if you want any, but remember you have to germinate them before they dry out.
I imagine you could keep them outside most of the year in TX and just bring them in when it drops below 50 or so?
I would love some seeds - I've been searching desperately to no avail. I had one last 3 years outside in a large pot on my patio - I would cut it back and it would survive the occasional freeze without any problems since the freezing temps rarely last a day. It died this winter - I've been racking my brain on why and I think it's because it was still on the automated watering so the soil must have been very wet when we had a short freeze and the roots froze - had the soil been dry it would have been better insulated. The tap root was a good 18 inches so it was a pretty healthy plant up to then.
Update time.  The community garden spot is leading the pack in pod production by far.  It's kind of weird how much better the plants are doing this year than last.  I think the drought must have been the biggest problem, out of the many problems.

Chocolate hab and some yellow 7 pots, made chili with these, it was awesome.  I used some tomatoes I canned a few weeks ago.  Speaking of which, how much does the canning jar shortage suck?  I canned like 20 quarts of tomatoes and now I can't get more quarts for anything else.  I should have stocked up beforehand.

The yellow 7 pot spot, the plants are huge and healthy looking but not a lot of pods.  I think all the shade isn't doing them any favors.

The old big spot.  These were lagging way behind, but on Sunday I gave them some "Jobe's Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer", and they took the hell off.  This is on Wednesday and they're probably close to twice the size they were before I gave them the fertilizer.  I went back and bought 4 more bags and put it down on all my other spots.

The new big spot, this is from about 10 days ago, I forgot to get a new pic when I was out there last night putting down the Jobe's.  These are all yellow 7 pots except for two rows of chocolate habs.

A bunch of Jalapenos I picked last night, these are my friend's plants.  He  *really* loved the jalapeno sauce I made, so this whole batch will be going to him.  I didn't order labels for it for next year and it would cost like $1 a label to order just enough for this one sauce.  I kind of regret it now because the jalapeno sauce turned out pretty good in the end.  I didn't like it when I first bottled it but it aged into a really nice flavor with a very mild heat.

OG ghosts at the community garden spot.  These are pretty loaded with pods.

Chocolate habs.

7 pot primos.

Picked these today, chocolate habs on top, OG ghosts in middle, 7 pot primo on bottom.  Going to make another batch of chili with these, should be a tad bit hotter than the last batch.

The curry trees are going nuts.  I just got two 17 gallon tubs to transplant the two big ones into, I might do that today.

Seeds on the curry tree.

New carboys came in, 7 gallon Kegcos x20, bringing my total to 28.  I doubt I'll have enough peppers to fill them all up, but I'm set for the future at least.