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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!
My basic philosophy of life is to expect the worst, that way you'll be happily surprised when things go well rather than bitterly disappointed when they go badly.  It's paid off this year because the plants have definitely exceeded my expectations, which were already pretty low given last year's bad growing season.  I'm still not going to have nearly the pods I was hoping for because so damn many of the plants are just doing badly, or have no pods, but the ones that did well did well indeed.

The batch of jalapeno sauce.  Sometimes I like to just sniff the airlock because it smells amazing.

The yellow 7 pot spot, most of the plants are still suffering from no-pod-itis.  The ones that produced did pretty well though, these all turned out to be uncrossed so I'm saving seeds from them this year.  There are like 108 plants here and I got about a 5 gallon bucket full of pods, and maybe the same amount yet again that weren't ready to pick.

New big spot.  200 plants here.  I picked all the ripe ones and got about 3 bucket fulls, and about the same left to pick, maybe more.  About 1/3d of the plants are doing really well, the rest various degrees of less well.  Again I think too much shade might be hurting them.  We spread a bunch of sheep and cow manure here last year, which may or may not be helping.

Another angle.

All the yellow 7 pots and a few stray others.

Got one carboy from all of those.  I decided to make the mash differently this year.  Usually I run everything through a food processor one load at a time, which takes forever.  This year I put everything in the carboy and used the big stick blender to chop it up.  It worked well, a little too well, the mash is too fine imo.  I'm probably going back to the old way for the rest.  This one smells amazing too.

The old big spot.  This was from today, not really anything ready to pick yet.  All but two of the seasoning peppers have no pods at all for some reason, so I guess the super mild sauce is out.

Another angle.

Some unripe yellow 7 pots.

Ghosts at the community garden spot.  These are from today too, very few of these were ready to pick so I left them all.  I plan to come back this weekend and see how they're progressing.

This one has more ripe pods than any of the others.  They look perfect, with the classic ghosts shape and color.

Chocolate habs.  Maybe 1/3 of these were ready to pick but I left them, hoping to pick the majority at once and make one whole carboy with them.  I'm going to call that one "Ambrosia."

7 pot primos.  Maybe a little more than 1/3rd of these were ready too, but I left them all for now.  These will be blended with some ghosts and reapers at the old big spot to make the Overkill sauce next year.


Extreme Member
Got some seeds from you in a sauce deal ... can't remember when.  Anyway, grew a few out this year .. all 7 pot yellows this time.  Damn good.
Yeah, they're an awesome pepper.  I'm planning to give away more random seeds with every purchase when this sauce is bottled next year.  I'm down to like 15 bottles of Smokehouse of the current sauce so I'll probably be sold out after this weekend.
Been picking more and more peppers over the last couple of weeks.  I have 7 carboys going now, most of them only half full.  I haven't decided if I'll keep adding more peppers to them as they ripen or just do more half-full carboys.  I'd rather not take the lid off once fermentation starts.  Also they're a lot easier to deal with when they weigh half as much.  Already seeing signs of yeast on a couple of them, mostly the jalapeno and banana pepper ones.  I've been swirling them all at least once a day to nip it in the bud.  After primary fermentation is done I take off the airlock and cap them with an air-tight lid.  At a certain point after that I've found the yeast gives up and they're fine from then on.


Chocolate habs.

7 pot primos.

I accidentally cracked the other jalapeno carboy so I had to toss it all.  Made a new batch of jalapeno and another with banana peppers and sweet bells.  I roasted a bunch of the bells on the grill before adding them to the mash.

Chocolate habs and ghosts.  I really love these ghosts.

The seasoning peppers have finally started producing pods, tons of little tiny ones.  I'm just hoping they have time to mature before the first frost.

Old big spot.  The light colored pods in the foreground are all ghosts, seeds I saved from some pods I got at the farmers market.  I like the OG ghosts way better than these.

These gooses (and ganders) showed up while I was picking peppers at the community garden.

A few ghosts and primos.

I'm trying to keep the seeds separate this year, so if/when I do give them away they'll probably be labeled, even if some of them are open pollinated and potentially crossed.
Still picking peppers and making carboys steadily.  I have 9 going now.  They're predicting a low of 34 on the 17th and 24 on the 23rd.  I'll be cleaning off the plants before the first frost, whenever it winds up being.  Planning to turn all the unripe peppers from that last picking into dragonfire, smokehouse, berry, and curry.

Weird fused stem on a plant at the old big spot.

More random peppers.

These are the ghosts at the old big spot.  I'm having a weird problem where they're taking forever to ripen, but instead of just going from green to red, they're going from green to a sort of peach color.  Not sure if those peach ones will eventually turn red or what.  It's almost like they're supposed to be that color, not that they're unripe, although the texture of the pepper is really "crisp", much like a truly under-ripe pepper.  I don't know if maybe they got stunted and went albino or what.  I'm having the same problem on some yellow 7 pot plants.

A few more random peppers.

More yellow 7 pots.

I've been tossing all the stems and stuff in the compost pile.  A bunch of the seeds sprouted.

The compost pile after turning and mixing around a bit.  I have two huge oak trees in my yard, they drop a ridiculous amount of leaves every year.  I always put them in here but they take forever to compost.  This year I busted up a bunch of old drywall remnants, planning to mix the gypsum in, I read that will speed up leaves composting.

Found these potatoes digging around in there.  I remember throwing some rotten ones in a while back, I guess they took root.

A bunch of ghosts.

Chocolate habs and 7 pot primos.  I've been freezing the primos while waiting on the slow ass ghosts at the old big spot to hurry up and ripen.  I already have one carboy of OG ghost, which is all I needed, so the rest of the ghosts at the community garden spot will go into what I'm planning to be 2 carboys of overkill.  Pretty sure I'll have enough.

Most of the seeds I've saved so far.

Found this guy guarding the pods at the community garden, he was about 4 inches long.

More yellow 7 pots.

Chocolate habs.

From left to right, yellow 7 pot, chocolate hab, chocolate hab, banana pepper, jalapeno.

OG ghost and yellow 7 pot.

Two more yellow 7 pot carboys.

A few more 7 pot primos and OG ghosts.  Froze all these.

A very happy chocolate hab.
Here's a little video of the last yellow 7 pot carboy I did after about 48 hours:
Man, reading your glog makes me want to scream at my little plants. GROW FASTER YOU LAZY LITTLE JERKS!
You seem to have a whole lot of uniformly stout plants... do you top them, or are you just so intimidating that they choose to behave on their own?  :shocked:
lol, I don't want to give away my secret, but let's just say it involves dark rituals performed in the nude under the light of the full moon.
Most of them did well but I still had a bunch of tiny plants with hardly any pods.  Especially the 4 rows or so on the edges of the big spot, I think they got less light than the rows in the middle.  Same with the yellow 7 pot spot, those got way too much shade.  But overall it's been a good year for peppers.
The first few years I topped them religiously but one summer I left half un-topped and they grew pretty much exactly the same so I stopped bothering with it.
Plastic would be a *lot* cheaper and easier, but I'm wary of fermenting stuff in plastic.  I'm using the 7 gallon ones, the biggest ones they make.  The 5 gallon size would probably be easier to handle and less likely to break, but they're almost the same price and it just seems like a waste not to spend a few more bucks for the bigger ones.


Extreme Member
Haha, Josh, my entire grow would fit into one of those bags!
Awesome work - 13 carboys  :eek:  egads!
So I finished up the last carboy on the 4th.  I wound up with 21 in total, but 2 are the jalapeno and banana pepper, which I don't plan to sell.

Last chocolate habs from the community garden and yellow 7 pots from the yellow 7 pot spot.

Last OG ghosts and 7 pot primos.

These same yellow 7 pots were like 90% green when I picked them.  It's amazing how they ripen on their own if you keep them all together.

A siamese twin chocolate hab.

Pods from the old big spot, ghosts, p. dreaddies, yellow 7 pots.  I had enough OG ghosts to make the overkill so these underripe ghosts will go into the dragonfire next year.

This is the first time I've grown the p. dreaddies, they're beautiful.

Some more yellow 7 pots.

A batch of smoked peppers.

I pickled the last of the yellow 7 pots, got 23 half pints.  I used pickle crisp this time and it made a big difference, they were way less mushy.  Overall they turned out great, I've gone through 2 jars already.

All the seeds.

A few more carboys.

All the curry leaves.

After vacuum sealing.

Got the trees in under the lights.
Wow! I wouldn't have the patience to pick all those peppers!
Pretty severe haircut you've given those curry leaf plants. I love how bushy the far ones are - several seasons of haircuts? Mine just seems to grow straight up.


Extreme Member
So nice to see you have a great harvest BB..you deserve it after all the work you did. ;)
Siv said:
Wow! I wouldn't have the patience to pick all those peppers!
Pretty severe haircut you've given those curry leaf plants. I love how bushy the far ones are - several seasons of haircuts? Mine just seems to grow straight up.
Yeah the big ones are like 5 years old, I just transplanted them into those big tubs this summer.  The others are more like 2 years old.  I try to leave a few leaves on them if possible, even though they usually fall off before I get them back outside in the spring.
Not much going on at the moment, the sauce continues to age/ferment.  I wound up getting yeast on 4 or 5 of the carboys.  Planning to bottle it in April.  I'm just hoping I can get bottles then, worried about shortages.  I'm seriously thinking about going to the bank and borrowing the money to buy them now.  Chopped all the plants down and put down cover crop seed at all of the spots.  I'm going to switch spots next year at the old big spot with another group of "sharecroppers."  They've been growing mostly corn and squash on the other spot the past few years.

Dead plants at the old big spot.

Found this salamander while pulling them up.

Pile of dead plants.

Dead plants at the community garden.

All the seeds I'm saving for myself.  On the left are all the placentas  I wound up grinding those up to make a ridiculously hot powder, I've been putting it on everything.  It has a lot of 7 pot primos and ghosts in it.

All the other seeds.  I put some roasted epsom salts in paper bags and coffee filters in there to absorb any remaining moisture.

Got a good deal on a bunch of 6 bulb T5 fixtures, $10 each.  I got 32 of them.  They came out of a factory that was converting to LEDs.

I wired one up, it works!  I plan to use 8 of them for the bottom two shelves on my big shelf, and I'll probably replace the homemade fixtures on the top two shelves as well, that should be 16 of them.  The rest are going to a friend of mine.
By the way, here's a list of all the audio books I listened to this year while chopping peppers, in case anyone is interested:
High Rise - J.G. Ballard - Very weird book that personifies "postmodern" to me, mainly in the sense that it was absolutely devoid of humor.  I liked it nonetheless.
A Wrinkle In Time - Madeline L'engle - Read this as a kid, it still holds up imo.
Calvino's Folktales - Italo Calvino - This is the classic collection of Italian folktales, which tend to be a lot weirder than the Germanic folktales we're more used to.
Guardians of the West - David Eddings - The first book in the Mallorean series.  Hated this one.  I actually liked the Belgariad, but the writing in this one took a serious nosedive.  I probably won't continue the series.
Triplanetary - E.E. Doc Smith - classic sci-fi from the 30s or so.  Fun despite being really dated.  It has that old school sci-fi feel.  I'll definitely read the rest at some point.
Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton - Couldn't get into this one, DNF.
First 5 Amber books - Roger Zelazny - These were pretty awesome.  Zelazny gives you very little in the way of back story, you just have to piece together what's going on as it happens, but it's pretty mind-blowing once you figure it out.
The Stand - Stephen King - Loved this one, not as good as It, but still awesome.
A Pair of Blue Eyes - Thomas Hardy - Thomas Hardy is my favorite author.  This is one of his lesser novels, I think the first one he published.  I liked it.
Guards, Guards! - Terry Pratchett - Prior to this I'd only read the first 3 or 4 discworld books, and this is one that everyone recommends.  It was fantastic, Pratchett's trademark style was on full display.
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - Loved the hell out of this one, it's now in my top 5 favorite books.
Silas Marner - George Elliot - Loved this as well, reminded me a lot of Hardy, only with a happy ending.
Bold Badger Sauces said:
Guards, Guards! - Terry Pratchett - Prior to this I'd only read the first 3 or 4 discworld books, and this is one that everyone recommends.  It was fantastic, Pratchett's trademark style was on full display.
I've been revisiting a handfull of the Discworld series myself this year.
Several of the ones that feature Inspector Sam Vines are fun reads.  Give "The Fifth Elephant" a read if your interested in following up on Inspector Vines.