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Don't Panic 2021 - No, Seriously... Don't Panic!

Let's get 2021 started!!!
 
My grow list is a blend of my yearly regulars, new peppers I want to explore, and unstable crosses.  Like a lot of people, I can never seem to grow enough pepper plants to satisfy all my desires, so I have to make some decisions.
 
I have a lot of Annuums on my grow list this year.  Even though they're not the hottest peppers, I always seem to find them useful.
 
2021 Grow List
 
  • Jax - A cross from 2020 between a Jamaican Yellow Mushroom and another unknown pepper
  • Bumpy Bottomed Sri Lankan Chili Red - A 2020 cross between a Sri Lankan Chili Red and another unknown pepper.  It had a bumpy bottom compared to regular Sri Lankan Chili Reds, and was thicker-walled.
  • Jalapeño - One of my regulars.
  • Sri Lankan Chili Red - I've found these to be good utility peppers.  I don't worry about it if I don't save every one of them.  I also like the fact that they often surprise you with a totally different pepper.
  • Orange Thai - Another of my regulars.  I like the flavor and heat level of these peppers.
  • Large Utility Cayenne - I shouldn't even call it a Cayenne anymore.  Over the years, my saved seeds for my Cayenne peppers have started to become unstable, and I started to get this larger version last year, but it is more like a pod than a regular Cayenne.
  • Regular Utility Cayenne - I think this variety of mine is crossed or has somehow otherwise become unstable after several years of saving non-isolated seeds.  But it's a good utility pepper, and I like surprises.
  • St Lucia Roxa (Chinense) - This is just my name for this pepper, I've never really been able to identify this variety.  I bought some seeds for a St. Lucia Seasoning pepper a few years back, and this is what grew instead.
  • PGPG Bird Sausage Pepper - I got this cross from PaulG, where one of his entrants for the 2019 Growdown Throwdown grew out to be something totally different.  This one was really popular with the birds last year.
  • PDN x 7 Pot Caramel (Jay Leno) Pepper (Chinense) - I got this cross from a SFRB I bought from Bhuter.  Since one of the peppers bore a resemblance to Jay Leno, I've started referring to it as the Jay Leno pepper.
  • XL Antep Aci Cross - The 2021 Growdown Throwdown pepper.
I'm growing the following varieties from seeds I got from Atlantic Peppers Seeds
  • Mulato Islero
  • St. Lucia Sweet
  • Aji Benito
  • St. Lucia Seasoning
  • Chimayo (New Mexico landrace)
  • San Isidro Rocotto
I'm planning on growing 40-45 plants.
 
I've bought a special seedling deck for my AeroGarden, and I'm going to see how that works.
 
D5vWPpZ.jpg

 
I started 30 seedlings this way on Saturday (Jan 23rd), and I'll see how they do.
 
I'll start the rest of my peppers on February 1st (to coincide with the official start of the GrowDown ThrowDown).
 
My plan is to transfer them to small 4" round plastic pots when they get 4 or 6 true leaves.  At that point, I don't have a good setup to provide artificial light.
 
I need a pot small enough so I can trip them in and out of the house until the nighttime low temperatures come up.
 
The way things are progressing, I think I could have waited another two or three weeks, because things are going to slow way down until I can leave them outside enough to use natural light.
 
(edit because I forgot to duck)
 
rf8xKmv.jpg
 

PaulG

Extreme Member
DontPanic said:
I need a pot small enough so I can trip them in and out of the house until the nighttime low temperatures come up.
 
(edit because I forgot to duck)
Nice duck  :thumbsup:
 
What are your nighttime lows at present?
 
PaulG said:
What are your nighttime lows at present?
 
They vary widely this time of year.
 
Later this week, the lows will be in the high 50s. Soon after that they're in the high 30s, and it wouldn't be unusual for a freeze to come along.
 
Historically speaking, that last frost will be around March 1.  I'll typically look for a forecast of around 7 days above 50F to move things to their final home.  That'll usually be about a month later.
 

PaulG

Extreme Member
DontPanic said:
 
They vary widely this time of year.
 
Later this week, the lows will be in the high 50s. Soon after that they're in the high 30s, and it wouldn't be unusual for a freeze to come along.
 
Historically speaking, that last frost will be around March 1.  I'll typically look for a forecast of around 7 days above 50F to move things to their final home.  That'll usually be about a month later.
I'm surprised it is that cold there. We're
going to be below freezing for several
days this week. Our 10% frost date is
like May 19th, so plant out is in June here.
 
After 8 days in the dirt, I don't have any hooks yet.  But it's too early to panic.
 
The seedlings in my AeroGarden are progressing nicely.
 
pIfH4w0.jpg

 
The 2 cells with San Isidro Rocotos finally germinated one seed each (I probably put three seeds in each cell).  Not great, but I'll take it.
 
I even have one cell (out of three) of Jay Leno Peppers coming to life, and there's hints of activity in one other cell.
 
So it looks like the only variety I'm getting skunked on with the AeroGarden is the Chimayos.
 
I'm pretty happy with how the AeroGarden is working out so far.  I wish I could have got some of the GrowDown ThrowDown seeds in there.
 
I also get a kick out of it when the food scraps I throw into my compost pile decide to grow instead of composting away.
 
rBzrSME.jpg
 
I'm having problems with the seeds I've been starting in potting soil in starter trays.
 
After 10 1/2 days, I've only had two peppers hook out (and those were late today) out of around 100 seeds.
 
I've made an attempt at measuring the pH of my potting mix by taking a cell's worth of fresh potting soil, placing that soil in a coffee filter in a cup, and letting it soak for an hour in water.  The pH of the remaining water after removing and draining the coffee filter came in at 5.6.
 
I'm worried this is low, so, for better or worse, I'm making an attempt to raise my pH by using dilute baking soda.
 
I made up a mixture of dilute backing soda (~10 grams in 200 grams distilled water), and added a teaspoon of this solution the water from my soil measurement (which should correspond to the water from one cell's worth of soil).  The pH came up to 7.5.  That pH is a little too high, so I diluted my baking soda down to where I was using about 1/4 of the amount I used on the extracted water.
 
I don't have a really good idea for a non-destructive way to test the results of my pH adjustment on my already started cells, so I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping this improves the situation.
 
I'm 12 days in on the seeds I've put in soil, and the progress is unexpectedly slow, but it's improving.
 
The Small Orange Thai are doing best.  I've got 8 starts coming up there.  I'm impressed by the toughness of this variety.  And it produces a really good pepper.
 
But, even these seedlings look like they're struggling somewhat.
 
LOhPs9p.jpg

 
After that, I've got 4 Jalapeños, and 1 each of a Bahamian Goat, GDTD XL Antep Aci, and my Utility Cayenne.  I've got about 100 seeds in spread out over 36 cells.  For 12 days worth of progress, something is definitely off.
 
I'm concerned my potting medium is based on a potting mix that hasn't been aged enough.  I bought my potting mix from a local nursery.  It's their unlabeled brand.  I was hopeful that a local nursery would have a mix targeted for our area.  But the high pH in this soil makes me think it hasn't been aged enough, and has too much biological composting going on.  That would be one explanation for the low pH (I think?).
 
Luckily, the starts I have going in my AeroGarden are doing well.
 
I'll just have to struggle along with the starts I've got going in the dirt, and hopefully, I'll learn something along the way.  :)
 
 
My AeroGarden is making good progress.  In fact, it looks like it's becoming too crowded.  Some of the seedlings are overwhelming smaller seedlings, so I'm going to transplant a few of the bigger ones.
 
I started my AeroGarden on January 23rd, so this is just under one month's progress.
 
vQa5eRw.jpg

 
For right now, the root development is still manageable.  But, at some point the roots will become entangled.
 
nhpUzhY.jpg

 
I'm transplanting a few to 4" round pots.  This will open up some room, and also help me find out if there's any "gotchas" in the transplanting process.
 
AfASE1v.jpg

 
QvKsWvd.jpg

 
I probably could have transplanted them to bigger pots, but it's still too early in the year.  I need to keep them at a manageable size, so I can trip them in and outside.
 
Next year, I think I'll start my AeroGarden later, at a point where I can go to a bigger pot, and leave them outside without worrying about a freeze or a frost.
 

PaulG

Extreme Member
Yeah, time to transplant! My 7-port AeroGarden
gets crowded if I let it go long enough, but I like
to transplant before the roots get tangled up in
the baskets. I like the built in sponge holders of
your unit. Mine uses those wonky inserts.
 
PaulG said:
Yeah, time to transplant! My 7-port AeroGarden
gets crowded if I let it go long enough, but I like
to transplant before the roots get tangled up in
the baskets. I like the built in sponge holders of
your unit. Mine uses those wonky inserts.
 
I do like the design of the seedling tray, but it still has something kind-of like the basket that holds the smaller seedling sponges.  And the part that holds the sponge up is integral with the deck, so I'm thinking I can't let things get too far, or the roots will get entangled with other roots, and the deck.
 
In stark contrast to the quick progress in my AeroGarden, the seedlings I'm trying to start in soil starter cells are coming along slowly.  The germination is slower than I've had in the past, and the post germination progress also seems like it's slow.  Usually, most of my seedlings hook out in 8 - 11 days, with a few stragglers coming in later.  This year, everything seems like it's taking 13 - 17 days to germinate.
 
Overall, I'll end up having plenty of seedlings, but I still have a few varieties I struck out on.
 
Here's a tray of Orange Thai Seedlings after 15 days (this variety is doing best by far):
 
ucYl6Sz.jpg

 
Maybe I'm being impatient, but usually the Cotys start developing faster than this.
 
I'm worried something is off with the potting soil I've been using, so I've bought a bag of Miracle Grow potting soil to use for the majority of my re-potting.
 
In order to hopefully get some insight, I'm starting an experiment by potting up 4 of my Orange Thai seedlings in different potting medium.
 
One is using the Miracle Grow, a second is using a bag of left over potting soil from last year, a third is using my own mixture of compost, perlite, and worm castings, and the fourth is my control group using the potting soil that I suspect is the problem.
 
PvvZG9e.jpg

 
It'll take a few days to get over the transplant shock, then maybe I'll be able to discern some differences.
 
But, for my own curiosity, I've want to take a stab at figuring out the problem.  Who knows?  Maybe I'm just imagining a problem that isn't even there.  :)
 

PaulG

Extreme Member
CaneDog said:
Looks like you're off to a great start with those DP.  AeroGardens seem to be very effective at germinating and getting plants started rapidly. 
You should get one CD. There are lots of
used ones on the 'net. I bought my old-
fashioned one on sale years ago. If I ever
had to really scale back on growing, the
AG would be my choice for germinating.
 
They have decks that hold lots of sponges
for planting veggies, flowers and stuff. I
think mine holds at least 30 sponges. I
haven't used it for awhile.
 

PaulG

Extreme Member
"But, for my own curiosity, I've want to take a stab at figuring out the problem. 
Who knows?  Maybe I'm just imagining a problem that isn't even there."
 
Germination is quirky sometimes brother. Seems l
ike the seeds have a mind of their own. Case in
point, 3/16 on my TT v2 F3 this season, which is
usually a strong germinator.
 
​Carry on, my friend. May the chili gods smile on
your grow!
 
I've been clearing out my AeroGarden, and transplanting those of sufficient size to pots.
 
The stunted ones that are left may have been smothered by the other seedlings.  So they may begin to perk up now.  The San Isidro Rocotos were definitely having trouble fighting for space with the annuums neighboring them.
 
0NYzq7Z.jpg

 
Here's a group photo of everything I've potted up from my AeroGarden (in front), as well as the seedlings I started in potting soil in back.
 
9cUXn5C.jpg

 
Obviously, the stuff I started in the AeroGarden is killing it compared to the stuff I started in potting soil.
 
I'm pretty happy with the results from my AeroGarden seedling starter tray.  I wasn't expecting this much difference.
 
I'm having problems with the seedlings started in soil this year.  In the past, they'd be much further along by this point.  I'm pretty sure my potting soil was funky.  I've been transplanting seedlings to bigger pots, and different potting soil.  I completely removed them from the other potting soil, and put them in fresh potting soil, so they're still working through the transplant shock.
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
Looks great DP.  I pulled some bags of bad potting mix last year when I couldn't find a usual brand and it had a serious adverse affect on the plants.  You'd like to think if they sell it specifically as potting soil it would at least not hurt things.  Anyhow, good luck on a speedy recovery now that they have happy feet.
 
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