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Growing hot peppers in Kyoto, Japan

This is my third year growing peppers since moving here; my first year was pretty good (completely accidentally), last year was a bit of a disaster due to unusual weather and my general gardening ignorance, so I can only hope for 2024 I can apply some of the lessons I have learnt on the way, and I am so happy to find such a treasure trove of knowledge and experienced growers here in this forum!

There are some specific challenges to growing here: in addition to the annual monsoon/rainy season, Kyoto City sits at the bottom of a valley system surrounded on three sides by mountains, which causes cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers. Summers are particularly hot since we are a long way from the sea, so we get no nice sea breezes or cooling effects (unlike our neighbours Osaka and Kobe). It is also hard to obtain the hot pepper seeds I want as the Japanese government has now decided you need a phytosanitary certificate to ship any chili seeds from suppliers abroad.

As you might guess from my username I make hot sauces, currently purely as a hobby, and I am trying to settle on a couple of recipes using chillies that I grow myself. @internationalfish tested one of my older sauces, lived, and very kindly gave me a lots of great feedback and advice. If there are any other members based in Japan I am happy to send you a bottle of my hot sauce from my next batch to test.

Anyway, I have big house move in summer so I am limiting my growing this year to:

Hot Thai (overwintered from last year)
Buena Mulata
Fatalii
Chocolate bhutlah
Chocolate jolokia

I may attempt to grow habaneros again (last year my plants were destroyed in a typhoon) and maybe a Jalapeno for a green hot sauce, I can purchase these as seedlings locally, but I am undecided - I don't want to have to lug too many mature plants across the city in the middle of summer.

Anyway, thank you for reading and any advice, help or recommendations are most welcome! Happy growing to you all in 2024!
 

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I'm surprised you don't like the buena mulata! Its on my chilli wl.. What varieties are you growing that you like? Do you grow Aji's?
tastewise for raw pepper, i prefere capsicum pubescens (rocoto marlene last year) or baccatum (sugar rush, etc..).
for drying and powdering, the yield i got with buena mulata wasn't great, so i switched to other varieties like aji gusanito or Capsicum frutescens (I have rather poor yield with annums)
 
tastewise for raw pepper, i prefere capsicum pubescens (rocoto marlene last year) or baccatum (sugar rush, etc..).
for drying and powdering, the yield i got with buena mulata wasn't great, so i switched to other varieties like aji gusanito or Capsicum frutescens (I have rather poor yield with annums)
Interesting that you didn't get a good yield! But, saying that comparing the yield you get from Aji's, its easy to think that. I saw you mention that you start your peppers in May. For me, I'm zone 5 (Npton, uk) and we also have risk of frost in May - but I start mine indoors Jan/Feb and get a great yield from the cayennes and annums.
 
Seedlings are 1 - 2 weeks old. I invested in a slightly better LED. Fatalii seeds were disappointing for me, every single viable seedling was a helmet-head: I managed to rescue four. One spontaneously and inexplicably laid out and died, so they are now three. Choc bhutlahs and jolokias seemed to show the most reliable germination, although the jolokias took their time: the longest required 13 days to germinate. Buena mulatas are all good. I think next year I need to germinate chinense and annuum seeds in separate chambers, and maybe soak the seeds longer (I did 3 hours this time, but it looks like 24 hours is optimal?) before incubation to reduce the helmet-head rate. Otherwise, everything is going great and I am very excited, especially for the chocolate superhots.
 

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Looks like the gang is coming along nicely! Bhut varieties often have a ruffled leaf perimeter, but that's something different, most likely related to a lack of water to support the affected leaves during formation. With luck, maybe the soil was just dry at the wrong time and it won't continue, though this can also occur as a result of root issues or sucking bugs, which can be ongoing problems.
 
Looks like the gang is coming along nicely! Bhut varieties often have a ruffled leaf perimeter, but that's something different, most likely related to a lack of water to support the affected leaves during formation. With luck, maybe the soil was just dry at the wrong time and it won't continue, though this can also occur as a result of root issues or sucking bugs, which can be ongoing problems.
Yes I hope this issue just affected that one choc bhut in the middle - its siblings either side of it are for the moment normal, touch wood!
I'm paranoid about over-watering, so maybe it just got dried out too much at a critical time. Thank you for the tips @CaneDog!
 
Five week-old Buena Mulata
I'm also growing Buena Mulata for the first time, we'll talk again at the end of the season to understand what we think of the taste 🙂 I read that it has blackberry and raspberry tones and can be used for a "morada sauce", but I take these descriptors with a grain of salt.

Kyoto is beautiful, I got lost a few years ago; the traditional houses made me feel like I was in the past.
As for spicy foods, apart from fresh wasabi, I only found the mixed spices "Shichimi togarashi".
Good luck!
 
I'm also growing Buena Mulata for the first time, we'll talk again at the end of the season to understand what we think of the taste 🙂 I read that it has blackberry and raspberry tones and can be used for a "morada sauce", but I take these descriptors with a grain of salt.

Kyoto is beautiful, I got lost a few years ago; the traditional houses made me feel like I was in the past.
As for spicy foods, apart from fresh wasabi, I only found the mixed spices "Shichimi togarashi".
Good luck!
Ciao amico,
I plan to use my Buena Mulata chillies for fermented hot sauce. So we shall see!
I am glad you liked my city, yes old though not quite as old as most Italian cities! We lack hot things, but I am working on changing this situation.
Good luck and happy growing/burning this season!
 
Getting some nice foliage on my plants. Also, it looks like it will soon be warm enough at night here to move these outdoors; maybe in 1 week or so. Sadly this also means I'm getting close to the time where I give most of these plants away (I can't grow more than about 5-6 plants this year). I've found them good homes among friends, I hope the plants do me proud!
Front rank: chocolate jolokias
Middle rank: fatalii and buena mulata (top pruned)
Rear rank: chocolate bhutlahs and buena mulata (not pruned)
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Been a while since my last update. A few days after my last post on 7th April, my plants had a big growth spurt, leaves and height:
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This would be the last photo of this year's seedlings all together, as soon afterwards I gave two of the chocolate jolokias to my chilli buddy at work:
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I also gave away one Buena Mulata seedling, leaving me with one Buena Mulata for me, and some chocolate jolokias, fatalii, and one chocolate bhutlah:
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These remaining chillies I started hardening off around 16th April, but we had a patch of bad weather, continuous rain for six days, so it took a bit longer than expected. Finally got round to potting up the Buena Mulata and bhutlah in their final pots today:
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Actually the Buena Mulata started flowering whilst it was hardening off; I've read about the coloration online but seeing the flowers for myself was really nice. I wish I took a photo with my digital SLR camera and not my phone!
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After potting up I noticed my first pepper of the 2024 season! Happy growing everyone!
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Been a while since my last update! The last of my indoor-raised chinense plants (Fatalii, chocolate jolokia, chocolate bhutlah) before they went off to a good home in Osaka.
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My own plants in the meantime are all hardened off, and now all up-potted into their final destination pots (Buena Mulata, Fatalii and choc Jolokia). My bhutlah was a little more delicate and needed a lot more time in the shade, so isn't in this photo.
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I still can't get over the beautiful colours of the Buena Mulata chiles! I'm holding off picking and eating any them till they ripen, though.
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Happy growing and burning!
 
All plants are in their final pots now, with the addition of two seedlings I bought locally: Dorset Naga and Early Jalapeño, this will be my outdoor grow for 2024 (I'm about to start an indoor grow soon, but that is for another post!). Finally after about four weeks outside my chinense superhots (chocolate bhutlah and chocolate bhut jolokia) on the left suddenly had a growth spurt, which is nice to see:
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The Buena Mulata is producing well:
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Unfortunately, I just saw in the news we have a very unseasonal typhoon headed towards Japan right now. Just moved my plants under cover now!
 
It's been just over a month since my last post, so time for an update! In my part of the world the monsoon/rainy season has started proper, but I got a few photos when the sun was out!
The star of this season so far has been my chocolate bhutlah. It took a couple of weeks after its final potting and then really took off, growing and fruiting very nicely.
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Actually, the lower four fruits all ripened and I picked them yesterday! They are going into my next fermented hot sauce.
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The Buena Mulata plant is doing really well also. The mass of purple fruits is showing some nice ripening.
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Early jalapeno is doing well, though necessarily a bit behind the others since I bought it as a seedling only in May.
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Happy growing and burning!
 
Nice pods, you are way ahead of me, our weather is not great (we have fall weather since the beginning of may and tons of rain)

next year im coming to kyoto :)
 
Nice pods, you are way ahead of me, our weather is not great (we have fall weather since the beginning of may and tons of rain)

next year im coming to kyoto :)
the monsoon humidity and heat has done for my Dorset Naga - fungus on the leaves. My other plants are doing okay though!
Seriously, if you can ever make it to my part of Kyoto, I will give you a sample of my hot sauce! I can't guarantee the hot weather will follow you back to Alsace for your chile plants though...
 
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