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PeriPeri's Grow 13/14/15/2016: South African

Welcome to PeriPeri's Grow 13/14/15/2016: South Africa
If you would like to see the 2012/2013 Grow, you can see it Here

First a little info about our country:

South Africa is situated at the very southern tip of the African continent. Our country ranges a divers spectrum of cultures and religions and of course habitats. Our country is flanked by the Atlantic on the SW coast line and the Indian Ocean on the NE coast line. Our diverse habitats range from tropical to sub saharan and even desert up north. One thing is for sure, the high summer temperatures and generally mild winter temperatures mean that our country does offer a great opportunity to grow chillies (among other things). To those who are not familiar with our country, Africa probably conjurs up images of harsh barren landscapes with dry baked un-fertile soil and wild animals roaming all over the place. South Africa is probably one of the most established african countries with a large farming sector and loads of fertile soil.

The locality of where this grow will take place is largely situated inland near Pretoria. Altitude here is about 4000ft above sea level. We are talking mild winters with some frost early mornings (temperatures drop at night due to altitude). Daytime temps in winter are round about 21ºC and night time temps can drop as low as -4ºC on a very cold night. There is no rain on the "Highveldt" as we call it in winter. As a rule of thumb all months of the year without an "R" do not have rain. These are our dry months, which go from May till August. Our summer is also our rainy season. This goes from September till April. Temperatures in Pretoria in Summer vary 30ºC - 40ºC daytime to a low of 17ºC on average at night. While there is often long dry spells without rain, rains usually accumulate as huge thunderstorms that bring flash floods, hail and sever lightning.

The farm has a borehole which provides water for the garden. Although at present there is no irrigation system. One of my projects for this year.

Animal wise, we have loads of insects, snakes, scorpions, spiders, primates (Baboons and Vervet Monkeys) as well as Carnivores such as Jackals, Rooicats (mountain lion) and other smaller wild cats. But as far as chillies go, the monkeys and baboons are the biggest problem as they do eat the milder chillies and destroy plants while foraging. There are no traps big enough for monkeys and generally they are very clever to get around most deterrents, so full enclosure with shade netting is the best way.

Other than this, I would say that while there has been much bad publicity about the country in the press, our country is a beautiful country with diversity everywhere, the land, the people, the cultures and the religions. Hence our country is called the rainbow nation. Most famous person is probably Nelson Mandella who established our new democracy in the New South Africa after the apartheit era. Our country is a young democracy in the making - but most of all, our country is a diverse and beautiful country with much to offer and of course home of the Big 5, Blue Whale and Great White Shark... and much much more. Just a quick and very narrow snapshot of what our wonderful country is about!

Last years experience has given me a better understanding of growing at the farm and these are the pitfalls from my exercise last year.

Generally last year was a great season. Great weather - hot and dry. Lots of mistakes made, but things that will not be repeated. Last year we had about 78 different varieties of chillies. We had an estimated 1000 plants in the soil. Last season was our first season growing in the soil and based on previous experiences with growing in pots... I will say adieu to pots and hello soil.

1) Watering. As mentioned there is no irrigation. Water is available a plenty, but regular watering in these hot climates is a must. So for me, I will be looking closely at getting some sort of a watering system up and running. Added problem is that the farm is located about 1 hour from where I live, so watering every day during the week was reliant on staff at the farm watering ever second day during the week. Staffing issues resulted in the loss of quite a few plants due to non watering. So irrigation and a computer will be priority.

2) Season. Last year we started planting seedlings late October/Early November. This year we aim to be in the soil early October. Germination started earlier this season beginning July. I have also acquired a green house which I will use for the seedlings.

3) Planting. Last year planting got into a big muddle. This year I will be more methodical. Also, we planted too close. We found that this becomes a problem when harvesting. We did not feel that last years approach of planting two seedlings together being a problem. We did not notice any significant lower yield with plants that had been planted together as opposed to individually. And found that the cohabitation of plants together (in pairs) actually helped in areas where seedlings were exposed to direct sun. In fact, cohabitation resulted in better growth and larger plants.

4) Spacing. Last year we planted seedlings approx 45cm apart. We would like to extend this to 60cm as we found 45cm to be too dense. We were happy with using channels and rows which helped retain water for approx two - three days between watering and helped channel any run off out of the field. Also, there was no pooling or puddling which was better I think.

5) Insects/monkeys/Snails. Mostly cutworm issues with small seedlings. We will tackle this by using (Stickman's stick method) and through pellets - if need be. Pepper maggots: We suffered quite extensively with Pepper Maggots. We will implement sacrificial boundary plants, fly tapes and beer traps (not for me but the wasps). Monkeys: Plant inside enclosures only. We will be looking at extending the current shade net enclosure, but will need to raise funding for this. Giant African Land Snail: Amazing buggers these. We found lots but only a few that had dug into the plants root system to suck the minerals from plant roots. Not much of a threat as these were just removed by hand, but the enclosure goes a long way to preventing them from getting in.

6) Weeds. Last year we had a problem with weeds. Weeds were time consuming at the start of the season and probably brought about by the application of horse manure. We will try and look at applying some kind of ground cover to reduce weeds, but this will be advised at a later stage.

7) Planting. Last year we took young seedlings and planted them in a nursery. Once big enough we transplanted them densely in the inside enclosed garden (which has 40% shade cloth) and then transplanted the young plants to the open fields once about 15 - 20cm in size. We would like to cut out all the extra work and transplanting, which we found to just delay growth. Every time you transplant, the plant growth is set back... so we will be planting directly into the plants final destination. This means we will be waiting for the pants to get to 15-20cm in size before planting in the soil. Last season we planted seedlings in the soil when they were very small and this also resulted in losses through cutworm.

8) Fertilizers. Nothing hectic. The soil at the farm is incredibly rich and fertile soil. But we found last year that Seaweed and Fish fertilizers to be brilliant and totally harmless. So we will definitely be sticking with this recipe. Out of time constraint, last season, pellets were applied to the surface as opposed to mixing the pellets into the soil around the base of the plant, so this season we will try and do this properly. We alo will pay particular attention to maintaining the mounds around the root base and regularly loosening the soil. With our flash floods and heavy downpours the mounds do flatten and the soil becomes compacted. This results in roots being exposed, water running off the soil as opposed to into the soil and ultimately impacting on the plants optimal growth.

9) Support. Last year we added support as the plants became bigger. Not knowing how big some of the plants would get. We have a better idea this year and will be implementing supports at the beginning. We have two types of bamboo on the farm and will be using the harder thinner bamboo as this does not disturb the roots as much.

10) Drink. More beer. Last year we did not have nearly enough beer to get us through the backbreaking work... so there will have to be more beer for sure :) Just one more thing on that, Nature is an amazing process. Trust in nature. Everything has its place and jumping to intervene (which we always want to do) is sometimes the worst thing that we can do. Plants are very forgiving once established and a lot more resilient than we give them credit for. So chill. Have a beer when the nerves are frayed and you want to reach for the napalm. Nature is amazing most of the time and things in nature have survived a million times over. For aphids there are ladybirds. For insects there are the birds... if you napalm the aphids, the ladybirds will go... just chill and have a beer :) This is my theory and I am sticking to it lol

Ok, lots on the cards this year. plenty to do and arrange and it will be kicking off shortly. The plants from last year are still in the garden and field. I only over wintered the special plants. Of these there are 100 mature plants that I rescued from the winter frost. The other 900 plants are still in the soil. It looks like armageddon in the fields. Some plants have been taken by the frost for sure, but others are showing signs of life. I plan to go this week to weed out the dead plants from the survivors and prune dead wood. I am planning to rearrange things somewhat, so once I have established the survivors, I will be transplanting those plants to get order back into the fields. This will allow me to get the vacant land ready for new plants.

As mentioned germination is well under way. Propagator has been fired up now for month and a bit and seedlings are coming along just great. First week of October will be my D-Day for planting.

Loads of exciting new chillies on the go this season. I had intended to cut down on the number of plants this year... but guess what :D

Grow List 2013/2014

Aji Lemon
Angkor Sunrise
Antilaise Caribbean
Baby Belle Pimento
Bahamian Goat
Bali Long
Bali Naga
Bhut Jolokia
Bhut Jolokia Cappuccino
Bhut Jolokia Chocolate
Bhut Jolokia Peach
Bhut Jolokia X Habanero Giant White
Big Jim
Bile Bile (Zimbabwean PeriPeri)
Bishops Crown
Black Pearl
Bonda Ma Jacques
Boriya Mirch
Cabe Merah
Calapeño Thunder
California Wonder Golden
Carolina Reaper
Joe's Long Cayenne
Cherry Sweet
Cherry Bomb
Cheyenne X Thai
Condom (Aji Verde)
Devil's Tongue Brown
Devil's Tongue White
Ecuadorian Sweet
Explosive Embers
Facing Heaven
Fatalii Red
Fatalii White
Fatalii Yellow
Fidalga Roxa
Fish Pepper
Goronong Cili
Habanero Big Sun
Habanero Champagne
Habanero Gambia
Habanero Golden
Habanero Paper Lantern
Habanero Peach Long
Habanero Red
Habanero Large White
Habanero White Jellybean
Hong Kong
Hot Pixies
Hungarian Hot Wax
Hungarian Sweet Wax
Hungarian White Apple
Jalapeño El Jefe
Jamaican Gold
Long Thai
Makulu Peri
Manzano Orange
Mata Frade
Naga King Jolokia
Naga Morich (European)
Naga Morich (Indian)
Naga Viper
Orange Blob
Pasilla Bajio
Pata Pario
PeriPeri (Mozambique)
PeriPeri (Malawi)
PeriPeri (SA)
Phuli Jiyoti
Pimenta de Neyde
Purple Tiger
Red Savina
Ring of Fire
CARDI Yellow Scorpion
Scarlet Lantern
Scotch Bonnet
Scotch Bonnet Peach Long
Thai Dragon
Trinidad 7 Pot Barrakpore
Trinidad 7 Pot Jonah X Trinidad Scorpion ButchT
Trinidad 7 Pot Primo
Trinidad 7 Pot Brainstrain
Trinidad 7 Pot Burgundy
Trinidad 7 Pot Douglah
Trinidad 7 Pot Jonah
Trinidad 7 Pot Red
Trinidad 7 Pot White
Trinidad Scorpion ButchT
Trinidad Scorpion Moruga
Trinidad Perfume
Trinidad Scorpion ButchT X Bhut Jolokia
Trinidad Scorpion ButchT X Trinidad 7 Pot Primo
Trinidad Scorpion ButchT X Moruga
Trinidad Scorpion CARDI Yellow X Bhut Jolokia
Trinidad Scorpion Long Tail
Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Chocolate
Trinidad Scorpion Sunrise
Trinidad Scorpion Yellow FG
Tuscan Frgitello (Pepperoncini)
122 different types - I hope that will be it :D
Thank you to Stickman for the seeds. Thank you to Conor for his seeds and thank you to Meatfreak for the amazing selection he sent. I am still hoping that Walkgood's package will arrive - so thanks for those in advance my friend!
wildseed57 said:
Sure thing I have some C. lanceolatum seeds on the way, I'll PM you which is what I should have done in the first place.
Boy I'm glad that my day is almost over, I had a crappy Day at the VA hospital. I grew some purple jalapeno's that looked a lot like that one, I didn't like the taste as it reminded me of a ornamental type pepper flavor wise, and it had fairly thin flesh compared to a regular jalapeno, but I got spoiled growing the jumbo variety that has thick flesh. what type are the long green thin ones they remind me of Pusa jwala. 
Hey George, hope things get better buddy!
The long green chillies are one of my absolute favourites... they are called Cabe Merah... super tasty and such pretty and productive plants!
I am growing a few Jalapeños this season too... I am revisiting the more regular varieties too.
I have grown the Jawala... it is much thicker and bigger than the Cabe Merha... this is a large plant, but pods are actually very thin, but have a fair length.
Chat soon ;)
Penny said:
Those pods all look great Lourens!!
Thank you Penny, my plants are slow to move along. It has been brutally hot and dry here again. The car temp guage said 41ºC mid day. It was still 32ºC at 17:30 this afternoon! No rain in sight urgh!
Just found this thread now, Got a lot of catching up to do, a lot to read. How has the Heat and the Drought affected your growing. It is very hot and dry here in Durbz.
A Happy New Year to you all! I have been away for a good months holiday at our Sunshine Coast. Batteries are all charged again and ready for the slog!
It has been super hot and dry here in South Africa accross the country I think. El Ninio doing its thing!
All sorts of issues with the chilli grow this season... the rains have finally come - rather late than never, and much needed. I have had to leave my seedlings for a whole month while on holiday (which was tough - can you imagine the anxiety?)
There was the usual fatalities... but lots of chillies still on the go. I am now on a serious backfoot with the grow this year.
First trip to the farm this weekend. Having to cut it short today as I have a prior engagement, but sure could have done with more time to get more planting done. I will be back at the farm on Tuesday to do more planting. So far I have managed to take across one trailer load. Probably have another two trailer loads to take across. But as they say... Rome was not built in a day.
So I have three months to make it. It's tight... but doable :)
Penny said:
Hoping all is ok Lourens, its been almost a month and no updates...odd?
Happy New Year ;)
Hi Penny,
All the best for 2016 to you too!
I must apologize for the lack of coms. I had a holiday at the coast for a month and internet there was really bad... so it was a great Holiday :)
I will get some updates going by Tuesday at the latest, when I am next at the farm. I worked like blazes to get the ground prepared and seedlings into the ground this weekend... and have barely scratched the surface!
The rains seem to have come, so being very late this year is not necessarily a bad thing.
Argonaught said:
Just found this thread now, Got a lot of catching up to do, a lot to read. How has the Heat and the Drought affected your growing. It is very hot and dry here in Durbz.
Hi D, Welcome! The dry conditions here in Joburg have been welcome. Chilies like it drier than the soggy wet summers we usually get in Joburg. So all good on that side. Fortunately it seems like the drought has been broken on the highveld. We have had some good rains. I am however very late with my grow this season. Only going into the soil this weekend... so definitely on a back foot here!
Lunch is served ;)
Early morning harvest of snails you really don't want in your veggie patch :)

And these are small snails lol
Giant African Land Snails can grow up to about 25cm in length I believe.