PeriPeri's Grow 2018: South Africa

Greetings from South Africa!
 
It has been a few years since my last glog on THP. Sadly, life got in the way (as it does) and I had to step away from THP. But it does feel good to be back doing another glog!
 
A shout out to all my pals on THP who have kept the home fires burning! You guys are the glue that keeps this site going :)
 
This glog will be retrospective somewhat as our grow season here started in August and is now in full swing already.

For those of you who maybe don't know me, a little background info.
 
My previous glogs:
 
PeriPeri's Grow Log 2012: South Africa
PeriPeri's Grow 13/14/15/2016: South Africa
 
I live in Johannesburg, South Africa and the farm we grow our chillies on is about 1 hours drive away. Geographically our farm is situated on the "Highveld" near Pretoria (the capital of South Africa). The altitude here is around 5,751ft above sea level. We have a dry and a rainy season. Our rainy season goes from August/September until April (our summer) with an average rainfall of around 28 inches during these months. We are currently experiencing lower rainfall, but luckily this does not affect us as we have a very generous borehole with ample water throughout the year. Temperatures in summer at the farm can range anywhere from 26 - 40ºC daytime and 18 - 25ºC night time. The farm is located in a valley surrounding a large dam, so we have a very hot and humid micro climate that does not really relate to the general local weather. Our winter temperatures can range from 18 - 23ºC daytime with night time temps that can range from 7 to -1ºC. Our winters are bone dry as we do not get any rain from May - August. We do get light frost in our winters, but come first week of October night time temps are usually up to 10ºC again.
 
The grow area on the farm is located close to the banks of a small river, so we are blessed with very rich and fertile loamy soil. Most things seem to grow in the soil and chillies seem to do exceptionally well there. I do rent the land from the owner and have access to an enclosed area that is about 20x20m and surrounding land. The enclosed area has 40% shade netting, which is great as the African sun is intense, but better yet - we have monkeys on the farm, so this keeps them out! Since we last grew there in around 2016, the land has not been used much, so it has had some time to recuperate. But more about that later. First off, let's flash back to August 2017.

So I started germination this season in August 2017. It is always a little messed up at first as seeds usually arrive late. No matter how hard I plan ahead, our near bankrupted Post Office always manage to delay orders from clearing through customs. This season one of the parcels took 3 months to get through our customs. So as much as you guys may complain about USPS or whatever... it doesn't get worse than our national Post Office here in South Africa! I will add that the grow list was a little ambitious this season. But, with a little scorpio determination - anything is possible! Right?
 
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I like to pre-soak my seeds before germination. I have created my own formula of pre-soak solution that seems to work for me. I know everyone here has their own mix or ideas about this, but this is what seems to work for me. Distilled water, hydrogen peroxide, salt peter & liquid soap. The soap helps take oils off the seed coat and facilitates uptake of water and the other two help with oxygenation and breaking down the seed coat as well as kill any nasties. Seeds soak for about 18 hours and then I like to use pure Coco Peat for final germination.
 
In the pic, some overwintered Rocotos in the greenhouse back home.
 
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From the pre-soak, seeds are entrusted to my old faithful - "Big Bertha". "Big Betha" is my trusted propagator. I created her from scratch in about 2013. She can house about 800 cells at any one time. Keeps a nice humid 30ºC at all times and runs off just 5 compact fluorescents. She just gets the job done. Given my grow list this season, it would take a few rounds to germinate everything. Which was all straight forward - and even the seeds that arrived late were handled in their stride.
 
But, no season would be complete without issues - right? The first round of germination first week of August was brilliant. Second round, things started looking a little sucky. Germinated rates fell and those seedlings that did emerge soon fell too. By all definitions, what I was experiencing was Damping Off. As mentioned, poor germination and established seedlings would go thin at the base and just keel over and wilt. Sound familiar?

Now, I knew temp was regular and consistent. Watering was ok... I went through the checklist. I was pretty sure it wasn't damping off. Everything was correct and the same as it always was. This left but two things in my mind - water and medium. I was sure the water was ok, as I only use spring water. It just so happened that I received a call from the CEO of Jiffy here in South Africa, asking if I were interested in trying the pellets. We chatted, I explained and he said - give those C7 Jiffy pellets a go. I did and that is that - as they say! What a brilliant product. Germination rates were more than satisfactory and growth was super fast. I was smiling.

What emerged from our conversation was that quite a few growers had experienced issues with the Coco Peat blocks that I was using. Clearly a bad batch had come into my possession and other growers too around the country. What I had not realized, was that the PH of those blocks was not regulated and what became apparent was that the Coco Peat was too acidic. The seeds & seedlings were sitting in acid. The results being poor germination, poor roots, narrowed base of stems and certain death. A lesson learned.

What I can say is I like the C7 Jiffy Pellets. The slight acidity of the Coco Peat does promote better root growth (in my experience) and the sterile nature of the product does limit the possibility of fungal or bacterial issues (seeds rotting in the medium). Well, at least this is my views. All buffered and ph balanced - They also come packed with all the nutrients needed by the seedlings that really seems to spur on growth. So, I am using that for sure going forwards. My only reservations about the Jiffy product was the outer membrane. I used the product some years back and found that the outer membrane did not break down and rather had caused bound roots and stunted growth in plants. But I was prepared to give this another test and work around. But more about that later!

As for the Coco Peat blocks I used to buy at the nursery - out the window! Unfortunately on the down side of things, the impact of the bad germination was that I had lost some varieties on my grow list. To order seeds this late in the season was pointless - as it would take months before they arrived. All I could do was dust off and move on!

So, given the set back with the germination, I had my last batch germinating by the end of August. My D-Day is always first week of October. This is generally when we have seen the last of the frost here and night time temps have risen above 10ºC. We do still get cold snaps in October, but these never really last longer than a day or two. So no big issues there.

Some of the seedlings in trailer on their way to the farm early October.
 
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This season I have also continued making and using my own rooting hormone. I stumbled across this some years ago and do seem to think that it really helps. First weeks of spring, I harvest new green shoots from the Willow trees down by the part and steep these in water. Three days later, I am ready to water the seedlings with the water. The science behind this is the active growth hormones found in Willow trees. Indolebutyric Acid & Salicylic acid - These are released into the water and ultimately into the root zone of the seedlings. This works two fold. It increases the plants resistance to disease and stimulates growth. I seem to think it is really simple but is highly effective.
 
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As mentioned earlier, the farm that we are growing at is about one hour from home. It takes a lot of planning and logistics to go out there every time. I have managed to get a trailer that has been invaluable to cart everything there and back. I am mostly only able to go there on weekends. I have my kids every alternate week - so it does take some planning to arrange trips out there. Another added issue is that I can't leave anything at the farm as things get stolen there. Anything of value is stolen from farms at night - so the trailer literally carries everything.

Our first inspection at the farm in August revealed some infra-structure issues that I had to get sorted before d-day.
  • Prep grow area inside netted area.
  • Establish grow area for seedlings.
  • Install Pressure Pump & Holding Tank.
  • Install irrigation for inside area, outside field and seedling areas.
In the two years we had not grown at the farm, some of the locals had grown in the garden and hashed the irrigation around. I basically had to re-establish the irrigation and add the new network of pipes needed to irrigate all the plants. In addition to this, the current water pressure was not sufficient to run all the sprinklers I needed. So, I had to re-engineer the water supply into a holding tank and through a pressure pump that would deliver the required water pressure. All a new learning curve for me - and a mammoth task!

I established the new water feed. Water from the borehole was delivered to a 2500 litre holding tank. From there water ran through a 220kw Pressure pump capable of delivering 200 litres of water per minute. I have had my fair share of burst pipes and irrigation headaches this season for sure. Irrigation is my absolute nemesis! Irrigation is one of those giant black hole for money and patience. The amount of times this season I walked out of the hardware saying "that is it now"... lol But, it is done - finally and all running smoothly. I ultimately had budgets to reign in, so I had to go with a 2500 litre tank. Running about 100 micro mists and 7 impact sprinklers also required I run three watering cycles. So I have three separate areas running off different timers.
 
Connecting float valve below.
 
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Pump needed caging in for security.
 
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Different irrigation circuits with own timers below.
 
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I had originally envisaged that the seedling area would be a holding area for new seedlings to harden off at the farm. This - I envisaged - required a shade netting for the roof and two of the sides to block out some of the harsh light. It later became apparent that monkeys were getting into the seedling area. They were not really going for the seedlings, but rather the root vegetables we were growing there. But the real issue was that they would damage seedlings in the process. So we subsequently enclosed the entire seedling area. Monkeys sorted!
 
The picture below shows what was in the area I established the seedling area. There were some unused raised beds and some metal structure of sorts. As you can see things in August were pretty dry. Rains were late and had not come yet. First task was to secure 40% shade netting onto the framework.
 
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Next picture shows the area after I established the beds for the seedling area. The fencing was to keep dowgs out. No monkey issues then yet!
 
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Other issues we have at the farm is your more common pests. Whitefly (not much - but some), Aphids, Caterpillars, Leafhoppers, Locusts, Snails and Cutworm. The most critical at seedling stage being the cutworm that seem to be more prolific early spring. But my good friend Stickman did teach me to use wooden sticks, which work brilliantly - and I still use to this day (thanks buddy!). I don't like to use pesticides as they do mess with the food chain. I do try everything before turning to pesticides. If I do, I go organic. Neem Oil, Neudosan etc - these are our local choices, yours may be different. Aphids are not really an issue either until later in the season when we get cooler mornings. But Neem Oil seems to sort them out quick. Locusts are a bugger here as they do eat the outer of stems and the fruit of the plants. Also, we do have issues with ants in the grow area. They do not generally affect plants, but when they do, they usually attack the roots of a plant, resulting in signs of wilt.
 
Picture of good guy below.
 
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As mentioned we do get some larger pests at the farm. Giant African land snails that have to be picked every morning. They tend to nestle into the soil around the roots and suck nutrients from the plants. Not major damage, but needs controlling. Monkeys are a real bugger. Not much deters monkeys. Luckily they will try a chilli and do not go beyond 10,000 SHU. They are curious animals and learn quick. So once they have bitten into a superhot, they do tend to move on. They do cause a lot of damage in the fields, as they tend to push over plants.

Apart from this, we do have a great wildlife on the farm. We have leopards, buck, monkey, lynx, snakes, jackals and lots of spiders and scorpions. The usual stuff, that all goes to making growing chillies more interesting :)
 
Below, plants ready for planting on, these will be going into the outside field for sauce manufacture only.
 
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Stickman, this one is for you buddy...
 
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More to follow...
 
PeriPeri said:
A modicum of Magnesium Sulfate shall be the cure!
Wow, the plants are so beautiful in that African sun!! Awesome stuff. I totally agree with the fatalii comment, the yellow is such a great plant and pics of the other colors never seem to look right.

What would you say is your favorite super hot that you’re growing? Have you tried the reaper x JPGS? I just potted up a seedling if that cross today, so I’m pretty excited to see what it’ll do this summer.

Also your rhomboideum is an inspiration! Out of all the wilds, I like that one the most. If you have more pics of it I’d love to see! I managed to get two rhomboideum seeds from Semillas to sprout.. I can’t wait! I also have lanceolathm seeds that I’m waiting patiently for germination.. two weeks and still nothing [emoji27]

Here they are:
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Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
fcaruana said:
Wow, the plants are so beautiful in that African sun!! Awesome stuff. I totally agree with the fatalii comment, the yellow is such a great plant and pics of the other colors never seem to look right.

What would you say is your favorite super hot that you’re growing? Have you tried the reaper x JPGS? I just potted up a seedling if that cross today, so I’m pretty excited to see what it’ll do this summer.

Also your rhomboideum is an inspiration! Out of all the wilds, I like that one the most. If you have more pics of it I’d love to see! I managed to get two rhomboideum seeds from Semillas to sprout.. I can’t wait! I also have lanceolathm seeds that I’m waiting patiently for germination.. two weeks and still nothing [emoji27]
 
Hi Frankie, glad you are enjoying the pics. I have been out of the scene for two years and am only growing some of the new supers this season, which all seem amazing. It's a bit like being a kid in the candy store again. The pepper scene has changed so much in just 2 years! I do have a Reaper X JPGS growing this season and it looks pretty amazing and angry. I have tried the Reaper and do like it, although very hot. I have also tried the JPGS & JRGS and like them both - although they don't really fall into the supers. I would probably say a 7Pot Brainstrain. I grew some awesome phenos a few years back that were just spot on and tasted amazing. Sweet and juicy - man they were good and hot!
The Rhomboideum I have had for three years now and simply never produced any pods from its flowers until I planted it at the farm. I will agree with you, it is very special. It really is an honour to grow the Rhomboideum, somehow it just seems totally different to all the others. I have no scientific background, but I can see why it was declassified as a chilli some years back. My seeds also came from Peter and I managed to get lots of other wilds from him too... but the Lanceolatum is a difficult customer! Lots of people have no issues growing the Lanceolatum - but I have been chasing that one for years and years lol But I accept when mother nature says "denied"... I accept it is not my turn and look forward to trying again the next year :) Actually one thing I am able to grow here in winter is wilds. Oddly enough they do enjoy our milder winters and do really great in my green house - so I usually start my wild varieties in winter and get them going in the green house.
I'm holding thumbs for you Frankie and hope that your Lanceolatum shows some hooks soon. Thank you for popping in! :)
 
The Macedonian Teardrop. Really interesting chilli. Starts out white and then goes multi-coloured with variegation from what i remember. It then goes red when fully ripe. I do have one other plant, but it crossed and now looks like giant facing heaven Fish peppers lol

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I don't like taking picture of the wilds as my iPhone does focus on small objects, so these pics never turn out great. This is a C. Chacoense - PI260427

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C. Praetermissum CGN22795 with what looks like a Mealybug on my finger lol

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I didn't take many of the wilds as my phone really struggles with focusing on the tiny pods. But I will try get more pics next time I am there.
 
Finding some odd pics here and there I didn't post from my last spool. This is a West Indies Red
 
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Purple Tigers

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Aji Santa Cruz starting out

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Note to myself - aphids & mealybugs!
 
Bolivian Rainbow
 
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This plant had one of those African Giant Land Snails raid its roots... you can see exposed root tips at base

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These were some free seeds I got - Hatvani Erös. Don't know too much about this variety, although it looks and sounds like a Hungarian Paprika variety.
 
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This was the other Blondie/Blondy plant I have on the go from another supplier. This has a lot more purple in the pods. I seem to think this may be a better strain.

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This variety came labelled as Reaper X Pheno Long. Not too sure what that means. Generally I think these pods are fantastic. Small plant with green foliage with purple tinges. Pods are this undulated pendant shape that look like some arb Chinense. I will say that the colouring of these ripe pods is amazing. I don't think the pics do them justice - orange grading to red with tinges of dark purplish red. No tail, no bumpy skin - quite ordinary looking on the outside.

I did the taste test today - boy! Nice... a super pod to fool someone into false pretenses.  Looks like a mild pepper, but boy was it hot. Somewhere around 600,000 - 800,000 SHU I would guess. The give away was the perfume flavour up front and the little beads of capsaicin inside when I cut it open. I have no idea what these were crossed with, but I think there is Reaper there somewhere. What a pleasant surprise!

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AndyW said:
Wow, this is a very nice and impressive glog. I just got caught up and it seems like your season is going well.
 
Thank you Andy! It has been a good season this year so far. Not quite done yet... lots of plants to still push through to fruiting before the sun heads north. Thank you for popping in and stay tuned for more pics to come ;)
 
 
PeriPeri said:
Hi Frankie, glad you are enjoying the pics. I have been out of the scene for two years and am only growing some of the new supers this season, which all seem amazing. It's a bit like being a kid in the candy store again. The pepper scene has changed so much in just 2 years! I do have a Reaper X JPGS growing this season and it looks pretty amazing and angry. I have tried the Reaper and do like it, although very hot. I have also tried the JPGS & JRGS and like them both - although they don't really fall into the supers. I would probably say a 7Pot Brainstrain. I grew some awesome phenos a few years back that were just spot on and tasted amazing. Sweet and juicy - man they were good and hot!
The Rhomboideum I have had for three years now and simply never produced any pods from its flowers until I planted it at the farm. I will agree with you, it is very special. It really is an honour to grow the Rhomboideum, somehow it just seems totally different to all the others. I have no scientific background, but I can see why it was declassified as a chilli some years back. My seeds also came from Peter and I managed to get lots of other wilds from him too... but the Lanceolatum is a difficult customer! Lots of people have no issues growing the Lanceolatum - but I have been chasing that one for years and years lol But I accept when mother nature says "denied"... I accept it is not my turn and look forward to trying again the next year :) Actually one thing I am able to grow here in winter is wilds. Oddly enough they do enjoy our milder winters and do really great in my green house - so I usually start my wild varieties in winter and get them going in the green house.
I'm holding thumbs for you Frankie and hope that your Lanceolatum shows some hooks soon. Thank you for popping in! :)
 
The kid in a candy store feeling.. I get that often when it comes to these crazy plants! Oh that is interesting to hear about the JPGS not being super level heat, I'm growing a bunch of those for the first time this year so I'll be excited to try it in comparison to some of the others I'm growing. I really love that peach color that some of these pods (and many of the ones in your grow) have, I think it's just mesmerizing.
 
That's really bizarre that your rhomboideum wouldn't set fruit in a pot.. Do you think it could have been a nutrient issue or was the plant just not getting pollinated? Where I live the bees are all over the pepper flowers the whole summer so I have yet to have an issue with flower drop, but I'll definitely update on how my rhomboideum does this year. If I can keep both of those little guys alive then I'll put one in the ground and one in a pot for comparison. I'm really hoping for some of my other wilds to pop but yeah I hear ya on this tricky germination thing! So far I've been unsuccessful with the praetermissum, chacoense, and the lanceolatum, but the rhomboids came up, albeit in a weird way - 2 seeds in the same cell popped but I'm 0/6 in the other cells. I'm fascinated by these wild chiles.. I had a quick question - how would you describe the flavor of the rhomboid berries? I've heard ithey're really unique.
 
Thanks for the best wishes and I send mine to you as well!
 
Those snails are wild haha never seen anything like that.
 
Oh and a tip for taking picture of the wilds (this is my method at least) - try holding your phone at a distance from the plant such that it focuses on the plant like you want, then, holding that distance, zoom in manually on the peppers and take the picture. If your phone's camera is focused on the plant from the correct distance, you can just use the zoom feature to take "fake" close-ups photos of the wilds. (I mean "fake" insofar as you aren't really holding the phone that close to the plant). My picture of the rhomboideum babies was taken that way - position the camera far away enough from the plant (yet as close as you can before it won't focus anymore) and get it to focus on what you want; then, holding that distance, zoom in on the screen and shoot.
 
Hope that explanation isn't too convoluted.. haha
 
Loving the pics. You have lots of really interesting peppers I haven't heard of before - you should post some tasting notes as you go, I'd be curious!
 
fcaruana said:
 
The kid in a candy store feeling.. I get that often when it comes to these crazy plants! Oh that is interesting to hear about the JPGS not being super level heat, I'm growing a bunch of those for the first time this year so I'll be excited to try it in comparison to some of the others I'm growing. I really love that peach color that some of these pods (and many of the ones in your grow) have, I think it's just mesmerizing.
 
That's really bizarre that your rhomboideum wouldn't set fruit in a pot.. Do you think it could have been a nutrient issue or was the plant just not getting pollinated? Where I live the bees are all over the pepper flowers the whole summer so I have yet to have an issue with flower drop, but I'll definitely update on how my rhomboideum does this year. If I can keep both of those little guys alive then I'll put one in the ground and one in a pot for comparison. I'm really hoping for some of my other wilds to pop but yeah I hear ya on this tricky germination thing! So far I've been unsuccessful with the praetermissum, chacoense, and the lanceolatum, but the rhomboids came up, albeit in a weird way - 2 seeds in the same cell popped but I'm 0/6 in the other cells. I'm fascinated by these wild chiles.. I had a quick question - how would you describe the flavor of the rhomboid berries? I've heard ithey're really unique.
 
Thanks for the best wishes and I send mine to you as well!
 
Those snails are wild haha never seen anything like that.
 
Oh and a tip for taking picture of the wilds (this is my method at least) - try holding your phone at a distance from the plant such that it focuses on the plant like you want, then, holding that distance, zoom in manually on the peppers and take the picture. If your phone's camera is focused on the plant from the correct distance, you can just use the zoom feature to take "fake" close-ups photos of the wilds. (I mean "fake" insofar as you aren't really holding the phone that close to the plant). My picture of the rhomboideum babies was taken that way - position the camera far away enough from the plant (yet as close as you can before it won't focus anymore) and get it to focus on what you want; then, holding that distance, zoom in on the screen and shoot.
 
Hope that explanation isn't too convoluted.. haha
 
Loving the pics. You have lots of really interesting peppers I haven't heard of before - you should post some tasting notes as you go, I'd be curious!
 
Hi Fankie, when I say the JPGS is not a super, I mean to say that on paper they do not measure that high in SHU - heat. What does make them amazing is their burn. The burn on the JPGS is hectic and very intense. There are quite a few other varieties that have low SHU on paper but their burn is much worse - the Yellow Fatalii for instance is low on SHU (heat) but their burn is notoriously hectic.

To be honest, I was getting lots of flowers and lots of insects and wind - the flowers were just not setting pods. I even hand pollinated. I have thought about it much and I believe the reason for not getting any fruit was the pot. It was about a 15 litre pot, which was good - but it was in direct sunlight. The pot being black, I believe the roots were just getting too hot in the pot - our sun here is very very strong. With the cooler soil temperatures, I then got pods - within about one week of planting I will add!
 
The Rhomboideum berries firstly have zero heat. They are tiny, so to get a full sense of flavour one has to eat a whole bunch. The flavour is very very very subtle. The only way to describe them is sweet and minerally. But as I say, the flavour is so faint it is almost impossible to pick up. For me, it is not about the flavour though, it's about having the privileged to see one of the oldest known chilli varieties grow. This plant saw the Andean mountain range come to life - that is one old plant. It saw humans first appear on the planet - so I find it quite paradoxical that I am growing and watching it grow lol
 
Thank you for the tip on taking close ups - I will give that a try and let you know :)


 
 
Y'know... The Hungarians pickle those Almapaprika while they're still white. They stay firmer in the brine that way... They make up for that lack of sweetness by adding sugar to the brine. The pickled peppers are tasty by themselves, or make great appetizers stuffed with sharp provolone cheese and hard salami. I have a recipe from HabaneroHead's mom if you're interested.

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stickman said:
Y'know... The Hungarians pickle those Almapaprika while they're still white. They stay firmer in the brine that way... They make up for that lack of sweetness by adding sugar to the brine. The pickled peppers are tasty by themselves, or make great appetizers stuffed with sharp provolone cheese and hard salami. I have a recipe from HabaneroHead's mom if you're interested.

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I knew you would chip in on the Hungarian varieties and that is a definite resounding YES on the recipe :dance: :party:  I have some Alma's that need pickling! Thank you Rick ;)
 
 
De-seeding pretty much all day today :banghead:
 
Came across the Chilcostles. I have never seen as many germinated seeds growing in a pod as this one pod I opened. I thought chillies/peppers had chemicals inside the pods to prevent this from happening... what a waste of seeds - I have to germinate these now and we are going into autumn! There also seems to be quite an inconsistent pheno among these - not sure if that is normal with this variety. I did see similar phenos on the internet.

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Interesting to see how the roots are going into the placenta
 
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As you can imagine, de-seeding for hours and also having to pick germinated seeds out of a bunch - kinda made my day :doh:
 
A lack of, or imbalance of, the plant hormone abscisic acid is the cause for precocious germination.
It's usually caused by a genetic defect but can also be caused by environmental conditions. Excessively moist conditions during ripening seems to dilute the hormone concentration in the fruit.

There is a technique that some large seed suppliers use called 'rapidstart' the idea is to pre-germinate the seeds. But as the radicle begins to protrude they will then cease germination. They do this by removing the seeds from the germination environment and then by drying the seed back down and putting it into cold storage. The effect is seeds that germinate rapidly and uniformly at the same time.
It's possible that some of those seeds may be at a point where you can use that technique to save some seed for later rather having to plant them now. They can be stored with very minimal losses for close to a year.
I have used this method successfully with tomatoes. But once the radicle reaches a certain length there is no arresting the process and the embryo will parish during drying.

Have fun with the seed extractions today.
 
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