raised-bed Raised bed vs pots, my Jamaican hot chocolate plants and mystery pepper

Hey guys,
Was just wondering if you have any thoughts or comments on my two Jamaican hot chocolate plants. In the videos here I talk about calcium deficiency and adding lime. I would love to hear what you guys have to say about the specific leaf structures I point out.
Thanks a lot
Don't have audio for watching right now, but for whomever this (rant about calcium fueled by personal struggles with this metal) might be of interest:
Keep in mind that calcium deficiency is actually a commonly seen problem with Capsicum spp. and it does usually show as a deformation of the newly produced shoots and leaves. One interesting thing about Ca2+ in nutritional absorption and usage is that it's considered immobile. By this we mean that it can't move to where it's needed in the plant. If it wasn't taken up by the roots at the moment the leaves formed, they will never recover. The nutritional deficiency gets "locked in". This is probably why you can sometimes see it with irregular watering schedules since Ca2+ needs waterings to be properly absorbed.
Regarding water uptake, this is another problem. You sometimes see calcium issues when the transpiration gets impaired (e.g. too high humidity, too cold), i.e. if it seems like you have to water suspiciously infrequent the transpiration (water flow from root to leaf tip) might be impaired. The plant needs a continuous flow of water from the root zone to the leaves where it evaporates, to properly distribute calcium where and when it's needed.
Oh, and another thing (sorry again OP for not watching the videos yet), calcium availability in the soil is a tricky one. It's not enough that calcium as an atom is there in some form. There's many facets to it. Phosphates are notorious for binding calcium and locking it up from absorption and other cations can compete with it's absorption, e.g. Mg2+, Na+ or K+. This can be a problem if people try correcting a calcium problem via just adding more salts (e.g. liquid fertilizer) to the soil since it accumulates over time and can start to become a problem (flush it out!). Then we have the media... If the CEC is low, i.e. the ion exchange (holding property) it might not matter much even though you've added a lot of calcium since it can't properly be stored in the root zone and exchanged; I.e. the soil can't hold available calcium ions. Probably less of a common issue though, unless you're using some non-organic or exotic media (or your pH is seriously out of wack in either direction).
Thanks for the thourough explanation. I think that my calcium deficiency is due to multiple Variables that you explained. I am going to test my pH as I have a feeling it is off. I have also researched the difference in pH meters versus soil testing versus chemical testing that you can buy online. I really do not know how accurate the four dollar pH meters are. I have a feeling if my pH is alkaline due to all the lime I have added, the calcium may not be absorbed. I have also researched the difference in pH meters versus soil testing versus chemical testing that you can buy online. I am also in the medical field so I know about phosphate finding calcium binding calcium as we see this with a lot of our chronic kidney disease patients. I do use fish emotion however I would have to look at the amount of phosphorus in it. I have noticed an improvement in the structure of the leaves however with the lime I have added. One other thing I may have talked about in my video is the frequency of the addition of lime. I have watched many YouTube videos and read about this and have not found a clear-cut answer. I usually add lime every other week. I have been doing this for a while now in the peppers look good so I am not sure how alkaline the soil is, or for that matter how much lime you would have add to really shift the pH. It may get neutralized when it rains anyway. I have also tried Cal mag, it is somewhat of an expensive supplement, however it is much easier for me just to use lime. I still dont know how much Cal mag to use in order to correct the calcium deficiency. I tried reading it may get neutralized when it rains anyway. I have also tried Cal mag, it is somewhat of an expensive supplement, however it is much easier for me just to use lime. I still dont know how much Cal mag to use in order to correct the calcium deficiency. I tried following the label but the leaves continue to look the way they did so I switched to lime. Anyway, if you get a chance watch the videos I would love to hear your feedback on either the peppers, things Im doing right or wrong, or any thoughts you may have.
Thank you yourself! Interesting parallel to the clinic. You're absolutely right of course.

Okay, so I get your frustration. We've had crinkly leaves for quite a while on our new plants this year during their youth and attributed a lot of it to lack of calcium availability. The funny thing is that when we added fertilizer with solubilized calcium for a quick fix the new shoots came out fine and then the second generation got crinkly again. Suspiciously implicating the soil. I'm seeing frustration about this in your video.
However, we also had pest issues and those (especially thrips) are well known for being able to crinkle up leaves as well. There's more things which can do the same, e.g. curly top virus (carried by pests) or broad mites (terrible, terrible pests). We managed it this year via frequent (quite diluted) fertilizer application, followed by some flush out to prevent salt build up later on and then pH adjustment (once chlorosis started hitting us bad). Since we soap treated against thrips, and later aphids, continuously and live in a town with supremely hard, alkaline water the final verdict was: too alkaline soil.
I never tested the soil, but I'm quite sure it pushed into 7-8 range at times. So we started dissolving citric acid in all our water. Guess what? Leaves quickly greened up and the curly/crinkly problem eventually disappeared. Of course around the same time we had the pests suppressed pretty good and had implemented a schedule of letting more water exit the pots, so it's extremely difficult to tell what finally did it. I'm strongly in favor of the citric acid however. And the run through.
You could be running into alkaline soil. However, calcium is usually not the nutrient which goes first. It's more of iron, manganese, boron, zinc and possibly even phosphorous. But your lime should not be particularly soluble and accessible at a alkaline pH either! Chlorosis is generally what you should be seeing when the soil goes alkaline. Your leaves do look a bit too light to me, so you might want to investigate that.
What I would do in your case is to 1) get a pH tester or send the soil in for a chemical test if you can afford it. 4 dollars is too cheap. Spend a bit more on a digital pH meter with buffer solutions. It's worth it because you're going to use it in the future once you get paranoid about the pH, either in the soil or in a hot sauce you're making (want to keep it below 4.6 for shelf stability!).
2) Buy citric acid en bulk or hydrochloric acid. I would chose the latter for your scale since it's more financially forgiving. Just be careful about your eyes of course. Try then to adjust the pH of everything you water down to at least 6, but preferably to 5. Stop adding lime and don't overdo the epsom salt (Do you use a wetting agent? You should!).
3) Add some vermicompost and possibly spray some AACT just for the hell of it. Vermicompost will help lower the pH and can provide some base fertilization (albeit limited) and definitely healthy microbiome. Who knows if your microbes are doing fine? Is your soil dense?
4) Check for pests. Closely. If you have any, soap it. Some really do target new shoots and they can come and go in waves.
Relax on the lime. I would probably skip it for now. There's obviously something else going on.
If someone does disagree with my reasoning here, please speak up! I'm far from an expert.
Good luck!
EDIT: Great video by the way. I like how you speak quickly and informationally dense. I would recommend you to switch to horizontal filming though. It's a bit disorientating, for me at least, to follow a vertical video (since eyes are horizontal).
Thanks for all your great advice. I will investigate the pH and then correct accordingly. I will also stop the lime. I dont have any pests as of now that I can see besides the occasional catapillar here and there. I think the soil is a little dense. Im sorry about the vertical feed, I will film horizontal. I should have known better lol. What do you mean by wetting agent by the way. Can you clarify. I mix it in water and spray it on the foliage. As far as the yellow/ green leaves I wonder if it is overwatering vs too high pH. I will definitely investigate it further. Any idea what they reaper pepper is . Im not sure it is a reaper. Someone suggested just a different phenotype.
Sounds like a good plan!
No problems. You're not the only offender out there with vertical videos, and I might have forgotten once or twice. ;)
Wetting agent (really a surfactant, called so since it likes to reside in the surface between liquid/air) is a substance which decreases the surface tension of the water. What this means, and why it's called a "wetting agent", is that the water "wets" surfaces better. In physical terms we're talking about a larger angle between the surface and the droplet. In visual terms, instead of droplets on your leafs which roll off you get a thin film of wetness instead. The coverage of a foliar spray (of any kind: insecticidal, nutritional, AACT, etc.) increases very much. Think how dishwashing water wets a surface as compared to tap water. It spreads out much more easily.
So yes, for all foliar sprays I really recommend a wetting agent. Otherwise you will only hit 5-10% of all surface area or so. If you have none other, dishwashing liquid works. Just use a small amount, 0.01 % or so, since it's sligthly phytotoxic. If you plan in investing I would recommend Polysorbate 80 ("Tween 80") since it's very non-toxic to plants and microbes, but also a very good wetting agent (way better than dishwashing liquid). I just ordered a kilogram of that since I spray a lot and dishwashing liquid is, albeit it works decently, non-ideal. I also can't up the dose of the liquid, e.g. with oil containing sprays, over 0.05 % since I'm afraid of phytotoxicity which is a bummer.
If you think you're overwatering, you probably are! And yes, that could totally give light color of the leaves. But so does alkaline soil as well. Try to water less and try to bring that pH down. In your situation I would adjust the pH of the water slightly even before I've acquired a pH meter since it shouldn't hurt any even if it turns out to be just fine. Do remember to take a soil sample a bit after you've watered (with neutral water that time) if you plan to do so, since it will give you more accurate results if the lime is in your topsoil only.
Themapsmaster said:
Great advice all around. Youre very knowledgeable. What kind of peppers do you grow?
Thanks for that compliment! I try to absorb as much as possible and have read a bit more than I really have time for...
I grow padrón peppers (of noticeable hotness), bell peppers (not hot at all), purple cayenne (2 phenotypes, one truly glorious), bhut jolokia (3 varieties) and super thai chili (2 phenotypes). Oh, some ornamental as well. Thinking of expanding with lemon drop/lemon habanero. In total I probably have around 30 plants. Including those I'm trying to bonchi. Should really do a count! Probably also a reduction, but who has the heart to kill an old dear plant?
No idea what your "reaper" plant is by the way. I do not think it looks like a reaper either, I really expect that tail, but phenotype variation can be quite huge so it might still be. If it's hotter than your bhut jolokia at full ripeness, my verdict would be that you actually got a reaper (just a weird one).
What soil did you use for your garden ? Did you experience any Blossom End Rot (BER) before you started adding Ca and Mg ?  I've had a lot of trouble BER in my outdoor garden. For me, it didn't matter how much Ca (Cal-Mag) I added. Nothing fixed it the first year.
For me, this is what I believe. The first year that I planted in NEW (Big Box) soil, I had problems with BER. I had very slow or stunted growth on all of my peppers. Even the tomatoes were crap.  The second year however was very different.
I bought "organic" soil for my new garden. I figured it would produce right after I put it in the garden. It didn't. Not even a little bit. It took a year or more for the garden to become "productive".
I believe in the natural biology of the soil. It could take a year or more for this "biology" to take root in your garden. Once established, the biology of the soil will give your plants everything they need ! So adding a crap-load of Ca and Mg to the garden in the first year could cause some problems in the years to come. I don't have any supporting evidence.... it's just what I have seen.
Anyway, Happy Growing !
I never really experience blossom end rot however my leaves became deformed. I figured my peppers would get affected at some point so I added lime about every other week. My leaves seem like they are improved at this time. You may be right about the soil ripening so to speak. It might be the breakdown of organic matter by bacteria that seems like it takes a year or however long it took you. I have not experienced that issue though. My plants for the most part seem like they are doing well, especially the Jamaican hot chocolates which are now over shadowing other plants. I counted >150 peppers tonight. A few of the plants like my Thai chili in the middle of the garden seem like the leaves are still crinkled which is making me think it may not be Ca def. Maybe it is overwatering. MAybe its another nutrient def. I bought a pH meter and the pH is around neutral (7) so not terrible. I added some miracle grow and will hold on watering for now. I want to see if it improves the lead structure although Ive altered two variables (water and now miracle grow) so itll be tough to tell which helped the plants if the leaves improve. Luckily None of my peppers have had rot and Im hoping they stay healthy. You bring up a good point with the soil though...
By the way I did not use organic soil. Just a mixture of different types of soil from Home Depot. Potting mix, top soil and a soil mixed with manure. I figured everything in combination would be beneficial. I was also keeping price in mind however lol
Hey Map... I understand the cost side of things... ( or I don't because I buy things that I never use LOL ) !!
Organic or not, soil is soil.  For me I want soil to produce.  Like I said, it takes a year or two for the soil to "come of age"... at the moment that is unimportant.
Just wanted to say that if you add a bunch of Ca and Mg to the soil to overcome the current conditions (your plants are FANTASTIC !!), you might find yourself with a Ca and Mg surplus next year... or the year after. This condition could be very difficult to address.
I'm an organic dude (I've used Miracle Grow many time and still do so not fully organic.....) I try not to add anything except compost and horse shit. Give the soil time to develop.... It will take time.
Soils that are bought from Big Box stores are (sometimes) heated to "sterilize" the soil. This helps prevent the random seeds that are in the soil from germinating and populating your garden. This process also kills all of the natural biology of that soil. So then the first year or two we as gardeners are forced to add fertilizer because the soil is biologically dead. Nature will find it's way, but not in the first year.
So in the end my point is to be considerate of the amount of supplements you add. They will not be fully consumed during the growing season, and once the natural biology come to life those supplements could become a big problem.
So then... don't try to correct a problem that doesn't exist.
Good luck too you and Happy Growing !