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Sev's First Season - 2016

Hi All,
Thanks for reading - I've started this to use it as my own personal journey into the life of chilli growing. I'll generally be planning to update on a weekly basis with a photo, or some information on how things have gone. Hopefully in a few months I'll be neck deep in chillis....well thats the plan!  :onfire: Dream big I guess. I'm using this part as a record of what I'm doing so people, if they can chose to provide some insights on what I'm doing wrong, and also, so people like me out there in the world who are thinking about growing, might be motivated to try this out.
Picked up seeds from the Chilli Factory just north of sydney. Had to get some other things (hot sauce etc), and finally thought I'd dabble in growing. My prior history in gardening has been cleaning up my garden and planting some snow peas...so not really that good. But hey, you need to start somewhere. I'm determined to be successful and that to me, is the most important thing...keep banging my head against that wall until I've got some plants. Anyway, from my prior experiences I generally make chilli con carne with carolina reapers and habaneros, so I investigated those. Decided the price of reaper seeds, given my lack of experience was maybe not great, so went with two types of Trinidad Scorpion: Butch T and Caramel Morugas. For a third type, I decided to go with the Chocolate Habanero. The Caramel Moruga and Habanero were chosen in part because of their colouring, and secondly because the flavour of the Chocolate (smoky) is the type of flavour I love to impart into my chilli (which I will take photos of next time I cook).
So anyway (Just to set the scene for any new people - apologies for the detail); 
  • 10th September 2016: Seeds arrived
  • 11th September 2016: Planted in Amgrow seed raising mix (hadn't really thought about making my own soil - which I'm now investigating). Was watering around once a day with a light mist.
  • 13th September 2016: Realised my house (average around 20 degrees) wasn't warm enough and ordered a heat pad.
  • 16th September 2016: Started using the heat pad (set to 30 degrees), and started watering morning and nights, still a light mist.
  • 20th September 2016: Four little babies popped their heads up, all Butch T's. I jumped for joy, and though maybe just maybe I'll be eating my own chillis.
  • 21st September 2016: Fifth baby popped his head - hey this isn't so hard.
  • 22nd September 2016: First casulaty, seed bound and I tried to get it out...didnt work well and he died. A little bit of research makes me realise I should have heavily moistened the ground to help make the seed moist. 
  • 23rd -24th Sep 2016: A few more seeds sprouted (1 Caramel, 1 Moruga). Following on from NZchilli's advice moved planted seeds outside given the beautiful days we're getting for full sun. Unfortunately two more of the Trinidad scorpions just started drooping and didnt recover. I ended up (against NZchilli's advice) repotting all my individual plants that had sprouted (extremely carefully) into polystyrene cups with some more of the seed raising mix. As they were all a little tall (leggy is the correct term I believe) I buried the stalks a little. I read that doing this assists with additional root growth from the fine hairs on the stems. Lastly, a light Seasol watering of the newly transplanted stock and get them out into full sun (albeit with a plastic lid giving some protection). Moved everything that hadn't been planted back into the germination tray, with nine new seeds (three of each) to replace fatalities - though this time they were planted direct into polystyrene cups.
Lessons learnt:
Dont sweat the plants dieing...it's gonna happen, and thats half the challenge. This realisation lead me to planting nine more to cover off on that. Secondly, never using seed trays again, I want to be able to move sprouted seedlings individually without needing to repot the little sods. Lastly, a light mist, on the heat pad didnt seem to do enough. As I moved a few things around I noticed the soil maybe three-four mm's deep was bone dry. I'm going to water less often, but more thoroughly.
I'll upload some photos tomorrow of the repotted plants and the new germination tray.
I'll generally update this one a week with some info across the week.
Just a quick update as it's the new Season of Diablo this weekend :)
Had some issues with leafhoppers on my basil, and a few chillis so I picked up some Eco-Oil and gave everything a good hose down. Picked up my new six small seedlings from Bunnings the other day and repotted last night. 2 x Carolina Reapers, 2 x Trinidad and 2 x Butch T's I believe if my memory serves me right.

And, because it's going to pour tonight and this weekend in Sydney I left work a little early to build them a bench undercover instead of their middle of the garden seat:

And finally, two my white Bhut's are starting to sprout hard;


Happy Growing!
People should really put a warning...this has become such an addictive hobby!
Had lots of leaf hoppers issues the last couple of weeks. They've been mainly attacking my basil, but I've made a twice daily routine of clearing eggs from the under sides of leaves, and squashing the little so and so's. I bought some of the sticky yellow sheets and they've been covered. Two sprays of Eco-Oil (didnt seem to work much tbh) but I do feel like we're making progress now. If this is the worst thing that happens pest wise I guess I'm lucky. I'm investigating getting some geraniums (deters spider-mites) and some more basil (deters aphids).
Gave a double dose of epsom salts by accident yesterday (2 teaspoons to 1 litre), but we had a bit misty rain so most of it would have washed off. 
I've finished the "topping" I started, and pruned back the last "large" leaves that were on the plants back at the nodal point. I believe this will make the pant focus on the new growth. Removed some nasty looking leaves and everythings looking absolutely great. 
My three white Bhuts:

My solo red Bhut:

My three Brain Killers:

My two sickly habaneros...who are no longer pale and yellowy green and exploding with colour and new growth:


Lastly, my new plants from Bunnings. Someone suggested not topping to compare how the different plants grow (which I thought was a great experiment) so looking to see how this goes:

And finally, my seeds that I planted at the start of October. Hoping to get them under lights this weekend to try and speed up the growth. Side note, I have no clue whats in the below. I was growing three varieties and the wind upended the box and seeds were everywhere. The three varieties were: Chocolate Hab, Caramel Moruga, Trinidad Scorpion. Anyone hesitate to guess whats what? The top left, was an extra seed I got from my second batch of Bunnings plants. So it's either a Reaper, Scorpion or Butch T.

Happy Growing!
Hey, mystery plants can be fun, and so can mystery crossed plants ;)
Plnats are looking good, and glad you're enjoying the grow. That's what it's all about!
Hey, Sev.  Everything looking good - nice starts yearning for some outdoor sun!
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So everyone - big day here!
Did some paving on the weekend which allowed a better place for me to keep my chillis in the sun all day. 
Group shot below:

The exciting news...first buds;

And on my first pick of the season - red bhut :)
So the big question is...do I let them bloom and ride the excitement, or pluck them off to promote more growth? 
All my plants are small so I dont know if I should let them bloom...regardless it's super exciting!

Been two weeks of crazy with work and family so I haven’t really done much posting. I’ll take through everything that’s happened.
Largest change to the garden was getting five fabric Vivosun pots (15 gallon) and transplanting my three white bhuts, my red bhut and one of my Trinidad scorpions. I’m actually moved them from a soil grow to a pure coco / perlite grow (60/40 roughly). I’m treating this like a hydro grow and generally watering every day with nutrients. Measuring the PH (not EC yet) and keeping everything around the 5.8-6.3 mark. These plants have all had massive growth (see photos below).
All my other plants are responding well, and I’ve moved all the seedlings I’ve grown from cups into larger pots (1l and above generally). I’ve got five plants in small yellow pots from the other plants as I didn’t have enough. Everything is growing nicely.
My war on the aphids was generally pretty good, and I just made a daily habit of going out in the morning and night and squishing everything that looked round and ovally.
Now that everything is in the larger pots, I’m starting to just review the tops of leaves, and as long as there is no discolouration / spots / holes I assume we’re ok. Hopefully this doesn’t bite me in the ass eventually!
Unfortunately, I’ve had what I believe is a red spider mite. I’ve seen two of them over the last week (on my hands after I was poking around in the plants). I’m not sure if it’s a little red spider, or a mite. I could watch it running across my hand like lightning, and easily see it with the naked eye so I’m hoping it’s just a small red spider and not something more insidious. Maybe a 1mm across? I think it may be a clover mite.
In the photos you’ll also notice that I’ve got a ladder and some shade cloth. We’ve had some crazy hot days in Sydney and it’s not even into summer yet. In November we’ve had four days past 85 Celcius, and two of those were in the 90s. My plants just start drooping really badly, and need to be shifted out of the sun. The shade cloth percentage is 60-70 I believe and should take care of us over the summer. The ladder setup is temporary…once I get permission from my local council I’ll take the tree down and get some posts up to setup the shade cloth properly.
Group Shot

Second batch of Bunnings platns (not topping these and just letting them grow to see the difference);

Red Bhut (8.5 inches tall, 15 inches wide)

White Bhuts:



Butch T Scorpion



These were the first seeds that sprouted myself - I've moved them into a Coco grow to see them versus the other seedlings

So some experimentation and some good results all over.
My next thoughts I’m having are;
1)      Do I move everything into grow bags;
a.       Pro’s – supposed to help with air pruning.
b.       Con’s – terrible to move as the medium you plant in cracks and breaks.
2)      Do I move to a coco grow for everything;
a.       Pro’s – so much easier mixing coco/perlite and then nutrients
b.       Con’s – I don’t trust anyone else to do it lol.
No photos this week. Everything is looking really nice overall. Flowers starting to pop out on some plants and masses of buds. I've noticed the stalks are really starting to thicken up, and the coco plants have really shot up with the almost daily nutrients watering. Suprisingly, the plant with the biggest mass of buds is one of my Brain Killers...it's absolutely packed with buds.
Unfortunately, I had to go crazy with some Multicrop Pyrethrum spray today...several plants had heavy aphid clustersing on new growth so I ended up nuking the whole batch with a good spray since they are in a tight space - who knows where they would turn up.
Been super busy and unfortunately not had a chance to put up my progress. However, things have been pretty eventful.
Firstly, given some of the crazy hot 33+ degrees days I strung up some shade cloth. Not in a permanent way, as I'm planning to get some posts up, but that needs to wait to see if I can get a tree removed (with damn council's permission!). Anyway, this is a progress shot below:

Anyway, core things that have changed. I've moved to 100% Coco using the below product. Given that I'm experimenting, I'm trying a variety of different mediums to see which one I really enjoy. From a simplicity perspective, I'm really enjoying this soil less mix. Also like just buy a bag and pop it in a pot and then apply nutrients. I have to admit, I've been heavily influences by Juanito's grow log (which I'll post a thank you in shortly).

I'm using 100% fabric grow bags from Vivosun now as well, of the 5 gallon variety. A couple of the plants up the back of the above shot are in 15 gallon bags, but that's a mix of Coco, perlite and compost. A slightly heavier mix. Using a variety of nutrients on all of them right now, and picked up a 50 gallon tank that I have a couple of airstones in connected to a pump and my outside powerpoint. Switch it on for an hour before I water. The mix in the tank is around the PH 5.8 - 6.0 mark, and I will start to measure EC soon since I havent been doing so far. Water out of the taps is pretty nice, coming in around PH 7.1. I only have to add a touch of PH down to my mix to get it to the right level. Watering is once or twice a day by hand, as this let's me add some extra nutrients since my plants aren't all at the same point, but as soon as I can I'll run the same mix. Given watering by hand is slightly frustrating, and I've been reading coco loves multi waters per day I've started researching drip to waste watering. Right now I'm thinking about getting another 50 gallon tank and potentially running two different sets of fertilizers in each of them and have them inter spaced throughout the day. Would probably be better to have it all in one tank, but this way I'll get more watering done over a longer period of time. Idea subject to cancellation upon being informed of better ways by more knowledge forumites.
Plants are generally going quite well, and although having a little bit more aphids today seem to be going well. Lots of flowers and solid vegetative growth.


The big win is I have my first peppers coming in now. I'd been concerned since I've had some real solid flower drop for a week or two, but now things seem to be coming right. Lots are like this with the petals just coming off.

However, this morning I saw this little guy.
First pepper I saw (and prompted me to search through the other plants). Your garden variety of habanero.

Have a variety of buds coming in now on Brain Killers, Trinidad Scorpion, Habanero and a couple of the unknown varietys (hoping for reapers!)
Anyway, if you anyone has any input on DTW systems please feel free to share a link to your logs - I'd love to see what you're doing. Very interested in tank sizes and how many waterings you get out of them.
Plants looking gorgeous, Sev.  
Good luck battling the heat and aphids.
The shade cloth will help loads.
Been a while..things are going pretty well, aphids are back and forth but I nuke them each time they pop out. 
The bad...I think this is calcium shortages based upon too much nitrogen...



Planted from seed (most of the issues appear here)

Bought mid October;





Cayanetta and Loco (bought in December)

And finally peppers!
Brain Killers;



White Bhut Jolokia;


Standard Habanero:





The really big bushes are starting to bud up again after heavy flower drop...I feel the flowers came on for almost everything and then dropped away barring the pods above. I'm thinking they just weren't ready and wanted to grow more...the benefit is some of these plants have massive amounts of flowers starting to come up...I'm hoping for a big harvest in a couple of months!
Been a while but it's just been pretty same old same old on a day to day basis. Fight aphids, water plants, wait for them to ripen. Picked my first bunch of fruit, super happy with the strength, just the fumes from cutting them open was fairly strong - can't wait to cook with them. I'm making a mango and habanero hot sauce today, and am freezing the rest to use in my cooking. I'm thinking I'll dehydrate and powder the next bunch, and make some chutney or another hot sauce depending on how big the next harvest is. I still haven't had fruit on anything I've planted from seed, but I do have some flowers coming in. So far everything has been on small plants that I've bought from Bunnings. Lots of flowers coming on to all the plants now, and my big Butch T Scorpion (around 1.5m tall now) has set around 20 pods so I'm looking forward to them coming on). The habaneros have already produced a massive amount of flowers, and the Brain Killers have also set heaps of flowers.
I want to thank everyone who helped me get this far. As PaulG's signature says - every pod a victory.
Group Shot


First Harvest; from top left: White Bhuts, Butch T Scorpions, Brain Killers (far right), Orange Habanero, California Reaper (I think)


Butch T Scorpion

California Reaper

White Bhut Jolokia

Orange Habanero

Thanks Devv,
It's a great feeling to get some solid pods - heaps of oil - they're smelling hot!
These are from my Butch T - some interesting looking pods. The second photo looks like a gnarly one coming in.