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sinensis grow log 2019 (with tomato grafting!)

hey all, giving this whole gardening thing another shot.
this is year number 2 for me, and i've got big plans, but we'll see how it goes, lol
i hope everyone has a great season!!!!
my basic findings for overwintering is that zero light doesn't work well.
they need light! but only a little is fine. leaving them by a window seems more than sufficient to keep them alive.
just trim off most of their branches (maybe down to 1 foot or so) and bring them inside if they aren't full of pests.
Carolina Reaper
this was outdoors in a 15gal root pouch / smart pot (breathable fabric):
it was my biggest pepper plant. a branch broke off while i was carrying it inside, but it's doing just fine.


here's another reaper, but this one's always been an indoor plant:

Bhut Jolokia (red)

Aji Lemon Drop
Scotch Brains
Jay's Peach Ghost Scorpion

these were super neglected small plants that i started last summer but never made it outside. they spent some time in darkness also.
i just recently transplanted them in these 5gal SIP buckets.
before transplanting, i cleaned out the buckets and modified them to use a fabric wick instead of a dirt-packed netpot.
i think this is a superior system because the dirt is always gonna erode out of your net pot wick eventually and then won't wick as well.
a fabric wick also won't foul up your reservoir.
to do this, i duct taped the net pot hole and then slid the fabric wick through the edge:

the wick is a 4x16" strip of cut from a 16x16" microfiber cloth from costco (packs are sold for car washing).
Yaki Blue Fawn

this one spent some extended time in low light. look at that crazy etiolation :(
idk what to do about it. suggestions?

it's got a fruit on it
From Seed:
i ordered some 0.5 fl oz condiment cups with lids from amazon. seems like the perfect size to start seeds with the paper towel method.


i did a 24 hour soak this year. i think it's a good strategy to speed things up and possibly combat mold by removing residual 'food' (pepper juice/debris). basically serves as a final seed rinse.
the individual condiment cups make it easy.

my germination chamber is a styrofoam cooler with a small light bulb wired to a variac (a dimmer switch would also work).
a gallon of water pre-warmed to 85°F was placed in there to act as a thermal reservoir to buffer outside temp changes.
without the water, the temp swings by 5°F or more throughout a 24hr cycle. with the water, it swings only 1-3°F.
i know this because i have a thermometer in there that logs high/low and can be reset.
every couple days, i look at it and slightly tweak the variac knob if needed to keep it close to 85°F.
now for the grow list!!

this year, i want to give myself more variety. not just superhots. i want some good milds and mediums too!

started 2/6:
NuMex 6-4
NuMex Big Jim
7 Pot Primo Red
Galapagos Isabella Habanero
Bahamian Goat
Papa Dreadie Scotch Bonnet
Chocolate Scotch Bonnet
Peach Gum v3
Aji Fantasy Yellow
Bishop's Crown
Sugar Rush Peach
tomatoes started 2/6:
Green Zebra
Brandywine Black
Dr. Wyches Yellow
Arkansas Traveler
University of Florida Klee Lab: Garden Gem
University of Florida Klee Lab: Garden Treasure (brandywine)
University of Florida Klee Lab: "W" Hybrid
started 2/9:
Aleppo / Halaby
Pimiento Cristal
started 2/10:
Turkish Cayenne
started 2/11:
Sri Lanka Kandy Chili Red (growdown throwdown pepper)
i also said what the hell and ordered some seedlings from juanitos peppers:
Aji Lemon Drop
Biquinho (Baccatum, almost heatless, sweet juicy drop)
Brazilian Starfish
Habanada (heatless hab, snacking pepper)
Habanero Paper Lantern
West Indes Red
Scotch Bonnet MoA
Jays Peach Ghost Scorpion
Scotch Brain
they'll arrive hopefully after the last frost here.
2/11 progress report on tomatoes:

there we go!!
also, i want to experiment with tomato grafting this year.
the idea is that you can get crazy vigorous plants, disease-resistant roots, and possibly double the tomato yield.
here's an intro you can read if you're curious:
i ordered 100 each of estamino and maxifort seeds from paramount:
anyone ever try grafting peppers onto something like maxifort? i wonder if it's worthwhile.
i wonder if these tomatoes are too close to the lights

i notice some yellowing happening on some of the leaves (but not necessarily on leaves closest to the light):


maybe they need food?
I wish I would have seen this sooner, definitely should have taken off the foliage from the get go. I've seen people even cut the leaves in half, maybe to let the plant know to work on roots then new leaves, wile still getting some photosynthesis from the half leaf.

It doesn't really look like its dying though, so I have high hopes for you. Humidity is also key for clones, if you have perlite laying around you could put it in those empty cells and keep it misted.

Tomatoes grow like crazy. I would need to look through the glog but I think 6 weeks is more than enough of a head start on tomatoes. My buddy had huge lanky tomatoes that he started too early last year.

Everything seems to be going well for you though! I'm already ready for plant out, and thats 2 months from now at least.
gave the tomatoes some mild ferts, thanks. they're monsters. they grew right up to the bulbs, and some leaves got a little purple and curly. i moved them down today:

i might try the perlite trick. i have the tray's grooves filled with water (so like 50% of the bottom surface area is water), and i mist the dome if i ever take it off. i also keep the vents closed, but the dome's seal with the tray probably isn't perfect.
doesn't seem dead yet, so we shall see. we're 9 days in i think since cutting. i wonder if i should remove more leaves?

the base is coming right along:

pepper seedlings looking good:


Extreme Member
Leave the better purple, small leaves, and
cut off the curled up sick ones. I think I see
some new growth in the tips, it has a good
chance of making it.
Hey sinensis.  That yaki base is killing it!  Great to see it and the pepper seedlings looking strong.  Don't know about the cutting.  I'd say fewer leaves still, but not sure I'm the best guy to be giving advise on pepper cuttings with my mediocre track record.
Hope plant-out isn't too far away with the way those toms are looking!
thanks for prodding, will post some updates soon
just been busy and also the growing season has been kind of crap here. slow start to legit spring weather and tons of rain
hey CaneDog,
yes, the base survived and is doing well:
april 8:


june 16:

towards the end of having it indoors, some of the leaves looked kinda weird, especially the newest growth. they really crispy/wrinkly/wavy. i don't know if it was lack of nutes or being too close to the lights or what. since moving it outdoors, it looks better though.
i find it challenging to know when the fruits are ripe. they're heavily pigmented from the start. i've tried a couple times, and they were super green/grassy/unripe tasting. i really wanna try them ripe, but i guess i have to be more patient.
sadly, the cutting didn't make it.
bonus pic:

kitten proudly standing by his handiwork (broken branch i had to lash back together)
Sweet!  Both the Yaki base and the broken branch made it!  Too bad about the top, but I don't do very well with cuttings myself - I did just get a couple to make it though, which I'm pretty happy about.  Your yaki is ahead of mine - pods already I see - and that wrinkly stuff doesn't look bad.  I don't know why mine's being slow, but it's outside now too.
Cat looks like he wants to eat your peppers!  Hopefully not eyeing the next branch.
also, spoiler alert, i didn't do tomato grafting. the title is clickbait, and i'm a damn dirty liar  :liar:
it was just a little too much for me this year, but at least i have a bunch of rootstock seeds. i can try next year.
i'm happy with how my garden's coming along this year though all things considered. i succeeded in getting a lot of plants going, and i'm really looking forward to trying pods from all these new cultivars. just gotta get my pics organized...
first, some old progress pics.
i got some fabric seedling bags that we were talking about in DWB's hay bale glog. they're about the size of a solo cup, and roots can grow right through 'em when you transplant. i will use them next year as well i think.
march 2:

april 8:
(JPGS overwinter featured in SIP bucket)

fast forward to plantout!
i threw down some nursery ground cover fabric that's supposed to be UV resistant and can survive uncovered.
one sheet of this was 40 bucks and was the perfect size to cover my grow area.
my garden is all container based. my peppers are in 10gal grey fabric pots, and my tomatoes are in 15gal black fabric pots. they're root pouches from gardner's edge.
i also got some of these saucer things because i'll want to overwinter a few of my favorites (as many as i have space for):
june 7:


june 10:

current status:
which brings us up to the present. some of the plants were planted only last week :\
but plantout is all done. this is the final form of my garden basically:
june 27:


i've got overwinters in the first row. the SIP buckets are (from the left) aji lemon drop, JPGS, and scotch brains. then the big corner plant on the right is my reaper overwinter in a 15gal fabric pot.
in the very back i have a bhut overwinter and next to the yaki blue.
then on the right i have 15 tomato plants in 15gal black fabric pots.
easy to tell which ones were planted out earlier (back/right vs front/left).
and then the new peppers started this winter.
5 rows of 5 = 25 plants in 10gal grey fabric pots.
SB MOA | p. dreadie SB | chocolate SB | scotch brains | fatalii
west indres red | galapagos isabella hab | paper lantern hab | habanada | biquinho
bishop's crown | sugar rush peach | aji lemon drop | aji fantasy yellow | sri lanka kandy red
aleppo | pasilla | thunder mountain longhorn | turkish cayenne | fish
aleppo | pimiento cristal | numex 6-4 | numex big jim | numex sandia
some shots of the big reaper plant:


i love how big it is but idk if i'll overwinter it again since i'm getting a little burnt out on reapers.
awesome how gnarly and exposed the base is getting.  :fireball:
the container media is promix from menards
it says each 2 ft3 bag expands to 4 ft3.
i found that each bag fills two 15gal fabric pots or three 10gal ones.
i got them on sale, let's say $13/bag after tax. that's $6.5 for each 15gal tomato or $4.33 for each 10gal pepper.
for most of the plants, i'm just using it as-is. but for a few i cut the media with some left over wood chips i had and some perlite just to use it up and get it out of the garage.
so how do i feel about the garden this year?
i give myself a solid B for effort and a C for planning.
i should have gotten everything planted out earlier (late may, early june), but it was hard to find the time.
also, i got out the stopwatch one time, and it took me about 20 minutes to process each bag of media and plant the plants working close to full speed.
that involves pouring it on a tarp, breaking up the clumps and fluffing it up (it's really compressed), watering it with hose, flipping with shovel to expose dry media, watering again, filling the fabric pots, and planting the seedlings.
maybe pre-moistening the media was a waste of energy, but i was concerned about uneven moisture and dry voids. idk.
with 25 pepper plants and 15 tomatoes, that's...
20 minutes/bag * [ (25 peppers) * (1 bag / 3 peppers) + (15 tomatoes) * (1 bag / 2 tomatoes) ]
= 5.3 hours minimum
so in theory i could have done it all in a day, but i can't work full steam all day like that.
also, i believe the growing season has been uncharacteristically bad this year.
there was late frost and cold weather persisted late in general after that.
and it rained an unbelievable amount with tons of super overcast days.
i feel it's been raining at least some of the time nearly every day this month.
i googled it, and it seems farmers agree with my weather gripes:
In my 34 years working in Illinois and 20 years as Illinois state climatologist, I saw a lot — from the Great Flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in 1993 and 2013 to the crippling droughts of 1988 and 2012.
But I never saw a growing season quite like this one.
Summer is upon us, and yet a significant amount of Illinois farmland is underwater or remains unplanted. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of June 9, Illinois farmers had planted only 73 percent of corn and 49 percent of soybean crops.
On average, by now all the corn would have been planted, as well as 91 percent of the soybeans. The reason for the delay is the seemingly unending rain that have made this the wettest January-to-May in state history.
i believe i'll give the weather a D-.
as i type this, the wind is blowing strong, and it looks like it's gonna rain again. the weather earlier today was good though.
also, i wonder if i should transition to in-ground planting instead of containers.
there were just too many unknowns for me to do that this year though. for starters, i don't know anything about the soil.
what do i amend it with? is it contaminated with anything? i would like to send samples to a soil testing service to figure it out, but i don't know where. i bet Trent may have some suggestions. i'll have to ask him later.
It must feel awesome to have that all done!  Mixing media has to be my least favorite part of growing, but still I always put in the effort of pre-moistening. Funny though, I usually feel like I have to do stuff like that all in one day. I just can't bear the thought of having to come back another day to finish it!  That is a heck of a lot of work you did, though...
Looks like you're all set now.  Can't wait to see things take off for you!
Looking great!
I'd say it's got to be worth it pre-moistening your media while preparing. I use similar stuff at home to what I worked with on an established organic farm, but have far worse luck with consistent watering of my potted plants since I didn't pre-moisten. At the farm, I had to always moisten while mixing, and watering seemed to always fill/drain/retain much more consistently.