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tutorial The Comprehensive Guide to Over-Wintering

spicy.curry said:
If there are some random warm sunny days in mid winter, bring the pots back outside? 
 
You can't just throw plants out willy-nilly once you've started the OW process.  They have to be hardened off again, just like a seedling.  Any new growth will have never experienced outdoor conditions, and most likely, won't fair very well.
 

The_NorthEast_ChileMan

Extreme Member
spicy.curry said:
1.) What weather conditions mark the moment to end the outdoor season and bring the peppers indoors for the rest of winter?
 
2.) Does the daily high matter just as much as the low?    Last week here, we had a few nights with high 30's at night, 70s in the day, and the peppers plants seem as healthy as ever.
 
3.) Is it good to extend the outdoor season by bringing the plants indoors if a frost is expected, and then outdoors again the next day once it warms up
4.) If there are some random warm sunny days in mid winter, bring the pots back outside? 
 
5.) Is the "first frost date" in my area a good date to bring them indoors for good, or wait for the first actually forecasted frost?
1.) A hard freeze is a period of at least four consecutive hours of air temperatures that are below 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2°C). Many plants can survive a brief frost, but very few can survive a hard freeze.

2.)In my experience lower than optimal daytime temps will cause pepper plants to "stagnate," i.e.-slow growth & fruit ripening.

3.) Yes

4.) This is very similar to 3.

5.) My experience in New England Zone 6a has been you can't set your gardening calendar by it! Additionally, I've noted that a high pressure area moves in and we get a few nights of frost followed by a low pressure area with warmer temps,....

Speaking of which, do you know yours? (USDA Hardiness Zone Map with ZIP Code finder )
 
Fantastic thread.

Central South Carolina

When I was a pepper growing n00b (way back in Early May lol ) I planted Jalapeno and Habanero pepper plants 3 to a container. The containers are about 2 feet tall and 22 inches across at the top. Maybe 30 gallons?

The plants have resisted all my efforts to kill them and have done fine producing a fair number of jalapenos and frankly more Habaneros than I know what to do with.

I want to try to overwinter them. The wife and I are empty nesters now and I have the ok from her to use one of the spare bedrooms for this project.

I've read thru this thread and i think I've got the gist of it, but I haven't seen this question asked.

Should I separate the plants into individual containers, either for overwintering purposes or just in general going forward?


Pics of habanero plants
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The_NorthEast_ChileMan

Extreme Member
southcarolina said:
Fantastic thread.

Central South Carolina

When I was a pepper growing n00b (way back in Early May lol ) I planted Jalapeno and Habanero pepper plants 3 to a container. The containers are about 2 feet tall and 22 inches across at the top. Maybe 30 gallons?

The plants have resisted all my efforts to kill them and have done fine producing a fair number of jalapenos and frankly more Habaneros than I know what to do with.

I want to try to overwinter them. The wife and I are empty nesters now and I have the ok from her to use one of the spare bedrooms for this project.

I've read thru this thread and i think I've got the gist of it, but I haven't seen this question asked.

Should I separate the plants into individual containers, either for overwintering purposes or just in general going forward?
I have no experience with your exact circumstance but I have overwintered.
 
1I9TwZc.jpg



No I didn't overwinter it outside, Note it's in a 5 gal. pail with handle for easy transfer outside from the indoor growing area.
 
OK, questions.....
 
I want to try to overwinter them. The wife and I are empty nesters now and I have the ok from her to use one of the spare bedrooms for this project.

Can you easily move that 30 gal. container in and out of the home and then the room?
Will there be any issue with runoff when watering?
Unless there's an awfully large amount of sunlight streaming in you have a lighting plan?

_
 
The_NorthEast_ChileMan said:
Can you easily move that 30 gal. container in and out of the home and then the room?
Will there be any issue with runoff when watering?
Unless there's an awfully large amount of sunlight streaming in you have a lighting plan?

_
Thanks for the response!

Yes I can move the containers in and out. They are heavy but not too heavy.

I have some plastic lids from rectangular containers I can use. I'm on the lookout for something better but in a pinch the rectangular lids should work.

There is a window in the room I am planning on using, although it is facing north. I plan on buying some sort of grow light to supplement the window in the next few days.


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Thanks for the response!

Yes I can move the containers in and out. They are heavy but not too heavy.

I have some plastic lids from rectangular containers I can use. I'm on the lookout for something better but in a pinch the rectangular lids should work.

There is a window in the room I am planning on using, although it is facing north. I plan on buying some sort of grow light to supplement the window in the next few days.


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Out of interest how did it go?
 
Out of interest how did it go?
I guess i would would rate my success as moderate


I overwintered a bell, a jalapeno and a habanero plant. I battled aphids a couple of times but for the most part the plants stayed pretty robust for most of the winter. Right towards the end of winter they all started to show a little stress, but they got to spring mostly intact.

Whenever there was a stretch of days with night time Temps above 45 or so I brought them outside. One benefit was that a lot of times when the Temps got warm it brought rain. So they got some nice fresh water. Everything seemed to be going fine.

Once the spring hit for real I brought them outside for good and...

Nothing.

They took forever to get started. They dropped leaves. They didn't blossom. Just nothing until well into June. And even once they got started their production was significantly less than last year. I would estimate I got half the amount of jalapenos and two thirds the amount of Habs. The bells have never been very productive, maybe 20 golf ball sized peppers both years combined.

I'm not going to bother with overwintering anything this year. The amount of work I put in for a head start that never materialized isn't worth it. Plus the room I used is currently occupied by a wayward child who returned home a couple of months ago with "no place else to go" lol

It was an interesting experiment. But I doubt I will ever try again. Last winter I also built myself a seed growing station and I will go that route from now on. *If* I ever tried overwintering again (and thats a huge if) I would go the cut down to the main V and force dormancy method versus trying to keep the plants alive.
 
I guess i would would rate my success as moderate


I overwintered a bell, a jalapeno and a habanero plant. I battled aphids a couple of times but for the most part the plants stayed pretty robust for most of the winter. Right towards the end of winter they all started to show a little stress, but they got to spring mostly intact.

Whenever there was a stretch of days with night time Temps above 45 or so I brought them outside. One benefit was that a lot of times when the Temps got warm it brought rain. So they got some nice fresh water. Everything seemed to be going fine.

Once the spring hit for real I brought them outside for good and...

Nothing.

They took forever to get started. They dropped leaves. They didn't blossom. Just nothing until well into June. And even once they got started their production was significantly less than last year. I would estimate I got half the amount of jalapenos and two thirds the amount of Habs. The bells have never been very productive, maybe 20 golf ball sized peppers both years combined.

I'm not going to bother with overwintering anything this year. The amount of work I put in for a head start that never materialized isn't worth it. Plus the room I used is currently occupied by a wayward child who returned home a couple of months ago with "no place else to go" lol

It was an interesting experiment. But I doubt I will ever try again. Last winter I also built myself a seed growing station and I will go that route from now on. *If* I ever tried overwintering again (and thats a huge if) I would go the cut down to the main V and force dormancy method versus trying to keep the plants alive.

Very interesting thank you for the response.

I've three that I plan to over winter as they were started way too late and I'd like something from them after gifting/eating others I had outside.

Purchased as c.annums although I doubt it, I've had potential thrip issues on one and thrown that back outside. It'll thrive or die of its own accord in a quiet corner.

Had them inside for just over three weeks or so now as the weather threatened cold night time temps yet the sunshine and temps back up today.

I think the one that's outside will give me a good idea of where the limits at for future seasons.

Thankfully the warm spell has confused some ladybugs and I've managed to capture four to introduce inside which I wasn't expecting in October.

I've been toying with keeping them going yet your attempt doesn't fill me with confidence so a little more research needed.

The glogs from Panama seemed to suggest perpetual harvest was an option in ideal conditions.

Torn between leaving them and dropping temp/light versus cutting back to the v.

I'm sure I'll work something out it's a long time before they'll be going out.
 
For many growers alike, the growing season starts at the seed. Its an all too familiar feeling; the smell of the seeds as we sort through them, looking for the "one" that will morph into the towering giant of our dreams, acquiring the perfect soil mix, temperatures, and saturation. Its one of the most addicting parts of our season in this culture. This time of the year is when we have that "fire" inside that burns and screams "This year, will be the year. The year where I will make everything right, and learn from all the mistakes made in the previous years." Think of it as a grower's right-to-passage, if you will. Even I myself, will admit that I thoroughly enjoy witnessing all my love and work break the top of the soil in the form of hooks, spread their baby wings, reach for the warmth of the sun and grow into beautiful young plants. There is something very enlightening about watching this whole event take place. This is one of the most primal processes of earth. Its nature's way - organic, raw and very special.

While seeds will always remain at the beginning of our culture and passion for growing, there are a great many cultivators, including myself, that have also begun to experience the benefit of taking things to the next level. Knowing your plants at the fundamental level is something that is often times over looked as prerequisite for growing a crop each year. Most people just do what they know and what works for them, without ever really knowing the plants themselves and/or why their habits produce certain results. Sometimes old habits die hard and your product suffers because if it. Sometimes we skate by on the fly and have an extended period of time I like to call "beginners luck." Then we learn, we progress, and we become educated through experience that builds up over time.

This plant we all love, just so happens to belong in a class of plants called "perennials," which directly translates to "through - year". What does that mean? It simply means, that if kept in the right conditions, pepper plants will continue to grow forever. Unlike another classes of plants i.e. Annuals and Biennials, peppers will continue to grow and flower simultaneously throughout all parts of the year regardless of photo period change. This is good news for us gardeners! Instead of cultivating "within the box" of the status quot and treating them as annuals, the enlightened grower can begin to expand his knowledge and base of experience.

One such way to honor our work and research of these beautiful plants is through "Over Wintering". If you're in a climate where the temperature rarely drops to or below freezing then this won't directly apply to you. For all the other grower's, I say stop letting your hard work go to waste each winter! Start Over Wintering! If you have the space, time, desire to extend your season and like the sound of getting one hell of a head start on next year, then this is for you. The benefits of starting to include this practice in your repertoire, far outweigh the cons of choosing not to. All you're doing is allowing the plant to continue to live just the way nature intended. Since I have started overwintering, I can attest to the garden mojo that occurs each year. The energy is better, the plants become huge and pump out hordes of pods, the experience is much more rewarding. The plants thank me for it, the bugs thank me for it, reptiles, birds...so on and so forth. Everyone's happier :) What's not to love about that?

"So how do I experience this magical world of plant-human symbiosis," you say? Its simple. In just a few easy steps, one can ascend to the next level of garden zen. Here we go:

Choose your plant. I chose a small first year plant for the purpose of the tutorial. All you will need is a container, pruning shears, and a shovel.

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Start by pruning back most of the foliage to the main branches that formed as the plant grew. You will want to start with a rough trim at this point. A more detailed pruning will be in order depending on how much root system you remove during transplant.
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up close example of initial pruning on a plant this size going into a three gallon container
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Here is a time lapse of the Fatalii Mother cutback. Enjoy while I add more to this.


Next we will add a little Guru mix to our container. You can use any medium you prefer.
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Example of how much root system would be ideal for a cutback like this going into three gallon.
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Add a little soil to top off the container and pack lightly
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Detailed prune to remove any remaining flower or fruiting tops. This will promote new top growth at different nodes.
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After a good watering in, I like to set them in a place that has diffuse sunlight for a while, so as not to induce shock.
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Under the back deck works great for me.
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October in Atlanta is usually still a great time for pod production and the days remain fairly warm enough to get some substantial harvests. I can take my time over the next few weeks getting things prepared for winter, but for those of you in crunch time, I made sure to get this out sooner than later.

You see, over wintering can be a multiphase process depending on how you want to do things. Are you going to bring them in under lights immediately or leave them outside in their new containers for a a while? If you're lights are strong enough indoors then by all means, bring em in. For you the hauling around containers is over. For those of us confident in our temps for the next few weeks outside, our journey will continue a bit longer outdoors. We get more sun :) To be continued...
Guru--found your tutorial especially helpful. embarking today on only my 2nd attempt at overwintering my superchilis here in zone 5 of northeast ohio. realized a couple of errors I made 1st time. goal is for dormant plants til spring. last time i removed all dirt from root ball and then placed in medium..wrong-i now think. several questions..1) should any foliage remain if goal is dormancy? 2)if not and severely pruned-is any light necessary for success? 3) basement vs detached garage? basement-50-60 degrees-ambient light...garage-40-60 degrees--no light..4) what to expect over winter--any growth? how should the plant look? 5) fertilizer? i did last time--not sure I should have 6) watering? Was really disappointed this past spring when none of 11 plants came back after some effort...hopeful to do it right this time with better luck. soberdude
 
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