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seeds The Little Seedling That Could

Last winter my wife's co worker gave her a packet of jalapeno seeds. And it sat on our kitchen counter for a couple of months. Round about April I got a wild hair and planted a few of them.

Now here I should tell you up until that point I had never planted anything. I had no idea what I was doing.

I cut some water bottles up and used some old potting soil from some house plant my wife had that had been dead for a couple years. I planted two seeds into each of 16 bottles. I put them on my windowsill, watered and waited. Lo and behold....

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Two never sprouted. A couple put up a tiny shoot but never went any further. I'd say about 10 got their first leaves. This was about the time my cats noticed the seedlings. I woke up one morning and 3 or 4 of them had been batted all around my kitchen.
I rigged up a protective barrier for the last 6 or 7 and waited some more.

By the time I learned what leggy meant, my remaining seedlings were all fallen over, never to rise.

All except one.

I was absolutely sure this one would eventually die too. But I tried to give it a fighting chance. I transplanted into a bigger container and brought it outside. I won't lie at least six times I wrote this little guy off as dead. And he kept coming back. The remnants of what three? hurricanes. Brutal summer heat. An inattentive n00by gardener. I never took pics of it while it was struggling but believe me there were times it looked TERRIBLE.

I bought some pepper seedlings from the big blue home improvement box store in May and they've been great. Super prolific for a guy like me still learning the basics. So I admit sometimes I forgot about my last little seedling.

But that guy is a fighter. A survivor. And today I found this.

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Nearly six months later and its bearing its first fruit.


Just amazing. I've been planning on trying to over winter my other pepper plants. Now I have to find a way to keep this guy alive til the spring

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Enjoyed the story!  Living in South Carolina shouldn't be toooooo hard to overwinter.  What, maybe 2 months of semi cold weather?  I used to live near Sumter and remember some really warm winters.  Good luck with your grow.  Are you planning on starting some more seeds this 'winter'?
 
Tybo said:
Enjoyed the story!  Living in South Carolina shouldn't be toooooo hard to overwinter.  What, maybe 2 months of semi cold weather?  I used to live near Sumter and remember some really warm winters.  Good luck with your grow.  Are you planning on starting some more seeds this 'winter'?
Yeah its usually pretty mild here (near Columbia) overall but there will likely be a few 2 or 3 day stretches where it gets down into the mid to hi 20s at night. Probably just enough to kill some pepper plants.

I got the wife on board for me to use one of our kids old rooms to bring them in. Its got a window and I'm debating the necessity of a cheap grow light.

Ive seeded some spinach and arugula straight into outside containers and I will probably do more of that. Got a lettuce blend of seeds on order right now.

I doubt it with the seeds as a grow starter. Waiting on the seeds I planted cost me at least a good month of production out of the plants I ended up buying at Lowes. Plus my work schedule is all over the place so I can't always give daily attention to the plants. So buying established plants is a bit easier.

Maybe once I figure out what I'm doing I will revisit starting from seeds. I've been a gardener for all of 7 and a half months. Lol.



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CaneDog

Extreme Member
Enjoyed your account of the survivor.  If your weather permits, I'd consider keeping them predominantly outside and bringing them in only for the brief colder periods, e.g., several days here and there when temperatures dip, vs. a 2+/- month period exclusively inside.  If you keep them inside for any length of time you're liable to expose yourself to pest issues, particularly aphids which can be a nightmare.  I use that strategy up here with certain more cold-tolerant varieties (c. pubescens, flexuosum, and, to an extent, baccatum) with good results and without using supplemental lighting.  It's too consistently chilly here to do the same with annuums, chinense, frutescens types.
 
Alternatively, you may want to consider pest control treatment prior to bringing them inside for a longer period to be safe.  It doesn't necessarily have to involve a lot of effort, especially if you're bringing in only a few plants and you trim back the foliage before bringing them inside.  If they're inside where it's warm for a longer time, though, they'll need reasonable light intensity to prevent weakening and stretching.
 
Thanks for your reply. As i said I'm still feeling my way through the basics. I know overwintering is probably more if a thing for more experienced gardeners but I figured even if all the plants die I haven't really lost anything. And if even 1 lives then I've gained something.

CaneDog said:
If your weather permits, I'd consider keeping them predominantly outside and bringing them in only for the brief colder periods, e.g., several days here and there when temperatures dip, vs. a 2+/- month period exclusively inside. 
I'm going to try to leave them out as long as I can. I guess my fear is that I will miss a night due to my work schedule. I work swing shifts and leave the house at 530 pm most nights. Also I live 10 miles from a huge lake and temps can be semi unpredictable. I feel like I will end up moving them in and out "just in case"


CaneDog said:
If you keep them inside for any length of time you're liable to expose yourself to pest issues, particularly aphids which can be a nightmare. 
I'm Definately worried about this.


CaneDog said:
If
 
Alternatively, you may want to consider pest control treatment prior to bringing them inside for a longer period to be safe.  It doesn't necessarily have to involve a lot of effort, especially if you're bringing in only a few plants and you trim back the foliage before bringing them inside. 
I was planning on giving them a Neem Oil bath before I brought them in.


CaneDog said:
If
If they're inside where it's warm for a longer time, though, they'll need reasonable light intensity to prevent weakening and stretching.
This is still an area I'm unsure about. I'm not sure how much supplemental light I need. The room I'm planning on using has a decent sized window but its north facing.
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Thats a great story of the little survivor that wont give up.
I have a Thai birds eye that germinated then turn its head straight down towards the soil, then sprouted a new stork out the side of its twisted neck. 
It was slow to grow, so got little attention thinking it would be sacrificed into the compost bin...... but has ended up being one of the most producing plants I have had.
Those struggling runt mutant ugly ducklings can sometimes be the winners. 
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
Your plants look healthy and bushy!  Keeping them through the winter will be good experience to help refine your growing techniques.
 
I usually prune back plants I take inside.  My thinking is less foliage reduces the stress on the plant transitioning to a typically drier environment where it's likely to drop leaves.  It's easier to treat for pests with fewer leaves and (especially) fewer growth tips where aphids like to hide in all the little crooks and crevices - easier to treat them effectively both before taking them inside and also once they're inside as it's simple to spray them with plain water in the sink or shower if pests appear, which IME really knocks them back.  Also, the plants will typically grow back more aggressively from their growth nodes, often stimulating good production.
 
Hard to say about the light over a relatively short indoor period.  It looks like you have great ambient light there, but north facing means less direct light.  Also, your day lengths are reasonably long during winter at your latitude - what, about 12 hours?  For any significant duration or producing peppers supplemental light would be needed, but I'm not sure over a relatively brief duration.
 
What I think is great about your situation is that if you get issues with pests or stretch you can always revert to moving them outside for a period of time as long as the weather's decent, which I'm guessing it is much of the time.  That (and a spray off) goes a long way toward controlling aphids, plus you'd be able to give them some good sun exposure too.
 
One big caveat, though.  If you have them inside and are starting new peppers you should really keep the two groups separated.  A pest infestation on indoor sprouts can be a big problem.
 
Anyway, hope the thoughts help some.  Good luck!
 
UPDATE:

TLSTC is alive and well! The first pod is growing, and new growth is happening. More leaves and another blossom has formed. Its probably too late in the season to get more than a couple of pods off of it, but even one seemed so unlikely a couple of months ago. I'm counting this as a win. TLSTC will be getting moved inside with the bigger plants when the temps get colder where I'm sure a plant with its persistance will find a way.

(Mods I know this is probably straying really close to a GLOG so if you want to move this thread to the GLOG subforum I'm cool with that)
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UPDATE: Haven't updated in a while. I figured you grizzled vets don't want to hear me ramble on noobishly about my one little Ugly Seedling. But geez the universe really does seem to have it out for this little guy.

Of all the problems I had this past spring and summer , squirrels were not one. For the most part they left my plants alone, and I left them alone, contenting myself with silently hating them from afar for the time one of them did $1500 worth of damage to my house.

But....water under the bridge.

I mean not really. F*ck squirrels. All of them. But I'm trying to be the bigger man. My therapist says its healthy to not force it all down deep down deep deep inside. So i don't. Much. But f*ck squirrels. Seriously.

Anyway winter and its tortuous half week long spells of frigid sub 40 degree night time temps is approaching and the poofy tail rats have taken notice. And for the last couple of weeks they have done a completely obnoxious amount of scurrying and chattering and general squirreliness.

And they found my garden. And they've apparently decided to start bullying TLSTC.

First a couple of weeks ago I found TLSTC on the laying on the ground. Now I suppose it *could* have been wind, or burglers or some sort of gravitational spasm like a mini wormhole that pushed him off the railing. But we all know it was those grey furry vermin. I mean if they will chew up a mans soffet and attic vent, there is no doubt in my mind that they would push a jalapeno plant off a deck railing just for the fun of it. No doubt.

And now today. I found TLSTC with a stem mostly ripped off. He is likely going to lose four leaves. As if he didn't already have enough problems. Now not only did they severely injure an innocent pepper plant,who was just growing around minding its own business, but those invasive, tree climbing, rabies carrying, bird egg stealing rodents MURDERED a little baby jalapeno right in its pot!

I know some of you will say squirrels being squirrels. But not this guy. This is war!



(Declaration of war for entertainment purposes only. No actual war will be waged. I will probably just bring TLSTC inside for the rest of "winter" )
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CaneDog

Extreme Member
I've had issues late season with squirrels and whatever those outdoor rats are - the ones that live in the trees/woods. Seems as soon as it starts getting cold them rodents start burying acorns in pots and looking for easy meals and generally wreaking havoc.  TLSTC should be safe inside though. 
 
Plus whatever doesn't kill ya..., right?  :rolleyes:
 
southcarolina said:
I know some of you will say squirrels being squirrels. But not this guy. This is war!



(Declaration of war for entertainment purposes only. No actual war will be waged. I will probably just bring TLSTC inside for the rest of "winter" )
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Let's look at this from another point of view...  There's a really high likelihood that the first fruit wouldn't have gone to maturity, anyway (as often happens, even in a regular season garden).  And as for squirrels, it's been my general experience that they find out pretty quickly that they don't really like peppers that much. Not necessarily because of the heat.  And they quickly start overlooking them.  That's a whole different story if it's a rat.  Those bastards will destroy immature peppers regularly.
 
If it's just one squirrel, well, it was probably just learning something new.  Throw a pile of peanuts in your neighbor's yard every day, and they stop showing up. :D
 
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