• Everything other than hot peppers. Questions, discussion, and grow logs. Cannabis grow pics are only allowed when posted from a legal juridstiction.

thoroughburro 2023, non-peppers

Let them sort it out for a bit. This is how my papalo starts out as well. They look good as far as I can see. Maybe plant them a little deeper when they go outside.

Once I have them in the ground and they start growing, the mostly grow vertically. I punch out the grow tops, to make them more bushy. They stay scrawny for a while and then, within the blink of an eye, they're really big with so many leaves to pick. (I've never found a good way to preserve the leaves, they don't dry or freeze well.)

They never really get a thick stem in my climate. Not sure what Papalo is supposed to do in their original climate, that might be different.

I'm live googling Papalo seedlings, getting lots of sad looking, lanky plants. Maybe they're just ugly little ducklings? 😀



The final plant can look like the one in the pic below. Mine usually have more side branches because of the pruning.

The only seedlings not doing well are Eagle Smiley, the dwarf cherry tomatoes:


For some reason, they stopped taking up water, dropped their cotyledons early, and seem to be working on dropping their leaves.

Meanwhile, Sweet Scarlet, a dwarf slicing tomato, has been no trouble at all (center three):


Hopefully just letting them dry out will reboot their progress.

The Eagle Smiley never recovered… I’ll start more shortly.

Now, the Sweet Scarlet is suffering from something similar:


I’ve been watering them when the pots are about 50-75% dry rather than fully dry. I’ve been conservative with nutrients (DynaGro All-Pro 7-7-7 at this stage) this year, compared to last, but have ramped them up to half recommended strength as things seemed to ask for it.

Everything else seems to be doing fairly well with this treatment, and a few things (papalo especially) seem to want more nutrients rather than less. But maybe tomatoes are more sensitive in this regard? Or, too much water? Hard to achieve sodden conditions in pure coir, in my experience, though.

Infection? That black-looking leaf is actually a dark, wet green… some sort of necrosis.

Edit: I did remove the leaf litter and unhealthy leaves after taking the photo.
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I have seen this type of leaf necrosis before in my pepper plantlets. I don't really know the reason, but it is related to watering (I'm talking about my experience here): water on the leaves, soil too dry (soil = peat moss + perlite). Leaves would shrivel and/or be dropped by the plantlet (always the leaves closest to the surface).
I tried a papalo leaf. I didn’t like it at all, but I want to try it with food before passing final judgment.

I’m surprised it’s so frequently compared to cilantro, to be honest. I had to really concentrate to find a commonality between them — to my palate, it’s quite faint.

I expected a similar experience to culantro, which I would describe as “the main flavor in cilantro ramped up to 11, but missing its softer, floral background notes.”

Instead, I’m tempted to describe it as “one of the faint, off flavors in cilantro ramped up to 11, but completely missing the actual star of the show.”

It’s certainly powerful, but probably too medicinal for me — it catches in my nose, almost. Papalo is as frequently compared to rue as to cilantro, so maybe that’s the aroma I’m disliking; I’ve never experienced rue before, so wouldn’t know.

Interesting nonetheless!
I tried a papalo leaf. I didn’t like it at all, but I want to try it with food before passing final judgment

According to the MX government, pápalo

[...] se consume en la mayor parte del territorio nacional. Su uso más común es para condimentar diversos platillos, como sopas, salsas, frijoles, ensaladas; así como complemento en antojitos mexicanos. Incluso se utiliza en remedios caseros de medicina tradicional.

DeepL translation: papalo is consumed in most of the national territory. Its most common use is to season various dishes, such as soups, sauces, beans, salads, as well as a complement in Mexican snacks. It is even used in home remedies of traditional medicine.
I know. I usually have such an adventurous palate! 😔

Let’s see some Trichocereus:


The etiolation here is my first real cultivation mistake with these in their five years. I use drought to coax most cactuses into dormancy for the winter, but I mistimed the final watering of the Trichos and they stayed wet all winter long.

About half went dormant anyway, which is interesting… but the rest are as seen here. It’s not awful, and I’m hoping they’ll fatten up in the sun, but it’ll probably leave a lasting thin area. Ah well, I always remind myself: my joints and skin aren’t perfect either, and I’m relatively healthy nonetheless.


I wanted to highlight the lignification process. It’s obvious what’s happening here, now, but for almost a year it looks like it does on the right side of the stem: a discolored, seemingly foreign layer. It can look very like the waxy layer that scale infestations form, and a lot of new cactus growers stress over it or even damage their cactus by trying to scrape it off. A scale waxy layer will have clear evidence of insects beneath and will rub off easily with alcohol (a very useful topical insecticide for cactuses).
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Everything is out that’s going out (pretty much). Here’s what caught my eye today. Need to stop waiting for a “full” update; we have too much stuff for that!

The Trichocereus are plumping up their etiolated areas, as hoped:


This bowl (three Mammillaria and a Graptopetalum, mostly obscured by a Sedum) is lovely, but needs to be broken up this year. In the background left is Trichocereus validus, which in addition to etiolation got sunburned; chopped it below that for a fresh start:


Against the front of the house, we have these six containers:


Each has a dwarf sunflower in the center and a scattering of blue cornflowers and yellow-orange cosmos:


The hoja santa are much happier under the single “nursery” tree in our yard — seems they prefer some shade:

The papalo and hoja santa have made themselves fully at home:



The papalo has been flowering for weeks now, but this is the first seed pod to open — they seem to take a few weeks to mature. I really like its growth habit and seed cycle.

The funny little hoja santa flowers are very aromatic of safrole (the “root beer” chemical). The leaves are also faintly aromatic, when bruised, but the flowers are like candy — stronger than sassafras root, certainly!

The cucumbers (‘Sumter’, chosen for its disease resistance and because it was bred in a fairly similar climate: Clemson, South Carolina) have impressed me with their determination. This is the first year I’ve grown them, and I guessed wrong on acceptable sun exposure:



You can see how the primary vines burned and bleached white; it didn’t look like they’d make it for a while, there. Those white vines are somehow still functioning, though, and a new batch of foliage is bravely trying to establish shade. I think they’ll pull through, but next year’s cumbers will be nearer the shade tree.

Trichocereus validus experienced the worst of the etiolation and subsequent sunburning of new growth. The other trichos had mild cases, but validus needed the Chop of Second Chances. It calloused over well and, about a month later, has chosen an areola to become the new apical meristem (left, bursting through the callous):

Let’s check in with the tomatoes. As a container gardener, my choices are usually varieties from the inspiring and prolific Dwarf Tomato Project (through Victory Seeds). This year, I chose Sweet Scarlet (medium slicer) and Eagle Smiley (yellow cherry).

Sweet Scalet has been an absolute champion, at least relative to my previously poor tomato results:



This is 2 of 3, but the third looks just as well. You can see how the leaves bent during growth, a tell-tale deficiency, but never stalled and somehow managed to sustain reasonable growth throughout. It was also a trouble-free seedling, unlike…

Eagle Smiley. Let’s remember back to earlier:

The only seedlings not doing well are Eagle Smiley, the dwarf cherry tomatoes:


For some reason, they stopped taking up water, dropped their cotyledons early, and seem to be working on dropping their leaves.

Every seedling in the initial batch and nearly every in the second succumbed in the same way, at the same time: after excellent germination and uniformly vigorous initial growth (up to around the beginning of the second set of leaves), the seedlings showed severe symptoms similar to root rot following overwatering but regardless of actual watering schedule (in the second batch, I kept some at the limit of dryness).

In desperation, once only two remained and were obviously headed for the same fate (first symptoms are the medially-bending leaf stems shown below), I repotted them into dry soil and moved them outside far earlier than I otherwise would:



They hung on a bit further into their second set of leaves than usual, but then the disease began to progress again as usual. At this point, I looked online for a second time for anyone suffering similar. This time, I found something in a recent review for a different variety (my emphasis):

These Rosella Purple seeds all geminated and grew fine for the first couple weeks, but then would just shrivel up and die. I had the exact same issue with the Dwarf Eagle Smiley seeds. I grew 12 other types of dwarf tomatoes and they all grew wonderfully under the exact same conditions. Seems like there's something wrong with the seeds.

This being an issue with consistent symptoms across two varieties makes me think it’s an undesirable genetic trait which is only expressed in cultivation conditions not usually used by the DTP growers. It would be interesting to collaborate with them to identify what that condition is and build testing for that trait into their process. Their response to that review was (my emphasis):

Rosella Purple can be a challenge in getting it started and we have experienced what you described above. With this variety, you have to give it fresh air and direct sunlight as early in its life as possible; keep it alive and under sun, and do not overwater it, and eventually they will catch up with the other varieties and perform just as well. Hopefully this information helps!

So, I had inadvertantly prolonged the life of my last two Eagle Smileys by stumbling into this same unusual cure. After reading this, but with seedlings (now slowly) on the way to failure, I potted them up into their final pots, again far earlier than I generally would. They took off instantly, like wow. At least as strong as Sweet Scarlet.

After trial and error and research, it’s satisfying to have a (reputedly excellent-tasting, Sungold-alike) variety “solved”: after germination, very shortly after first leaf, pot up and move outside. Next year, I might try germinating them in final pots and location, once nights are warm.

Here they are, growing beautifully:



(The size difference is due to pot size; more on that in a separate post.)

Finally, a client of my partner’s gave us a couple spare San Marzano seedlings (and a Black Cherry seedling, not shown). It’s a legendary variety, of course, but not a dwarf, so I wasn’t sure how it would handle container life. Quite well, so far:



So, I’m beginning to look forward to a good year for tomatoes… foolish, of course. There’s still plenty of time for it to all go wrong. 😬 (Past tomato failure trauma.)
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I've recently had issues with my pepper seedlings. They wouldn't grow and shrivelled as if I was overwatering them. I blame the coco coir... I suspect it still contains traces of herbicide(s) (from coconut farms) that are high enough to affect the seedlings.