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Update and Looking for Advice

Hi all,
 
This is my first post since my introduction.  I started out in late May here for the first time with 12 jalapeno, 6 cayenne, 6 thai, and 4 habanero plants from local nurseries.  No doubt I'll be growing from seed next year, but they're all doing very well producing quite a few fruits.  I have a couple questions for the veterans, though.
 
- I feel like I've had peppers for a long time, and recently a ton of peppers (easily hundreds), but none are ripening.  With fall coming in a couple months here in PA, is there anything I can do to speed ripening?  Maybe start picking off new flowers or growth to force the plant to focus on the fruits?
 
- My jalapenos look great, but they're small.  Maybe only a couple inches long.  Now..at it's densest I've got 8 of these planted in a 2'x2' box which I don't think I will repeat.  They're just way too crowded.  But, they are otherwise very healthy with deep green leaves, woody trunks, and a ton of peppers forming.  Bees buzzing around them all day everyday.  Is that normal?  Is it perhaps just the variety I've got?  I'm just used to seeing the jalapenos from the grocery store which can top 5-6" easy.
 
Love you guys,
 
AB
 

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Kramer said:
Hi all,
 
This is my first post since my introduction.  I started out in late May here for the first time with 12 jalapeno, 6 cayenne, 6 thai, and 4 habanero plants from local nurseries.  No doubt I'll be growing from seed next year, but they're all doing very well producing quite a few fruits.  I have a couple questions for the veterans, though.
 
- I feel like I've had peppers for a long time, and recently a ton of peppers (easily hundreds), but none are ripening.  With fall coming in a couple months here in PA, is there anything I can do to speed ripening?  Maybe start picking off new flowers or growth to force the plant to focus on the fruits?
 
- My jalapenos look great, but they're small.  Maybe only a couple inches long.  Now..at it's densest I've got 8 of these planted in a 2'x2' box which I don't think I will repeat.  They're just way too crowded.  But, they are otherwise very healthy with deep green leaves, woody trunks, and a ton of peppers forming.  Bees buzzing around them all day everyday.  Is that normal?  Is it perhaps just the variety I've got?  I'm just used to seeing the jalapenos from the grocery store which can top 5-6" easy.
 
Love you guys,
 
AB
 
OK, first is slow down. 
 
You never mentioned if you have any growing experience? Other than ,yes, 8 plants in a 2'X2' (How deep?) box VERY crowded (I've done square foot gardening and that's double!.) What's your hardiness zone?> Look up your Hardiness Zone by Zip Code .... What are you using for growing media? Garden Soil - Potting media - etc...
 
I'm Zone6 and  yes I'd start pinching buds pretty soon if your plants have hundreds of unripe pods....
 
EDIT: P.S.-Your plants look great!
 
Your plants look great!  Just hang in there and they should ripen fine.  It takes time, often especially so for the first pods to ripen. 
 
Jalapenos come in many varieties, some of which will be bigger/smaller than others.  Also, they can tend to bear small, stubby pods for various reasons.  I'll see this when they fruit early while the plant is small and perhaps limited root room could figure in if it's happening with the crowded ones.  Usually the later pods to set from those plants are bigger/full-size as long as they're moved up into the growing conditions they like.  I agree 8 in 4sf is very crowded, as you already suggest.  My max would be 4 in a 2x2 bed, like NECM mentions, and I usually aim for even greater spacing than that.
 
Great work.  Your plants look awesome and I'm sure you'll have lots of ripe pods soon.  Next season, when you grow from seeds, you'll be be able to grow just about anything you want, which is really cool.
 
The_NorthEast_ChileMan said:
CD, I was thinking Bonnie plants from big box store, Lowes or HD?
 
Sure, that seems a likely possibility.  I don't often buy pepper plants, but I see people have great results with Bonnie plants and others.  And I think Bonnie carries multiple different types of jalap, too.  Getting jalapenos to grow as big as the ones in the store though, that seems to be a common challenge for people.  Also getting solid heat.  My holy grail would be a big, sweet, jalapeno with serrano+ heat, but it hasn't happened for me yet. :)
 
First of all, thanks much and I am humbled by your compliments.  I have absolutely zero pepper growing (or gardening in general) experience prior to this.  I've spent many newfound hours recently researching what these guys like and taking care of them, but I'm really just starting to learn.  I'm stoked to channel this into next year's grow.
 
And here's where the novice-ness shows lol:
 
My growing media is Miracle-Gro potting soil.
 
I'm in hardiness zone 6-7 (i.e. summer growing and not much else).  I do top dress every now and then just to get some fresh nutrients.  Other than that, it's an every 2-3 day watering depending on weather (brutally hot this summer here until recently), and a once a week feeding with fish/seaweed + some cal-mag.  Definitely going to change this up to some real compost next year.  When it's stupid hot (90+) I actually mist the leaves to cool them down and they seem to respond nicely.  I'm not sure if it's appropriate or not, but the water evaporates in minutes and they perk back up from drooping so badly even when the soil is moist.
 
Also, I know now they are by most accounts pretty damn overcrowded.  I was more or less just wondering if that's what would cause smaller fruits?  I was thinking the same thing..in a 2'x2', maybe just 4 plants, one in each quadrant at the most.  But hey..I didn't know better and they just looked so small back then!  Now they're over 3 feet tall, I think because they're trying to compete with each other for more sun.  Which is not what we want.  But, while they're otherwise thriving, maybe the smallish fruit is partially due to the variety?  I guess that's what I'm wondering.  These came from some local nurseries, not Home Depot or Lowes, but at any rate, I have no idea what variety they really are.  I've also heard elsewhere that the first jalapeno fruits can be small, but then the later ones from a more mature plant are bigger.
 
I agree, a big, sweet jalapeno with serrano+ heat sounds perfect!
 
 
 
Your plants look great!  BTW:  I put no more than 8 plants in 4' x 8' beds and in many instances, that's too many.  We're harvesting green chiles this week and drum roasting this weekend.  I just took a bite out of a Lumbre (Hatch Type Double-X Hot).  Nice burn on that guy (serrano ish).  Semi-sweet.  Highly recommended.  
 
Thanks Canedog. I'll definitely be spacing out next year. I might even try topping a few since I'm going to have plenty of time starting indoors. I think I'm gonna take CM's advice and start pinching buds though. Kinda sucks because the rampant bumblebees have really helped ensure damn near every one becomes a fruit, but there's just not enough time left here for new habaneros to grow and ripen.

Just looked at that Lumbre pepper. 10k scov, bet that's a really enjoyable pepper especially after some drum roasting!
 
At last, the first harvest!

What's interesting to me is just how long the Thai chiles are taking to ripen. They have set maybe 100 large, nearly full size pods but I could find only 2 that were ripe, and only 5 or so have changed.

The habanero production is impressive and they are HOT. Only watering when wilty. I started pinching flowers a couple weeks ago. Between the 4 plants there's probably about 100 golf ball sized pods now, and a dozen or so at the bottom are changing to that nice orange color. I find that they have a much longer green stage than the annums, but once they start changing color it's only a matter of days before they're completely changed.
 

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