Main : 1999 : Conclusions

Mike's Pepper Garden


Conclusions for 1999

(Or What I Learned This Summer)

Every season that you garden, you are bound to learn more about the plants that you are growing. As this was the first season that I have started chile peppers from seed, I learned quite a bit about them. Since this new knowledge is sure to influence my plans for next year, I thought that it would be appropriate to list the conclusions that I have drawn this year regarding growing peppers.

Seed sources
When to start seeds
Lighting
Transplanting to the garden


Seed sources:
The seeds that I bought from Davis Plant and Seed Company were very satisfactory. Each envelope contained the exact number of seeds that were advertised, and not a one of them was damaged in any way. Germination ranged from good to exceptional (see Germination data). All told, the seeds produced healthy, vigorous, fruitful plants.

Conclusions: I personally recommend Davis Plant and Seed Company as a source for chile pepper seeds.
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When to start seeds:
My research indicated that I should start my seeds sometime from 1 Feb to 28 Feb (see Notes). Since a number of references indicated that chiles take a good while to start from seed, I chose to start at the early end of the range. This turned out to be a mistake, as the plants were essentially ready to be moved outdoors in early April, which was too soon weather-wise.

I did not have room to repot the peppers again, so they had to sit, root bound, until the beginning of May. This definitely seemed to impact their rate of growth once they were transplanted to outdoors. I was also required to change the lighting dramatically by adding a high-output metal halide growing light about halfway through March, because the plants had grown to the point that they needed a fuller spectrum of light than fluorescent bulbs alone can produce.

Conclusions: Next year, I am going to start my pepper seeds in mid- to late February. Even so, a good set of secondary grow lights to augment the fluorescent lights later in the spring is likely to be a requirement.
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Lighting:
All told, I am satisfied with the results of the lighting system, which has proven successful with other types of plants in the past. Keeping the fluorescents right on top of the plants promotes stocky, bushy growth, and you just can't keep any other type of bulb that close to the plants without burning them to a crisp.

As discussed above, I had to add a 250 W metal-halide about halfway through the indoor growing process. While the metal halide light was pointed at the plants from the side, keeping the overhead fluorescent lights close to the plants prevented them from growing sideways toward the metal halide bulb.

Conclusions: No changes need to be made to the lighting system.
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Transplanting to the garden
All of the six types of peppers that I am growing this year seem to like living in pots on the front porch (morning sun only) just fine, and the Tabascos seem to even prefer the porch to the garden.

Conventional gardening wisdom indicates that most vegetable plants should be grown in full sun. My experience tells me that this is not true- I have seen many types of plants that, when planted where only the morning sun reaches them, outgrew and outperformed plants form the same source that were planted in full sun. The afternoon sun is hot and harsh during the summer in North Carolina, and it is during the afternoon that plants wilt and leaves dry out. Especially during the past two years...

Based on my experiences with porch-gardening this summer, I am adding peppers to my mental list of plants that seem to do fine just getting the morning sun versus full sun. I am also adding them to the list of plants that seem to do pretty good in containers. I would be willing to bet that growing capsicum plants in containers decreases their yield of peppers, but the yields that I did get in containers this year were more than enough to serve my purposes.

Growing plants in containers is a *lot* less work than growing them in the garden. Growing in containers also gives you the ability to move the plants wherever you want, and exposes the plants to a lot less potential disease and insect damage. Given how well the potted pepper plants did this year, I am not planning on growing as many peppers in the garden next year.

Conclusions: Grow more pepper plants in pots next year, as opposed to in the garden, and place them so that they receive morning sun only.
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