Main : 2000 : Conclusions

Mike's Pepper Garden

Conclusions for 2000

(Or What I Learned This Summer)

Seed sources
When to start seeds
Change in germination conditions
High-Density Container Gardening

Seed sources:
The seeds that I bought from Pepper Joe were very satisfactory. Each envelope contained at least the number of seeds that were advertised, and the seeds were generally in excellent condition. All told, the seeds produced healthy, vigorous, fruitful plants.

Conclusions: I personally recommend Pepper Joe as a source for chile pepper seeds.

When to start seeds:
My intention this year was to start the seeds in late Feb (see Conclusions for 1999). I ended up missing this target by about three weeks, as I started the seeds 20 Mar 2000. In a number of cases, at the end of the season I ended up harvesting a number of unripe peppers to beat the first predicted hard frost, and if the plants had had the extra three weeks, many of these peppers would have had time to ripen completely. I still think that late Feb - early March is the right time to start pepper seeds for the local growing season.

Unlike the 1999 season, I did not have to supplement the fluorescent lights with metal halide lights; this step was required in 1999 because I started the pepper seeds too early, and before it warmed up enough to start setting them out, they reached a point in their growth cycle where fluorescent lights were not sufficient to keep them healthy.

Conclusions: The start date used for 2000 (20 March) was a more appropriate starting date that that used for 1999 (30 Jan), so while not 100% optimal this season's starting point was a definite improvement. Next year, I am going to start my pepper seeds at the beginning of March.

Change in germination conditions:
The ambient temperature profile during the germination process changed from the 1999 season to the 2000 season, and this impacted germination. I installed a woodstove in 2000 and began using it as a primary source of heat that winter. I germinate my peppers in an interior room, which was kept very warm (constant 75+ °F) during winter 98 - spring 99 by the electric heating system, which seemed to run constantly.

During winter 99 - spring 00, the woodstove prevented the electric heating system from running most of the time, resulting in lower average temperatures (and much lower periodic low temperatures) in my germination area (not to mention much lower electric bills!).

If you compare germination rates between Grower's Log for 1999 and Grower's Log for 2000, you will notice that germination rates were significantly lower across all varieties in 2000. Now, both seasons involve different varieties from different vendors, so a direct comparison would not be valid (and I don't germinate enough plants of each variety to constitute a statistically significant sample anyway). However, it is an established fact that temperature has a direct effect on germination rates for pepper seeds (Ref 11, p. 95), and it is also a fact that 1) I am not satisfied in general with the germination rates that I obtained this year, 2) I was satisfied in general with the germination rates that I obtained in 1999, and 3) ambient temperatures experienced by seeds/seedlings decreased from 1999 to 2000.

Conclusions: I am going to build a shallow, open-top heated box to hold the seed cups during germination and early vegetative growth for the 2001 season.

High-Density Container Gardening:
This season, I tried growing multiple pepper plants in large containers using very close plant spacing (see High-Density Container Gardening). Unfortunately, it took me too long to get things together, and the candidates for this test got a bit root-bound. Thus, I hesitate to judge the technique solely on this season's results (especially since no 'control' plants were grown in a traditional garden setting).

Regardless of conclusiveness, the results were quite good; the plants grew together well and produced an excellent canopy. Most of the plants grew to appropriate heights, so the fact that they were growing in a crowded container did not seem to have a strong negative impact on their growth.

I think that this is a viable technique, and it certainly merits a closer, and hopefully more structured, look next year.

Conclusions: Need to try this technique again in 2001, making provisions for garden-grown control plants.

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