Main : 2004 : That Old Tepin Plant, Part II

Mike's Pepper Garden

That Old Tepin Plant, Part II

See That Old Tepin Plant for the beginning of the saga.

At the end of the 2001 season, I moved the then-year-and-a-half-old monster Tepin plant to my new residence. This was to be its toughest winter yet, as I overwintered it in an unheated sunroom located between the kitchen and the garage. I augmented what natural sunlight was available with a pair of 100 watt standard incandescent light bulbs mounted in reflectorized, clamp-mounted receptacles located above and to either side of the plant. Although the sunroom was unheated, it was warmer than the outside temperatures by virtue of retained heat from solar heating during the day as well as some radiant heat from the heated portion of the house. This area was not well-insulated, however, and I cannot believe that the temperature in the sunroom was much more than 10oF warmer than the outside temperature late at night.

The winter of 2001/2002 was somewhat warmer than the average winter in this part North Carolina; for the period Nov 2001 - March 2002, the Heating Degree Days total was 605 units lower than the normal total for this period, representing a -18.3% departure from the norm. The HDD value for a given day is 65 minus the daily average temperature in oF; thus a higher HDD value indicates a lower average temperature. HDD values, when totalled over a period of time, are intended to provide an estimate of the amount of household heating that would have occurred during that period. Since the average temperature used to calculate daily HDD in the data set that I use (Climate Data- National Weather Service Forecast Office, Raleigh, NC, Greensboro NC dataset) is a simple arithmetical average of the daily high temperature and daily low temperature, rather than a more meaningful time-weighted average temperature, the HDD values are not as meaningful as they could be.

Even though that winter was warmer than usual, it was still punishing for a plant; out of the five month cold period, there were 63 days having a low of 32 oF or less, 25 days having a low of 25 oF or less, and lows as cold as 13 oF (4 January 2002). Take into account the slight protection the Tepin had from the low temperatures, and you gain an appreciation of what this plant was able to endure. As rough as it was, the Tepin fared better than it did its first winter; it lost some leaves, but it did not lose nearly as many as it did during the winter of 2000-2001, and it was not exposed to lows anywhere near as extreme during its first winter.

The Tepin spent the spring, summer, and early fall of 2002 in full morning sun on my new front porch, and produced prodigious amounts of new growth just as it did during its second spring. Being busy with a new home and a new job, I did not start any pepper plants from seed during the 2002 season, nor did I track my irregular harvests from the Tepin like I did in previous seasons, so I cannot compare pepper yield to previous seasons, other than to say anecdotally that there were a *lot* of the firey little buggers– at least as many as during the 2001 season.

Happily, the Tepin is still alive, well, and (slowly) churning out little firebombs. The next chapter in its story will be written sometime in early 2004, when I have all of the 2003 harvest data in hand.

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