Care and feeding of your Chilhuacle negro pepper

Or at least what I’ve cobbled together from a few sources and an askme.

It helps now that I’ve identified what the plant actually is: note to self- use the printed plant tag that comes with the plant- don’t get all artsy and make your own, the ink will fade, and then you’ll have no idea what variety it is. Whoops.

The pepper, like the dude, abides- but I’d like the little baby peppers it has put out to get a little bigger, and I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help it last til summer when hopefully it’ll put out flowers again.

The consensus was- top off the pot with soil, give it a little phosphorus, and leave it alone!

So I topped of the pot with a few fresh handfuls of soil, sprinkled a small amount of phosphorus fertilizer,

Topped off the pot with a fresh layer of mulch- and left it alone. While there are a few sucker stems, consensus is to not even bother with them until spring at the earliest.

I did replace it’s stake. See, when the downpours started, the pot got so saturated that the plant started listing a bit, so in a hurry I grabbed a stake and some ties and tied it up. Only in my haste (I did this all during a downpour) I grabbed one of my large bean stakes, not a stake the appropriate size for the pot. So I carefully removed the bean stake, and re-tied everything up, nice and sturdy.

Here’s looking at you, baby pepper, hope the phosphorus is to your liking!

More winter work

Wasn’t planning on doing anything today garden-wise, but we’ve had a break in the rain. It’ll be scattered showers the next few weeks, but today was clear and cold.

In bizarre news there was snow in the Bay Area last night and today Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo got coated in the white stuff- and even more bizarre there were reports of light snow on twin peaks. You know- in San Francisco!

Ha ha ha holy crap.

No snow in my neck of the woods… yet.

Maybe is a good thing I refrained from putting in some early green beans.

So, the new pots are in their new home!

I have to weed around everything, but I think I’ll drag out the weed whacker for around the pots instead of moving everything for the mower.

In more organizational news I finally tackled the ugly pile of gloves and got rid of the old and torn work gloves, and put my new work gloves on top (thanks for the new gloves mom!)

In order to make sure I don’t throw out two lefts like last time…

Yeah. I’m labeling everything. Everything.

My last labeling failure was the mystery mole pepper, which was labeled without a proper weather-proof marker so it faded.

But my research has panned out!

The mystery mole pepper is in fact a “Chilhuacle Negro”.

I still have to do more digging on the proper care of this guy, but the good news is that the green peppers turning brown is normal for this variety.

The size probably isn’t, so since I already pruned him down a bit, I’m thinking I’m gonna have to cut the last sucker stems and pick the undersize peppers so that in a few months he can put out flowers again.

I’m proud of my resilient pepper, but I have to do more research on how to care for him.

I had some bench moving to do as well.

The bench which has so far survived wood chipper-ing is now living here-

Because it’s former spot will soon become another bed. Lugging the mower up there should be fun for sure, but that’s a problem for tomorrow’s Neanderthal.

Finally, I planted the oregano.

The hardest bit of this was ripping out the old one which had gotten really shabby and shrubby and woody and took gloves and tools for me to finally rip from the soil. But the new guy looks at home with new mulch and a zesty smell.

Tomorrow the new beds come in, we’ll see if I have the energy to set them up tomorrow or if tomorrow is just mowing day.

Nobody can say I’m not getting my exercise!

Captain’s log: January 21st 2019

Got a fair amount of work done today in the sparkling sun. It’s always nice after the rain passes to just take stock of all the new growth. Or lack of growth in the case of the snow peas.

Of course it’s not all fun and games.

Yeah the tomato has grown it’s last.

Its time to pull it. Which was fun considering my lack of proper gloves. I managed to find a pair that fit me in the glove pile, but they were almost more like thin winter gloves than work gloves.

Whatever, they fit (mostly) and they worked (mostly).

Goodbye tomato plant, you will be missed!

I really need to buy a new pair of work gloves.

Onto the next project!

The weeds in the front yard were really satisfying, they all came out in one pull. There was a lot of trash underneath which was less than great- and the underlying succulents were well watered but not super healthy.

Except for this beautiful echeveria. I’m really proud of this little guy, I found it in the wreckage of the last front yard patch, the remains of a plant I put in over 5 years ago. When I discovered it, this time last year or so- it was a thick stem with one tiny centimeter diameter echeveria sticking out. I replanted it and put some cactus fertilizer and soil down, and it rewarded me by getting huge!

I’m definitely adding one more big guy to the edge to discourage littering and dog activity, but mom has vetoed my idea of a gigantic cactus.

Something about it not being “neighborly”.

Thanks mom for being all… sensible!

Pfft.

Has to prune the mystery mole pepper, the sucker stems were really taking too much out of the plant.

I should have done this months ago- but better late than never.

Pruned and re-tied the plant is a lot more handsome.

Interestingly the few baby peppers that were on the stalks I cut were not healthy, so it’s a good thing I pruned it now so the remaining peppers can grow. It’ll also mean than once the weather gets warmer more flowers will set, the plant will get taller, and hopefully I’ll get my mole peppers to eat!

The local sheriffs were in town to inspect my newly pruned pepper. That’s a good sign!

But what about the newly empty tomato pot?

I can’t plant anything that’ll take too much time to grow- new tomatoes go in late March/early April…

Sassy salad mix to the rescue!

I mean any salad mix will do. But I like this one.

There’s my pot of sexy dirt!

I might have to put some soil in my barbecue patterned pot and plant another batch of sassy salad, or maybe another area of arugula.

Speaking of arugula…

Picked some for dinner tonight!

There’s still a ton left in the ground, but maybe putting some more in a pot is a good idea, because as soon as the ground gets warm I need the back part of that patch for green beans.

It was a good day’s work!

Next job- MOWING!

Kill me now

Captain’s log: December 31st 2018

Well. Last captain’s log of 2018. That’s something.

The weather here in not-so-sunny California is dry, bright and windy.

So. SO. Windy.

The back trash can got blown about 20 feet away from where it’s supposed to be, and separated itself from it’s lid.

It’s kinda hard impossible to photograph wind, but sad trash can comes close.

This happened last night, and boy trying to sleep last night was hard, the wind was howling and howling and howling.

Luckily the only thing knocked over was a trash can.

I was slightly worried my Gerry-rigged tomato setup would get blown over, but it’s hanging in there, and the little tomatoes are continuing to ripen.

The Mystery Mole peppers are continuing to grow, which is nice, even if I have no idea what they are supposed to look or taste like.

The seed packet I ordered came in, so I planted some peas that are (hopefully) not dead.

And the turnips in front of the peas are doing nicely.

Snow peas are the perfect winter veggie, they love the cold, and they’re a legume so they grow super easy and with little extra work.

I’m not sure the basil is going to survive the winter sadly. African Blue Bush Basil can become a perennial in this area, but it’s a coin toss. Basically it just has to survive one winter and then you’ll have it for 7-8 years if you’re lucky. It’s looking like I’m not lucky.

This entire herb bed has been weird. The Hyssop and savory are gold, the oregano is acting all weird, and the purple sage looks perpetually sad, but alive. The regular sage seems to have rebounded though, so there’s that.

In far better news, the dill has sprouted! Was worried about it, but hopefully dill from seed is heartier than dill from plant.

The lemon balm I perhaps foolishly planted in the main herb patch is doing it’s minty thing, which means I’m expecting a takeover. This herb bed is where the tarragon pot lives, and that plant is doing kinda not great. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and just put the plant in the ground, root takeover be damned. Oh well.

The Pac Choi look fantastic though.

Happy New Year to all, and here’s to all your gardens growing well in 2019, both actual and metaphorical.

See you next year!

The bad and the good before the new year

Well I thought I’d get a few bell peppers, but I got bupkis. I’ve not had much to do in the garden, on account of the rain- but as today was the first clear day, I thought I’d at least do something out back, for exercise if nothing else.

So I thought I’d harvest what bell peppers were viable and then finally compost the plants and throw out that old ugly plastic container.

Well the first pepper I clipped off was basically rotten mush- which was a bad sign. The second pepper I clipped off I dropped, because a spider crawled out- from inside the pepper. It was like that for all of them.

Man just… so many spiders. I’m not arachnophobic I’m really not but… there is a thing as too many spiders.

See I fucked up when I got these plants and put them into a shallow pot. I didn’t know that in order to grow peppers in pots, you need to have a sufficiently deep pot.

This was not a sufficiently deep pot.

The result was a plant that never grew properly, even though it did put out peppers. But the peppers themselves were as runty as the plant. One or two were ok- but possibly due to the ill health of the plant so so many were infested and well. That was that.

This whole situation I’m chalking up to a lesson learned. I’m still unsure about the other two failing plants, the shishito might be salvageable if I prune it properly, but frankly it’s never grown right and the peppers I’ve gotten were just not right.

The “hatch” also. It was originally in a too small pot too, and then it got flattened and transplanted. It gave me a good half dozen peppers, but dad and I agreed, they weren’t the right level of heat, though the texture was quite nice. So I might pull them out too.

The only pepper I’m definitely keeping for next year is my mole pepper whose real name has been lost to time and the fact that the name was written on a plastic label with a sharpie which has faded. “Chi” or “cua” something? It was a long name in Nahuatl. It’s a Mexican mole pepper- and it’s grown really well. I do have baby peppers on it- which has only shown up in the last month or so- and it was in the right pot from the start and has just grown very well from the beginning.

The problem was I had two surgeries this summer and so I put the peppers in very late in the season. If they’d been in by late March… but they weren’t. I’m lucky that the Mole pepper seems to have done so well, even if I haven’t gotten any peppers from it yet.

So all I have from my red bell pepper plant is an empty plastic planter ready for recycling, some crap for my compost bin, and a bunch of dirt all down my grey sweater.

But on the bright side…

May these sun golds be the first of many!

A vain attempt to save the tomato from the downpour (UPDATE)

I have tied an umbrella to the tomato cage.

I’m not sure this will work to save the tomato plant from drowning but I had to do something.

It is also one of the silliest thing I’ve ever done.

Bonus:

The mole pepper started falling over in the rain so I staked it up so it wasn’t listing so badly.

I’m worried that the pots are just going to get saturated- and they’re isn’t much I can do about that.

Peppers are famously resilient and famously weedy so I’m less worried about them then the tomato.

Still a little worried though.

San Francisco! Torrential downpour or drought! No in-between!

(UPDATE):

Umbrella fell over so I re-tied it to the cage and then I got ambitious and tried to tie up the fallen bits to a stake in the ground

Nothing like macgyvering in a downpour!