Friday, May 1, 2009

Chili Pepper Plants

As you know from my previous posts, this is my first year gardening, so I try different methods to find out what works best for the plants I want to grow.

Along with methi and English peas, I am also trying to grow some other plants, such as Kala Chana (Black Gram), Sweet peas, Grape Tomatoes, Chili Pepper, Spinach, Green Beans, Water Melon, Cucumber, Honey Dew, Okra, Fennel (to attract butterflies), and Sweet Basil. I also have some store bought plants like Meyers Lemon, Mint and Aloe Vera.

I have been a little successful so far with some of the plants listed above. Some others have just germinated, and a few don't show any sign of germination at all.

I had always wanted to grow chili pepper plants. While researching online, I found that they are a little difficult to grow, especially in a place like Seattle, where the summer season is shorter when compared to some other parts of the country. The Chili plants require warm temperatures (60F-70F) to germinate and to continue to grow, and takes about 90 days(minimum) to produce fruits.

My seeds took almost a month to germinate. The picture below shows the seeds germinating in my little homemade greenhouse.

Its been almost about months now since I planted the seeds, my plants are just 2-3 inches tall. I have been successful at getting the seeds to germinate and grow into small plants, but not sure whether they will set out any fruits, since the growth is too slow.

Since the plants require warm temperature for longer period of time, I created a cheap greenhouse from a 2 litre soda bottle. This seems to have worked for me. Since the bottle has a very narrow opening, it limits air circulation to an extent. Also, the plastic keeps the temperature inside the bottle about 5-10 degrees F higher than the outside temperature.

Here's is how I made the greenhouse.
1. Take a 2 litre soda bottle. Wash and clean it thoroughly.
2. With a sharp knife, make a small cut near the rim where the bottle thickness changes (3-4 inches from the bottom of the bottle).
3. Know you can use a pair of scissors or the same knife to cut all the way around the bottle to divide it into two pieces.
4. Drill 3 to 4 small holes in the bottom portion of the bottle which you just separated from the long upper portion of the bottle.
5. Fill it up with potting soil. Water thoroughly.
6. Spread chili pepper seeds (or any other seeds you like) on the top of the soil and cover very lightly (1/4 cm) with potting soil. Spray water to keep it moist.
7. Now assemble the top portion of the bottle by pressing it in such that the wall of the top portion is inserted into the diameter of the bottom portion.
8. Seal with a masking tape, so that no air can go in.

You can remove the cap or leave it on...its totally up to you.

Here is a picture taken on April 2nd (a month and a half after planting).

and here is the picture of the greenhouse.
I sow my seeds in late February, and kept the bottle indoor. I sprayed water on the soil on alternate days to keep it moist but not wet. From what I read from some websites and from some gardening books, the pepper plants are drought tolerant but they don't like wet soil. (The soil should be moist but not wet). Provide good drainage for better growth.
I have an organic gardening book which suggests to put a match stick near the seedlings once they start to emerge, since the plants require sulfur for better growth.

Here is the latest picture of my plants. I will update this post as far as my plants survive:) and produce some fruits.

Update: I have been a little lazy lately, and haven’t updated my blog for a long time. Anyways, here is the good news, for those who were following this particular posting. I did have some chili pepper growing on my chili plant. Here is a picture. It has been about a month since I took this picture. It is still growing new fruits in October!!!!

I don’t take any additional care of the plant, other than watering it everyday or when the soil seems dry. I haven’t even added any fertilizer to the soil. I am using store bought potting soil. As mentioned earlier in this entry, my research showed that the plants should be kept at above 70F from germination to fruiting period, but from my experience I can say that even if the seedlings see temperatures below 50 degrees F for a few weeks, they will still bloom and they will still GIVE you some fruits.

When I set the seeds for sprouting, the temperature here was in high 40s to low 50s. My seeds sprouted below 70F. The only thing I did to ensure sprouting (or to prevent my plants from freezing) was build a cheap little green house, and set the seeds in the green house for sprouting. Now I am enjyoing my home grown peppers:) I am surely going to grow some more next season.

Thank you for visiting Food Garden and Fun. I would love to hear from you. I appreciate your time to leave feedback and help me improve this blog.

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