2017 Pepper Season: The Great Outdoors

This past Wednesday offered the perfect weather scenario to get my pepper plants out in the wild. Overcast with temperatures in the low 70’s allowed for a smoother transition into what may turn out to be record-breaking heat this weekend.

I’d been doing research for the past several months — as this is my first time growing from seed — on various potting soil combinations. Needless to say, everyone has an opinion and thinks their idea produces the best product. I decided to keep it relatively simple with just a few materials and go from there.

Soil Mixture

Soil Materials

Earlier in the week, I made my run to the local hardware store and picked up some cow manure, top soil, peat moss and perlite. Knowing that peppers like soil that’s a bit loose and not too dense, I opted for roughly a one-to-one-to-one ratio for the primary ingredients (manure, soil and peat), adjusting as I saw fit while mixing them in the wheelbarrow. Perlite was added after thorough incorporation to provide even further drainage for the plants.

I ended up having a couple bags left over after this round which is great as the wife and I plan on making a run to local nurseries in the coming weeks to find a few other fiery treats. We’re both big fans of Scotch Bonnets so the plan is to get one or two of those, as well as some others that may pique our interest.

The Plants

Pepper plants in buckets

The plan the entire time I was caring for the seedlings was to pick the best 10 or so and utilize the two-bucket method as a self-watering system. As fate would have it, all but four of my plants (the runts of the litter) found potted homes. For the bucketed plants, I’ve got two Chocolate Bhutlahs, one orange Habanero, three Bhut Jolokias, two Carolina Reapers and two Peach Bhut Jolokias.

Soil Materials

I’m also experimenting with a fabric pot (Viagro, I believe) to see how a plant will fare for the season. I’m curious to see if air-pruning has any benefits. The bag holds twice as much dirt, so the nasty looking Chocolate Bhutlah I planted in it should have more than ample room to grow. I’ve got it set in a fairly deep saucer in the hopes that I don’t have to water to too much more frequently than the others, but we’ll see.

Potted pepper plants

In other pots, I’ve got a set of Tequila Sunrise plants, one orange Habanero, one Peach Bhut Jolokia, one Carolina Reaper and one Chocolate Bhutlah. These are about the same size as the buckets, but with no reservoir so I’ll need to water them more frequently.

Progress Thus Far

It’s only been a couple of days since planting and the plants appear to be adjusting well. There’s your typical wilt and rebound cycle as they get used to the sun and temperature fluctuations. Several of the plants seem to be loving their larger confines as they have already put on an inch or so of overall growth — particularly that fabric bagged Chocolate Bhutlah. I think that one’s out to get me.

The only issues I foresee right now are the placement of the pots (so that they get the right amount of sun) and our dogs. Last year, the mutts dug at the soil in my potted peppers. If I catch them doing it again this season, I may need to construct some sort of barrier around the plants. Time will tell.