Lessons Learned from the 2020 Pepper Season

October 19, 2020 | Article Topics:

This is the fourth installment of a series I like to call “Lessons Learned.” At the end of each growing season, I take a moment to look back and reflect on what may have gone well and what didn’t. No year is the same as the previous, so there’s always some insight to be had and applied to the gardening process.

So, with my 2020 season essentially done – I still have one plant left with a couple of fruit racing to ripen – it’s time to look back to the start of the season and see what we can see.

wheel barrow full of pepper plants

There is No Planning for Mother Nature

First and foremost, Mother Nature was fickle this year. I knew things were going to be rough when frigid cold temperatures created a two week delay to getting my plants in the ground to officially get the grow season under way. The longer-than-expected time in doors stunted a few of my plants.

The harsh beginning only set the mood for the season as we encountered long droughts (which are to be expected in Virginia summers) through June and July. That extended dry spell was immediately followed by one of the wettest August’s on record with over six inches of rain. And to make matters even worse, we had near freezing temperatures in September that spelled the end to most of my plants at the end of that month.

No matter how your seasons have gone in the past, there is no way to create a full-proof plan for dealing with the weather. Call it climate change. Call it unpredictable. All I know, is that Mother Nature has a mind of her own and we’re just along for the ride.

Know Your Seed Supplier

I’m always on the look out for hard-to-find varieties and crosses, or even the trendiest of the trendy to grow. I love the variety shape, color and flavor that exists with the pepper realm. But, finding the right seeds in order to grow the latest superhot cross or the most sought after wild chile can be a dicey affair.

I always do my research and check with other growers whom I am in contact with. But even then, the end result doesn’t always equal that label on your seed packet. For instance, I purchased seeds through Instagram from a supplier that I have seen good results from via other growers. I’m not sure if this supplier sources their seeds from elsewhere or they weren’t paying attention while packing their product, but the Caramel Scorponero seeds I started did not produce that pepper. In fact, they produced to different varieties all together – a peach scorpion of some sort and Aji Rojo seen below.

wheel barrow full of pepper plants

Not all supplier experiences are dire, of course. This is just one of a handful of hiccups this season. This is more a reminder for myself (and perhaps, you dear reader) do always do your research and to always be prepared to be surprised – even my the most reputable of seed providers.

Next Season

So while I wait for my last plant – a 7 Pot Primo – to finish with the last few pods to ripen, I’m already planning for next season. Actually, I started planning for next season a couple of months ago, but until I announce my plans for 2021, I still have several pepper reviews to publish before the end of the year.

I hope everyone has had a exciting and fruitful season. For those of you on the other side of the world who are just getting started with your next season, best of luck and happy growing.