Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Chiltepin

Year after year I have put chiltepin seeds, also known as chile tepin or chile pequin, in peat pellets, professional growing medium, dirt, etc. with no results; or if you prefer, with the result that at the end, all I had were empty peat pellets, empty pots of professional growing medium, empty pots of dirt, etc.
This year, I tried it once again and pow! one seed sprouted. I cannot tell you how elated I was. I actually did a little jig the morning I came down to inspect my peat pellets and found this little gem. I have nurtured it since and this is what it looks like today, February 21, 2oo9 (see picture above).
The chiltepin pepper and I have history. We go back all the way to my childhood in the Sonoran desert, where peddlers would come to our street selling wild chiltepins that they had harvested in the Sierra Madre mountains.
The little round peppers can be eaten fresh but we always used them dry and are so hot that we used bits of grocery paper sacks to protect our fingers when we crushed them into soups and stews. Just one was enough to provide any dish with considerable kick.
Experts say that the chiltepin is the precursor of ALL peppers. It is a wild plant and so they tell me, it takes a year or two to fruit, but I have read somewhere that people get fruit out of it the first year. A well-tended chiltepin plant can live for a long time -20 or 30 years! although the oldest plant I have seen was reported to be 5 years old.
It is because of the reported longevity of the plant I intend to plant my baby into a large, regular pot and not into one of my home made self-watering containers, which have to be emptied and cleaned at the end of each growing season. Here in Kansas, I will have to bring it inside during the coldest months of the year.

I am hoping that tomorrow is nice enough for me to put plants into the remaining 4 self-watering buckets that I've made.

By now, I usually have all the seeds I am going to buy for the growing season but today I bought some seeds for stuff I hadn't decided yet if I wanted to grow or not, so I will be sowing stuff tomorrow as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crisis averted

The workers got most of the floor done on their first day which allowed me to get to my plants. Already a couple of them were showing signs of stress. Once I watered them however, they recovered.
The sclerantus biflorus is now germinating as is my lavender, yohoo! now all my flowers are sprouting. I have not planted the sunflowers yet but I will this weekend along with the marygolds. I will sow the wild flowers directly outside.
I really need to get a sowing schedule like good gardeners have.
At least Sunday, it will be on the 50's. My tomato plants need some sun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've gotten myself in a bit of a pickle. I have way too many seedlings coming up and not enough space under the lights. To complicate things, I am having a guy come and re-floor the downstairs space and that's where I keep my seedlings, which means that I cannot go downstairs today or tomorrow to water the poor things. I fear I may lose some of them and that would break my heart.
I have lettuce growing now (Tom Tom mini head lettuce and Tin Tin little gem lettuce). I have a bunch of onions now. I have at least two strawberry plants sprouting. The Penstemons are finally germinating. I am going to have to think of something quick if I want to start my garden in March as I planned.
Also, seed potatoes are at the stores, as well as onions, garlic, strawberry roots, and blueberry bushes. It makes me giddy with anticipation!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They're off!

I finally put my Market Miracle tomato plant in one of the home-made self-watering containers (SWC) I made out of 4 gallon plastic buckets.
Although I mounted an intensive campaign with restaurants around town, I could never get any 5 gallon buckets. 4 gallon buckets however, were plentiful. Since I grew a Brandywine tomato plant in a smaller container last year, I figured a 4 gallon bucket would suffice for my Market Miracle.
This is not the only tomato plant I have but it is the first one that germinated.
One nice thing about the 4 gallon bucket is that even when full of wet dirt and water, it is light enough to move. My plan is to put it outside when the temperature gets over 40 and bring it inside when it drops below that, at least until the plant has hardened, and then I will only bring it inside at night when the temperatures drop below freezing.
I put one of my Brandywine tomato plants in another SWC just like the one on the picture yesterday as well. In fact, I have enough 4 gallon buckets for 3 more plants for a total of 5. I have two 5 gallon buckets that I bought last year on sale and they will hold another one of my Russian tomatos. I have a number of 18 gallon totes that will become SWC for my peppers, cucumbers, watermelons, squash, etc.
I am really looking forward to this growing season. Last year was terrible with hail storm after hail storm. Spring in Kansas can be really unpredictable so I am hoping that the movable containers will help.