I hope it’s not too late

I looked back at my 2016 garden journal and decided to start seeding later this year. It’s exciting to watch my plants grow, but they tend to grow very quickly, so when it is time to harden them off before planting them outdoors, they are already quite tall and bushy. This isn’t a huge problem, but I think it could be easier on the seedlings if they are more stout and bushy. The wind will be less of a concern (snapping stems). But the mistake I may have made is with the hot peppers. These take a longer time to set fruit, and I knew this. I’ve started them almost a month later than usual, so I may pay the price and not get anything (heartbreak). I’ve also made the decision to grow less this year, especially in the hot pepper department, because when you seed at the right time, you’ll end up with a lot of hot peppers! Too many! Overall, I’ve seeded less of everything. In the past, I’ve seeded extras of everything, in case some don’t germinate. But not this year. It’s a little bit cocky. Hubs asked me if I should seed extras, just-in-case, but I told him that every year I seed extra and it can be so difficult to find good homes for them. I’m very limited in how many tomato plants I can have in my garden. So yes, I’m not only a little nervous about my 2017 plan of seeding later, and seeding way less. Writing this post is making me second guess my decisions even more! So on April 2, I seeded my peppers and tomatoes. The week before, I had seeded gazanias, and they have all sprouted! I had almost forgot about them because I put them in the basement. The seed packet had specified that it should be placed in darkness until they sprout. By the time I remembered them (less than a week later), they were about 3/4 of an inch tall!

I’ve seeded a little bit extra for the TPC garden, as I’ve been hired to be their gardener! But my intention is to plant up low maintenance flowers instead of edibles.

After I seeded, I placed the lid on the tray to keep them warm and the air humid, but the next day I noticed a strange odour. I’ve uncovered to air it out. I believe the netting of the Jiffy pucks is the culprit, and I’m not sure why it smells like that. I don’t ever recall them smelling in the past, and I’m sure I used these ones last year. I know Jiffy changed them last year from a gauze-like material to netting, but I’m sure I used the new ones last year. Anyway, the smell is not polluting my dining room now that they are uncovered, but who knows what is in that material!

This morning, I noticed that a Green Zebra tomato, and a Marianna’s Peace tomato have germinated. Very exciting to see! I’ve hooked up the grow light, so it’s rock-and-roll time!

But before I was able to set up the light, I had to FINALLY take down the various strings of hot peppers I had hung from the light stand to dry. These are peppers from 2016, which I strung in November of last year. Yep, they’ve been hanging for 5-6 months, but in my defense, they are quite pretty and act as “natural” decoration.

Not only were the Arbol peppers pretty, but they were musical, like maracas. Arbols are the perfect peppers for drying, as they dry quickly, and they maintain their bright, vibrant red colour. The skin is thin, and seeds are aplenty. Compared to the photos above, I had some loss from mould. Hubs had helped me by oven-drying some of the strings at the start of the drying process (very low temps, because you don’t want to cook the peppers). None of the orange Habaneros survived. They turned black.

I was wondering if these dried peppers had any flavour, since they have been hanging out for so long. I cut open one of each, just to ensure they weren’t mouldy, and to taste. Woowhee! They are HOT!

I decided to store them in mason jars, since I have so many. You want to store them in an airtight vessel. Some people suggest ziplock bags, but some argue that plastic is not a good option. Between glass and plastic, I always prefer glass. I also put a layer of rice grains at the bottom of each jar, for moisture control. I’ve also chosen my smallest jars, so there isn’t much space for oxygen.

I didn’t have the right size jar for the Espelette pepper posing on top. I’m excited to grind that one up, as I’ve read that this French hot pepper has wonderful flavour. The peppers in the jars include Jalapenos, Chinese Five, White Habanero, Cumari, and Arbol. I’ve already used the Arbols a couple of times and they certainly add a nice kick.

One last photo of the dried Espelette – what a sexy looking pepper!

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