Thursday, August 19, 2010

Overwintering peppers
The Interview

Fruiting Scotch Bonnet hot pepper started from seed, saved out of a grocery store pepper, two years ago.

***Curtains open***

I am delighted to see that you have so fully recovered from what must have been a difficult winter.

"The aphids were bad. Sometimes I didn't think I'd make it."

You and me both. I didn't think the occasional soap lather and random aphid squishing was going to be sufficient to lower their populations.

"Sometimes it felt like you were giving up on me."

Oh, you mean sticking you in the north facing window? I had to quarantine you from the other peppers. And there was that time that I transplanted that ladybug onto your stem.

"The cat ate it."

Well, you were a sorry sight but I never did the dreaded pot dump.

"Please, I can't even think of it."

Instead I refreshed your soil with a bit of compost.

"Sometimes you didn't water me for more than a week."

I was trying to dehydrate the aphids...


Aphid ridden pepper.

Well, that's all water under the bridge now. Look at you, flush with gorgeous green leaves and ripening fruit. All that in 4 hours of sun. I'm impressed.

"The other hot peppers are in full sun."

I didn't want to burn your shade grown leaves. Besides, I was curious about how well you would perform and this way. It will be less of a shock when I bring you in for the winter.

"You're keeping me?"

Are you kidding? Look at you.

"So you only keep the good looking ones."

You are a plant. An experiment at that. How would I know that a grocery store bought Scotch Bonnet would produce such a wonderful specimen, tolerant to shade, drought and aphid pressure.

"I don't want to answer."

My point is just Thank you. I'll be enjoying the fruits of your labour and saving more seed.

"At least my children will live on."

This year you will have the honour of sitting in the south facing window. You earned it.

"Those other peppers are a bit spotty. I think I'll stick to my quarantine."

You know, you're right. Maybe it's time I do some thinning.


That's a large watering can for scale.

Read more on Overwintering Hot Peppers or skim the quicky version below:

1. Put in pot of enriched soil at the end of summer and reverse harden off - soften off?
2. Clean off any aphids or other bugs
3. Take in before first frost.
4. Keep in a sunny window and water only when needed.
5. Control soft bodied pests with a diluted soap solution. Or squish
6. They will often die back as days shorten but should recover as days lengthen
7. Repot or replant after last frost.
8. Repeat.


Shawn Ann said...

Love it! I thought about trying that last year. But I do not have a good south facing window! :( Looks lovely!

Unknown said...

What a refreshing post! Thanks for that- we should all be so conscientious in our intent and thought for our garden 'children'!

Luise said...

Awesome! Your earlier posts on overwintering peppers actually inspired me to overwinter mine. It was an aphid fest! I collected ladybugs and put them on my peppers, at least 7 of them (ladybugs - more like 10 peppers). I sprayed them with soap water. I bathed them upside down in soap water (it was very difficult). I sprayed and squished. Of the 10 only 5 made it, but as soon as I put those outside and let Mother Nature do its thing, the aphids were gone! Within a week at most! All those peppers have recovered (from having almost no leaves anymore!!) and are doing well - ready to be overwintered (after cleaning them thoroughly).
I also successfully (only just) overwintered an eggplant.
Thanks for the inspiration and happy overwintering!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Shawn Anne: That specimen was overwintered in a north facing window. I never thought it would do as well as it did and it did lose nearly all its leaves.

Luise: Some years / plants seem to be worse than others with aphids. It really is an illustration of the natural balance of bugs in nature when you put them outside. This pepper plant blew me away by exploding into growth after the first month when the weather warmed. It was almost entirely defoliated - just a bunch of twigs about 1 foot high.

Daphne Gould said...

I can barely keep my aloe plant alive inside the house. I've long since given up on overwintering things like tomatoes and peppers. I'm sure my peppers are plotting to move up to Canada to be with you. They would be happier there in the winter.

Emily said...

I tried two peppers last winter on your inspiration but gave up because I couldn't keep up with the aphid battle. But I'm ready to try again this year. Last year I had them under a grow light for most of the winter, but with a new house, we have south facing windows, Hooray!. Now I just have to decide which ones will make the cut. Have you done sweet peppers successfully?

Stefaneener said...

Will I get yelled at if I say I can usually overwinter them outside? I may in fact do that -- I'm so happy with my peppers. The peperoncini would have to be transplanted elsewhere, but that's it. . .

Matron said...

That's exactly how I grew my Scotch Bonnet peppers in the greenhouse. From a pepper bought in a West Indian food shop!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Stefeener: I promise not to yell if you promise to send me a couple more frost free months...

Matron: I remember saying to my hubby, "This is one good pepper." Seed saving immediately sprang to mind.

Emily: My first year the peppers died or perhaps I just thought they were dead? Anyhow, the next year, it worked. I keep meaning to try small fruited sweet peppers but haven't yet. Next year!

Anonymous said...

I've given you the Versatile Blogger Award: and specifically mention this post. I think it's hilarious. Thanks for sharing your gardening secrets!

Anonymous said...

I've given you the Versatile Blogger Award: and specifically mention this post. I thought it was hilarious. Thanks for sharing your gardening secrets!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Kim: Thanks! I think I was in an especially goofy mood that day.

meemsnyc said...

I've had awesome success overwintering scotch bonnet / habanero peppers.

Anonymous said...

Last year I brought in a Jalapeno that was started late and just fruiting. The leaves fell off in February when watering was missed for a week. I gave it a good soak and it grew from there, flowering inside and producing all season when I replanted it in the garden. I've brought it back inside and brought along 3 green peppers and many cuttings from indeterminate tomatoes that I grew from mixed seeds.