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  • lukeathompson

Making Mistakes, Potting On & the Supercharged Annuum

I give very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.

I find myself making some basic mistakes. Mistakes I know not to make and have made before. Mistakes I’ve even written about and warned others not to make.

I’m wanting to constantly tweak, to tend, to watch, to help out. I feel like some of my plants are a bit small, and then I’m worried I started others off too late, so I want them to accelerate. I want to feed them, move them, fiddle with them. I want to do something so that they froth out of the soil in fountains of leafy verdure.  

I probably just need to let them be. It doesn’t feel like it, but some of them have only been growing a few weeks. The oldest are the Cayennetta, which sprouted early March, as well as the Rocoto. The Ring of Fire, meanwhile, only hatched three weeks ago after I had to resow them, and they have already overtaken the Habaneros. But they’re all still babies.

Maybe writing the blog is making me look at the plants more carefully and measure them and worry about them more frequently than I normally would/should.

Thinking about it, the strength of the Annuum species is undeniable right now. It may change as the season progresses, but right now the Jalapenos, Ring of Fire and Cayennetta are leading the charge. Do they do better in our climate? I’ll keep an eye on that.

The Habanero and Rocoto are definitely behind. I think they want more early season light and warmth than we have. I reckon if we want to grow them successfully we need either a heated greenhouse or a better heat mat, and we might need a light set up. To do that properly for our house and needs would cost around £200, which is too much for us at the moment, but it would mean we could start sowing at the beginning of February and give these Chinense and Pubescens plants a fighting chance of bearing ripe fruit.

This weekend I potted up a few more of the seedlings from the tiny-celled trays, including the Zebrange and the Peach Stripey. Most of them have moved up to those 9cm x 8cm (roughly) pots, but I’m basically just using whatever pots we have outside and they’re a mixed bunch. I mention this potting on partly for the time stamp but also because the process is an opportunity to check in on root systems. In particular, I’m interested in how healthy foliage is reflected in the root system. It doesn't appear to be as clear cut as I expected.

Looking at the Zebrange, we have four pretty healthy little plants and two that look weedy - they’re half the size of the others - but when moving them I noticed the root systems of the little plants were just as strong as the larger ones. Does this mean they’ll accelerate at some point? Are they just as healthy? Or is there some reason why the plants' energy is going into the roots rather than into the foliage? We’ll see.

I potted on in the greenhouse and took a thermometer out with me. It was a lovely sunny day yesterday (Sunday) and even though the temperature in the shade was cool at around 10 or 12 degrees, in the greenhouse it was 38 on the table top and 28 on the ground. I’ve started taking a tray of plants out while there’s Spring sunshine and bringing them back in the evening when it cools again. Not only is there better warmth but there's also better light, starting as soon as the sun comes over the tops of the woodland trees and lasting until around 5pm at the moment. That's much better than the windowsill.

One thing is certain: I’ve made too many plants.

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