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  • lukeathompson

Out with the Toad, in with the Douche: Transplanting Jalapenos

The cat has moved into the greenhouse. I’m dropping hints, like putting in preparatory bamboo cane stakes, but he just curls himself around them. Douche.

 

That was his name. He’s a success story really. He was in a cat shelter in clay country and had been stuck there for 6 months because he was so hissy and aggressive. Turns out he wasn’t really aggressive; he just hated other cats so the shelter was hell for him. And because he was always hissing and spitting no one would pick him up.

 

‘He’s called Dutch,’ they said, and it was only when we were doing the paperwork that we saw his real name: Douche. They pronounced it Dutch because the odds were already stacked against him. (We renamed him Teazel.)


The toad has moved out of the greenhouse and the douche moved in.


I’m back in the greenhouse today. A few weeks ago I planted a batch of seeds in tiny-celled trays, which meant they germinated swiftly. Then a couple of days ago (19th April) I saw a handful of the seedlings - notably the Farmers Market Jalapenos - were ready to go up a size already. I wanted to wait until they had true leaves, but they just shot up and were more than three times as tall as the tiny cells and looked at risk of toppling over.

 

I was a little nervous moving them so early but they seem to have survived okay. I was pretty careful, squeezing the cells at the bottom a little to loosen it all up, then lifting out the seedlings by their leaves. Like a cartoon magician picking up a rabbit by the ears. The rule is to never pull them out by the stem. They’re fragile - especially when they’re so small - and easily snap or bruise.

 

All the seedlings had healthy little root systems. They look good. I’ve not grown Jalapenos before but it seems they might be vigorous plants. Since the move, even just a couple of days ago, those true leaves have accelerated.


So now the Jalapenos are in intermediary small pots, around 9cm deep and 8 wide at the top. They’ll stay in these probably another three weeks or so, developing their leaves a while and waiting for the temperatures outside to come up a tiny bit. We’ve still got cold nights and even the daytime temperatures out of the sun are a bit chilly for chillies.

 

Aside from the Jalapenos, we’ve had one casualty. A Peach Stripey seedling had what looked like some kind of stem rot and gradually gave up the ghost. It’s a bit early for most of the usual stem rot fungal culprits so I’m assuming something had a nibble or I damaged it when moving around the trays. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the others just in case.

 

Otherwise, we’re not doing badly. I’ve kind of reconciled myself to the insanely slow development of the Habaneros. They currently look like miniature versions of the other pepper plants. They have two sets of mature leaves but they're just a couple of inches tall. The Ring of Fires, meanwhile, are catching up after that mishap with the last batch of seeds. And the Cayennetta are lovely plants. They’re doing brilliantly. If they carry on this way through the season I’d say they’re worth keeping simply because they are such positive, plucky little plants and it’s encouraging to see them performing so well. The Rocoto have slowed right down but a couple of the plants are looking really strong. With their broad leaves and furriness they’re unmistakable.

 

It's too early to tell what the Zebrange, Peach Stripey and Khang are going to be like. They were in the same tray as the Jalapenos and they are nowhere near as vigorous. Fingers crossed they’ll catch up. I did hear something recently that suggested the Baccatum species (that would include the Peach Stripey and the Zebrange) are not always great for colder climates as they often need a long season, so we’ll see where they go next.

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