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  • lukeathompson

Seedlings Up / Heat Mat Out / Fungus Gnats In:

All the seeds are up so yesterday I took out the heat mat and we’re just relying on the Cornish weather now. Yesterday that meant beautiful sunshine and getting out the strimmer. Today it means darkness and torrential rain with weather warnings for flooding.


Moving the heat mat was an opportunity to clean things out a bit too. There were a couple of Habanero that hadn’t taken off, which were turfed out, and I’d managed to get soil all over the place. (The plants are in the living room, so broadly scattered soil isn’t welcomed by everyone.) Table, trays, anything within a metre radius - all got a good clean.

I’m interested to see which peppers work best in this climate. They will have to contend with the shorter season in the UK, of course, but in Cornwall they also have to contend with the rainfall, which is one of the highest in the UK. Damp, cloud cover, and the relative warmth breed extra challenges from the legions of tender-pepper-eating bug people who will be emerging soon and thrive here.


Fungus gnats have been pretty constant inside. I’m not taking any prisoners. They’re easy to see when and they’re not especially clever in their escape. Often you’ll see them running along the top of the soil or around the rim of a pot. You just have to keep an eye out and deal with one or two daily. But if you leave them you’ll get tons, which is a bit annoying, although it’s the larvae that cause damage to seedlings. They won’t be an issue when the plants go out and are mature, so it’s just while they’re young and indoors that I’m dealing with them.


Climatically we’re some distance from Peru, Mexico or the Caribbean, so we’ll see how the various pepper types fare in Cornwall. I have representatives from four of the five major species - the Chinense, Annuum, Baccatum and Pubescens - and it won’t be long before some of them start going outside. End of April, I reckon, for most of them. They’ll have more light outside in the greenhouse, they’ll be in large pots or bags or in the ground, and they’ll be more exposed to the Cornish climate than they are in here.


Hatched so far, then:

·       Cayennetta (most vigorous)

·       Jalapeno (vigorous)

·       Rocoto (some vigorous, some okay)

·       Ring of Fire (okay)

·       Zebrange (okay)

·       Habanero (small and weak)

·       Peach Stripey (small, but early days)

·       Khang (small)


Some of the smaller ones are really small. Proper gardeners sacrifice and thin their plants when they’re weedy but I don’t have the heart. My weaklings will probably just sit in pots in the windowsill all summer, coughing and shivering. (The two Habanero I kicked out earlier had gone beyond the weedy stage and moved into the dead stage.) Or perhaps they’ll perk up once it gets warmer.


Now the heat mat is out it’s about making sure the plants get as much light as possible. Also need to be careful about moisture levels. The weather’s been so grim that the soil is not drying out as quickly as I’d like. I’m barely watering once a week and with that moisture hanging about there will be concerns about rot, fungus and so on.


But sunshine is on its way, I’m sure of it, so let’s see what the next stage of life is like for these little plants.

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