Been a While…

Sorry I’ve been away for so long.  With a new baby in the house, working full time and School 17 hours a week, it can be tough to update your blog. I have TONSSS of photos from this season from April until now that I will be posting this weekend.  All of the wonderful peppers are coming along nicely.  My bhut jolokia’s are just starting to ripen.  I actually bit into one the other day and the pain it brought me was amazing.

Check back this weekend for lots of updates.

The Pepper Freak


So I decided to get moving on the drip system since May is coming very soon.   The baby will be here within the next 3 weeks so if I didn’t get this done now, I wasn’t going to do it ever. (or be too late)

I highly recommend drip works USA. http://www.dripworksusa.com

They have a wonderful and helpful website for beginners and pros alike.  I was able to learn everything I needed to about a drip system just from their website.  When comparing it to other tutorials on other sites later, I found their information spot on and non-biased.

With that aside… I ordered a simple system I put together myself from what I had learned.  I wanted to plant the chile’s in containers this year but needed a way to keep them on a regular water schedule since they would dry out so fast and I’m never home.

I ordered 50 feet of 1/2 inch main line tubing,50 feet of 1/4 inch tubing,an automated timer, a filter, a pressure regulator, and a bunch of connectors.

Using a plastic Y splitter, I split the spout so I could still use my regular hose for my flower gardens.  Off of the Y is the battery operated digital timer.  I can run this system up to 9 times a day for up to 4 hours each if I’d like.  This timer also comes with a rain sensor that will not allow the system to run in the rain.  From the timer, is the pressure regulator.  It lowers the PSI to a system stable 20 PSI.  From there is the filter. Drip emitters can clog very easily so a filter is needed to keep out all the nasty gunk that could end up in the water.  From the filter is the easy lock end that allows a 1/2 inch main line to connect.

I ended up not buying the hole puncher but my portable drill worked fine.

A hole was drilled for each container I was using.  Which in this case, is 15 5-gallon buckets.   After drilling 15 holes in the mainline, I ran 1/4 inch line from the main line to the buckets.   The buckets were pre-drilled with a 1/4 inch hole to allow the feed lines to sit snug where they need to be.

From the mainline, I used 1/4 inch transfer barbs to run the fee lines.

The main line runs from the spicket down one aisle and around the left side.  Here is a photo about halfway through the install.

I wanted this area to be somewhat decorative, so I decided to fill the area around the buckets in with red enhanced mulch. It would bury the mainline and look a lot better.

After the mulch was spread around at 3″ deep it looked pretty good. The main line was out of sight and the color of the mulch was a deep, deep red that contrasts with the white buckets wonderfully.

This about as far as I will go today.  The peppers cannot be transferred to the containers until our last average frost date which is around May 11.

Once I get the buckets filled with soil I will attach the drip emitter line which will coil around the plants inside the containers.  Each container will have a line with 4 emitters.  I will have to program the timer based on the temperature and soil conditions.  I plan on monitoring this very closely.

At the end of the main line I had to attach something to block the water from just escaping at the end.  A figure 8 attachment is perfect.

I will post more pictures when I finish the system and transfer the chile’s.  I will give more details on my system like flow rates, timings, and growth rates.  So make sure you come back and check the status!

By Sara Bonisteel, CNN


(CNN) — India may be turning the world’s hottest chili into a weapon, but there are people who actually want to eat the ghost chili — the bhut jolokia or naga jolokia — for fun.

“As soon as something is declared and proven to be the hottest chili pepper in the world, everybody wants to grow it,” said Dave DeWitt, the author of more than 35 books on chilis, including “The Complete Chile Pepper Book.”

“So they can take people out in their yard and say, ‘That is the hottest chili pepper in the world. Do you dare eat it?’ ”

A small but dedicated group of chili pepper lovers fosters its devotion to heat on Web sites and at festivals nationwide.

They gather at annual events such as the Chile Pepper Food Festival in Bowers, Pennsylvania, an autumn affair that features a pepper-eating contest, naturally, but also a song contest and excursions into the fields where fans can see how their favorite peppers are grown.

In their homes, fans congregate for “hotlucks,” the traditional potluck with exponentially higher heat.

Mark Stevens of Monmouth County, New Jersey, is among these self-proclaimed “chili-heads.”

“The main issue is flavor,” Stevens said. “It’s not a pissing contest to see who can eat the hottest thing, which is usually what you see when the media reports on the stuff.”

Once an eater gets used to the heat, he or she begins to appreciate the flavor differences of each varietal, Stevens says.

“You basically build up a tolerance to the heat and then can taste all the flavors that are underneath it, so that what was just basically flavorless blazing heat, after a while, you can actually taste the different flavors in different chilis in different foods,” he said.

Stevens says he began eating chilis in the early 1990s when he needed to lose weight. “I wanted something that I could snack on that was pretty low-calorie but definitely let me know that I had eaten something, and chilis kind of fit the bill.”

Dave Hirschkop has been selling hot sauces for 17 years through his company, Dave’s Gourmet, and says it’s the hottest sauces that are his best sellers.

“There are a lot of people that just want to challenge themselves,” Hirschkop said. “They want to see what the hottest thing in the world is, either because they’re daredevils or because their heat tolerance is amazingly high and to get that reaction they like, they need something that’s super strong.”

Hirschkop sells two sauces made with the ghost chili, a pepper so hot it rates about 1 million on the Scoville unit system. Tabasco comes in at around 5,000.

The Indian government said last month that it planned to use the ghost pepper in a tear gas-like hand grenade aimed at fighting terrorists or rioters.

Making a weapon is “probably one of the best things you can do with them,” DeWitt said.

The peppers get their heat from capsaicin, a chemical that the plants have developed to keep mammals from eating them (mammals destroy the seeds in the digestion process). Birds, which can eat the peppers and pass the seeds through their system, are immune to the heat of capsaicin.

The people who really like to eat the super-hot chilis probably don’t have as many capsaicin receptors in their mouths, DeWitt says.

It’s the fiery reaction that Dave’s Gourmet customers are searching for. Hirschkop puts the ghost chili in one of his “Insanity” sauces as well as in a limited-edition hot sauce he sells in a wooden coffin tied shut with caution tape.

“This one has a great flavor but is the hottest in the world; that’s the bottom line, right?” he said. “People aren’t talking about some cascabel [chili] or some other variety with that enthusiasm.”

I started re-potting and moving everything into the basement.   I am putting them all under a 400 watt high pressure sodium bulb to pre harden them for the summer sun.

Here are some photos…

So I decided to change my setup slightly.  I took away the Compact fluorescents and added tubes.  The light didn’t spread out enough with the CFL’s and the tubes allow me to hover the light 2 inches above the foliage. So, no more stretching sideways to reach the light…

It’s amazing to me how beautiful Chile plants can get, and how much different Chile plants look as they start to get bigger.  When all the genes start kicking in, the plant turns to different shapes, sizes and colors.  Here is just a few photos of different varieties of the Chiles I have started growing this year.

Pepper Joe’s Long Slim Red:

Fluorescent Purple Chile (This one is really cool)

Atomic Starfish:

Bolivian Rainbow :

Bhut Jolokia :

Tabasco Pepper : These are much smaller than any other variety I grow

Peter Pepper :

Turkish Cayenne :

They are looking great.  Some of the browning tips are from the change I made to their climate.  They got to tall to be under the humidity hood, so I removed it.  I didn’t really harden them off to this and it was kind of a shock for them.  This was a lot worse but they are coming back just fine.

More tomorrow,

The Pepper Freak

Some of you might be curious to why your mouth gets that wonderful (or not so wonderful) burning sensation whenever you eat a chile.  The answer comes from chemicals found inside all chile peppers. These chemicals are all based from Capsaicin, or Capsaicinoids.  This chemical is an irritant to mammals and is produced as a secondary metabolite by chile peppers.  Most likely this is done to deter herbivores and certain fungi.

Capsaicin binds to sensory neurons causing a painful burning sensation.  It binds to the Vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (VR1).  VR1, which can also be stimulated with heat and physical abrasion, permits cations to pass through the cell membrane and into the cell when activated. The resulting depolarization of the neuron stimulates it to signal the brain. By binding to the VR1 receptor, the capsaicin molecule produces the same sensation that excessive heat or abrasive damage would cause, explaining why the spiciness of capsaicin is described as a burning sensation

Birds, on the other hand are not susceptable to the irritation making them a nuisance for any chile grower because they love eating them.

The chemical, in it’s pure form, is colorless and odorless and has the physical traits of a crystalline waxy compound.

Pure capsaicin in the main capsaicinoid in peppers along with dihydrocapsaicin.  Minor capsaicinoids are also found, such as nordihydrocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, and homocapsaicin.  These minor capsaicinoids are only half as potent as pure capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin.

Capsaicin is mainly produced in the white fleshy placental tissue that holds the seeds in place inside the berries.  Most people think that the seeds of pepper carries capsaicin although in actuality it does not.

Capsaicin is also harvested and used Medicinally.  It is used in topical ointments to treat the pain of peripheral neuropathy and neuralgia caused by shingles.   The cream can also be used on patches to treat minor aches and pains.

In homeopathy, capsaicin may help treat ear infections such as otitis.  There is some evidence that capsaicin may help treat heartburn and circulatory problems such as heart disease from atherosclerosis or plaque that block the arteries to the heart. Capsaicin may also help in reducing risks of arrhythmia.