Winter’s comin’! Temps in the low 30s. Gotta act. Gotta act now!
We have more chili plants than can fit into our greenhouse. We also have plans for an aquaponic system in our greenhouse, which further limits the available space. So, what to do? Move some of the plants to another greenhouse and retire the rest. We are doing a little bit of both.
For the plants we’re keeping, we’ve mobilized to a large greenhouse in the area owned by Miskovsky Landscaping. For several months, we’ve been collaborating with Miskovsky in various ways. Using their greenhouse will continue our work together. If all goes well, we will have fresh chili production throughout the winter.
To get the plants to Miskovsky, we loaded them into a box truck and off they went for their winter protection. The operation was an exercise in mobile farming. Unloading into the greenhouse was an exercise in reverse. Things are looking good.
Every year we grow new varieties of chili plants to explore flavors, hardiness, heat, and colors. Some are a good match to our product offering, some are interesting, but don’t match our business needs. These retired plants are offered for pickup at the farm at $10 per plant. They are potted in 3 gal. buckets and ready for over-wintering. The plants range from super-mild to super-hot as shown in the table below. Let us know if you want any of these plants. Come and take your pick!
|Chimayo||Jalapeño||Aji Criolla Sella||7 Pot (red)|
|Relleno Ecuador Sweet||Aji Benito||Charleston Hot||Moruga Scorpion (yellow)|
|Tequila Sunrise||Aji Bishops Crown||Aji Inca Red Drop||Naga Viper|
|Uba Tuba||Aji Atomic Star||Aji Cito||Scotch Bonnet (yellow)|
|Takanotsume||Scotch Bonnet (red)|
Should you want to try your hand at over-wintering, there are two general approaches. The first is to let the plants go dormant. With this method, the plant is pruned back to a stump with no leaves and put in a cool place (50°F is good). Since the plant is not growing, no sun is needed. You are simply keeping the root stock alive for a quick start in the spring. We’ve found the biggest problem with this method is soil moisture. Too much moisture, and the roots rot in the cool conditions. Too little moisture, and the roots dry out and die. It’s like Goldilocks; the soil moisture has to be just right.
The second method of over-wintering is to keep the plants actively growing. You need a warm place with good sunlight for the plants. Regular watering and fertilizing will keep the plants going strong. The problem we have found with this method is aphids. Inside there are no natural predators for aphids. Keep an eye out and remove any aphids immediately. Immediately! These little critters propagate at a prodigious rate. Organic control methods include mechanical removal (soft artist’s watercolor brush works great), insecticidal soap solutions, and natural fungus to attack the aphid (Beauveria bassiana, available in commercial preparations).
The turn of the season is upon us. Transition into winter mode is in progress. Never an idle moment on the farm.