Saturday, July 19, 2014

That time I took the peppers in over the winter

Posts dated October 14 and October 24, 2012 detailed an experiment of bringing peppers into the house for the winter.  I cut back existing Gypsy pepper plants to a small root and a bare stem, then plant these in the house.

The plants took root, and actually grew in the house all winter, under plant lights. When the time came to plant these out, the plants grew anew and made peppers a second year. Sounds like a successful project, no?

Well, no. The biggest problem: these plants were plagued all winter with ever-increasing numbers of whiteflies.  When the plants came into the house, whitefly eggs came too, probably on the small rootball of soil left at the bottom of each plant.

If I had to do this again, I would trim the plants back to a small root and a bare stem, same as before.  However, this time, I'd wash all the dirt off the roots and even soak the bare assembly in water, maybe even with a drop or two of bleach in the water, maybe as long as overnight.

Yet, even knowing what to try differently next time, it's unlikely that I'd try overwintering peppers again. For one thing,  it's not clear that the the plants would survive the proposed trimming and soaking.  But more importantly, the effort was not worth the end result.

Although in the spring of 2013, these plants made peppers before the 2013 seedling pepper plants did, the 2013 seedling plants soon outstripped the overwintered peppers in production.  From the middle of the summer of 2013 on, the overwintered plants lost vitality. They hung on, grimly, but the younger plants did far better. Plus, the overwintered plants only beat out the 2013 seedling plants by a week or so in the matter of pepper production. When you add into the equation, the amount of electricity and care to bring overwintered plants through a (long) Wisconsin winter, starting new seedlings makes more sense.

This endeth another garden experiment--TK

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