Overwintering Peppers

I’m giving it another go this year. The candy cane peppers I purchased and planted out earlier this year failed to start from collected seed. They were great producers despite beneficial neglect, i.e. overshadowed by neighboring melons and tomato plants. So I dug them up and potted them in grow bags for storage in the garage over winter.

Candy Cane peppers pruned heavily and ready for overwintering
Last Candy Cane Pepper Harvest

I also got around to potting up some ornamental peppers that I started from seed early winter. They eked out a meager existence in 4″ starter pots all spring and summer-long until they moved into bigger digs, got a healthy shot of fertilizer, and sat outside during the hot days of fall. So now I’m faced with a surplus of pepper starts that I’ll also be overwintering.

We’ve been doing the nightly dance of shuffling pepper plants in and out of the house to take advantage of this mild fall weather. There’ve been a few nights when temperatures dipped below 40, but lately daytime temps have stayed relatively stable in the 70s.

It will only be a matter of weeks before winter chill comes on and our official frost date here in North Texas begins.

A quick review of the July seedlings

The cover is off! The June-sowed seedlings are growing without the protection of their humidity dome. It has been nearly 3 weeks and most of the seeds have germinated. Only one Jupiter bell, one Thai chili, one banana pepper, and the salvia greggii failed to germinate. I’ve seen only one parsley seedling so far, barely out of the ground, but I’m not holding my breath on these seeds. Like the salvia greggii, I’m not even sure that they’re viable.

Since I doubled up on the Red Rubin basil and banana peppers, I’ll thin those out to separate pots soon. I also brought back indoors the last ornamental pepper seedlings that I attempted outside. It is joining its 5 other brethren in the bathroom greenhouse. Sadly, it appears only 2 are going to make it; the other 3 peppers probably won’t revive from the scorching exposure.

I’ve cleaned out the non-performing cuttings and still have a number of felicias left. I don’t think my oregano cutting is going to catch; I may have to run the community garden for another try.

7/10/2011 July Seedlings (1) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (2) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (3) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (4) 7/10/2011 July Seedlings (5)

Cosmos, hostas, marigolds, petunias and more

My Stokes seeds order arrived. It had probably been sitting in the mailbox a few days before we finally got around to emptying it. Since something had been digging up the tree ring bed, L had to replant a few uprooted marigolds so proceeded to sow the cosmos anyway. The first wave of cosmos seedlings are of course up and growing, some faster than others. I’m hoping at 500 seeds a packet, the tree ring will now get full coverage on cosmos. Now if the Ladies in Red will start blooming already. I’m beginning to think that starting them from seed so late might have been a mistake; but impatience isn’t a good trait for a gardener. I’ll have to satisfy myself with the coral nymph blooms for now, although I’m worried they’ll overrun the other salvia. I’d also like to get that outer ring improved with the remainder of the marigold seedlings and thyme cuttings, but they’ve been slow to propagate. I might have to take some golden oregano cuttings to add to the tree ring.

6/9/2011 June Beds 3 6/9/2011 June Beds 1 6/9/2011 June Beds 2

The hostas getting afternoon sun are taking a beating. All three varieties has suffered some damage. Combined with the daily buffet assault, they are half their foliage since spring. Even the supposedly sun-tolerant Gold Standard hosta isn’t able to withstand that grueling afternoon sun. I am thinking about installing some sun-friendly perennials in that corner of the shade bed to see if it will provide some relief. But can a sun perennial survive there given the brief afternoon exposure?

6/9/2011 June Beds 4 6/9/2011 June Beds 5 6/9/2011 June Beds 6

What’s up with all these ornamental kale? They’re about 2 feet tall now; they seem to like the mostly shade front door bed. Our poor gardenia, still struggling all these months, is making the stand of kale look bad. Of course, the dried out pansies are doing a better job of making this bed look unkempt. I need perennials in this bed, getting weary of switching it out every season.

6/9/2011 June Beds 7 6/9/2011 June Beds 8 6/9/2011 June Beds 9

Check out the chili pepper–it’s loaded with blooms. I expect a good harvest of chilis from this thing. The cinderblock herb garden is filling out nicely, while the purple bed is starting to look overrun. I need some ornamental black peppers in there! I wish my seedlings weren’t so puny.

6/9/2011 June Beds 10 6/9/2011 June Beds 16 6/9/2011 June Beds 17

More of my petunia seedlings are blooming….but what’s the deal? Are the rest of them purple??? I was expecting to see at least one red seedling, but so far I’ve seen one white and nearly half a dozen purple buds. So much for my patriotic planter. At least the caladium is looking good, even if one of the leaves appears half eaten.

6/9/2011 June Beds 11 6/9/2011 June Beds 12 6/9/2011 June Beds 14

6/9/2011 Thai Basil Blooms The thai basil is flowering. I really need to snip it down to size…they are making the other basil look puny. They look lovely with their red-purple stems and bud crowns, but they seem to outgrow the other basil. Very much suited to our hot Texas summers.

6/9/2011 Azaleas in lily bedAnd here’s what’s left of the azaleas in the lily bed. I kept the dwarf gumpo white and the Hot Shot red azalea. The gumpo azalea didn’t produce any blooms this year, whereas Hot Shot produced a handful. Is this typical of $2 shrubs? The gumpo gets one more shot at impressing me next year; otherwise it’s out of there. I did like that Hot Shot came out of the winter with dark maroon foliage before it lightened up by the end of spring. I must remember to keep the neighboring Hot Lips salvia pruned back to give the azalea some more light.

Ugh bugs!

Slaving away in the high 90s…it might as well have been 100 degrees in the shade. This was a searingly long hot day to be working in the garden, but worked (and sweated aplenty) I did. I managed to plant many that had been waiting quite a while for their new homes: both Dixie Chip ajuga, variegated geranium, 3 more Origami Red columbines, all 6 of the red spider lily bulbs, 8 Lanai Purple Star verbena, 2 Calico ornamental peppers. I also transplanted a few of the Navona lily bulbs closer to the back wall, relocated the 2 Charmed Wine oxalis, tore out 3 of the under-performing azaleas (Delaware, Macrantha and Crimson), and cleaned out much of the dead/dying pansies. I also gave the red and white dianthus in the lily bed a good haircut, while pulling out as much of the weeds as I could. After intermittent breaks and drives to the local Home Depots, I also picked up another bag of compost and MiracleGro garden soil, and 3 bags of cedar mulch. The cedar went to the lily bed and part of the purple bed, including my delicate geranium. I hope to use some of it to protect the hostas in front.

Of course, some of the gardening had to be interrupted by some unwelcome guests. Wooly aphids and nest-building wasps caused me a great deal of stress–especially after I came close to smashing into the wasp nest while moving the lilies. Of course, I just had to take the soap to the wooly critters–but the wasps did send me running after I tried (and failed) to jar both nest and wasps in one fell swoop. Luckily, my man fetched a wasp killer from the grocery store–thereby ending the rampage.