Giant orange habanero chilli cross

Much larger orange habanero pod

Much larger orange habanero pod

Last couple of seasons, I’ve been banging my head, trying to figure out the ancestors of chilli I bought on eBay. It was supposed to be Trinidad scorpion, but as well as we all know, there’s no way to receive the right seeds that way. I decided to collect the seeds and try growing them anyway, perhaps I could find out the difference in phenotype of the pods and figure out the related chillies. That did not happen, because the pods remained strange and similar to those last season, but they did start showing another, much larger pod phenotype.

Pepper plant, full of ripe pods

Pepper plant, full of ripe pods

Last season, my peppers had a really hard time ripening, and I was hardly able to collect enough seeds to start a couple of new plants this year. I later decided, I don’t really need many pods from that hybrid and I rather planted a whole bunch of superhots instead. The two plants I did plant, however, had grown into nice little peppers with above average number of pods. Last year, I have noticed that these peppers are heavy producers and this season the same thing repeated. On two relatively small pepper plants (they were more shaded than my other peppers), there was more than 1kg of pods, and there are new pods ripening as we speak.

Thicker pods

Thicker pods

Whole range of pod phenotypes

Whole range of pod phenotypes

The pods remained similar. They are still extremely hot, but not superhot. The pods have thin wall which makes them ideal for drying. They have less placental tissue than last year, but there is some, and there is quite some oil on the inner walls of the pods. The colour is deep orange, but can get a bit paler or darker, because of thin, semi-transparent skin. Skin texture is smooth and glossy. Most of the pods are elongated, but, like I mentioned, this season some of the pods became larger. Length remained nearly the same, but the pods got way fatter.

Ripe pods of orange habanero hybrid

Ripe pods of orange habanero hybrid

In late season, the pods were attacked by some kind of worms

In late season, the pods were attacked by some kind of worms

Tiny, but annoying worm

Tiny, but annoying worm

In late season I have noticed a lot of pods that started to appear dark in the middle. When I checked the pods from inside, I have noticed some kind of worms that started chewing the seeds and created a webbing in which they were hiding after I exposed them. It seems that their thin skin makes them vulnerable. attacked pods started rotting from inside, which made them unusable. I tried to dry some of the healthy looking pods and later realised, that some of them started rotting. Each of those had a little worm inside. There is a way to minimise their damage though, you have to pick ripe pods as soon as you can, cut them open and freeze them. The best option is to use them as soon as they ripen completely.

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Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling update (10 months)

Fully leafed out seedling

Fully leafed out seedling

With the summer nearly over, I decided to write a follow up about the largest Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling. This summer was quite dry and sunny, yet without any scorching hot temperatures. Most of my potted bamboos were not too happy about the drought and strong sun, and the leaves started to look a bit worn out. Shaded bamboos and bamboos planted in the soil were not as affected.

 

The pot

The pot

Despite the fact that the soil in the pot regularly dried out, the seedling remained happy and only wilted leaves when it dried out too much. I placed it into a white bucket to protect it from soil overheating. Since the last update, when the seedling got transplanted into larger pot, things didn’t change much. Whip shots leafed out and another set of whips emerged in early summer, with A LOT of rhizome activity all over the pot. Until recently there was not much to see, except for the dense mesh of rhizomes on the soil surface. Well, it’s not just the surface! It’s clear now, that small bamboo never ceased to push out rhizomes and it managed to get somewhat root bound again. There are rhizomes circling on the bottom of the pot and there’s even the first escapee. The vigor of the seedling is just insane. It got overwatered in the spring and under-watered in the summer, full sun caused it to wilt a lot and to be fair it looks quite pale at the moment. It doesn’t seem to care about its above ground appearance, though, it’s working hard as ever underground. I need to find it a new home. As soon as possible.

Rhizomes started escaping the pot

Rhizomes started escaping the pot

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Germinating walnut tree

I received several extremely large walnuts and decided to try making them germinate.

Walnuts are easy to propagate from seeds, but they grow slow at first and you don’t really know the size of the walnuts until the tree is already quite large. They also secrete juglone, a phytotoxic chemical that is toxic to many plants. All parts of the walnut tree have some level of juglone, which inhibits growth of plants around it. Juglone is also the reason, why it’s usually not a good idea to add any part of the plant into compost bin. My experience is, that when properly composted, juglone decomposes enough and doesn’t even bother tomato seedlings, which are otherwise extremely sensitive to juglone. Trees grow tall, with dense and broad crown. They can grow in most soils and can handle some drought.

A couple of weeks old walnut sprout

A couple of weeks old walnut sprout

To germinate the walnut, it have to be stratified for 3 to 4 month in a plastic bag with damp paper towel, moist peat or sand in a refrigerator. During the stratification, paper towel and the nuts can become mouldy. They can be washed in cold water and wrapped into new moist paper towel, before placing it into the fridge for some more time. I did not see any issues regarding the mold, all the walnuts I tried germinated into healthy seedlings, even if kept moldy for a while, before I’ve noticed and cleaned them.

2 months old walnut seedling

2 months old walnut seedling

After 4 months or when you feel the seeds are stratified enough to germinate, wash them in cold water and plant the nuts into well draining moist compost rich soil, 2 to 5 cm deep. They start sprouting in a couple of weeks and in a month or so, you can have your first little trees emerging. If it takes longer, seeds might not have been stratified enough and will take a bit longer to sprout. When they grow enough to handle, place them separately into large enough pots, buckets or directly into the ground. Walnuts are supposed to get larger if they get up-potted a couple of times when they are young. I have heard that story many times, but I have no idea if it is true.

When planting walnut trees outside, you have to make sure they have enough space to grow properly. If they grow close together, the overall appearance of the tree will be tall, without the broad crown. When they have enough space if you plant them 15-20 meters apart, they will grow more sturdy, thick and branched out trunk with broad and extremely dense canopy. It can get too dark under the trees for most plants to thrive, especially considering that the roots of walnut tree release juglone through the roots and keeps the competition away.

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Quick update on 3 variegated P. arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings

I’ve already been writing about possible variegated seedlings from the second batch of seedlings. The variegated seedling from the test germination of 10 seeds remains my most variegated Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling. The other 3 possible variegated seedlings still show signs of variegation, but they are far smaller and variegation can not be confirmed. The seedlings in the second batch were sown tightly and became weak as they started to grow larger. I failed to plant them into individual pots on time and I’ve lost some of the seedlings that started drying out due to lack of light and water. One of the most affected was the second most variegated seedling that refused to start shooting even when other seedlings started to put out their second shoot.

Damaged and weak seedling

Damaged and weak seedling

I found it completely dried out and it seemed to be lost, with only 3 remaining leaves, that were also folded all the time, except during night, early morning and rainy weather. I decided to plant it into compost in the raised bed together with other two variegated seedlings and hope for the best. After almost two months, it somewhat recovered and now it’s pushing two small shoots that prove it’s going to live.

It survived against all odds

It survived against all odds

This one seems to be loosing variegation

This one seems to be loosing variegation

The third seedling, the one that was dark green with white variegation, looking as inverse version of the first seedling is growing into almost completely green seedling. It’s growing slowly and it changed variegation along the way into white stripe on dark green leaf, similar to Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’, but that faded out too. It will be interesting to see if it returns or not. By planting it outside, it should grow fast enough to discover its possible unique features further.

Praing mantis fighting the insects that damage my seedings

Praying mantis fighting the insects that damage my seedings

Already mentioned first – and most variegated seedling, started growing faster after I planted it into compost outside in the raised bed, but it also got severely attacked by aphids, fungus gnats and all kinds of unknown bugs. The result of all those insects outside are dark brown spots and speckles on its leaves. Highly variegated leaves are also prone to become damaged by direct sun exposure. When the shoots leaf out, the new leaves become dark green enough to withstand the scorching summer sun way better. Spring was wet again and we are now entering the hot and sunny part of the year. Hopefully the seedlings will upsize considerably during the summer.

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