Newly seeded pepper flats and habanero seedling update.

Hello spice fans! Habanero seedlings have been lovingly transplanted to a slightly larger container and all other peppers seeded to perfection by the oh-so skillful spice queen Meui!  Theses flats are now resting on heating pads.  Due to my “off-the-grid” limitations I can only run the heating pads six hours a day.  I keep the newly seeded flats in the house for warmth and I move the seedlings out to our greenhouse during the day for maximum sunlight.

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Habanero Seedlings

 

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The humble beginnings of our habanero plants.  These are but a few.  Meui started them in recycled tofu containers.  Needing warm soil to germinate presents a challenge in our cold climate (it was 24 degrees two morning ago!).  Our wonderful and most helpful neighbor Geba has a warm, propane fueled refrigerator that works nicely if you set your seeded containers on top.  We do have heating pads and we will use them when we seed many more peppers later on this week.  We use pre made organic potting soil from Foxfarm Soils.  To aid in germination and root growth we only use warm water to irrigate the seeds and the subsequent starts.

My cover crop seed has arrived from Peaceful Valley gardening supplies and my next few posts will highlight the cover cropping process and the germination of all the remaining peppers including the oh-so-desperately needed Golden Cayenne!

Our Remoteness

What do I mean when I say, “We are remote”? Well let me tell you. We are located in western Siskiyou County, California in the Salmon River watershed. The Salmon River watershed is 751 square miles and we have an estimated 250 residents. We are entirely surrounded by the Klamath National Forest which constitutes 98.7% of the land in the Salmon River drainage and 45% of that is designated Wilderness. We have no electrical grid or phone lines. We have to generate our own power using a water wheel and some solar panels. We communicate with our neighbors using a CB radio. Our connection to the outside world is a satellite internet system and we have had some success using Skype. Our driveway is three miles of serious uphill mountain dirt road. 4WD is absolutely necessary and chains can only get you here in the snow. The nearest store that sells very limited supplies for farmers is over an hour’s drive away. Even though the coast is only fifty miles away, as the eagle flies, due to winding river and mountain roads it takes three solid hours to get there by vehicle.

Ordering pepper seeds.

The pepper seeds are ordered! Territorial and Totally Tomatoes are the two seed companies that we ordered from this season. Cherry Bombs, Pepperoncinis and Golden Cayenne seeds should be here soon. We already have Habanero, Paprika (we grow our own seeds) and Anaheim seeds. Last year we had a very poor germination rate with the Golden Cayenne seeds so we will be sowing many more than usual and “babying” them carefully. Traditionally, due to our high elevation (3000 ft) and short season, Habanero peppers have been almost impossible to grow and ripen. We will give it the old-college try one more time before I officially give up. We are also looking into having another farm in the small community of Orleans grow our Habanero for us. Their elevation is around 400 ft and the growing season is much longer. Orleans is jokingly referred to as the “banana belt” in this neck of the woods.
We will be sowing the Habanero seed this week and ordering our cover crop seed too. Stay tuned for all the upcoming and exciting details as we take the preparation for pepper growing through the rest of winter and into early spring!