And lastly… The Game is a foot.

I have waited for this moment for such a long time, probably since about October last year.    But then again most years it is long a waited – although not as long as I have waited this year.  It is so exciting – it’s the start of something new.  A new growing season.

I hold in my hand the promise of summer

I hold in my hand the promise of summer

Today I sowed my first seeds.  The peppers, chillies and eggplant.  Experience has taught me that they need the biggest head start of all the plants I will grow.  They need to hit the ground running if I’m to get any fruit at all.  Last year was the most disastrous for these guys and I learnt two valuable lessons:

Number 1:  Fresh is best.  Make sure the seeds are fresh and two years is probably as old as I’d let them get.  Last year they were three years old and I had so much trouble getting them to grow that my pepper bed was a dismal sight with hardly any plants.

Number 2:  Peppers need a constant 22°C  (71.6°F) for optimum germination.  I looked it up when I couldn’t get things to grow last year.  The greenhouse, while warm during the day just gets too cold at night at this time of year.  The best place inside the house is on the top of the fridge as the warm air that comes up the back is just right for those wee babies.  Sadly the top of my fridge is so chocked up with junk that I’m really not all that desperate to sort out just now, so that location is out of the question.  But I have found somewhere better – the top shelf of the hot water cupboard – provided I can get the family to keep the door shut.  I think I need a sign.

Another lesson learnt the hard way - label your seeds well!

Another lesson learnt the hard way – label your seeds well!

I have also learnt in my pepper growing history that you should NEVER give up on a barren pepper seed tray.  I once had one come up after 53 days!

I knew by October last year that I was in trouble as what plants I did get in were late going in and I hoped and prayed for an Indian summer.  This is not an effective strategy to guarantee a bountiful harvest, but it was all I had.  It was all too awful.  We got an early frost and so we only ended up with a taste of all things hot – but certainly not enough to make my awesome hot sweet chilli sauce.

"sow" exciting

“sow” exciting

This year is going to be different.  I am starting nice and early, with heaps of time for a replant or two if necessary.  It is going to be a great season – it has to be.  It would just be too cruel to have two crappy summers in a row.  So for me this first seed is the first stirrings of spring and summer and the warmer, drier weather.  I now have a tangible link to those incredible sunny days that never seem to end, and I shall be there, sitting in the warm glow of an evening sun with a chilled glass of something, basking in the bountiful produce surrounding me.

That is how it will be and I will cling to that thought.  I don’t know how much more of this cold wet I can do before becoming permanently soggy.  I hope I haven’t over hyped this blog, but for me it is the most special day of the whole growing season – it’s the start!

In the mean time, we can begin to enjoy the over-wintered tomatoes that have just started to come ripe!

In the mean time, we can begin to enjoy the over-wintered tomatoes that have just started to come ripe!

Come again soon – it is only going to get busier from now on!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

 

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18 Comments on “And lastly… The Game is a foot.

    • Hi Heidi, there is nothing like learning things the hard way – especially when you have to wait a whole year to get it right next time! Strangely – things learnt the hard way are the things I spend the most effort to get right the next time I attempt it! It seems ignorance is bliss – until it all goes wrong. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  1. Didn’t know that (constant germination temps) for peppers! Based on this year’s results, it’s similar for eggplants. We usually have our seedling nursery on the back deck (and bring them in at night if it’s too cold.) This year’s cool evening temperatures had the slowest germination I’ve ever seen–even the nighttime spot was too cool. Yes, peppers and eggplants popping up in six to eight weeks! (I’d already given up on them.) Good thing we have a long season–I’m sure I’ll be okay with the peppers, but those midget eggplants, I don’t know. Your spring is just beginning and I’m mid-summer with midget eggplants.

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    • Hi there. I have spent several seasons in the past limping along midget eggplants and peppers only to get a tiny crop – or worse – none at all! It is so frustrating. So last year I researched thoroughly to find out what was going wrong. What I am beginning to understand is that instead of having one massive “spring seed planting day” that each seed actually has their own preferences and don’t like to be treated the same as the others. Bit like people – really.
      This year I am expecting bumper crops!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  2. a celebration for the first seeds of the season! I overwintered a chillie plant for the first time, and successfully (think neglect and you’ll achieve this easily!) and popped it back outside in early-mid spring. I’m hoping that it will produce lots of chillies. Well that’s the plan! Whether the weather will cooperate is another matter…..

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    • Hi Claire. I always try to overwinter chillies and peppers in the greenhouse – but just watch any that develop in the winter – they seem to be much hotter than summer ones… I nearly killed Hubby the Un-Gardener once with a “mild” winter pepper!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  3. Love the information on the peppers. I have been struggling with my bell peppers for the past two years. I can get all of the other peppers to grow easily, but not the colored bells. I am also wondering about the quality of the seeds that we are getting. I will be trying the temperature thing next spring that is for sure. Thanks again for a great blog.

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    • Hi there. I think I have come to realise peppers aren’t as easy to grow from seeds as tomatoes. I think the first time I grew them it was beginners luck, which was just as well because I may just have given up on growing anything from seed and put it all in the too hard basket. But then I would have missed out on so much more.
      I think what we forget is the seed growers are at the same whims of the weather as we are – only they aren’t trying to get the fruit -they are after the seeds. So I guess a bad weather season means the following years seeds are at risk.
      Good luck with your peppers next time. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  4. We grew loads of peppers this year from our seeds we saved. By the time I got to the end, I was putting question marks on them. I just couldn’t remember what was what. We are about to find out. We planted most in the garden though they like it better in the greenhouse. The ones in there are double the size!

    Great post!

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    • Hi there. I have a obscure envelope labelled “good little chillies.” They came from one of those mixed type packets of seeds and were so nice I didn’t want to risk the mixed packet the following year as I could have ended up with all of the same thing and none of the faves. I don’t really like the mixed packets, despite getting multiple varieties for the price of one.

      On more than one occasion I have had to grow things that were deliberately and carefully labelled as the first year I like one but not the other, but had to regrow them both the second year to figure out which was which, but relied on my poor memory to know which plant was which and failed. So after growing a crop for 3 years I was finally able figure out which one I didn’t like so I wouldn’t have to grow it again!

      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  5. I’m so excited for you. Of course as you are in the southern hemisphere you’re approaching spring, while august here in the northern hemisphere it’s still summer and approaching autumn. To be honest, in the UK, we haven’t had much of a summer. First the country was experiencing a drought, now we’ve had plenty of rain and only a small amount of sunshine and no real long sustained dry sunny spells, about which we can call “summer.”

    This year I had a go at growing peppers, but have only managed to get one plant from all the seeds sown and it isn’t going to produce anything, its still so small. As you say, not as easy to grow as tomatoes.

    So, wishing loads of luck for this growing season. But I don’t think you’ll need luck, you sound like you are more prepared and learnt so much from last year.

    Tina x

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    • Hi Tina. Thank you for your lovely words. I have been watching the UK summer with a degree of sympathy. Our last summer was just as bad, with more rain that should be seen during any descent summer. Its disappointing if you have to have less bbqs and days at the beach, but when you are a gardener trying to feed your family it is dreadful.

      Before the first frost, dig up your pepper plant, put it in a pot and bring it into the house in a sunny spot. Then take it back outside after the last frost and you should get a jump on the next season and a greater chance of getting peppers before the autumn.

      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  6. Good morning. i am a Kiwi gardening on the prairies in Illinois, how exciting to come across a fellow kiwi gardener as i randomly pop to and fro in blogworld.. Lucky you preparing for a new season, we are just starting to put in the autumn gardens, which are sometimes even more successful that the summer plantings, hopefully this year anyway!! Where in NZ are you? I am assuming you are in NZ.. c

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    • Hi there. Wow it must be so different gardening and living on the other side of world, compared to here at home.

      My garden is in the very northern Waikato, in what used to be Franklin – before Auckland expanded into a supercity and decided it didn’t want us! – Not that we mind – our community is very much rural.

      Good luck with your autumn garden – I hope it is really bountiful.

      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  7. I’m so excited for you! Sowing the first seeds near the end of winter is one my favorite things. (Although in the part of the world where I am, I do what you’re doing now just before the new year.)

    I keep having to re-learn the lessons you listed above. Most notably the “label your seeds.” I always start out with labeled seeds, but then the cat takes over the box and the seedlings all get mixed up. Or the tray gets knocked over by the dog and everything falls out and has to be guessed at when put back…

    It does make for some fun surprises in the spring, but it also means occasionally doing without a variety or two I was really looking forward to.

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    • Hi there. Despite my best intentions to keep the seedlings pet free – the other morning there was a disturbing amount of cat fur clinging to the leaves of my newly sprouted peppers. Luckily no damage though.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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