Dan’s Garden – Sad chilli’s and new beginnings

Dan's Garden - Chilli's

It’s been a good few months since my last garden update. At that time, I had some very depressed looking chilli seedlings which in the end I had to abandon. As with most things in life, if you can learn some lessons from your failures you usually tend to do a bit better the next time. 

So, with plenty of time left in the season I sowed a whole new batch of capsicum/chilli seeds along with a number of tomato varieties. After feeling like I was too heavy on the fleuro light and water the first time, I kept the plants further away from the lights and watered a little less frequently. I also started the seeds in our garage which was cooler. The plants did a lot better and we ended up with quite a few seedlings that have gone into our garden for seed saving at the end of the season. 

Here is a picture of the second lot at about the 6 week mark just to compare. I also put a picture of the sad chillies which were exactly the same age. It’s amazing how small differences in growing conditions will sometimes give such different results on the same plants.  

The Garden in 2020/21

We had a lot of landscaping done around our place this year. If anyone knows Eltham, it’s a hilly place, and our home is on a very steep block with poor access. Needless to say the landscaping took a lot longer than we expected which meant that many of the plants couldn’t go in the ground until late November. We are doing a combination of raised beds and planter bags like last year. Lucky for me, I had a team of landscapers to help fill and lug the planter bags into position. What took 2 of us a day and a half last year only took about 4 hours this year. My back thanked me for it. 

I was a little sceptical about the growing bags last year. Would the plants grow well? Would I get enough fruit? Is it too much work getting the bags set up, and was it going to be worth my time to grow for seed that way? My conclusion is that the 25 litre planter bags work great for planting dwarf tomatoes and capsicums, but they may be too small for large vining tomatoes. It is a lot of work getting the bags set up, but if you have a good system, this is manageable, and because the plants are then very easy to access, you save time when pruning and tying. In regard to whether it was a profitable use of our time, I would say “yes” because we grew many varieties that are rare and we couldn’t otherwise get from a supplier. I also love growing, so talking to and caring for the tomatoes doesn’t always feel like work. 

After growing nearly 60(!) varieties of tomatoes last year, I have reduced the number of varieties we are cultivating for seed this year to about 25-30. Rather than all tomatoes, it’s a mix of tomatoes (Large and Dwarf) plus about 10 varieties of capsicums/chillies and one eggplant variety. 

My focus this year has been on some of the darker varieties of tomato that contain anthocyanin, the same antioxidant that gives blueberries their colour. These include Indigo Rose, Indigo Apple, Wagner Blue Green, Black Beauty, Blue Gold Berries, Blue Cream Berries and Dwarf Striped Antho. I personally love the look of these tomatoes and they also taste good once they eventually ripen up. I also have a few seeds of the Dwarf Gondwana Series which were kindly donated by Patrina @ The Dwarf Tomato Project. These are all dwarf darkies which I am keen to see and taste. I only have a few plants of these, and seed might be very minimal this year so it might be another season before the Gondwana Series makes it to our store.

The Capsicums/Chillies we have going this year include Carolina Reaper, Australian Banana, Shishito, Fushimi, Mini Red, Zulu, Jimmy Nardello, Commo di Torro, Manganji and possibly some Aji Limon, and Peter Penis Pepper, a red variety which takes the shape of a man’s.… well you can guess. 

Capsicums seed is generally a lot easier to harvest than tomatoes as you don’t need to ferment the seed in order to clean it. My only concern is the Carolina Reaper which is extremely hot.  I will need gloves, safety glasses and maybe a face mask to get the seeds out of those ones. We love face masks in Melbourne. 

Fingers crossed that all things going well, most of the tomatoes and capsicums mentioned above should be listed in our store by June/July this year. Here are a few pics of our garden. As you can see, the plants are growing really well considering they have only been in for 2 months. I think we might need to get a bigger garden next year. 😊

I hope that you are all enjoying being in the garden as much as I am, and I look forward to updating this blog once the harvest gets going. 

Happy Gardening!

Dan

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