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The Pepper Chronicles Part IV: Leap of Faith

So much has happened since our last post, I don't even know where to begin! Obviously for those of yall that have kept up with us on social media, you've seen the progress we've made so far this year, and it is incredible, though it hasn't been without its challenges.


Immediately after our last post, we were slammed with an ice storm that brought down trees everywhere and knocked out our power for 10 days, and all I could think about is my peppers plants. Hundreds of them, with no lights, no heating to keep their soil warm, and a week of freezing temperatures are terrible conditions to put them in! In fact, we lost over 100 Ghost Chili seedlings in the process as they were the youngest and weakest. They simply could not survive those conditions. I did everything I could to keep them alive, hell, I even ran an extension cord from the truck down to the basement to power lights and a small space heater for increments of time, but it just wasn't enough to save all of them.


As devastating as losing over 100 of one variety can be (I also lost a couple dozen cayenne and habanero), it's always a learning experience and an opportunity for growth (ironically enough) as I was able to identify another risk to mitigate before it has a chance to hit me on a larger scale: infrastructure is vital to the success of this business long term. I cannot afford to have a situation like this take out power for extended periods of time, especially when I expand to a massive scale, the losses would be too great. As much as it will suck to invest in something that I hopefully never have to use, secondary and alternative power sources will be mandatory expenses in the future.


Immediately after having power restored, I was also able to sow over 1000 more seedlings. Most will be sold off to friends, locals, and at farmers markets, but I was able to get an additional supply of Ghost Chili's sown as replacements for the ones that were lost in the first great challenge of 2021, so I was also able to mitigate the direct effect this previously unidentified risk had.


Since then, our plants have really been exploding! I can't even begin to describe the exponential growth I've seen in them Most of our cayenne plants are over a foot tall, and already have flowers and peppers I've begun to pinch off. This is purely personal preference, but I like to let the plant focus on leafy growth with their energy instead of producing peppers this early. Our habaneros are starting to reach a foot in height as well (though with subsequent planting or up-potting, I tend to bury the stem down 2-3 inches in the dirt) and are all looking fantastic.


Hardening off was, and will always be, a bit of a challenge but we've made it through that phase with the peppers we'll be hanging on to. I tested my soil to see it was deficient in all three N-P-K components, as well as slightly too acidic for peppers (it was reading 7.0, while peppers prefer closer to the 6.5 mark), so I amended it with a blend I made of Blood Meal, Bone Meal, and Muriate of Potash, as well as a soil acidifier to correct deficiencies, tilled the dirt, and set to marking out the placement of my peppers. This weekend I planted all 252 cayenne and habanero plants in the beds, and I couldn't have been more exhausted or more happy with it!


This is a huge leap of faith for me, in me, as all of these plants will be producing the very peppers I'll be making all of my sauces and dry rubs with, and their health is vital to our success. If I didn't properly amend the soil, if I don't properly care for my plants, if I didn't misjudge the time to plant them (uggghhhhh go away rain!), then it was all for naught. I have faith, however, that these plants will grow to bear some amazing peppers. The proof of concept has been proven over and over again this year when I compare it to last year, hell even based on the sheer size difference between the years. Only time will tell if my faith is misguided or not!


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