I have a long series of articles about the Guam boonie pepper, a small hot pequin style pepper native to the island of Guam. This pepper is not (despite unverified claims in the Wikipedia) the same as the Thai ornamental pepper, but is instead a separate species, closely related to the tepin of Mexico. The pepper is used in Chamorro dishes, most notably the ubiquitous finadene sauce.

To update the status of my plants: I recently posted that one of my four peppers was flowering. This year, all four flowered and it looked like I was going to have a record crop. Then pests started taking bites of my peppers, and I’d lose all but a few seeds.

In mid September we took a trip, and I had to bring my boonie peppers inside. Outside, they could easily have dried out in two days, and the trip was longer than that. The results?

Being inside allows for a more relaxed watering schedule.

Not only has the crop grown larger, they’re not subject to predation and can stay on the bush longer, turning a full red instead of orange. It’s been successful so far. The question now is, will all 4 plants winter well?

Footnote: a video of people eating Guam Boonies is here. The man shown stopped at 11 peppers.

As my boonie peppers are turning red, if I don’t harvest them quickly, they’re turning out like this:

Something is eating the tips off my peppers.

I still harvest the half eaten peppers, because they have valuable seeds. 2 or 3 of those tiny seeds can grow into a 6 foot plant. So I dry what remains, and collect as many seeds from the pod as I can.

I don’t think hornworms are doing this (though I found at least one hornworm on my plants), and all the boonies are flowering these days. It’s been an unusually wet summer, almost semitropical in character. The peppers love it.

I speak often about the Guam Boonie, a pequin style pepper related to the tepin so lovingly described by Mark Miller. They’re native to the Marianas Islands, and are used for things like finadene:

Home made Finadene sauce.

Thing is, in Georgia, my plants have never flowered in the spring or summer, but only in the fall, until now. One of my four plants is not only flowering, it’s also growing peppers.

You can see a flower about to bloom, a flower after it has bloomed, and a green pepper in this photo.

They’re aren’t many on this plant, but some are better than none. I’m working hard to keep this plant watered and producing. In pots like the ones I use, in Georgia heat you have to water these every other day.

If you’re wanting to start seeds, for planting at the beginning of April, this weekend is the perfect opportunity to do so. I’m not likely to do so this year, as I’d like to concentrate on my boonie peppers.

I haven’t spoken much about my boonie peppers this year, perhaps because they sprouted and grew, but not spectacularly. I didn’t fertilize them much after the spring, because I wanted flowers, of which I saw not a one all this year.

But I just took them inside, after the recent freeze, and within one day after taking them inside, every last boonie pepper now has flower buds. If I had to guess, it was a temperature thing. The summer was too hot, and the fall too cool to trigger any flowering.

It suggests next time taking the plants inside earlier, to trigger the growth of peppers.

Update: the lighting tools we’re using to grow peppers inside are described here and here. 4 desk lamps with grow bulbs as described in the links are being kept on a 16 hour cycle.

It’s not actually Japanese, it’s a Russian cultivar, a member of the purple tomato family . It has a pinched top, and  thus looks like a kind of pear. Don’t let the looks fool you, this thing has incredible flavor.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a coworker that grows these things. He  tells me they don’t refrigerate well, you need to store them at room  temp and eat them quickly. They don’t need much more than a little cracked pepper to deliver delicious flavors.

Notes: Interesting links to the  trifele can be found on the Tomato Gardener, This Garden is Illegal, and Moonglow Gardens. Things from Scratch has a beautiful picture of growing plants. The blog Tomato Lover has more than one article on the trifele, of which this the article, “The Move Into Red”, has the best photograph. Austin Urban Gardens has a short blurb on how the trifeles taste.

Modest I know, but this haul includes the first large tomato of the season – the yellow one.

It’s a blessed mess of green back there. I’ve been moving some of the twistier tomatoes to beside the chain link fence, to see if they’ll grow into it. 11 tomatoes still sit on the deck. Some of them even have fruits.

I had four boonies sprout, of which one died, one was cut off by some worm before it could get anywhere (still alive though), and the other two look pretty healthy. This photo is of the best of the new year’s boonie peppers. I don’t expect any crop until late fall.

I knew I was going to have to do it this Sunday, so I got out all my stuff, my old bags of potting soil and my new ones, and set up to do this job. Somewhere after transplanting a few I thought of pictures. If I have pictures, then I’d have a potential blog post.

You start with a pot and a plant. Turn the plant upside down, holding the plant with a spread hand. Tap the pot sharply and then the plant gets loose and you can pull the pot off.

Note the root bundle? That will hold the clump of soil together as you put it into the pot. One  thing I didn’t do last year is get big enough pots. Big pots (12″ minimum for tomatoes) are expensive, but they’re a one time purchase, with any luck.

You try to position that plant so only the last set of leaves are exposed. Then bury the thing.

To note, Mike Stock’s suggestion that I let the tomatoes acclimate in the shade went so well I didn’t feel any hesitation transplanting these things. Next weekend we can put them out in the direct sun.

Some notes: every plant that went straight from a Jiffy  7 pellet to a 6 inch pot had a  great root system. Some of the plants that went from pellets to the peat pots to 6 inch pots to the big ones had really  undeveloped root systems. I took those and tore off the peat pots when I could, threw the peat away. These plants don’t have much time to grow before the night time temperature is going to hit 55 degrees fahrenheit and that’s when tomatoes will flower.

I have maybe 14 tomato plants under lights, in 6″ pots, and inside. I want them outside, if at all possible, before the weekend is over. Best path? Toss them immediately outside and into 12″ pots? Harden them a couple days? I don’t have all the time in the world to harden those plants; they’re going to have to suffer some regardless.

Back when the tomatoes were a little smaller.

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