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.

I’m not entirely used to the idea of replanting tomatoes when you grow them from seeds. The technique (here for example, or here) is so different from what I developed for boonies. With boonies, you sprout them, and there is no concern about darkness for a new days. You fertilize with an indoor strength fertilizer from the start, and keep the plants warm and in soda bottle greenhouses.

Tomatoes, by contrast, you must watch like a hawk when they sprout so they don’t  grow too much. You don’t fertilize until they have true leaves, and then only once or twice. Water is otherwise enough. You replant 2-3 times perhaps, every time they outgrow their “container”. You replant most of the plant into the ground in order to  create a deeper stronger root system. The final pot depth should be a minimum of 12 inches deep. (I think my tomato pots last year were at best 6 inches deep. Oops.)

By the end of the weekend, I want all my tomatoes into 6 inch pots.

The new boonie peppers are getting sizable enough that I should consider replanting them at some point, try a more tomato-like technique.

Two are visible in this picture. Looking through some older pellets, we found another that sprouted. Using Jiffy 7 pellets, a heating strip, and 2-3 seeds per pellet, every pellet produced this time.

Note: A recent thread on the hotpepper.com site made reference to the Food Near Snellville article, “The origin of the boonie pepper.” Nice to see people making use of what we’ve found.

I can’t be 100% certain because I’ve forgotten which side of the container I planted boonies. But given the original spouts were straight and all my others are crooked, I suspect this is the first boonie pepper sprout of the season.

Other than that I’m adding a mix of heirloom seeds and a Burpee hybrid this season.

Digging around the Internet, from a post on Gardenweb, I find this interesting comment on heirloom tomatoes near Atlanta:

Turfg,

Here is a list of excellent performers for your area:

Big Beef (hybrid but very productive)
Arkansas Traveller
Creole
Tropic
Mule Team
Marianna’s Peace
Eva’s Purple Ball
Cherokee Purple
Kellogg’s Breakfast (light orange tomato!)

The most heat tolerant are near the top of the list. The very best flavored are closer to the bottom.

On another Gardenweb thread, there was a Loganville, Georgia planter. An except from this post goes:

Arkansas Traveler has produced well for me in Loganville, GA. Big Beef is reliable and a heavy producer but not among my top favorites for taste. Brandywines are so different, regular leaves, potato leaves, pink, red, etc it is hard to comment. The yields are usually relatively small but the right Brandywine has amazing taste. Aunt Ginnys Purple has done well here. Creole takes the heat and I like the taste.

I’ve already planted more plants than I have pots for. It’s time to stop and assess how much work I want to do this year.

To note, if  you’re looking for locally raised heirlooms, this company has been recommended by growers from Gardenweb. The Tasteful Garden are growers on I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta. Their web site is delightful.

4 pellets have boonie seeds, 8 have seeds from the Jubilee variety of tomato. We’ll see how they turn out.

The boonie is inside and it’s fecund. Heavy with peppers, I’m wanting to ensure it could survive our stepping away for a few days. Last year I was a lot more cavalier about it all. This time I’m experimenting. I’ve mentioned plant water spikes already, now its time to worry about lighting.

Lighting is provided with these bulbs, day and night timing with these inexpensive timers, and the final element is a light fixture stolen from the computer room. I was (and am) looking for small portable light fixtures with a nice parabolic back stop so I can direct a beam of light at my large plant. Anyone know of someone selling office fixtures that can handle 60 watt bulbs anymore? A check of Office Depot showed fixtures that could only handle 13 watts.

The plant light bulbs are huge, with a ballast that puts a 100 watt “equivalent” bulb to shame. In the picture below, the smaller bulb is the standard 60 watt replacement bulb.

Small and locatable. That’s what I need, and will be looking for.

Update: Target has desk lamps that work well.

I don’t think it takes much to make me happy. Witness the beginnings of leaves on my otherwise leafless boonie peppers:

Before it goes away, I wanted to comment on a food experiment, as it were, the lamented Fork and Chopstick. For months one man slaved to convert an old O’Charley’s into a Korean oriented restaurant. He was impossible to miss on Pleasant Hill Road while commuting to work in the mornings. Finally it opens. The name didn’t help it much, but more so, it was open for at most a week. I can’t help but ask myself what brought this man to open a restaurant he couldn’t keep open on savings a few months, at least.

Last, for those who haven’t heard, Tami Hardemann, of the blog Running With Tweezers, is helping to host the Atlanta edition of the First Annual Food Blogger’s Bake Sale. I’ll let Tami speak from this point forward:

The 1st Annual Food Bloggers Bake Sale is a nationwide event happening across the country on Saturday, April 17th. This is in coordination with Share Our Strength – the country’s leading hunger based charity – and the opening of their fundraising season.

The 1st Annual Georgia Food Bloggers Bake Sale will happen on April 17th from 9 am – 1 pm at Cabbagetown Market (thanks to Lisa Hanson) in the heart of the Cabbagetown area of Atlanta. Since off-street parking can be a bear there, the nice folks at Agave Restaurant have donated use of their parking lot during the day. It’s less than a block walk to the Cabbagetown Market. To sweeten the deal a bit, Agave has agreed to give a $10 off coupon to each person who makes a purchase at the Bake Sale!

We have a host of local bloggers and bakers signing up as we speaking – CakeHag (donating her alcohol soaked goodies!) and Scratch Bakery promised baked goods this morning. More and more will be added as we get closer to the event. This bake sale isn’t just for bloggers – anyone who wants to contribute, support local bloggers and Share Our Strength is welcome to both bake and volunteer. Not only are we going to be able to help out a great cause….but we might do some community building while we’re at it.

I have set up a ATL Food Bloggers Bake Sale team page on the Share Our Strength website. For those who can’t bake or volunteer – but want to contribute – monetary, tax deductible donations can be made via that page. All the necessary info about the sale is there, as well. Here is the link: http://join.strength.org/site/TR/CEM/General?team_id=92800&pg=team&fr_id=1110

Attached to this email will be the logo for the Bake Sale as well as the main press release from SOS. We have a Twitter hashtag for the nationwide event – #FB_BakeSale. I will also be Tweeting specifically about the ATL Bake Sale at #ATLBakeSale.

100% of the proceeds from this bake sale go to Share Our Strength so I’m looking to all of the blog/media community here in Atlanta to rally around this event and help spread the word. Any social media or blog real estate you can give the event is SO VERY appreciated.

This email was forwarded to me by Mike Stock (Gadget Geek) and it seems a worthy cause. For those not interested in participating, I’m sure Tami and friends wouldn’t mind a little pocket change.