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.

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This is a creation of my mother-in-law, sliced bitter melon with water, vinegar, onions, garlic, and a small amount of boonie peppers. If you don’t have boonies, you can use the pequin or tepin peppers you can get at BHFM.

The bitterness is moderated a little, and the onions, garlic, and pepper add a lot of flavor on the plate.

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.

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.