Monday, September 22, 2008

Growing the World's hottest pepper. Bhut Jolokia, update.

What a difference a month makes. Time and the right growing conditions created an explosion of growth. See the before and after photos below.

Before: August 18, 2008

After: September 20, 2008

So... what I have learned about Bhut Jolokia culture:
1. Plant seeds when the temperatures are consistently in the high 60's to low 70's.
2. Keep soil moist until the plant germinates.
3. As soon as the seeds germinate place the plant in partial shade - the seedlings don't like full sun, especially direct overhead sun.
4. When several of the true leaves are evident, place the plant where it will receive morning and late afternoon sun.
5. Someone mentioned that peppers are heavy feeders and I can vouch for that. I feed my plants daily with a dilute liquid fish fertilizer. I also planted the seeds in a commercial garden soil mix. I don't like potting soil because it dries out too readily.

Some of the mornings are pretty cool these days, high 50's are quite common. I've left the pepper plants outdoors and they seem unfazed by the coolness. I'll bring the plants indoors when the temperatures go below the mid fifties.

Before: August 18, 2008

After: September 20, 2008

The plant given to me by the owner of the nursery we frequent has grown quite a bit too but mostly sideways. I guess it is putting most of its energy in producing fruit.

The numerous pods (approx. 18 with more flowers and tiny pods appearing) are growing nicely. Each pepper is about 2 1/2 inches long and 1" wide. Two are just starting to turn the bright orange characteristic of the mature pepper pod.


Blogger Entangled said...

Ooh, I'm so pleased to see this! Are you going to wait for them to ripen before you pick any?

1:01 PM  
Blogger Patsi said...

Would never think of starting anything that late.
Looking good !!

So glad to find another Jersey blogger.
I must keep in touch.
Thanks for sharing.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Somehow the html got broken so the page looks funny and some description is missing. Will try to fix it. Sorry for the error.


Hi Entangled,
I am please as well that I didn't kill the plant. I will wait for them to ripen before I pick the peppers. According to a website, the burn lasts for 30 minutes so nothing to trifle with. We were making some pepper jelly this weekend with peppers bought at the local farmer's market, mostly habaneros, scotch bonnets and hungarian hot peppers for bulk and color. The hottest by far was the chocolate colored habanero. I wanted to test how hot they were so I touched my tongue to a piece of the placenta we were discarding, which was a huge mistake. Burned for 5 minutes and I almost broke out in a sweat. I can't imagine something 3 times as hot. I'll send you some seeds if there are any and if you want to plant some. I don't think they'll be as hot here as somewhere in the South.

Hi Patsi,
Welcome to another NJ blogger!

The pepper plants were started much earlier in spring but the seedlings remained in a suspended, stunted stage for at least 6 weeks. Only when I moved them from full sun to partial shade did they grow. I don't think I'll see any peppers from the seeds I planted this year but I will try to overwinter the plant indoors and hopefully get a big jump on the planting season next year.

Thank you for your comment and for stopping by.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Ki, I'm curious about the chocolate habaneros. Could you taste anything beyond the heat? I'm thinking of growing them next year. Their color is so interesting.

I made Nicole's sister's hot sauce yesterday, but I had to fake the habaneros with a mix of the hottest peppers I had plus Ají Dulce.

How did your pepper jelly turn out?

7:11 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

The chocolate ones have the habanero taste but they seem to be much hotter. They are also larger, at least 3x the size of the orange ones we bought at the same stand at the farmer's market. They are also more convoluted, flattened and folded unlike the inverted bell shape of the regular habanero. I wonder if it is a cross between habanero and ??

Nicole's sister's hot sauce looks delicious. It's great to have a good sauce recipe.

The pepper jelly turned out just great. This was better than the first. We are still adjusting the amount of pectin. There is no comparison with the commercial kind which has no taste or heat. It's really great on a bagel with cream cheese.

But I think our best effort was our first time making the jelly several years ago. We used tepin or pequin bird peppers, I can't remember which and added some cayenne, Thai, and a few Jalapenos for bulk. The unique bird pepper taste really came through.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Glad to hear of your success with the ghost chili. I ordered a pack of 25 seeds for a gift for my sister in law, a true chili head. She gave me four seeds, and I planted them all. All of them came up! I started them March 29th, indoors, along with some Chinese lantern, serrano, cayenne, Hatch, and Ancho chilis. The first few sets of true leaves were HUGE. By the time I set them out in mid May, they were about 4 inches tall and 6 inches across. They didn't like the direct sun, and got burned in spite of my careful attempts to avoid it. However, they came back, and grew to be about 4 feet tall and nearly as big around. These were the most prolific chili plants I have ever grown. So much so that I don't know what to do with them all. I finally pulled them up on 11/1, and hung them in my basement to try to ripen the last fruits (about 80 of them). I just now finished processing them. I ground them in a food processor, and I'll let them ferment for a couple of months before trying to make my hot sauce.

2:00 PM  

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