I had intended to start my hot pepper seeds in another week or two — and worried that might be too early. I’m starting them indoors, in one of those plastic containers, sort of like a 36-pocket egg carton, with a little tablet of dried potting soil, waiting to be rehydrated, in each pocket.
There’s a clear plastic dome lid. You leave the dome lid on until some of the seeds sprout, then you prop it partially open until the rest of them sprout, then you remove the lid and put the planter next to a sunny window. I have what I think is an appropriately-sunny window, although I also have a desk lamp that I may turn on to supplement it.
I have never had much success with growing things. At least two different times, my mother gave me house plants which I eventually killed. A couple of different times, I’ve tried to start one of those window herb gardens, and never got past a few little tender sprouts.
But as my friends know, I learned how to make fermented hot sauce last year, and I want to keep making it. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have a bunch of peppers given me by a friend, but I want to try to grow at least a few super-hots on my own, in planters in front of my apartment.
I ordered some seeds from Pepper Joe’s, which specializes in hot pepper seeds. I ordered 7 Pot Lava Yellow (“This molten masterpiece is not one to take lightly”) and Tabasco Hot (“excellent for making hot sauce”) seeds.
Pepper Joe’s has a policy of including two free seed packets in every order, so I also received Sepia Serpent and Big Jim. Big Jim, as best I can tell, is a mild, very large pepper variety which can be used for chile rellenos. I love chile rellenos, and have never tried making them at home, but I wanted to concentrate my limited amount of planter space on the hot peppers. I figure that if I can grow the hot peppers, I can always buy mild peppers, carrots, ginger, etc. for the other sauce ingredients, making the hot peppers go as far as possible.
I planned to give the Big Jim seeds to our local library, which this year has started a seed exchange.
Speaking of the library, I was waiting for the proper time to start the seeds indoors, when our children’s librarian posted a link today to the Old Farmer’s Almanac’s planting calendar for Nashville. By their reckoning, I should have started my seeds in the first half of February in order to have them ready to move outdoors in early May.
I decided to go ahead. I rehydrated all of the little peat pellets, even though I used fewer than half of them — about four pellets in each corner, so that I could keep the varieties separate and know what was what.
Without thinking, I grabbed an envelope and started planting. Each packet had only about 10 seeds, and the free varieties had even fewer. The first envelope I grabbed turned out to be the Big Jim seeds I had intended to give to the library. I had already planted them before I realized what I had done.
I have purchased a set of five tote-bag-like cloth planters which I will use for transplanting when the time comes. We’ll see which of my varieties thrive and decide when the time comes which five seedlings to transplant.
I bought some little self-stick laminating pouches and laminated the little label from each of the envelopes, so that I will know which seedlings are which.
That is, provided I don’t kill them all between now and then.