Additional Growing Advice

  1. Plants Always Seem to be Dry

    Make sure that you are using mulch. A 3" layer of mulch helps the plants conserve moisture by shading the ground and keeping it cool. Mulch keeps the soil from drying out quickly on warm, dry summer days, and it also keeps weeds from growing around your plants, which stealing precious moisture and nutrients. Some types of mulches include shredded leaves, straw, hay, and wood chips.

    Water deeply and infrequently versus frequently and shallow. This encourages roots to go deeper, searching for moisture rather than staying on the surface where they will get heated and dried.

  2. Peppers or Tomatoes are Cracking

    This is a condition also caused by inconsistent watering. Often this will occur after a heavy rain following a dry spell. While there is not much that can be done once they have cracked, a good prevention is to keep your plants consistently moist by using a good mulch, and watering deeply. To help dry out soil that has gotten saturated, take a pencil and poke down a few inches around the plant, a few inches out from the stem so as to not injure roots, in rings around the soil area. This will allow air to penetrate into the soil and return the media to its proper air/water ratio.

    Another condition which causes cracking of chiles is a condition known as "corking". Most frequently found on Jalapeño type chiles, this is quite common, and has no adverse effects on flavor. Actually in Mexico, chiles highly streaked with corking are highly desirable.

  3. Plants Have Barely Grown Since they were Planted

    The plants were probably put out too early, and they have been stunted. Peppers, tomatoes, and Eggplants like to have warm feet, and will do very poorly if planted too early. Wait to plant until night temperatures are consistently above 50 to 55 degrees. It is better to plant three weeks late than one week early! If you have plants that were stunted by the cold, it will take the summer's heat to pull them out of it.

    Also make sure when transplanting to pull off all buds, flowers and fruit that are on the small plant, and continue to do so until your plants have at least doubled or tripled in size. Plants are either in vegetative mode, or fruiting mode -you want them to be in vegetative mode until they are good sized, before you allow them to be in fruiting mode. If you allow them to fruit when they are small, they will remain a small plant with just a few fruits. If you remove all buds, flowers and fruit for approx. 3 weeks after planting, you will get a good-sized plant loaded with fruit.

  4. Chiltepins/Habaneros/Rocotos aren't Producing Fruit or Flowers

    Habaneros, Chiltepines and especially Rocotos are long season varieties, in that they take a long time to produce, usually more than 90 days after transplanting. Your buds are falling off (aborting) because conditions are not right, usually due to high day or night temps, inconsistent soil moisture, or high nitrogen levels. Generally however, they will remain on the plant and produce fruit once the temps cool down a bit.

    We find that Chiltepines do better their 2nd season. Try to overwinter them and you should have a good early harvest. The one Chiltepin we find that does well the first year is "Chiltepin Texas". Found growing further north where it would get killed by frost/freeze (versus many chiltepins which are found in warmer Mexico), it produces early on a compact plant.

    A good early season habanero type is "Limon", which produces heavily and early on a compact plant. Rocotos are found growing natively high in the mountains, and need cooler temps to be happy and produce well. Ours do not start producing heavily until November/December (in the greenhouse), so we recommend not growing Rocotos unless you have an extremely long (but cool) growing season, or you are able to bring them indoors for winter. We also find that Rocotos do much better if there are a few Rocoto plants, planted close together.

  5. Plants are Very Tall with Beautiful Green Foliage but no Flowers or Fruits

    This is most likely too much nitrogen. When the plants are small and young, you want to fertilize regularly so that they get off to a strong start, but once the plants have reached a good size, you want to cut back on the fertilizer applications. We tend to hear this complaint often from users of fertilizers that promise "miracles". Rarely do we hear this complaint from customers who use fish emulsion and seaweed, which we highly recommend. We like to fertilize once a week for the first 3 weeks, then once every two weeks thereafter. When the plants have reached full size you may stop applying fish emulsion, but continue with the seaweed. If the plants start yellowing give an application of fish emulsion to green them up.

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