As awesome as it would be to actually create life, the best I can do these days is hatching seeds. So that’s one thing I’ve been doing this year.
When I drove through Arizona in June, I bought a packet of cactus seeds. I successfully sprouted a lot of them and they’ve just recently graduated to a square ceramic thing I found at Goodwill.
The rocks came from all over the Pacific coast and western states. Some are from Arizona. Some came out of the Columbia River half a mile from my house. When my baby cacti grow up I’ll fill in around them with small pebbles and a little sand, but I have no idea how long that will be.
In the meantime, I have some plants that are much more needy. Late last winter I ordered several different varieties of hot pepper seeds. I picked out four and then they sent me two free, so I have six varieties total.
I started them in my bedroom with a lamp for heat and light, and it wasn’t long before I had adorable tiny plants, sheltered from the cold, cruel world by a TARDIS blanket and a piano.
Somehow, all but one of my tiny habañero sprouts mysteriously died, along with a few other smaller ones of other varieties. I’m not sure why that happened, but one little habañero valiantly survived the apocalypse. After a few weeks I planted the strongest of each variety in a large pot, and they hung out in my bedroom for a little longer, doing nothing but getting in the way and growing quite slowly.
As summer began heating up, I moved the main plants to the south-facing window in the living room.
The extra plants went on the back porch or in the unfinished rock garden next to it. I transplanted a few too early and they were eaten, but the second batch is doing great.
When I returned from my one-week road trip in early June, they had grown quite a lot. Comparing pictures I took of the jalapeño before and after the trip, it appears to have grown at least eight inches taller while I was gone.
The first plant to produce fruit, unsurprisingly, was the jalapeño. A few peppers stopped growing and ripened when I briefly tried putting the plant on the front porch. Each of the tiny peppers was still enough to spice up a meal, and the plant has wasted no time making a whole lot more, now that it’s on the back porch.
I believe the Big Jim was the next to get started with the whole sex thing. It’s one of the free varieties I got, the largest chili pepper in the world, and my little plant is surprisingly prolific. It’s the only one I have that is less spicy than a jalapeño.
Third was the Orange Scorpion. This plant is producing so many fruits I tried counting and lost track at 32. It probably has at least 40. Good, because I wanted this one as a major component in my extreme hot sauce. It’s a similar variety as a former world-record hottest pepper, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.
I discovered the next two on the same day, but based on the size of the peppers I think the little Thai chili took fourth place. It’s the other free variety I received, called Garden Bird, which is about ten times hotter than a jalapeño.
In fifth place is the King Naga. This one is like a giant Ghost Pepper, around a hundred times hotter than the hottest bright red jalapeño. Another winner for my deadly hot sauce.
The habañero was the last to produce fruit, but it finally did, and now I have peppers growing on all six of the main plants. This variety has a level of heat about halfway between jalapeños and the super hot peppers.
The first harvest should come within the next month, so hopefully I can experiment with some hot sauce recipes by the end of August.