Gardening 2011

My Garden diary was recently overwritten in a virtual freak accident (on my birthday- of all days!) and I'm taking this opportunity to streamline this page. Please excuse the dirt while I catch up with: Cereal Pet Grass, Cherry Tomatoes & Parsley, and the Bird's Eye Chilli Peppers. DONE! Woohoo!

Blog posts involving the plants in 2011:
- 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 -
- 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 -

Herb Planter:
What's the point in starting a garden with edibles when they are so specific? We needed a heavy dose of versatility so I went a few steps backwards in the beginner gardener book and tried my hand at growing herbs for cooking. I started out with some Italian (Straight-leafed) Parsley (and some cherry tomatoes), then the SO showed interest in some Cilantro, and a few days later, he influenced me into getting a whole box of goodies. What an enabler! :P

September 3, 2011:
While picking up some Jalapeño seeds, we also grabbed some Lettuce for a classroom prototype experiment and some Cilantro! We, as a household, also learned that the seeds are Coriander while the plant is Cilantro. Nice! Aside from the four corners, the top and bottom row of the greenhouse tray is now full of cilantro seeds. For good measure (because I'm not 100% convinced that I'm using the dirt pellets properly), I also planted some in a tiny spare green pot.

September 4, 2011:
I blame my Significant Other on this one. I showed him a planter at our local hardware store that I wanted to get eventually for my parsley and new cilantro someday and not only does he pick one off the top shelf for me but helps me pick out a little bit of nearly every kind of herb seed packet they have! I was all excited that he's (and everyone else in the household) is showing greater and greater interest (and dare I say attachment) to my garden that I let myself get a little carried away. Yeah, we'll say "a little." 

After helping me prep the box, I planted it with all sorts of goodies that I can't wait to use in the kitchen during my "Learning How to Cook" adventures. I reserved a spot for the Cilantro I had already planted yesterday and added more Parsley. That's brings the total to a whopping ten types of herbs! I had thought to plant them in the order that they should sprout or by height, but decided it was easier just to stick to good old alphabetically.

September 17, 2011:
We had sprouts a week ago, but they are really difficult to see in the pictures I took and blogged about. Dill was supposed to take a medium amount of time (more than a week) and it showed up to the party first! It's followed by either Tarragon or Thyme. I think some seeds may have migrated after being drowned by all of the monsoon rain we've been getting. 

I've worried about my little garden but it seems to be pulling through. On top of that, there are ants that seem to be fascinated with my herb seeds and I'm pretty sure that I've seen them carry some away to the home they've built underneath the rock border I reconstructed. Sigh. Here is what my poor garden has looked like everyday before the water was soaked into the ground and then how we have nearly every kind sprout!
 And now:
You can see a ton of Dill, Parsley, Stevia where Sage should be, and Tarragon/Thyme.

September 26, 2011:
With the monsoon season ended, I may have "cheated" a little with my herbs. For anything that should have sprouted weeks ago but never showed up, I replanted more seeds. Even in the rows that had some sparse growth, I filled in the spaces up again. I also went through the more prolific rows and thinned out the herd for their benefit. It was a very sad task but I know someday they'll be happy I did it. Thankfully, my re-seeding seems to have worked! I've also transferred some of the potted Cilantro into the planter, none of the Cilantro has survived from the greenhouse tray, and I moved the Stevia an inch over back into its respective row.
 Basil! Second time's the charm.
 The lone Chive. Still waiting on the re-seeds.
 Cilantro transferred and happy.
 Dill that is at least two inches tall.
 Oregano in tiny bunches.
 Parsley that looks just like the Cilantro. Hm.
 Sage. Barely in the back right now.
 Stevia moved back home.
 Tarragon that showed up pretty early.
Thyme. I think/ hope.

October 18th, 2011:
Monsoon storms lingered but we may finally be in the clear. While the biggest of plants are fruiting as fast as they can, I've thinned out the herbs for the third time and flipped the planter around in hopes that the back sprouts get some sunlight loving too. Some have taken off! The Sage has died off, there's only one living Oregano, and only two Chives but it's nice to see the differences between each of the herbs now.

November 27th, 2011:
We've tried a few snippets of Italian Parsley from the original batch. I personally haven't picked up a lot of flavor but I have been sick lately. The planter has been a little rough and Oregano died off while Sage never really did come back after a re-planting.

December 8th, 2011:
While I've harvested my cherry tomatoes and Bird's Eye chillies, I'm going to wait a little longer on the herbs. I have been trimming back the Dill because it has gone absolutely bonkers. I should thin it out to one plant because it's taking over the other herbs. The freezing weather has not been kind despite covering them up. We'll see what makes it through the winter.
- - - - -

As part of an experiment before introducing hydroponics in the classroom, this lettuce should be ready to harvest in roughly 45 days. They are the first plant I've put directly into the ground.

September 3, 2011:
After a fun field trip to Ace Hardware with the SO, I dug a hole several inches deep in the corner of my gardening area, mixed in some fresh soil with the existing soil, and staked off this little section. I sprinkled in way more seeds than I probably should have. :)

September 9, 2011:
Within two days, not only did the family dog trampled through my lettuce bed, but ants continuously invade the area. I'm looking into natural repellants now. Sigh. It's not all bad news because there are already signs of life! You have to look closely.

September 17, 2011:
Two week of wind gusts and heavy rain means my garden has turned into the city of Atlantis. While this area is the lowest point in the backyard, the water is draining by the end of each day. Crossing my fingers that my lettuce can weather this weather.

September 26, 2011:
I feel like a terrible gardener-plant mama because I went through the garden this past week after the storms have subsided and thinned out the herbs and lettuce. I know it's for their own good and I have to keep reminding myself of that. FMIL said I wouldn't make a very good farmer because I would take anything that happened to my crops way too personally- heart broken several times a day, lol.

October 18th, 2011:
The lettuce have recovered from continuously being drowned from the monsoon storms that have been dragging on. They look like mini lettuce leaves now!

November 27th, 2011:
They have taken off and I've had to thin out the lettuce to about five bunches (one's pretty small). The leaves are on average six inches long. They have slowed down growing with the consistent cold weather we've gotten now but the household has come to a decision to not harvest any of this crop. With the storms consistently flooding that area for the past several weeks, we figured that the bug spray that was on the walls was in the ground and probably not good for any of us to eat. Regardless, it's still nice to watch these guys grow.

December 8th, 2011:
While we've been harvesting, I made the decision to tear up the lettuce bed. It was a little sad but satisfying ripping everything up and to shreds. I dug up that area and buried the plant bits as a way of giving back. If I try again with this type of lettuce next year, I'll definitely stick it in a container. It would be really nice to see what it can do when it gets the proper nutrition from soil. 
- - - - -
Jalapeño Peppers:
The guys of this household love these peppers and the SO is interested in experimenting with growing them under differing amounts and intensity of sunlight. I don't know how enthused I'd be about moving my garden if we do end up finding a better spot, lol.

September 3, 2011:
While my initial attempt to grow Jalapeños from fresh fruit from our local grocery store failed miserably, I have much more hope using "Guaranteed to Grow" seeds. I dug up the old seeds from the dirt pellets and made the middle section all peppers. I also planted a few seeds in a separate pot just in case.
Some of the original seeds looked promising and I planted those in the corner of the greenhouse tray.

September 12, 2011:
I forgot to blog about this but there's life in the jalapeño tray! I'm going to try to keep it covered as long as possible to give a nice and toasty environment for more to sprout. Sometimes you have to squint... >_<

September 17, 2011:
I've taken the survivors and potted them into what I hope is their "forever" homes. There are eight pots that are 10 inches in diameter. It's one size smaller than the Bird's Eye Chili Peppers' pots.
Jalapeño #1 and #2
 (#2) Jalapeño #3, #4, #5, and #6
Jalapeño #7 and #8

September 26, 2011:
The Jalapeños are doing well! The storms are gone and they are almost ready to be placed in different areas around the house for our sun exposure experiment. It's really hard to think of names for so many, especially since they don't have a terribly distinguishable growth personality yet.
 Jalapeño #1, #2, and #3
 Jalapeño #4, #5, and #6
 "Extra" Jalapeño with friends and #7
Jalapeño #8

October 18th, 2011:
The sun exposure experiment is in full swing now and the Jalapeños have gotten so big in the past month! I'm a little worried about the odd leaf shapes and big leaves. I was hoping that going outside when they were young would prevent big leaves trying to get enough sunlight. I don't often see Jalapeño plants with such wide foliage.
 Here are the four "controls" that have stayed in the garden area.
 Jalapeño #1
 Jalapeño #2
 Jalapeño #3
Jalapeño #4

November 6th, 2011:
The Jalapeños are about a foot tall now! And budding! Ahh! There's a peculiar difference in leaf color now. Some of the plants being experimented on have very dark green leaves. Maybe from getting full sun? They are also showing signs of being sunburnt though. There's still quite a bit of gusty wind every few days, so I'm glad we've come up with stakes for all Jalapeños.

November 27th, 2011:
The fruits are ripening on the cherry tomatoes and Bird's Eye chili peppers but all is not lost with the Jalapeños! We've ended the experiment with the threat of cold weather around the corner. Everyone came back to the outdoor garden area so we can cover up everyone with the least amount of blankets when temperatures drop below freezing. 

It seems that the plants we kept in the garden did the best with getting a lot of sunlight but also protected by the house from the gusts of wind. They are twice as big as the plants that went elsewhere. The plant getting full sun in the North is short but has the darkest of leaves and some sunburn. The ones in the West and getting partial shade not only did poorly but one was knocked over by Javelinas. One that we ended up keeping inside in a Western facing window did the poorest. It's about the size that the plants were over a month ago and was pale until one of the cats or dog bit off its leaves. Didn't eat them, just chewed them off of the stem. Sigh.

The most peculiar things about how different they all ended up faring is that they all began flowering at the same time.

December 8th, 2011:
The plants have been covered up often as the temperatures dip. Many buds and flowers with handfuls of peppers beginning to grow but I think it's too late in the season. Nothing bigger than 1.5 inches long but some frost damage is visible. Oh well, maybe the Jalapeño plants will last through the winter and do better next year.
- - - - -
Cereal Pet Grass:
Our cat absolutely adores maiming the plants that his human grandma likes to grow indoors. He's always been a bit of a green fiend with few outlets. Pet Grass is typically some sort of cereal grain like wheat grass. Ours is a mix of organic barley and wheat grass seeds.

Organic Grown Batch & Batch #1:
Buying pet grass from the big box pet store and having it last less than a full week was way too expensive. Luckily, we found organic cereal grass at our local organic supermarket at half the price and discovered that they sold the seeds as well! We both two small pots of already grown grass to use while we saw how fast it took to grow our own batches.
 He couldn't even wait for them to be watered.
Grown locally!
 Weighed down each cup with a few rocks from the backyard.
 By the kitchen sink.

On the table top. Hoping they last longer than the other place's grass.
One week later, a brief field trip outside and getting a little trim. Just like regular grass! XD

Day 0 (July 9th, 2011)
Soak for several hours then plant.
Day 1 & 2 (July 10 & 11, 2011)
Stored covered and in the dark underneath the bathroom sink.
Day 3 (July 12, 2011)
In the morning, I check and find a few very pale sprouts!
I decided that it's time to put it in the garden corner to get some sunlight and this later that afternoon.
Day 4 (July 13, 2011)
Holy Cow! The pet grass goes insane and this is what I wake up to early in the morning.
Day 5 (July 14, 2011)
It is trucking on it's merry way. So thick and luscious! Here are some pictures in the evening for scale.
 Day 6 (July 15, 2011)
Just measuring the pet grass one last time before unleashing the hungry wrath that is our kitty upon it. It got to 6-8 inches! He looks a little anxious to start. :P
 Day 9 (July 18, 2011)
Before my trip to Florida. The grass is well-loved.
August 7, 2011:
Upon returning from Florida. Aww, lol. I cleaned up some of the dead bits.
Batch #2:
I was a bit better at chronicling the growth of our next pot of pet grass that we started July 7, 2011 (Day 0). It also grew as fast a weed but didn't seem to last as long as our first batch. After taking pictures on Day 4, our kitty realized what was going on and we let him loose on the pet grass. It also grew up to 6 to 8 inches in height.

Batch #3:
This was all about experimentation in terms of which conditions would be the best. Does having a deeper container and/or using less seeds per square whatnot help prevent the grass from becoming root bound? It probably sounds pretty obvious now, but being more sparse with my seeding helps the grass last nearly twice as long. I threw in a clear container for the heck of it and the view was very interesting. Day 0 was August 28th, 2011. This is my last post about cereal pet grass. I think we have the hang of it now. :D
 Deeper with plenty of seeds, Clear out of curiosity, and sparsely seeded.
None have drainage except for a layer of rocks at the bottom.
 At the end of Day 2, they have barely broken ground, but look at those roots already!
So that's what's been going on under there!
 By the end of Day 3, they have gained so much color.
 Midway through Day 4. Wow.
 They were out for almost two days because kitty took an early shine to them.
They really seem to have enjoyed the sunlight! All ready now for distribution.
- - - - -

Parsley & Cherry Tomatoes: 
Single Italian Plain-Leafed Parsley with its intense flavor is my first herb that I hoped to use in my cooking (also a new project). The Super Sweet 100 Hybrid Extra Prolific Cherry Tomatoes were something I wanted to try to grow for our tomato-loving cat. 

June 28, 2011:
After running around town gathering supplies for all of my plants, I settled down to water the little dirt cookies to start off my parsley and cherry tomatoes. What I didn't realize in all of my excitement (sigh) was that the cookies were somewhat sun-baked and that my plastic tray had warped and crack from being store outside of a certain big-box home improvement store.

Half of the tray would have 3-4 fragrant parsley seeds in each pellet while the other half received two tomato seeds in each pellet. Unfortunately, I lost track of which side was which when I was mopping up the mini flood I had created with my broken starter tray. Once that mess was taken care of, they were covered and put indirect sunlight.

P.S. I'm not affiliated with any of these companies. I'm just a dork that likes to try new things. :D

July 7, 2011:
After just three days, there are seedlings! Unfortunately, I'm not sure if its the parsley or the cherry tomatoes. Only time will tell, I guess. I really wish I had marked which side was which there was pretty much no point in doing half and half, lol. Poor things got started so quickly that they were smushed against the lid of the container as they lapped up their first drink of sunlight. I tried to rotate the tray to even them out but this also means that I'm uncovering it sooner than I'd ideally like. The directions tell me to remove the lid once all the seedlings have sprouted but these guys are going to start growing sideways if I don't. Such conflicting feelings, lol. 
I made my decision to uncover the tray completely today because there are seedlings on the other end of the tray! Now that I know that I have some of both plants, I'm comfortable enough with exposing them to more elements. Look at these cute little things! It brings me some comfort to see new life after the breakage that just happened with one of my chili plants.

July 10, 2011:
We have more seedlings! They are kind of going nuts. I decided to grab the pellets that have not sprouted and keep them covered elsewhere while letting these little guys run free. The two on the left are the ones that sprouted up first. The other three sprouted up after and are the different species. With how many are in that bottom-right pellet, I've determined that the late bloomers were all parsley and the three tomatoes sprouted first. If I had gone back to read the packet sooner, I would have known that it takes about a week for the tomatoes to start but 7-10 days for the parsley to begin. Good job, me. The amount cued me because I only planted two tomato seeds per pellet on one side and 3-4 parsley seeds per pellet on the other.

I also started growing some cereal pet grass today too. Can't wait to see how that goes.

July 13, 2011:
I know that it's been only so many days since my last tomato-parsley update, but I wanted to show you something that I found really amusing- the tomato leaves are naturally pinching themselves into their typical shape! In not so great news, there is still no progress in the pellets that have yet to sprout.
July 17, 2011:
With how tall the seedlings are becoming, I thought it was a good idea to put them into pots. Again I worry that I may have done it too soon. They pretty much just have one main root but they are the appropriate height for transferring. I just have to keep my fingers crossed! They are kind of wimpy and tilt completely over if one water droplet gets on any of the leaves. It's so pathetic, lol. So, I grabbed some toothpicks and are using those to prop the seedlings up for the time being. I hope that it helps, the parsley is extra sad-looking. They stayed outside for a few hours with my pepper plants.
Before Potting
Tomato Leaves
Some Parsley Leaves
 After Potting
Tomato #2, 7 Parsley, Tomato #3
 Tomato #1
What a cute top! :P

These are what they all look like before I head off to Florida to visit family for two and a half weeks. I wanted to have something to refer to so I can tell how much they've grown (or at least how many leaves they have) while I'm away.

August 07, 2011:
I'm finally able to gather my energy, thoughts, and notes to update after my trip! I was so surprised with how much everything in my (once) little gardening corner grew while I was gone. Thanks to my SO for taking such good care of everyone! You just have to see them for yourself:
Tomato #1 is now just about 6 inches tall!
Tomato #2 is now about 5 inches tall!
Tomato #3 is (once you straighten it out a little) a whopping 7 inches tall!
 The parsley has gone a little crazy-wonky.
I think they're between 4 to 4.5 inches tall.
 Because of this madness, I tried to make them some sort of trellis from bamboo skewers and floral wire.
I'm not sure if I've helped at all. :P

August 17, 2011:
On the 10th, the tomato plants would go on a field trip outside while I re-potted the chili peppers. By the end of that, not only did I put in bamboo stakes to temporarily support the tomatoes but decided they would remain outdoors. I guess we came to the conclusion that we'd should start toughening them up sooner than I had with the peppers.

Well, after a week of keeping an eye on and learning more about them, I decided I might as well beat nature to the punch and put the tomatoes in their forever homes with supportive cages around them while it would still be easy. Here is how it turned out:

(I'm not affiliated with any of the companies you may see.)
My cherry tomatoes are so fashion forward. :P
I staggered the pots so everyone hopefully gets a good amount of sunshine without me dominating the patio.

August 22, 2011:
I realized that I have updated about how the tomatoes have grown since being put outside. It was a little hard for me to notice because I got used to looking at the leaves grow larger on the chilies. Luckily, these guys seem to be getting a good amount of sunlight so their leaves are staying relatively normal size (and not increasing their surface area exponentially in order to capture enough for photosynthesis). They're stems seem not only to be getting redder and then purpler (or just overall darker) but they are getting thicker and taller too. I'm sure the past few windy days have helped toughening them up too. Hooray!
Tomato #1 is about 12.5 inches tall.
Tomato #2 is about 12 inches tall.
Tomato #3 is about a foot tall as well.
 I don't even know what to say about the parsley.
They are still going nuts but I figured since they weren't taking advantage at all of the trellis, I took it out.

August 31, 2011:
For the past week, I have been toiling away on one side of the house in hot weather to (re)make a gardening area. I was eventually told that many years ago, there was a sectioned off area, but I am so glad that the SO was able to help me haul large rocks from different parts of the yard because who knows what happened to the originals. I also took this time to re-pot the parsley and we constantly brush them apart, it is such a hot mess. Two days ago, I added tomato food stakes to all of my big plants. Here is the final product so far:
 What was left to tear out after our overhaul in May.
 It's cleared! The average temperature this week was about 106 degrees. Oof.
 Tomato #1 is almost 18 inches tall.
Tomato #2 is 17 inches tall.
Tomato #3 is about 16 inches tall.
 I should have hardened and brought them outside sooner.

September 4, 2011:
While filling a new planted with various of herbs, I finally spotted what I've been told are sucker branches on the cherry tomatoes. I was advised to pinch them off to encourage the plant to focus on fruiting, so I did!

September 8, 2011:
They are getting a little wonky, but my how the tomato plants have grown in the full sun!

September 9, 2011:
Why didn't I notice these buds before?! FMIL spotted them while she was checking in on the garden corner.
 Tomato #1
 Tomato #2
Tomato #3

September 17, 2011:
I haven't had to water the garden in the past week with all of the monsoon storms and despite all of the wind gusts, the cherry tomatoes have done very well for themselves! The parsley is finally thickening up in the stem in its little pot.
Back left is the Parsley.

September 26, 2011:
The cherry tomatoes have been named! I just have forgotten to mention that here... whoops. The storms have finished up for the summer and we have kicked into overdrive to bear fruit! They've outgrown their cages so we're thinking hard about our next step to help remedy this crazy situation. The parsley has finally started to harden, have new growth, and stand up on its own again! I think they have finally recovered from their trauma of being transferred.
Introducing: Phineas, Ferb, and Perry!
 Tomato #1 is Phineas.
 Tomato #2 is Ferb.
and Tomato #3 is Perry!

September 28th, 2011:
More unexpected monsoon storms have rolled in and the SO noticed that one of the tomato plants took a dive. During a lull in the storms, we all pitched in to re-cage each. They look so much better! Baby fruits covered in tiny fuzz are starting to pop up like crazy. I've started to trim little branches of Parsley and putting them back in the pot because they aren't quite full enough to use just yet. This is purely from a superficial and personal point of view. I've read that it wouldn't really be worth using them for flavor until next year. I doubt we'll wait that long!
 Phineas with the first and biggest cherry tomato.
Ferb holding its own.
 Perry with some too!
You can see six on Ferb in this one area alone!

October 18th, 2011:
The cherry tomatoes are requiring tons of water now but they are being quite prolific! They seem to have finally slowed down in terms of growing upwards in favor of focusing on fruiting.
Tomatoes on Phineas.

Tons of tomatoes on Ferb.

The tomatoes on Perry with a hint of Ferb being a creeper.

November 6th, 2011:
The tiny cherry tomatoes are ripening and we've started to pick a few here and there for side salads. They've been a hit! I just love the colors of the fruits. The plants themselves look pretty crazy.

November 27th, 2011:
The weather has become consistently cool now and the SO has become the unofficial harvester of the cherry tomatoes. He can usually find at least a dozen ripe tomatoes each week for us to use. There's cold weather around the corner and the garden plants know it. They are giving ripening their all and sacrificing their fruitless branches in the process.
Phineas going crazy.
 Little Parsley in the front. All proud and stuff.

December 8th, 2011:
Winter is here so I made myself go out in freezing rain to harvest all of my fruit and was rewarded with a cold and this harvest! 
 Here is the haul separated by plant.
 The tomatoes are quite bare and sad now.
Here is the unripened haul separated until they are ready.
I'll probably wait another week or so to harvest my herbs, they are almost big enough to use.
We had more than enough to share with our family and friends for the rest of the year!
- - - - -
Bird's Eye Chili Peppers:
These are the main stars of my newest hobby-project-obsession. They rate between 50,000-100,000 on the Scoville scale that measures spicy chili heat.

January 6, 2011:
It all started when my mom stuffed a baggie of chili peppers from her garden into my bag for the family in Tucson to try the morning of my flight back to the desert. She's grown these peppers for years and has quite the prolific crop. At the time, we had no idea what type of pepper they were.

Early February 2011:
Just about a month later, I found the forgotten baggie of poor peppers while I was cleaning off my desk. I quickly gathered some supplies from the garage and planted some of the fruit that still looked well and the seeds for those that didn't look too great. It was the first time that I've ever seriously tried to grow something from scratch and even though a part of me felt that it was way too late, I kept my fingers crossed.

February 18, 2011:
I'm still not sure what possessed me to plant these seeds. No matter what my good intentions, plants never seem to make it after a few months. My mother will be the first to tell you that I would make a terrible housewife. I want to and try to care for things a whole lot, but I just have no clue what I'm doing and lack the knack for so many things that are pretty relevant in life. Before heading to bed this night, I check on my little pot one last time. To my utter surprise and that of the household, it was alive! Here is what we saw:
February 23, 2011
Not even a week later a mini forest had formed! The close quarters was a little worrisome at the time, but I was more afraid of messing around with such a precarious situation. The tiny leaves near the bottom of the seedling in the back isn't the first set of leaves but another baby plant growing at its base! Here is that craziness:
March & April, 2011:
I was apparently terrible at remember to take any photos of the progress of my peppers. More seedlings kept sprouting up, continuously invading the personal space of its neighbor. I was too chicken to stop the madness. Nearly every evening, most of household would come to inspect this little plastic pot to see what was new or different. At one point, the most we had were 17 seedlings, but they continue to overtake each other. We were all still in disbelieve of their sudden and continual appearance.

May 1, 2011:
We have a birthday celebration for FMIL and the boys rallied together to do some heavy, serious, and direly needed work in the backyard. The results were nothing short of a miracle that we enjoy for months to come. While doing what I can to help and not get someone killed or severely maimed, I get the urge & courage to do some redecorating in my mini garden. I decided to separate the biggest (and earliest) sprouts into their own homes and spreading apart the little leftovers. I used what containers we could find during our yard makeover and here was the result:

The main stalks of the three biggest are about two to two and a half inches. The biggest two pots are about 8 inches in diameter while the other two are different heights but about 6 inches. There are actually 7 babies in the smallest pot, but the moment I watered, it drowned. None of these seemed to have more than one equally long and skinny root so I was pretty terrified that I had just sentenced them to die a quick death. More finger-crossing and worrywart-watching ensues.

June 07, 2011
After a bit of research and stumbling upon the wonderful resource and community that is Chillis Galore, I had come to the conclusion that these peppers are most likely Thai Hot Chili Peppers (also known as Bird's Eye Chili Peppers). I love how these group of people actively try different methods, products, and species. My absolutely favorite part of this website is their Plant Diary they've kept for more than ten years. They have documented the growth and progress of their peppers and that inspired me to give my plants a page of their own on my blog.

It's been a little over a month since my last update about my peppers. We just returned from a long Memorial Day weekend trip to Texas and was surprised to see how the plants have grown. They have gotten into the habit of turning their leaves towards the sunlight and face-planting themselves into the sliding glass door. So, I started rotating their pots 90 degrees nearly every day but now have decided to rotate them 180 degrees every 2-3 days instead. I would later learn that this was the process of "winding."

I blogged about them about five days after taking these pictures. Genius me was holding the ruler upside down too. I pinched the two middle plants to see if it would encourage them to become bushier sooner. I have even started to accumulate a little batch of supplies: rag to mop of overflow, plastic spoon to even out displaced dirt, an old plastic pot to keep them in, a water bottle with holes poked into the cap for more even watering (sometimes I add extra coffee/ old coffee grounds as a natural insect repellent), and FMIL donated a little plant guardian that we've deemed Sheldon.
(A) (C)
(B) (D)
 (B)(C) were pinched.
 (A): > 4 inches with bigger leaves.
Currently 2nd biggest.
 (B): 4 inches.
Currently, 3rd biggest.
 (C): > 4 inches in the smallest of the bigger pots.
Currently, the biggest.
 (D): 2.5 inches and off-center lone survivor.
Currently, the smallest.
 Sheldon keeps an eye stalk on the insanity from plant (A).

June 21, 2011
After discussing it with the household, I've rearranged my gardening set up and now take up all of the room between the dining table and the sliding glass door to the backyard. This allows for me to stagger the pots so they can grab as much sunlight as possible without trying to outgrow and overtake one another. I've started to water them in smaller amounts amounts but with more frequency to prevent over-watering. I also switched around the bottom dishes and hope I haven't let them sit in too much overflow and rotted out their roots. What sparked this mini-remodel was my desire to center the littlest plant in its pot. Each pepper plant seems to have really developed their own growth-personality and have been a delight to watch.
 (A) has grown three small leaves, is unpinched, and is so straight and tall.
Currently 3rd tallest.

 (B) just got new tiny buds, was pinched, and what looks like a thicker stem.
Currently the tallest. 

(C) Has bushed out the most after pinching with six new little leaves.
Currently the 2nd tallest.
(D), with its tiny network of roots is waiting to go back home.
Currently the shortest.

June 28th, 2011:
My garden is growing even more! Over the past few days, I have gone a tad crazy and decided to try my hand at growing some parsley and cherry tomatoes too (see prior section).

I misunderstood the information I had found (I know that now) but I had read various articles online that mentioned how some gardeners have used plant food from the very beginning and that tomato food seemed to work well for chilies. The directions for the food I used wanted one stake on opposite sides of the pot and six inches from the plant stem. My pots were not that wide, so I broke each stake in half and followed the rest of the directions instead.

After many unsuccessful attempts at finding suitable garden decorations, I resolved to make my own. Inspired by Sheldon, I made four polymer clay snails and attached them to bamboo skewers with floral wire. They all have bright blue eyes to mimic the original Sheldon. I even made a key to help remember which plant is which. Also, having them in the pots helps me determine how much to rotate the plants every few days.
Red shell-green body snail's plant (A) is >7.5 inches tall.
Brown shell-pink body snail's plant (B) is 7.5 inches tall.
Yellow shell-teal body snail's plant (C) is 7 inches tall.
Orange shell- purple body snail's plant (D) is about 3.5 inches. 
They're getting so big!

July 7, 2011:
A minor tragedy has struck the little garden corner. Not sure how, but one of the new branches from Brown-Pink Snail's (B) has been snapped off! After pinching, it and Yellow-Teal Snail's (C) grew twin branches and now it's all lonely.

July 13, 2011:
After adding cereal/ pet grass to my garden (see separate section) and waiting impatiently to see how well pepper (B) rallied after its sudden injury, I wanted to give an update to how big these chilies have grown!

Red-Green Snail's pepper plant (A) is 13 inches tall.
Currently the tallest.

Brown-Pink Snail's pepper plant (B) is a foot tall even with its breakage. :(
Currently the second tallest.
Yellow-Teal Snail's pepper plant (C) is <11.5 inches tall.
Currently the third tallest.
Orange-Purple Snail's pepper plant (D) is 5.5- 6 inches tall.
Currently the shortest.
July 17, 2011:
This morning, the peppers were the saddest I have ever seen them! Fearing over-watering, I took them on their first field trip outside. This is what they looked like before heading out and then after a few hours today. I ended up giving them one good soak despite my fears because I was afraid that the sun was going to bake them alive.
Before & After: Red-Green Snail's Chili (A).

 Before & After: Brown-Pink Snail's Chili (B).

Before & After: Yellow-Teal Snail's Chili (C).

 Before & Afer: Orange-Purple Snail's Chili (D).

August 07, 2011:
So much has happened since my last update and was definitely a roller coaster ride of emotions with my poor pepper plants. It started with the field trip they took outside. They seemed to rally so well, I decided to leave them out overnight and see how they did in the morning. That was such a huge mistake! Thank goodness our cat woke me up early and I decided to check on them. Not only do I realize that they looked sad because they were being under-watered, but I had made things so much worse! Needless to say, I dragged them back inside, broke up the dry caked dirt that I good, and gave them a thorough soak. I panicked that I had killed my precious pepper plants two days before I left to visit my folks in Florida for three and a half weeks. Here are what they looked like before my trip (but after recovering from the field trip):
Red-Green Snail's plant (A) was 13 inches tall.
Brown-Pink Snail's plant (B) was 12 inches tall.
Yellow-Teal Snail's plant (C) was 11 to 11.5 inches tall.
Orange-Purple Snail's plant (D) was about 6.5 inches tall.

Luckily, they recovered tremendously before I left and were well taken care of by my wonderful SO while I was gone. Here are what they looked like after their field trip (before they recovered in the pictures above) and after I came back from my trip. Prepare yourselves for a shock too!
Red-Green Snail's plant (A) grew more than 17 inches to 30 inches!
Brown-Pink Snail's plant (B) grew more than 16 inches to 28 inches!
Yellow-Teal Snail's plant (C) grew 13-13.5 inches to 24-25 inches!
Orange-Purple Snail's plant (D) grew more than 5.5 inches to 12 inches!

I came back to a forest of chili pepper plants! What a surprise and relief. 

August 10, 2011:
Encouraged by how much they've grown while I was away, I resolved to re-pot the peppers. Armed with 12-inch diameter pots, some stakes and stretchy garden ribbon for stability, various rocks from the backyard, and tons of organic potting soil, we went outside for another field trip.This size pot should be their "forever" home.

I learned from the SO's logic and the forums that big leaves and big spaces between the leaves often indicate that the plant wants more direct sunlight. Also, going back to giving them a good soak after letting them dry out over the course of 2-3 days because that works best and, you know, doesn't kill them off like I was trying to do via under-watering. Now, the gentle wind and great outdoors should toughen these babies up and encourage it to bark up more. I was also advise to just trust the peppers to become bushier and fix their leaves on their own. I think I'm going to do my best to do that and keep them outside to see what happens.

As a bonus, I'm including a picture of my mom's Thai Hot Bird's Eye Chili Pepper plants. That's where my seeds came from. They are several years old and are about four feet tall.

August 20, 2011:
Just a minor update about how tall (we had to pull out the tape measure) the peppers have gotten and *drumroll* finally naming them! I was obviously inspired by recent events so here it is:
Meet tall, straight, and true (A) Gryffindor!
It comes in at 39 inches tall.
 Not to be outdone, is twisted and ambitious (B) Slytherin!
It is now 33 inches tall.
 There's also the nice and neat (C) Ravenclaw!
It measures about 25.5 to 26 inches tall.
Last but not least is sturdy (D) Hufflepuff!
It comes in at 18 inches tall.
Good gravy, they seem to really enjoy the outdoors now. My Hogwarts of peppers. :P
 Slytherin is even displaying an interesting branching out. Show off. XD

I realized that the snails didn't really match these names in color, but I named them after the founders anyways. I also found out they glow pretty nicely under a black light while we were hunting for potential scorpions on the patio. It's hard to capture that with a digital camera but this makes for...
Red-Green Snail to be Godric!
Brown-Pink Snail is Salazar. XP
Yellow-Teal as Rowena!
Orange-Purple Snail is now Helga!

August 23, 2011:
I know it hasn't been very long but I discovered something very exciting this morning as I was checking in on the chilies: BUDS! I believe that's what they are and hopefully are for flowering! I cannot wait to see what happens with these little guys. We've had quite a few big ole leaves broken off with the gusty winds we've had over the past few days. Got to keep remembering that this is tough love we're giving them and they need to focus on getting bushier anyways. Nature is just being nature.
 (A) Gryffindor.
 (B) Slytherin.
(C) Ravenclaw.
(D) Hufflepuff.

August 31, 2011:
The past week has seen me toiling away in the back yard in +105 degree weather. I'm not the brightest bulb in the bunch. However, I am quite satisfied with the results of the "new" garden area! Apparently, there was a garden here many years ago that fell to the wayside. Thankfully, we cleared a significant amount back during our yard overhaul in May and the SO stopped by to help me haul large rocks from various parts of the yard. Not only did I add tomato food to the tomatoes, but to these peppers too!
 The ant hill wall I uncovered when I rearranged a big rock. :O
 What I cleared out all by myself.
  The now clear area for chillies!
 Gryffindor is 44 inches tall.
 Slytherin is 40 inches tall.
 Ravenclaw is 32 inches tall.
 Hufflepuff is about 32 inches tall.
Everyone is nicely staked and loosely tied.
I (mostly) made this!

September 4, 2011:
There is some exciting news today! It's been a rough few weeks for the chillies in terms of wind gusts and glaring sunlight, but I think they are still doing well. We have buds! I'm freaking out.
It's that light thing in the middle!
Hello there!

September 8, 2011:
It has been really fun to see the different stages of blooming on the chillies and even funnier to see how each plant is doing things differently. Some focus more on leaf growth, others are putting much energy into budding, and some are trying really hard to sprout new branches everywhere. The last minute storms of the summer monsoon season are really doing a number but they are hanging in there!
 This is a bud from Gryffindor that is a day or two from blooming.
 If you look from the bottom left to upper right corner, there are plenty of flowers on Slytherin.
 Ravenclaw focused on main leaf growth for a while but is ready to try budding again.
 Little Hufflepuff has joined in on the action!
 Gryffindor has been compensating for the sudden loss of many of its big leaves.
 The most ambitious new branch comes from Slytherin.
 Ravenclaw is finally taking advantage of the nubs that have grown above each big leaf stem on each of the peppers.
While these may also be considered "sucker" branches, I welcome them here on Hufflepuff and all the others because they shouldn't have big leaves anyways.

September 10, 2011:
Here's a look at the chillies after all of the recent storms. Monsoon season is going out with a bang!
 Gryffindor is incredibly under-dressed.
 Slytherin is all about its mane.
 Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are actually starting to invade each others' personal space.

September 17, 2011:
The past two weeks have seen the ending of this year's summer monsoon season, but it is going out with a bang! The garden has been flooded daily and when it's not raining, there has been a lot of wind gusts. I try not to worry too much because the leaves that are being lost are the overgrown ones new (appropriately sized) ones are eventually sprouting in their place.

September 26th, 2011:
The storms are gone and we have peppers growing across the board! Here's a peek after they have been rotated again.
Not just a gardening "corner" anymore!

September 28th, 2011:
We've had more monsoon storms roll through so we spruced up the housing for the bigger plants. This included bigger stakes for the Bird's Eye Chillies. 

October 18th, 2011:
They are starting to look a little sadder now- losing their leaves or starting to yellow around the edges. We fertilized the chillies again and moved them further out so they can get more sunlight. They are still fruiting like mad but they're not ripe enough to start picking. 




November 6th, 2011:
It's taken nearly a month, but the fruits are ripening now! It feels like the garden is making a mad dash in fruit development now with the consistent colder weather. I was perplexed by the tiny under-developed peppers turning red before the big stout (a good shape for these peppers to be, according to my mother) fruits were but that's taking care of itself now.
 Slytherin with a hint of Ravenclaw.

November 27th, 2011:
Ripening is in full swing with the cold weather! We have taste-tested a few and some have been used to spice up a bowl of soup or two. The verdict is that they have a very hot but quickly subsiding bite and are not as hot as the originals they were spawned from. I'm holding out until they are nearly all bright red to harvest them in one big go.
 Gryffindor - Slytherin - Ravenclaw.

December 8th, 2011:
The plants have been doing well with us having to cover them up with old sheets for the past few weeks because we've had a handful of nights where it dipped below freezing. I have been planning to get out in the garden all week amidst all of the holiday prep but managed to get out there and harvest everything in freezing (felt like it but not quite) rain. 

They are now being kept on the porch for easy protection, as sad-looking as they are. We'll be keeping them out on the newspaper and turning them periodically to ripen evenly.
What a great end to the year! 
Let's see hope that the plants last for the winter.
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