Something sprouting

27 06 2017

The blog was lying dormant, like a seed still in the package. I think a new post idea was planted and will be sprouting soon…….

Breaking Bad – in the garden

18 05 2014


bb_waltJesse Pinkman, I see you have a small time pepper operation, growing some jalapenos and poblanos.

I have an offer for you. I will grow up some of the hottest peppers in town, and you will help distribute them.

Yo, Mr White. My peppers are already the hottest. I use them to make chili powder, yeah, b!+ch.bb_jesse

bb_waltJesse, your product can barely produce medium salsa. You forgot your Chemistry already. Capsaicin is what you need!

bb_jesseYo Mr. White, yo. My product is hot, b!+ch, yo.





Jesse, be reasonable. your product barely reaches 8000 Scoville units of heat. What I am talking about is so much more. For instance, Bolivian white peppers- 10,000 to 30,000. Fatalii- 125,000 to 325,000. Habanero- 150 – 325,000 Scoville units. The Ghost pepper and the Trinidad Scorpion pepper- 800,000 to 1 million Scoville units of heat! One of these peppers has more heat than a tub of yours.

bb_jesseMr. White, yo. I like making cherry product, yo.




bb_waltOur business will be the Pimiento Picante Hermanos. But first we need to grow the plants. Seeds should be started a good 8 to 12 weeks before setting outside. Keep the seeds warm to aid in germination. A seed mat helps. And when deciding on planting dates, don’t forget that hot peppers are warm weather crop. Transplanting in March in zone 6 will give you plenty of dead transplants.

So you do have a plan? Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!



We plant them in a sunny spot, about 1 ½ to 2 feet apart. I know to plant in fertile soil with good drainage. The soil should average 60 degrees in temperature before planting. I like to extend the season by starting them under a mini hoop house or greenhouse. Place a cardboard or aluminum collar around the plants to help prevent cutworms. While maturity dates vary, we should expect to harvest some peppers about 90 days after transplant. And harvest we will…

scorpion pepper transplant

scorpion pepper transplant


fatalii pepper transplant

—– Intermission ——-

This is a public service message. Wear protective gear when harvesting hot peppers. Please. Let me relay an experience I had handling jalapeno peppers one summer. I failed to wear gloves while halving the peppers for homemade jalapeno poppers. After food prep, I washed my hands thoroughly. Twice. A trip to the restroom demonstrated how wrong I was. To quote Jerry Lee Lewis- “Goodness, gracious! Great balls of fire!!!” The fire down below lasted for hours. I washed my hands several more times. Washing proved ineffective when I took out my contacts. Pow!! I inadvertently launched fire missiles into my eyes. I had to scrap that pair of contacts. Note that we are growing something a little more potent than jalapenos. End of message.

—— End ——

Walt and Jesse put on the protective gear to harvest the hot peppers

Walt and Jesse put on the protective gear to harvest the hot peppers

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Breaking Bad: In the garden. Comments and fan mail are always appreciated.

Frozen French Fries

17 02 2014

Potato sprouts, standing at attention for the sun

Potato sprouts, standing at attention for the sun

Mr Potato Head

Mr Potato Head sprouting? Plant him! (And don’t ask him where he is sprouting… That is too much information…)

Another winter update… Look at my poor potato plants. They want to burst out of their container, they are growing so much. Look at them standing up straight, reaching for the sun. They want to get outdoors and play. Sadly, the cold piles of snow are keeping them indoors…

Random punchline- “A dictator”

Ron White, AKA "Tater Salad"

Ron White, AKA “Tater Salad” – if he drank potato vodka instead of Scotch, it would be the circle of life (I guess he would need to crap potatoes too… bad analogy)

You may be asking, “Why the hell did you plant them in the first place, Dave?” Good question… Why did I plant them? It’s not like a shovel could even penetrate the frozen tundra outside. Perhaps you should have spoken to the potatoes before they started their sprouting. Then again, some things have a mind of their own. You just have to be adaptable and bury them in a warm, moist environment they’ll enjoy until they can be transplanted outdoors.

Random punchline- “Dude, the potato goes in the front!”

By the way, the huge snowstorm that hit the Northeast is probably my fault. My seeds were delivered a few hours before the snow began.

Random punchline- “No, they’re just that dirty.”

If everybody sends some warmth my way, these potatoes can be transplanted outdoors.

Oh, and send me a message if you want the inappropriate potato jokes that go with the posted punchlines.

Winter Salad

31 12 2013

Happy New Year everybody! Real life put the blog on pause, but the start of another year is a great time to revisit good things. Resolutions, anybody? There are the usual, like working out, eating healthy… Perhaps I should eat a freshly picked salad.

What do you mean by “freshly picked”, Dave? Pennsylvania is a bit cold to garden in January. Unless you misspelled “pickled”. Happy New Years Eve! Have you been drinking?

OK, two things. First, I’m not drinking… yet. And, I’m not picking salad… yet. But I will be picking a bowl full of salad in January.

Remember the far out grow lights I posted about earlier? They are being put to good use. A few weeks ago, I started some mesclun and lettuce seeds. That is not a typo. That should not say “mescaline”. Tell people you have a grow light and God knows what ideas they get.

sprouts to transplant

sprouts to transplant

Mesclun, for those that do not know, is a mixture of several different types of salad greens and leaf lettuces. They are often harvested when young. I transplanted the seedlings last week. We learned our lesson from last year and assured the planting medium and neighboring plants are not contaminated with aphids. Note that you should plant additional seeds every 2-3 weeks to ensure continuous harvest.

The lights are on for approximately 16 hours a day. I am watering frequently, but also setting up a fan to provide seedlings with a breeze. The purpose is two-fold. A gentle breeze strengthens the stems of growing plants. In addition, the breeze helps prevent damping off.

new sprouts for 2 week planting intervals

new sprouts for 2 week planting intervals

What is damping off? It sounds like an old dish rag. Damping off is actually a fungal disease that kills off seedlings before they get a chance to grow. We want to keep our plants happy. We don’t want to end up with an angry salad…

transplanted lettuce

transplanted lettuce

Off topic– I saw a band perform at a (Penn State?) bar back in the 90’s. The memory is cloudy, so I don’t remember the venue. Further, I don’t recall much about the performance. I do remember the name of the band– they called themselves Angry Salad. They also had the funniest, most memorable band sticker I have ever seen. The sticker had a picture of a full salad bowl, with two human hands sticking out, flipping the bird at everybody.

Angry salad

Artist’s depiction of the old Angry Salad sticker. (Censored for a gentler audience.)

Back to the growing lettuce mix. Everybody should make a resolution to plant a few seeds indoors this winter. You’ll be glad you did.

Back to the Beanstalk- the Sequel

24 08 2013

Remember the beanstalk playhouse from last year?

It turned out OK. I harvested plenty of beans. Unfortunately, it could only be used as a playhouse if the kids were playing a game of “solitary confinement”. What is the solution? Obviously, we just need to make the structure bigger.

Say hello to the new and improved Beanstalk Playhouse. It is framed using 2×2 posts in a tent shape and stabilized at one corner. I planted five varieties around the perimeter- two varieties of green bean, one variety of lima bean, a yellow bean, and a scarlet runner bean. I planted green beans on 3 sides, limas on 2 sides, yellow beans on one, and scarlet runner beans on 5.

New and improved bean playhouse

New and improved bean playhouse

Wait… 3+2+1+5 =…. Either I’m getting really crappy at math or something just doesn’t add up.

Would it help if I told you that the structure has five sides?

Yes, but it still doesn’t add up. You have more beans than sides, Dave.

Off topic- Doesn’t that last sentence sound like something you would hear in a restaurant kitchen?

Anyway, back to the funny math.

This may illustrate better:

Side one – green beans

Side two – green beans

Side three – green beans

Side four – lima beans

Side five – lima beans & yellow beans

And scarlet runners interspersed around all five.

Entrance to the bean tent

Entrance to the bean tent

One lesson reinforced from this latest experience is to space your plants properly. The green beans are thriving from their closely spaced plantings. Green beans… Yum! The lima beans, well, an actual harvest would have been nice. The plants are growing but not achieving much; you know, the limas are kind of like [insert name of favorite politician or Jersey Shore cast member]. I may have crowded them out by planting closer than recommended. But this is my first year growing lima beans, so we’ll file that as a rookie mistake.

Pieces of the old playhouse inside the frame of the bean playhouse

Pieces of the old playhouse inside the frame of the bean playhouse

Do you have any unique ways to grow beans? Let me know…

Public service message

15 08 2013
guess what

guess what

This picture is a gentle reminder.

Reminder of what?

That’s right. Get off your ass and plant seeds for your fall crops. Zone 6 (Central Pennsylvania) seeds should be in the ground already.

Answers to life’s great questions

3 08 2013

There are several questions in life that the multitudes ponder.

Questions such as:

  • How can Dave be as awesome as he is?

  • Can you not fiddle with the Oreo middle?

  • How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

And, of course

  • Is it possible to overwinter a pepper plant?

Some of my blog followers may remember my adventures this past winter. I dug up the plants in October, placed them under lights in the basement, fought off aphids, had fun with ladybugs… the list goes on and on. But did the plants survive?

Well, I must tell you that two out of four survived the winter, one cayenne and one Marconi. Only one plant did well through Spring. It was the Marconi pepper plant, a long, sweet stuffing pepper. Not only did it survive, but it is currently thriving. There are 9 (nine) large peppers currently hanging off of the plant. Pictures show the results.

Marconi pepper plant

Marconi pepper plant

There are currently 9 peppers on the plant

There are currently 9 peppers on the plant

As for the other questions above, the answers follow:

  • It just comes naturally to him.

  • This was a rhetorical question. Stop messing with the Oreo middle. It’s just wrong.

  • If you’re Mister Owl, it only takes three. A 1996 study of Swarthmore Junior HS students took a median of 144 licks. Engineering students at Purdue recorded 364 licks with the “licking machine” they made. A University of Michigan student recorded 411 licks with his licking machine. Harvard students created a mechanical rotating tongue that recorded 317 licks. It looks like a tongue is more effective than a machine. Your results may vary.

This last answer generates many more questions. Licking machines? Mechanical rotating tongues? Wow. Just wow.