Saturday, 15 May 2010

Green houses/Invernaderos

I finally got annoyed enough by our balcony to go out and buy a mini-greenhouse.

I have gotten sick and tired of watching plant after plant simply keel over and die out side of our flat in what can only be described as the sort of place where only Scottish Heather or wind resistant grasses from the Hebrides can grow. Living less than 200 metres from the waters of the Mersey in what effectively is a wind tunnel is frustrating. Nothing you grow seems to be able to settle in. Add to that the fact that thanks to the Hilton brand of hotels and their Hamptons by Hilton we no longer get sun in the mornings, and only a few hours of direct sunlight in the afternoons, and you can have a sort of feeling why I get so miserable when I look at what would ideally be a beautiful wood-decked balcony.

But no more. I just simply couldn't let the nice white climbing Rose wither and die, or watch the Hibiscus try for the fourth year running to have more than just some crappy little leaves.

No sir.

I have just seen my three blueberry bushes wither and die thanks to the new balcony and it vexes me.

So, in comes the new greenhouse.

It is nearly six feet tall, and has four shelves, though I am only using three since the Rose and the Hibiscus are fairly tall twigs.

Looking at them now, the wind is causing considerably less stress on the plants. I even feel confident enough to move the very healthy Mint plant I had in the window outside. I've placed the Lilies Almapaprika bought inside, along with the ones I bought a few months back, and watered everything in the greenhouse.

I might buy some cheap digital thermometers to keep track of whether or not it also makes it more bearable for the plants temperature wise.

I've not been able to update the blog as often as I would like because I've been a little busy at the moment.

I am slowly re-potting all the plants into their final, 8-inch pots. I still have to re-pot the two Fataliis, the two Black Nagas, the two Jamaican Red Hots and one Royal Gold Habanero.

I think I may be seeing the first of the Cayenne Ring of Fire pods next week, as the plant has started to flower now.

I treated all of the overwintered pots to some Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate), which is helpful in replenishing magnesium in plants. Apparently peppers plants are deemed to be 'Magnesium hungry'. I'm hoping this will help the Rocoto Rojo, which has been great at growing, but exceedingly poor at producing pods.

The Royal Gold (the already re-potted one) is doing quite well, and may produce flowers in the next fortnight. The Madame Jeannette, on the other hand, is already weeks ahead of every other plant of this season. The first node of flowers numbers a cluster of 9, which is prolific. No buds have opened yet. Should be doing so next week. The Thai Dragon has split brilliantly into three even main branches, all growing straight and up. Lovely growth, but no flowers yet.

The two Red Squash...grumble grumble...are anything BUT Chinenses. They have started to flower, and are following the traditional Annuum growth pattern of one flower per node, as well as showing all the physical characteristics of an Annuum. If it was my mistake, then the only other possible pepper that could have been mistaken in the labelling were the peppers next to them, Almapaprika peppers (not my wife ;-P). I only had four Annuums growing this season: Cayenne Ring of Fire, Regular Cayenne, Almapaprika, and Thai Dragon.

I only hope it wasn't the seed company's problem, because they are generally a good seed company.

But I will only find out once the first pods set in.

I was planning to make some pie today for dinner, but I've gotten a bit lazy... :-(

Friday, 7 May 2010

Algo no me huele bien...

Yep, something is fishy here.

These are the chillies and plants that are still going strong in this year's crop.

2x Red Squash
3x Maize Morado
1x Cayenne Ring of Fire
1x Thai Dragon
1x Madame Jeannette
1x Aji Umba Red
1x Barrackpore 7-pot/7-pod
1x Brazilian Starfish
2x Jamaican Hot
2x Fatalii
2x Royal Gold
2x Black Naga
1x Trinidad Scorpion
1x Roselle

Plus the overwintered:

1x Orange Habanero
1x Chocolate Habanero
1x Naga Morich
1x Rocoto Rojo

Now, all seems according to plan with all the plants. Some of them (the Fataliis) seem to be growing very, VERY slowly, while others (Madame Jeannette) are growing like there is no tomorrow.

The interesting thing is that two of the peppers don't seem to match their descriptions...

The Brazilian Starfish is supposed to be a Baccatum, and yet the leaves looks strangely like those of a Chinense. It's growing shape is much more elongated and elegant than any of the Chinenses of similar age growing alongside them, but it is nonetheless strange. Still, this is the first Baccatum I have ever grown, so I might be wrong.

Now, the Red Squash on the other hand, doesn't look AT ALL like a Chinense, even though the seed company I bought them from said it was. If anything, the plant so far screams Annuum. It is just starting to produce flower buds, so I shall have to wait and see if it's just me (after all, I could have mislabelled things when I planted seeds originally. Unless they end up looking like nothing I ordered for this season).

No photos this week, as I am in the middle of slowly re-potting all of the seedlings into their final pots (have done so thus far with the Trini Scoprion, the Red Squash, the Brazilian Starfish, Madame Jeannette, Aji Umba Red and the Roselle.

Others will be done next week. I just need to get more containers from Home.

On another note, last weekend I cooked Chocolate Habanero, rum soaked cherries, pecan and ginger brownies.

Man Alive!

Those are some really good brownies!


Saturday, 1 May 2010

And Cameroon Wins the World Cup!

It's the start of the 'countdown' to the 2010 World Cup.

How can you tell?

Simple. The Panini World Cup Album is here!

Yeah, I am one of those sad people who spends endless amounts of time (and unfortunately money) completing a sticker album for the World Cup. Been doing so for about five World Cups now, and it's just part of the whole World Cup celebration.

One of the silly things I tend to do is 'predict' who the winner of the World Cup will be, based on, of all silly things, whose team I complete first. Mind you, I am fully aware that quite a few of the players which are in the album will not be in the World Cup.

Beckham's sticker?

Worthless, to be honest.

But I won't take away from my fun. So, I shall take you on a step by step guide of how the groups will pan out (based on this weekend's sticker count):

Group A: Buoyed by hosting the first African World Cup, South Africa win a very tightly contested group, barely edging out France, who also pip Uruguay to qualify. Mexico discovers that African soil is unforgiving.

Group B: The Koreans prove that their third place in 2002 was no fluke, surprising everyone and topping group B, followed by Argentina. Greece prove tough opponents for everyone, and Nigeria disappoints once more.

Group C: England win the group by a mile! (the cards do not lie). Algeria surprise many by claiming second, while the US manages to edge out Slovenia out of the basement.

Group D: Serbia powers through as group leaders, with Ghana close seconds. Germany disappoints, while the Ausies finish last (sorry, the cards again. I merely interpret them).

Group E: Cameroon steal the hearts of World Cup fans by winning the group, with the Danish narrowly edging out a slumping Dutch (more internal problems again), while it's bottom for the Japanese.

Group F: If the Italians are involved, you know it will be boring, low-scoring, and odds are they will win. They do here, with Paraguay second, and New Zealand and Slovakia joint last.

Group G: El Grupo de la Muerte. The Group of Death. As predicted, Brazil make it first, but the big surprise is to see the Ivory Coast second. A shocked Portugal only barely manages to get past North Korea.

Group H: SHOCK! (Or maybe not) Honduras wins the group! Switzerland comes second! Chile third and Spain last (again, the cards in the album do not lie...sort of)

Last 16: A spirited South Africa take Argentina to the wire, before losing in the penalty round. England powers through a determined Ghana. Serbia steam roll Algeria. South Korea does the same to France. Cameroon sets African hearts racing by overcoming Paraguay. Brazil barely edges out Switzerland, and Italy barely survives a late Danish comeback. In a pulse racing game, Honduras edges out Ivory Coast.

Quarter finals: Argentina meets their makers in the form of England. Serbia edges out South Korea in the penalty round. Cameroon stuns the world by knocking out Brazil, and Honduras continues the trend by knocking out Italy.

Semi finals: England just manage to lose out to the darlings of the tournament, as a last minute winner give Cameroon the victory. Serbia finally ends the Honduran's dream World Cup.

3rd Place: In a good old fashioned slug-fest, England beats Honduras.

Final: A tense, vibrant final sees Cameroon become the first African World Cup champions!

And there you have it.

Remember, before you start criticising this, it is a prediction based on stickers in an album.

And if it does come true, just remember who told you so!


Now for some pics!

The Maize Morado is getting HUGE! Close to four feet high!

Orange Habanero pods. Yup, it has started again. :-)

The Orange Habanero (left) and the seedlings for this growing season already showing good growth.

The Madame Jeannette. It is growing seriously fast.

Black Nagas growing up strong!

One final item before I go (nursing a really awful headache at the moment). One of the blog readers (Hola Cote) wondered about learning about how to control 'pulgones' (aphids). This was one of those things I sought advise from when I started growing peppers. Best of that advise I can pass down is this: Pulgones are the sort of annoying pest you cannot eliminate 100%. Bet you can do is keep them under control. I pick them from the plants by hand using a brush with some tape on the top third of the stick. I carefully go all over the plant searching for the little annoying pests, and afterwards, I spray the plant with a little soap water solution. It is labour intensive, but you do get a bit of a sense of accomplishment after squashing the little pests.

Solo espera a que tengas que controlar caracoles y babosas. ;-P