Being in zone 5b, I have a fairly short growing season. Last year, I didn't get much of a pepper harvest. I hoped that overwintering my pepper plants would lead to a better harvest this year. I selected two Jimmy Nardello's pepper plants for my experiment. One was the pepper plant that gave me my first pepper of the year (it only gave me one) and the plant that gave me the most peppers (it gave me three). What did I have to lose other than a bit of water and space?
|Freshly potted up|
|The one on the right was actually in a |
less sunny spot than the one on the left but
still grew bigger than the other. It also
gave me a bigger harvest this year, so it
will be coming back inside for another go-round.
Going from 60 degree days and 40 degree nights to a steady 64 degrees, the plants went nuts. They grew taller, put on new leaves and branches and then exploded with flowers. I picked every single flower off because I wanted it to conserve its energy for next spring instead of burning out putting on fruit. I kept it by the back patio door. The patio door is a bit drafty, and gets a moderate amount of sunlight. After a couple of weeks, the plants went dormant. The growth stopped, a few of the leaves dropped off, and it just sort of paused. The plants stayed this way for most of the winter.
I watered them whenever the soil got dry, about once every week to week and a half. The shades on the patio door were opened most days, although we did forget to some days. Ray cat wanted to dig in the dirt, so I laid down a mulch of newspaper sheets and she left it alone. I didn't do anything else for the plants.
In mid spring, the plants came back. All of a sudden, they started growing again and putting on flowers. I kept picking off the flowers, but as soon as they started growing, I moved them to a warmer, sunnier window. They put on flush after flush of flowers, each of which I picked off, until we were past our last frost date. I moved the plant outdoors during the day, and brought it back in at night for a few days, then planted it in the garden. After a few days of recouping from transplantation, it started growing fruit like crazy. I planted some nice, sturdy first-year transplants the same day in the same bed. The overwintered peppers had provided me with 10 full sized (but still green) peppers before the first-year plants had set a single fruit. I ended up getting dozens of peppers from each of the overwintered plants, much more than from the newer plants. I picked them when they were full sized but not ripe and they put on a new batch for me.
|This first flush of peppers were full-sized and|
harvested before the new plants had even
Has anyone else tried this? Any tips, tricks or warnings?