Monday, March 30, 2015

Impressive. Most Impressive.

This morning I woke up and instantly went to take a look at my pepper colony. I am still impressed with the quick recovery and growth of my plants after buying the lights. In fact it looks like Pousse might potentially pull a full on zombie. Her stalk has straightened and while her leaves look very wilted, she could pull a magical miracle and pull through.
Pousse, the little pepper that almost could! 

Spicy McPepperson is looking fantastically well if I do say so myself. The Master of the pepper universe has shrugged off the droop and is standing straight and tall, ready to rule his domain. 
In totally unrelated news I am making the decision to start eating healthy and to be more active. I went and was sized for a bike this weekend and plan to start biking back and forth to work everyday. I want to feel healthier, get into much better shape as I plan on playing soccer all summer and explore and enjoy this wonderful city that I call home. 

I am also happy to announce that a good friend of my has started his own blog! He is also planting a garden this year and knows much more about gardening then I. Please welcome him and give him your support!

Finally, I don't know who you are but your license plate is IMPRESSIVE. MOST IMPRESSIVE. I hope you drive around all day and feel like an all powerful Sith Lord, or, at the very least, like a boss! 
Our first catch of the day!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


After the tragedy of Pousse's death, I was determined to ensure my remaining peppers stayed alive. It was time to get some light! It was time to be DAYMAN!

I was also spurred on by the fact that while I was examining the corpse of Pousse, the rest of my pepper plants began to droop and fade. Spicy McPepperson was in real trouble. I became seriously concerned that he was going to be the next to go!

I went over to Home Depot first to pick up some bio-degradable pots and seeding dirt. I was advised to only expect one pepper plant for every peat pod but since several of my pods had two or three sprouts, I decided to try and separate them. 

After a successful trip to Home Depot, I went to Frank's Magic Crop for some lights! I picked up a 4 foot light, a stand for the light and two dome greenhouse lids. In total, I got the whole kit and kaboodle for $105, including tax, which I feel is a pretty sweet deal. Also the lady who helped me was amazing. She gave me some great tips and suggestions about how to get the best out of my lights and in general was awesome!

While I usually take pictures of everything, I was so excited about the life giving light I had just bought that I totally forgot to take pictures of everything before I ripped it out of the packages and put it all together. I found the assembly was rather simple however snapping the lights into the light holder was a bit difficult. Fortunately, my girlfriend is much handier than I am and she figured it out. In the end, my light was set up and I was ready start transplanting. 
My seedlings under their new light!

The new light! Where no McPepperson has gone before!
I found a pretty cool looking bag of seedling mix when I was at Home Depot. I bought Pro-Mix Seed Starting Mix. While I talked to a Pro-Mix rep when I was there, I legitimately bought a bag because it seemed like a good soil to plant in, and has enough natural fertilizer to feed the seedlings for 90 days. When I opened the bag I looked over the mix and I like the look and texture of the soil. I guess only time will tell if it works or not.

The bag was shiny and pretty!
I separated the bio-degradable pots I had bought and filled them with the potting soil.
Ready for plants!
Looking over the sprouts there were several that had three seedlings in each and deserved to be moved into a new home. After picking out the lucky sprouts that were going to be transplanted I labelled the new plant homes and began separating the sprouts. 

Three peppers!
Only one left now!
In total I transplanted 12 pepper plants, including Spicy McPepperson, into their new pepper mansions. I actually felt this was a pretty risky maneuver on my part as the plants were already looking wilted and disturbing their roots when they're already down is probably not a good idea.
A few of the McPeppersons find a new home! 
I watered them, covered them with the new dome greenhouse lid and put them under the bright lights. The lady at Frank's told me that they should perk up with some light and water. I was a little worried that all these plants would just die, but they have all recovered wonderfully.
Starting to perk up!

After a few hours you can see the sprouts are straighter and they have already gotten a lot of colour back. 

This is a picture of what they looked lat 11:55 pm last night. I was pretty ecstatic about their turnaround.

This morning they looked even better. I left the light on all night to give them a nice dose of light. Every plant stopped sagging and straightened up! While my girlfriend thinks I am full of hooey, I think they all look a lot more green. The nodes on them have perked up and I feel that the light is a game changing purchase for my little garden.

Poppy Stands on Guard for thee McPeppersons!
(Don't they look so green!)

They look so healthy!

Overall it was a tough few days for the McPeppersons. We suffered loss and heartbreak over the passing of Pousse, but emerged a stronger healthier pepper clan basking under the glow of a brand new sun. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Trouble at the Pepper Corral!

The last time I updated everyone about my seedlings was on Wednesday night. From Thursday until today quite a few changes have taken place at the ole pepper homestead, not all of them positive.

Thursday dawned and it seemed like things were going pretty well. The sprouts were sprouting and things seemed to be progressing on schedule.

Not too shabby! 

Looking good McPeppersons!

When I got home from work on Thursday, I began to have a doubts about how well the peppers were growing. It seemed like they had stagnated, and they looked a little pale and white. I checked to see if they had dried out but everything was moist.
My plants look like Casper the Ghost!
I noticed that while my plants were on the window sill, they did not seem to be getting any significant amount of sunlight. In fact, all the sprouts were starting to grow sideways as they were trying to get as much sunlight as possible. I didn't seem to recall having the same problem last year, however, in the state my seedlings were in, I was beginning to get worried. A good friend of mine had told me about a hydroponics store in Burlington called Frank's Magic Crops, located on Guelph Line. I gave them a call and unfortunately they closed at 6:00 pm and I didn't have enough time to get to the store and still make my bee nest box building class. However, they did have lamps in stock that would give my plants enough light, I planned to go and buy one as soon as possible. 

Friday dawned and it seemed like things were ok, but not great. No new sprouts had really come up, but things were not looking that healthy either. The colour of the plants was still very pale and I cracked open the window as much as I could to let the sunlight hit my plants.
This makes me very worried. 

When I got home on Friday afternoon, I checked my plants as soon as I got home and they still looked the same, pasty white. I checked the moisture again and everything was nice and damp. By this time I knew it had to be the sunlight. It was clear that they were not getting enough from the window they were sitting on and I would need to get them an alternate reliable source of light. However, my beloved girlfriend was as sick as a proverbial dog, and, unfortunately for my peppers, her health comes before theirs. The light was pushed off for another day so I could care for her ailing body.

Friday afternoon is looking gloomy.

Had I been awake to see the sunrise on Saturday morning, it would have been a red dawn. Red to signify the spilt McPepperson blood. I checked on my peppers before heading out to grab some lights and transplanting pots to find the first pepper plant fatality of the season.

R.I.P Pousse McPepperson. At the age of 4 days, you passed before your time.
R.I.P. Pousse.
Stayed tuned tomorrow for the coming of light. If only Pousse could have held on for a few more hours, he wouldn't have had to go into the other light.

Busy Like A Bumble Bee!

The last few days have been pretty busy. While there have been some significant changes with my garden that I am excited to share with everyone, like a modern Florence Nightingale, I have been busy attending to my sick girlfriend. As well, on Thursday night, I went to a free bee nest building class. This left me little time to write a post and I am happy to sit back down to update you on my projects.

The bee nest building class was offered by Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. About a week ago, they posted a twitter message saying that they were hosting a free class and it was open to anyone on a first come first serve basis. It was pretty easy to sign up. I just sent a email, which was quickly responded to and confirmed my registration. The class ran from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm and while I haven't really built anything since shop class in elementary school, I was pretty excited to get out and build the nest. I arrived at the RBG, found the room where the class was being held, signed in and found this lovely little package waiting for me!
Everything you need to build a nest, except a hammer!
Once everyone got settled, the course instructors explained the materials that were in front of us and explained why building a bee nest is so vitally important to helping the local environment. Over the past few years, the bee population has been steadily declining. Bees are exceedingly important as they are pollinators and make flowers, fruits and vegetables grow. With a lack of bees it becomes harder to grow things, which it turns makes it harder to feed our growing population. Having a bee nest in your backyard provides the over 400 different species of bees that live in Ontario a place to lay their eggs which helps to support our bee population. 

As an amateur gardener and someone who hopes to keep honey bees in the future, helping the bee population is something that I think is important and part of our due diligence as co-inhabitants of the earth. 

Once we got down to building the nest, it actually was really quite simple. It really doesn't take much time or material. In fact the instructors noted that recently 1 foot cut offs from a building project had been donated and turned into 60 bee nests. Along with the wood was a pile of nails, screw in eye hooks, sand paper and a list of instructions. 

The first thing I did was sort the wood and sand down all the rough edges. 

Sandpapered wood!
Then I started to build the roof. I found the two biggest pieces, figured out how they best fit together and then nailed 4 nails into one of the pieces.


Next I lined up the two pieces of the roof and nailed them together.
I'd rather be a hammer than a nail!
This is what my finished roof looked like!
Not too shabby!

It's actually pretty straight!

From here I attached the back of the nest box onto the back of the roof.
Starting to take shape!

Then I need to put on the bottom of the nest in order to make a nice diamond shaped nest box.
Only one more side left!

So this last side is maybe not so straight.
Once I had my box completed the last part of the construction process is next as you add your eye hooks to the top of the box with my completed box looking like this.
Ain't she purdy!
The only thing left to do now is to stuff the box with nesting materials for the bees! My instructors informed us that bees like to lay eggs in thin hollow reed like branches or grasses. If they lay eggs in my nest, the bees will start laying at the back of the box, moving forward and laying eggs along the length of the reeds. Each egg will be separate from the other eggs and when the reed is full the bee will cap it with mud and happily, but perhaps tiredly, fly away.

Look at the bee BOX!

The instructors suggested that we hang them up in our backyard pretty much now as we are finally entering the spring season. They said to make sure that the nest doesn't have the opportunity to move too much as it might dislodge a reed full of eggs, to have the nest face east so the bees are warmed early in the morning and to make sure that there are sources of food and water for when the bees hatch. They advised us to plant local flower varieties close to the nest and to have a little muddy area with some water and rocks so the bees could have a place to sit and drink.

While I was at class I also had the pleasure to meet two wonderful new friends. I have previously had the opportunity to converse with one of them through twitter before the class and I knew they were attending so I was pretty happy to meet them. They were both friendly, gracious and amazingly fun to talk to and I hope I get to see them again in the future. 

Needless to say I am thrilled about the outcome of my bees nest and today I went to Home Depot and bought some wire to hang it up with. I plan on hanging it tomorrow morning and I will take a picture to let you know how she looks!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All's Quiet on The Pepper Front!

I woke up this morning and, I can't lie, there wasn't too much to report. There were no new sprouts and the plants stayed pretty much the same size. All is quiet on the pepper front.
Hello world! Nothing new in the greenhouse! With Love. The McPepperson Family!
I figured that today might be a slow day for growing, especially as it was raining all day and not too much sun was peeking out from around the clouds. Thus, when I got home and found the peppers pretty much in the same state as I had left them at 6:30 am, I wasn't too shocked or surprised. 

Same old, Same old!

I am still debating as to when to crack open the greenhouse and let more air in during the day. I think that I am going to wait at least a few more days and hope for more of my seeds to sprout before I crack it open during the day time. 

If anything, I am more worried about the amount of sunlight getting through to my plants throughout the day. It makes me feel I should be investing in some lights to help promote growth. Unfortunately the hydroponics store I was going to stop at in Burlington closed at 6:00 pm today. I guess I will have to wait until the weekend. 

Now, take a look at some of these closeup pepper selfies! 


The HEIGHT of Pepper Fashion!

What did you say to me???

Alright folks, it's happening. It's a grow off! Old School Rules!

Till tomorrow, may the peppers be with you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meet the McPeppersons! The biggest pepper clan in the Hamilton Area!

Naming peppers gives me great joy for some reason. It makes me feel like I am conducting my own Harry Potter sorting hat ceremony, yet with my peppers. I am highly amused and entertained by this. Now on to the naming.

Yesterday we heralded Spicy McPepperson into the world as the reigning pepper overlord. Today we had to name his little brothers and sisters. Since I had a hard time deciding what to name the first born pepper, as the names were so good, I used the hopeful pepper king nominee names to name the rest of the sprouted pepper plants.
The McPepperson Dynasty!
It is with great honour I give to you, the McPepperson Pepper famliy, as of today.

Heppertitis is an Early Jalapeno. Flavourful with a robust medium burn she is wanted at all the hottest parties. No one can say no to Heppertitis!

Purdy Peppa and Groot are both spicy Long Thing Cayenne! Sweet with heat, this spicy little pepper will but some pep in your step! But always remember when you eat this pepper that IT IS GROOT!

Spencer the Sprout is the most direct descendant of Spicy McPepperson as he is an Aleppo Pepper. Fruity yet tangy, he is a delicious taste sensation!

Johnny Peppercorn is a Chinese Five Colour! Perhaps the most colourful pepper grown this year, and I do mean colourful!

Pousse is a Jimmy Nardello Sweet Pepper! A complex sweet yet apple flavour is what we have to look forward to and to be honest, I can't wait. 

Last but not least we have CTB! rounding out the family as a Matchbox Pepper! Fire and fruit all in one! The Matchbox Pepper is a match (heh) for any pepper she faces on the field of pepper battle!

In general I think that the sprouting has gone very well so far and I have had quite a few plants sprout up. While I am still hopeful for many of my seeds, I am happy with what I have as a start so far and I feel that more will come up. I can see a huge difference in the plants from the morning at 6:30 am to when I get back home around 3:00 pm.
They all look a little sleepy still\at 9:30 am!

A little more awake at 3:00 pm!

You can see how the plants have grown in just a short amount of time. I am impressed by how quickly they have been able to grow with just light and water.
A little closeup action!
Till tomorrow, when we may encounter more pepper surprises!

Monday, March 23, 2015


I can't lie, I had a pretty tough time picking out the winning pepper name. There were some notable nominees such as Heppertitis, Purdy Peppa, Groot, Peppercorn Johnny and Spencer the Sprout. After much deliberation and laughter the winner of our ultimate pepper naming challenge is..........SPICY MCPEPPERSON. The winning name was submitted by Meat Ventures! Congratulations Meat Ventures for having the dubious honour of naming my first pepper plant!
A little bit more information about the newly anointed pepper liege, Spicy McPepperson. He is an Aleppo Pepper which is predominantly used in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cooking. He is noted to have a round sweetness with substantial spicy kick at the end! Hail Spicy McPepperson, long and healthy may he reign!

To those that came close but didn't quite make the naming cut, rest assured that Spicy McPepperson will be having numerous brothers and sisters all in need of fantastic names and your entries will not go unremembered when it comes to the naming ceremony!

Since yesterday my peppers have really put on a growing clinic. I had a few more sprouts come up this morning when I looked at 6:30 am before I left for work.
The white little dots around the large Spicy McPepperson are little pepper sprouts!

When I arrived home from work and took pictures at about 4:00 pm, my peppers looked like this!
You can see that there are quite a few more small sprouts and some sprouts have grown bigger over the course of the day!
A long angle, long exposure shot of the new Pepper Master, Spicy McPepperson!
In general I am feeling very pleased with the overall growth of my peppers. I am happy they are sprouting, especially after learning that peat might not be the best soil to germinate peppers in. They are popping their pepper heads out of the dirt and getting ready for a long, awesome summer of growing. 

On a personal note, I love to cook. I love trying new recipes and creating new dishes, although my girlfriend will tell you that I overspice my dishes. During my travels today I came across a long lost culinary masterpiece that I believed, until today, was lost to the ravages of time. I found this book at that most amazing of stores, Dollarama. 
If only he could narrate his recipes while I cooked them!
My first thought upon finding this hallowed tome was, "I wonder who his friends are??". I cracked open the pages to discover that Morgan Freeman's one and only true passion in this world is not acting but rather sailing and that he counts Ben Affleck, Kevin Bacon and Tom Hanks amongst his Caribbean Cooking friends. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.