Mycogrow™ & The Jalapeño Pepper Plant

by james on December 21, 2010

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I grew a beautiful jalapeño pepper plant from seed in 2007. I love my chipotle (and you can’t find ripe jalapeño in Denver in the cold months to save your life) so dug it up in the fall and brought it in for the winter. I put it in a nice south facing window happy spot and all was well…..for awhile. It transplanted well and was soon to give me my first batch of gorgeous fruit right aroundFigure 1 300x225 Mycogrow™ & The Jalapeño Pepper Plant Christmas. The red peppers with the green foliage were better than poinsettia, and edible! The problems started when I was away around the holidays and my negligent business partner baby sitter apparently didn’t open the curtains much while I was gone and my poor little pepper was not happy. It lost a bunch of leaves but seemed to stabilize with proper light. It was still growing afterwards but I started to notice that the formerly healthy leaves were dying from the leaf tip and seemed to have a grayish/purple “dust” approximately one half inch in front of the necrotic tissue.
Figure 2 300x225 Mycogrow™ & The Jalapeño Pepper Plant (Figure 1 shows some of the old leaves what were dying at one point) It appeared to be some type of mold or other fungi attacking it. The plant was growing but the seemingly healthy leaves continued to die as fast as the plant could replace them. It also started growing short gnarled branch segments (figure 2) with fewer fruit sets and smaller fruit that just didn’t ripen correctly. I took a few leaves to some of the local nurseries and they couldn’t identify the problem. About this time it was spring again so I put the plant outside again and figured the summer would straighten it out. Much to my dismay, it was growing better but it was still not right. I was considering starting over with another plant when I ran across the Fungi Perfecti catalog and got my hands on some of their mycorrhizal fungi. I inoculated all my plants, including the pepper, at the end of August 2008. It took a few months (I assume the mycelium takes awhile to colonize the roots) but it started to look healthier. As autumn approached Figure 4  225x300 Mycogrow™ & The Jalapeño Pepper Plant with cooler days and cold nights I put the plant back inside the south window and after some acclimation, it stared to grow again. Not only did it grow, but grew normally!! The branches weren’t the gnarled stubs it had been growing for almost a year!! The mycorrhizal fungi apparently brought it back to full health!! (Figure 3). Figure 4 shows the whole plant, 18” of normal original 1st season growth, 4” of second season of unhealthy gnarled growth turning into 10” healthy growth again in the last few months!!! Figure 5 shows a close up of the braches original healthy growth to under attack to perfect health. What I surmise happened is that the initial lack of light stressed the plant and weakened its immune system. It was attacked by the mold in its weakened condition and was never able to get its immune system healthy enough the fight off the Figure 5 225x300 Mycogrow™ & The Jalapeño Pepper Plant attacker. The pepper limped along with the chronic infection until it was inoculated with the mycorrhizal fungi. They colonized its roots, which increased the plants nutrient uptake and allowed the plants immune system to become healthy. It then was able to defeat its long-term adversary. At least it’s a theory!! Well, that’s the story of the little pepper plant that could.
Until next time, this is James signing off.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne, Gram's Grandmother December 23, 2010 at 3:21 am

Hi James, Interesting pepper story. Think I’ll try to start one. Do I just go to a supermarket to buy a pepper for it’s seeds?

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james December 24, 2010 at 8:28 am

Hi, thanks for the comment and nice to meet you. Yes, just find a nice ripe pepper (most of the time they are still green but the seed will be viable) If you are not in a hurry (you will probably get better results) let it sit in the window in a bag so it is nether too wet or dry until it ripens (turns red or what ever color the kind of pepper you have turns to) Then extract the seed and DRY THEM. If you plant them wet they will probably rot. Plant in a nice seed starter, on the dryer side of moisture than wet and the seed should sprout in 10-14 days! The pepper is actually a perennial bush/tree in the tropics so you can grow them for years and every3-5 weeks you will get a nice harvest of fruit. I was able to manage my harvest so I generally had fruit ripe on the tree or in the fridge, harvest it @ the peak of ripeness (before it starts to show signs of shriveling) and it will keep very well, two to four weeks if stored properly in sealed containers. Most of the time I will let all the fruit get ripe, save it up and make a nice batch of chipotle (I don’t actually dry them so they are probably more roasted peppers than chipotle but I’m a gringo so what do I know, it’s my story and I’ll tell it how I like;>) Roast the whole jalapenos with stems over a hot wood coal or charcoal fire until the skins are crispy, turning several times for even cooking, it’s even ok if they burn a bit. Throw the peppers in a paper bag right off the fire and close it up quickly. Let them sit in the bag until they are cool. The steam that develops between the skin and the pepper meat makes the skin come right off. Eat them right away (I just love these with a nice steak) OR you can freeze small batches to add them to other recipes, rice, beans or vegetables. These can get to be extremely hot if you store them with the seeds in them so beware!!
Hope this isn’t TMI!! James

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