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2020 Rocoto Grow Blog (December 2019)

aphids oedema

As you know, we have a penchant for all things capsicum pubescens. These incredible chillies, known in Peru and Ecuador as Rocoto, Bolivia and Argentina as Locoto and Mexico as Manzano.

Each year we plant some of our favourites and some new varieties to try.  This year we wanted to document elements of the grow.  These chillies are no more difficult than other more frequently grown domestic chillies, they just have slightly different requirements and in the main, require a longer season

If you want to start at the beginning of this 'Grow Blog' click here.

1 December 2019 (day 31)

A check of the plants today showed some real tangible growth.  It also showed signs of a couple of aphids and slight oedema, visible on the leaves.

Firstly, aphids.  The first sign was little white coloured skin casts, left on the top surface of the leaves.  A closer inspection found a couple of tiny aphids, again on the top side of the leaves.  They were swiftly dispatched, between finger and thumb!  This needs to be kept in check, incase other methods of dealing are required.  Aphids appear to come in a myriad of colours, with green being the hardest to spot!

Each plant only has 6-8 leaves, so it doesn't take long to give them a good, visual once over.

Aphids can be dealt with by regular inspections, removal and washing of plants, the introduction of ladybirds or a parasitic wasps, treated with insecticidal soap or, our favourite, a mix of warm water, washing up liquid and neem oil.  Any spray has to be done in line with the manufacturers guidance and both the upper and lower sides of the leaves need spraying, as does the surface of the compost.

Oedema at this stage is almost expected and is due to the plants still being in a covered propagator and really high humidity.  We have countered this by opening some of the vents on the propagator, thus reducing humidity.  We still have seeds in the same propagator so it's a balancing game.

Oedema is just the plant struggling to deal with the humid, wet conditions.  It is easy to eliminate it by reducing watering, increasing air flow and reducing humidity.

Remember, your best indication of how the plant is reacting to its environment, is to check the newest leaves.  Check the underside of leaves for small, wart like bumps, that don't brush off.  Adjust your plants environment accordingly.

Feel free to leave a comment or question.  To be continued..

4 December 2019 (day 34)

I am starting to see some explosive growth, now the plants are in a quality compost.  Plants are now out of the propagator and braving it alone.  All are a good colour and looking healthy.

Because the plants are indoors and not subject to any natural breezes or winds, we need to reproduce the wind effect.  Each time I see the plants, I brush them gently from side to side.  This has the effect of stimulating hormones in the plants and signalling the plants to grow stronger roots and stems.  You can get a similar effect with a fan on a timer, aimed in the direction of the plants.  This is especially helpful if you have ended up with leggy seedlings or plants.

 6 December 2019 (36)

A check of the plants today found something interesting.  Just 36 days after being sown, some of the plants are starting to push out tiny flowers!  Wow, that's really quick.  Unfortunately we can't allow the plant to start putting all its energy into making flowers.  It still needs to grow much more yet.  This is where a sacrifice has to be made.  The flowers, when large enough to get to, will be snipped or pinched off, between finger and thumb.  This is tried every year, but most years a few flowers sneak through.  Those plants normally end up smaller and are less productive in the long run.  The second flush of fruit is normally very late in the year.

The flower is the bulbous section at the end of the peduncle or stem and between the two small, new leaves, in the centre of the above photograph.

If you were growing out one of your own crosses or hybrids, it would be a whole different matter.  A flowering plant is exactly what you want, as quickly as possible.  Early flowering plants are easier to isolate and thus produce true seed.

From the photograph, it is easy to see why these varieties were call pubescens, meaning hairy.

9 December 2019 (39 days)

Started an application of Neem oil today.  This is something we have used for a couple of years now, with good results and should be used repeatedly before resorting to harmful pesticides.  If you haven't used it before or would like to know more, please check out our guide here.  A genuinely amazing product, that if used correctly can save you a great deal of heart ache.

What is not to love about a product that deals with aphids, mites and ants!  Caution required but a valuable tool.

 11 December 2019 (41 days)

Second application of Neem oil today.  The plants are looking good, with nice growth and a good green colour to them. 

I wanted mention plant spacing.  If you have the room, space the plants so they are not touching each other.  This is obviously easier when they are small, but it helps prevent the spread of crawling insects.

Chilli plant

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