Dave Baumler is my pepper guru.  (see my previous posts on his exploits  The Brave New World of Not So Hot Peppers and Peppers in History and in Your Garden  )  He grows an amazing collection of peppers from around the world by starting them in his house and raising them in pots outside.  He grows more than he can use and sells the rest, making some pretty unusual peppers available.  How cool is that?

..Photo by David Baumler, available at Midwest Chili Peppers website.

his year he set himself the ambitious goal of nurturing 100 different types of pepper and growing 1,000 plants.  He’ll be selling his plants at a workshopat Paradigm Gardens (Madison, WI) this coming weekend.  He just let me know that his website, Midwest Chili Peppers, is officially up and running with all the details about the where, when and how of the workshop/sale, and photos and descriptions of all 100 types are available.  You can also order them online.

This is great timing because the weather is just about warm enough to plant those little peppers outdoors and let ‘m rip.  “Everyone gets the gardening itch as soon as it starts warming up, but the pepper gardener has to be a little more patient,” Dave said.  “If you look at the Wisconsin Garden Guide, it tells you to put peppers out June 1.”

Dave started his 1,000 seedlings in five different waves spaced a week apart so he could keep up with transplanting them.  “I’ve learned 1,000 peppers is a lot of plants!”

Photo by David Baumler available at Midwest Chili Peppers website.

I asked Dave what tips he has to pass on to those of us who also want to start our own plants from seed.  Here is his answer:

You would be surprised, he said, that even indoors and in sterile soil how many pests can pop up because there are no predators in the house.  

I brought a couple of pepper plants from last year indoors.  Within a month, this huge colony of aphids surfaced.  When we have plants outdoors we don’t appreciate how much their natural predators keep pests in check. I had 100 plants in my drive and couldn’t find a bug on any plant.  Bring them indoors — and bugs appear.

Aphids are the worst.  People call them the plant lice, even though they aren’t related at all.  The adults can sprout wings and spread through your whole pepper garden very quickly.  I went on vacation for a week and in a week all my young plants had aphids.

There is a very good product, AzaMax.  It’s all organic.  It’s an abstract of some other plants.  Last year I sprayed it as a topical.  This year I found the best way is to mix it in the water and feet it systemically.  Aphids nibble on the plant and learn quickly that the entire plant can kill them.

 Then I purchased some natural predators – Lady Bugs.  They sell them in packages of 1,000.  You can keep lady bugs in the fridge, and they stay dormant.  I put a handful on each tray a couple days after the AzaMax.  That did it.

My wife wasn’t pleased when she found out I had released hundreds of bugs in the house, but they stayed on the pepper plants.  

73 types of Dr. Baumler's peppers

 Right now the plants are looking great, and I’m ready to let them go to new homes.  It’s hard to keep watering 1,000 plants.  It’s a delicate process.  If you overwater, you get fungus gnats.  In years past, I had a tendency to overwater, but the plants will tell you when they need water.

 Dave will be selling his peppers at his workshop, but if you can’t make it you may be able to order them.

“I’ve seen how people ship plants,” he said, “and I’m prepared to do so.  Ideally, I’d prefer people to buy them here, but I think they are tall and strong enough to survive shipping.”

If you try any of Dave’s peppers, let me know how it goes.


12 replies

  1. Wow, a thousand pepper plants! By the way, you can use old milk jugs, the bottom cut out, as inexpensive hot caps to get tender veggies and fruit out a bit sooner.

  2. Yes, a thousand pepper plants does boggle the mind.
    Dave says, in the case of peppers, that it is important for the ground to be 55 degrees. So I’m not sure the covers would help in their case. Have you had good experience starting peppers early that way?

    • We have never grown peppers that way as we don’t grow them outside, but we have put out squashes earlier using that method.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Joanna. Is your growing season too short to grow peppers outside?

  4. We do indeed have a short season, but to be honest I had never even thought of growing peppers outside. We do have the problems that it can get quite cool. I am tempted to try some outside, but I think we will not be able to this year as our peppers have been on the slow side to germinate and so we don’t have a huge excess of pepper plants this year since we are waiting for our greenhouse to be completed..

    • Good luck with the greenhouse! I think you are right not to put your peppers out if it is too cold. I have heard that if they get too cold once, they will just give up and never fruit.

  5. I have a pepper plant that I dont know what it is, I boight it from walmart the card stake said its a salsa garden pepper, it looks like the first pepper in your picture of different peppers. What is it? The leaves on it are very large so far I have gotten 2 peppers from it but its full of flowere.

    • Any chance you have a picture of the peppers? I would guess that it is one of many varieties from New Mexico, which would put it in the C. Annum species that has white flowers. Did the peppers turn any other colors after green? Also how much heat was there in them? In the photo you mention, are you referring to the one in the top right? That is a New Mexico poblano variety.

      If you want to try growing some more pepper plants that you will know more about, this year I will have many pepper plant varieties for sale starting May 1 through the website with complete descriptions of the pepper profiles.
      -Dr. Dave

  6. Did you find the peppers you were seeking?
    We got 8 of Dave’s pepper plants and put them in our greenhouse. Unfortuantely something ate about half of them the first night. I’m excited to try the rest, though.

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