Big Jims Too Small

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Q: Dear Dave,

I just had my first Big Jim harvest this year and to my surprise, the peppers were only 3 to 5 inches long. The peppers were starting to change from green to red so I’m calling them ripe. Is this due to a lack of water?

History:  I live in California; plants get sun from 10:00am to 6:00pm (I cannot change this).  Plants are in a 4-foot by 8-foot planter box that is 18 inches deep (good drainage).  To help plant roots grow deep, I am watering every third day. Amount is around 3/4 to a gallon of water per each plant, each time.  3 to 4 inches of redwood mulch.

Keys:  Plants are pail in color (I fertilize with the recommended amount of fish emulation every three weeks).  Some of the lower leaves turn yellow and fall off, normally the day after watering.  Most of the Big Jims had a small amount of growth cracks.  Moisture meter will shows 4. The meter goes from 1 to 4, 4 being on the wetter side.  First Red Savina’s seem puckery, not smooth and shiny.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance,

Habanero Mike



A: Hello Mike:

From what you write, the water seems sufficient.  Most of the time, people over-fertilize their plants, but because of the yellowing of leaves and the pale color of the plants, I’d guess that fish emulsion is not getting the job done.  Diehard organic gardeners swear by fish emulsion but I believe in utilizing a water soluble commercial fertilizer such as Miracle Gro or Peters, 15-20-15 or close to that percentage.  Now, pod size is directly proportional to plant growth and size for the larger podded varieties, so if your plants are undersized because of a lack of nitrogen, the pods will be smaller, and I suspect this has happened.


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