I enjoy your books, and website very much, as I am becoming a chilehead. I grew about 175 hot pepper plants in the garden last year- this year will be more! I have a couple questions for you. One is about growing through black plastic. I use raised rows in my garden- this seemed to work very well last year- my plants grew very big, and were loaded with peppers, but some cultivars, never got fully ripened. They are grown in full sun that gets sun from sun up to sunset. I live in a cooler climate (Western Maryland in the Applachian mountains growing zone 5) where summer temps rarely makes it to 90 degrees- 80’s is the normal highs during the summer. Would using black mulch plastic over each row be an advantage to help warm the soil and contain weeds- or will it overheat? Also I am having a very difficult time getting my chiltepins to germinate. I have started about a dozen seeds- none have sprouted. I am growing in seed starter trays with a dome lid, and seed heater germination pads under the flats- grown indoors. All other type pepper seeds I have started have grown at godspeed using this method. I also have a portable greenhouse, and a growing light set as well. Any tips to get those chiltepins to sprout? Thanks for your help, and a great web site!
Black plastic as a mulch should work well for you in Maryland and will not overheat the garden. Regarding chiltepins germinating, you can soak them for a few days in chamomile tea and that should work. Another method is to find someone with parrots or parakeets, collect some bird poop and make a slurry with water. Add the seeds and soak for a few days.