We begin Part 2 (see Part 1) with Carolina Reaper plants that are more than 12 weeks old and still growing in a cell tray. They have already been hardened off to withstand normal outdoor conditions.
Note - Some seedlings will be ready to be transplanted directly to the outdoor garden at this time, and some will enjoy being bumped up to the next container size and remaining inside under artificial lighting.
These plants will be bumped up to the next container size and stay outside.
Fill all 72 of the 4x 4” pots to the top with Pro-Mix Premium Organic Vegetable and Herb Mix (or a sterile soil that is designated for container/raised bed vegetable growing). Saturate the soil mix completely.
Remove 1/3 of the soil from the first pot and then carefully remove the first plant from the seedling tray without damaging its roots. One tip is to slide butter knife along the side of the cell to gently compact the soil a little and then pinch on the bottom of the cell from underneath to pop it up. Ideally the root system will be the shape of the cell and with all its soil attached.
Create a hole deep enough in the 4 x 4” pot to set the transplant into while holding it at its future soil level. Add the soil back that you removed and place it around the plant. Press down to remove any air pockets. Water now with a squeeze bottle. There is no need to bury the stem deeper than its original soil level. Continue to the next plants.
After all the seedlings have been transplanted into the pots, place them in drainage trays that are designed to carry 18 pots. Put these 4 trays in the same sunny location that the cell tray was before transplanting began.
Apply liquid fertilizer now and then again once every week. Mix 2 teaspoons of Fox Farm Grow Big liquid plant food and 2 teaspoons of Fox Farm Big Bloom liquid plant food into a gallon of water. Apply liquid fertilizer after a deep-water soak to prevent the nutrients from being leached out of the soil and carried away with the water.
Over the next 4-6 weeks the plant roots will be growing quickly and there will be additional foliage growth. Begin to move the trays slowly into more hours of full sun until they can take half a day of full sun. If your plants are not thriving at this point the air and soil temperature might not be warm enough.
When your garden soil temperature is remaining above 60 degrees F transplant your Carolina Reaper plants at 3’ apart at center and in 4’ rows. At the same time you are planting them into garden soil, add 2 tablespoons of Down to Earth Fish Bone Fertilizer to each planting hole. For the first few weeks protect the Carolina Reaper plants as needed with temporary afternoon shade. Continue a vigorous fertilization program with Fox Farm products or something similar. The larger the plants can grow before blooming means the more peppers they can produce over the entire season.
Learn about the best companions to plant with your peppers: