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Add Some Spice to Your Life: Growing the Carolina Reaper

May 25, 2016

This time of year brings the summer heat, but you can also bring the heat to your garden this summer by planting Carolina Reaper seeds. The Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world, currently holding the Guinness World Record for a 2.2 Million Scoville Heat Unit rating. The pepper  originated in a South Carolina greenhouse and is a mix between a ghost pepper and a red habanero. The reaper can be eaten as is or used to make BBQ sauce, salsa, and hot sauce.

Recently, our greenhouse experts started the germination process for Carolina Reaper seeds. Germination is how the plant grows from a seed, and it can be a long and sometimes tedious project, taking up to 6 weeks to complete.

Begin by soaking the seeds for 24 hours in a mild chamomile tea solution. The tea mixture works as an anti-fungal solution. After this is complete it is time to start the seeds. We sow our seeds in sterilized, high quality starter soil. Our experts recommend making the soil about ¼ of an inch thick. After sowing, place the reapers on a heat mat, and set the temperature to about 80 to 85° F. Keeping temperatures at this range is very critical to the germination process. Make sure to water the plant regularly, keeping the soil moist but not saturated, as over watering could harm the seeds. Once you see the seeds emerge, place them under a controlled grow light, making sure they get 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness each day. After your plants have grown their 2nd or 3rd set of leaves, transplant them into containers and keep indoors until the last chance of frost is over, then plant outdoors when they are about 6 inches tall.

Once outside, keep in mind that this pepper prefers a soil rich in compost and materials that help hold water. The peppers will start off green, and you can harvest them at this point, but if you wait until they develop a deep red color to harvest, you will get the full flavor to heat up your summer.