Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC

Transfer to Containers
April 27, 2012, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Growing Hot Peppers | Tags:
You will know your plants are ready to be transferred to containers (or the garden if you have room for one) when two things occur:
  • The plants have been hardened off and left outside (night and day) for 2 – 3 weeks.
  • You can see the roots of the plant coming through the peat.

Some sites will tell you the plants need to be 2 – 3 inches tall.  I find the root test to work better since different varieties of peppers grow vertically at different rates.  When the roots are leaving the peat, they’re ready for soil.

This year I’m trying a few different types of containers.  Single pots, long boxes for two plants, and even a hanging planter.  Not sure which ones will work the best, but we’ll find out by the end of this season.
For your containers, I find that any potting soil or garden soil works fine.  There are lots of types on the market, so you can go organic if that’s your thing.  Mix in a scoop of sand and stir around with every container full of dirt to aid in drainage.
Buy more soil than you think you need.  These containers will hold more than it looks like they will (unless you only have one or two pots)
Containers (Pots)
The biggest thing to worry about here is that they have drainage holes in the bottom.  If not, water will collect and rot the roots of your plants.  Also, pepper plants like well drained soil, they don’t care much for being constantly wet.
As far as the size, I’m going with the theory that bigger is better.  I’d say the minimum size is a 12″ diameter pot for a single plant.  I do notice that the plants get bigger with bigger pots, so if you have room for larger ones then I would go that route.  Here’s a shot of the ones I’m using this year:
Pepper Pots

Pepper Containers (Pots)

Containers (Long Boxes)
There’s probably a technical term for these, but I just call them long boxes.  You can see one of them above.  For these types, I am trying just 2 plants per box.  I think any more than that and they wouldn’t have room for the root system to develop.  Here’s a closer image of this type:
Long Box Container

Long Box Container

Containers (Hanging)
This is a total experiment.  I’ve never used one of these things but I’ve read a lot of good reviews about them.  Anything is worth a try once, and as a container gardener, this thing does not take up a whole lot of space and you can plant up to 7 peppers in one hanging garder.  I got it here if your’re interested in trying it.  This is what it looks like:
Hanging Pepper Grower

Hanging Pepper Grower

I did not fill up all the openings on this as I did not feel it was a large enough container for all of them.  I tried 4 plants in this thing.  We’ll see what happens.
VERDICT:  This thing does work as advertised.  However, the plants do not get very large and do not produce as much as if they were in a pot by themselves.  Also, this product only lasts one season.  As we were cleaning up the plants this year, this planter nearly disintegrated as we removed the dirt.
You’ve probably noticed from the shots of the containers above that I use mulch.  I find this helps to retain moisture in the soil.  Also, I use Cedar mulch with seems to help keep bugs away.  I would highly suggest using your favorite kind of mulch around the plants, but keep it away from touching the stems.  You’ll get bigger plants this way.
As you are potting your plants, it’s a good idea to label each one with the variety that you have planted in there.  If you grow lots of different kinds, it’s good to know which ones do best in your climate and also the ones that you like the best.  Then you can grow the best ones next year and drop the ones that you don’t like or don’t grow so well in your area.
Have fun…this part will take you a while if you have a dozen or more plants to pot.  Next we’ll talk about getting on a fertilization schedule.
Check out for more info.  Talk about loving what you do…this stuff is fun.

Starting Hot Peppers from Seeds
April 27, 2012, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Growing Hot Peppers | Tags: ,
In order to do any growing this season, you must have your seeds ready when it’s time to start planting.  Over the winter, it’s a good idea to take stock on what seeds you already have and see if you need to replace any favorites or try some new varieties.
I order all my seeds from Pepper Joe.  I consistently get 100% germination from his seeds and he throws in free seeds with every order.  Check out the catalog to start planning which varieties you will grow this year.
Also, if you are a salsa fan, nothing beats adding your own home grown tomatoes.  Pepper Joe has a sister site, called Penny’s Tomatoes, where you can get a large variety of tomato seeds.  You won’t find these varieties in a grocery store and Penny also throws in free seeds with every order.
Personally, I am a fan of growing the kinds of peppers that you can’t buy in a grocery store.
By the time the new year rolls around, it’s time to place your order.  After January 1st, Pepper Joe adds new seeds for the year.  I use this as an opportunity to impulse buy one of his new varieties and give that a shot.  I shoot for a total of 6 varieties, 2 plants each, to grow during a given season.  This is largely due to space limitations more than anything else.
OK, so now you’ve figured out what kinds of plants you want to grow this year and you’ve ordered your seeds.  After they arrive, the fun begins.  If you live in a warm climate you’ll want to start your seeds in February.  As you work your way up to cooler climates you’ll want to start a little later, but everyone should certainly have them started by April.  The rule of thumb that I use is to start them 45 days before you are able to put them outside (temperatures consistently above 65 degrees).
Get yourself a 12-peat mini greenhouse to start your seeds.  You can pick them up at any home improvement center in the gardening section or you can order online.
Next, label the front of your greenhouse so you can lay out where each variety will be planted.  Make a map of where you planted each type of seed so you remember what kind is where – believe it or not, it can be challenging to tell them apart.

Prepare the Seeds

For best results, it’s advisable to soak your seeds in warm water over night before planting them.  You’ll want to soak 2 – 3 seeds per each plant you intend to grow just in case some don’t germinate.  I generally just soak 2 per plant as the seeds I get from Pepper Joe tend to 100% germinate.

Soaking them gives them a head start when they get into the peat.  The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to use a shot glass for each variety.  You can then arrange the shot glasses on your greenhouse planner so you know which ones go where, like this:


Plant the Seeds

The next day, your seeds are ready to be planted.  Open up your mini greenhouse to get started planting and make sure the peats are seated properly.  It should look like this:


This is a good time to label the front of it so it matches up with your greenhouse planner sheet.

Add warm water to the tray and allow the peats to soak up the water.  Keep gradually adding the warm water until all of the peats have expanded.  Once everything has expanded, the peats will be a dark (wet) color and be ready for planting.


Break out your gardening tool (a toothpick) and use it to loosen and level the top of each peat.  If there is excess netting, just peel it back and snip it off with scissors to expose the top of the peat.

Now, just put your seeds in each peat and lightly cover them with the loosened peat.  No need to plant them deeply, just enough to cover the seeds.

After all of the seeds have been planted, place the dome on top and then put the mini greenhouse in a warm location that is not in direct sunlight (on top of the fridge works pretty well).


As Tom Petty would say, the waiting is the hardest part.  Some seeds germinate quickly (a matter of days) and others can take weeks.

Check out for new sauces and events.  We’re also more active on Facebook with general stuff, you can find our page from the above link.

About Us
February 18, 2011, 10:41 am
Filed under: About | Tags: , , , , ,

We formed Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC as a company in 2010 but the ideas and experimentation started more than a decade earlier.  I (Chris Billet) have been experimenting with growing hot peppers, making hot sauces, and other methodes of preserving peppers since 1999.  It really started as a hobby since I couldn’t find anything other than jalpenos and habaneros in the grocery stores or farmer’s markets.  I stubled across a place online ( that carries tons of different organic hot pepper seeds, so I decided to start growing my own.  I’ve been so pleased with the quality of the seeds that I still order from Pepper Joe today.

I had never really gardened a whole lot, so as you may imagine it took some trial and error to get the results that I wanted out of growing the hot peppers.  Experimentation and research provided enough help that I was soon growing 10 – 12 different plants per season and getting a good amount of peppers from each plant.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite simple.  Also, I’ve found that growing them in containers is actually easier (no weeds to pull) and produces good results.  Figuring all this stuff out inspired me to start a web site that would help (hopefully) other people get started with growing their own hot peppers.

 So now I’m growing hot peppers…and I end up with a ton of them, more than I can possibly eat before they would go bad.  Not wanting my prize crop to go to waste, I learned how to pickle and “can” them in mason jars.  Also, this is where I started making my own hot sauce.  I found a very basic recipe and then started experimenting from there.  I added the processing tips to the web site once I figured them out.  Every year I kept trying out new concoctions for hot sauces and I still enjoy doing that today.

In 2008, my day job resulted in a relocation to Tampa, FL.  This was also the first year that I was able to get Ghost Pepper (aka Bhut Jolokia) seeds.  I had been reading quite a bit about them as they are a native pepper to India and are said to be the hottest pepper in the world, coming in somewhere around 1,000,000 Scoville units (about 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce).  Well, of course I had to make a hot sauce with these peppers and after a few different variations I hit on a combination that everyone absolutely loved.

Around this time I had also met Jeff Toothman who shared a similar love for all things spicy and cooking in general.  We decided to team up and start the company and get our first two sauces bottle for commercial sale.  It’s been a blast so far.  The third hot pepper dude is a long time friend from Pennsylvania, John French.  He enjoyed the sauces so much that he’s now running the Northeast branch of the business.

So why the blog?  It was extremely difficult to figure out how to go about getting our sauces bottled and brought to market.  I couldn’t find a single place online that laid out the steps and provided guidance, so I had to figure most of it out by piecing things together.  As with growing the hot peppers, I think others may find the information useful so I’m going to post entries over time that describe how we went about it.

There’s quite a bit of information, so I’ll try to lay it out in a chapter format.  This will be entirely based upon our experience.  Hope it will help some aspiring chili heads to get their products to market too!