How to get free jalapeno pepper plants from Papa John’s.

I know this sounds far-fetched, but there is a way to get free jalapeno pepper plants from Papa John’s. As you know, there’s a single jalapeno pepper that comes with each order. Whether you eat this pepper or not, be sure to save the seeds, which can be planted in a seed starter kit like this one.

I add some water in the container before keeping it outside where it can get some sun and warmth. About 5 days later, the seeds will sprout.

At this point I’m planning on keeping the sprouts in the container a little longer before I move them to their own flowerpot. Then I’ll start enjoying my own bounty of jalapeno peppers, courtesy of Papa John’s.

I’ll update this blog with pictures of my plants as they grow and definitely the peppers they produce. Stay tuned.

The Venus flytrap.

Without question the most interesting plant in my garden is the Venus flytrap. It’s hard to believe there are actually plants that eat insects.

The last time I had a Venus flytrap was during my high school years. I fed it hamburger meat to try keeping it nourished although one time it did catch a fly. However, I felt so sorry for the fly that I actually used a toothpick to pry apart the plant’s jaws to release its prospective snack. Needless to say, my plant did not last long.

Recently I saw some Venus flytraps for sale at the store where I work and decided to give it another chance. It’s definitely been an ongoing learning experience since.

When I first brought my new plant home, I decided the best place for it was next to the garbage can where there’s plenty of light and bugs. To help attract flies, I placed next to the garbage can a Styrofoam tray that once held raw chicken meat during transport home from the store. For a while it did attract some good sized flies but it also began to stink something horrible, so I ended up throwing the Styrofoam tray away.

I did some research online on caring for Venus flytraps, and the first thing I learned that feeding it hamburger meat isn’t exactly a good idea. I also learned that the one thing I can feed it is blood worms, and it just so happened I had some left over from my days of running an aquarium.

I placed a few dried worms on a plate and then added some water to hydrate them before presenting them on a toothpick to the Venus flytrap. All I had to do was touch them to the hair trigger inside one of the plant’s jaws and they immediately closed. I later learned that I should gently squeeze the jaws to make it think the “bug” inside’s still struggling, so it closes the jaws even tighter. Only then will it finally begin digesting its food.

One more thing I learned about Venus flytraps is that they don’t like the cold. There was a cold front that recently passed through my area that sent temperatures plummeting into the 40s, which is not comfortable for the plant. Now I know to bring it inside if the temperature outside should ever go below 60.

So far my Venus flytrap seems to be doing okay in spite of the rugged path I’ve been on to see to its proper care. The path has since become much smoother, which just might allow my plant to live a long and healthy life.

The Red Robin experiment.

This past Monday I ate at Red Robin where I sampled their excellent Burnin’ Love burger that comes served with a whole jalapeño pepper on top of the burger. After downing my meal, I noticed there were two jalapeño seeds left on my plate, so I wrapped them in the thin paper used to wrap straws and took the seeds home, where I’m about to try growing them.

After letting the seeds dry for a few days, I put them in some moistened peat pellets I had sitting in the tray of my seed starting kit.


Then I put the lid on the tray and put it on top of my refrigerator where it’s warm and free from drafts. I’ll check it occasionally to make sure it’s got plenty of water and will post an update if anything happens. Stay tuned.

No red robins were harmed during the making of this post.

Life hack for balcony gardeners.

On my balcony is an assortment of potted plants ranging from herbs to vegetables. I make watering these plants part of my daily routine. The hardest and most time-consuming part of this routine is getting the hose up to the balcony. I would try throwing the hose up to the railing, which would often miss its target and come crashing back down to the pavement. Other times I would try standing on a patio chair and hook the hose on the railing while being careful not to fall. After getting the hose in place, I would go upstairs and water the plants as usual knowing full well I still have to get the hose to the other balcony to water the plants there. I would try swinging the hose across the way to the other railing only to have it fall back down to the pavement instead. Surely there must be an easier, faster way to do this

After some brainstorming, I arrived at a simple solution that saves me time and my sanity. All you need is a tennis ball and some string, such as twine for tying up a chicken before placing it on the rotisserie. The tools you’ll need are a drill with a 1/2 inch bit, a screwdriver and some strong tape like Gorilla Tape.

I started by cutting off a long stretch of string, around 20 to 30 feet, and tied one end to the hose. So far, so good.


Then I took my drill and drilled a hole through the tennis ball.


Next I stuck the screwdriver through the hole and taped the string to the end of the screwdriver as shown. In my case I didn’t have a 1/2″ drill bit, so I used the 3/8″ bit I had. The resulting hole was smaller and a tighter squeeze for the string, so some strong tape works, such as Gorilla Tape.


To feed the string through the ball I just pulled the screwdriver out. Voilà.


All that’s left to do is tie a knot around the ball.


And it’s done.


Now when I water my plants, I bring out the hose and throw the tennis ball at the railing of the balcony. After going upstairs, I simply pull on the string to bring the hose up to the balcony to water the plants as usual.

When I’m ready to water the plants on the other balcony, I lower the hose to the pavement and throw the tennis ball at the other railing and repeat the watering process. When I’m done, I lower the hose to the pavement one last time and then go downstairs to turn off the water and put the hose away. Simple, but it saves me so much time and spares the nozzle from those damaging landings on the pavement.

A strange sight on my patio.

This morning I noticed some basil plants growing among the weeds across the pavement on my patio.


Where did these plants come from? From the balcony above where I have other basil plants growing in flowerpots. They had flowered and dropped their seeds onto the patio below.


I really found this observation interesting. There’s just enough dirt on the pavement for the seeds to sprout and they certainly get plenty of leftover water that flows from the balcony when I water my plants each morning.

Now I’m left wondering what to do with these extra plants. I’ll likely get some more flowerpots or maybe I’ll just plant them in the ground out of the way so I can clear off the pavement of all the weeds growing there. Either way I won’t be running out of fresh basil anytime soon.

Growing a chocolate mint plant.

One of the perks of working in the garden section of Home Depot is checking out the plants in stock there. I see the usual plants that produce colorful flowers and others that bear fruits and vegetables respectively, but on occasion I do see an unusual plant I find quite interesting, such as the chocolate mint plant.


Just as the name suggests, the leaves of the chocolate mint plant have a strong chocolaty minty scent. I don’t know if the scent was created was through science or through nature’s own design, but I found this unique plant irresistible and I just had to get it. As I was driving home with the plant in my car, the inside of my car began to smell like a candy store. It was a pleasant enough scent to make me want to keep the plant in my car.

After I got home, I moved my new plant to a larger pot and put it outside on my second floor balcony. The balcony faces south so it’s sunny there in the morning but shady for the rest of the day. This seems to be exactly what the plant needs to thrive. Here’s how it looks three weeks after I bought it.


I have found this plant very easy to grow and maintain. All it needs is to be watered frequently and left outside where it can get some sun and it will thrive with a huge harvest of scented leaves. Occasionally I’ll feed it with some Miracle-Gro plant food for some added nourishment. I can’t imagine plants just living on soil and water alone anyway.

Now that I have a nice bounty of chocolate mint leaves, I’m left to wonder what to do with them. This page has some suggestions, one of which is using it to flavor your water. I also found this page that has some growing tips as well as additional uses for the leaves, including making tea. There’s even a simple recipe to making your own essential oil, which I’m going to try as well.

It’s plants like this that make gardening so much fun. I can’t wait to see what other interesting plants will arrive at Home Depot.

Those wicked plants.

If you thought gardening was boring, you need to check out Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities, a Who’s Who of some of the nastiest plants to ever grow in soil. There are surprises aplenty on every page as you learn about plants around the world that cause pain, addiction, illness, discomfort and death. Tobacco and marijuana may be a few of the more well-known botanical beasts described within, but there are hundreds of other plants just as deadly, many of them much worse. The graphic descriptions of these plants’ evil deeds is enough to make your skin crawl.

Be warned, though. There’s a good chance that some of these plants could very well be lurking in your backyard or even inside your house. This is some seriously interesting stuff.