It's not a metaphor -- that's real cinnamon on the peppers. Some of them have developed a sad case of fungus; cinnamon is supposedly an antifungal. I'm not that worried, because being fungusy seems to be a minority pursuit, and I already have more plants than I can probably use. Next time they need watering, I'll use weak chamomile tea, which is also supposedly an antifungal.
I watered them from the bottom on Saturday -- just sloshed in some water into the tray -- and it was rather amazing to note the capilliary effect at work, and see the top of the soil eventually turn dark as the water made its way up.
Need to get the garden soil next weekend for sure, unless I go with a piecemeal approach in which case I could do it tomorrow. The taproot of the onions is already to the bottom of the peat pot. I wouldn't be surprised if the peppers are there soon too.