Peppers aren’t as massively planted as the tomato plant in the vegetable garden but those who do plant peppers have a passion that rivals any other fruit or vegetable from the garden. Some gardeners love the heat and grow the spiciest peppers they can find, while others love the flavor of a sweet red bell pepper. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I like the flavor and taste of a spicy Jalapeno pepper on a juicy hamburger but I also love the flavor of a sauteed red bell pepper with garlic. Raw peppers are good too. A red pepper dipped in humus is delicious! Either type of pepper is worth growing and there is a pepper variety for everyone in the garden.
|Jalapeno peppers forming|
I’ve found peppers to be very trouble free vegetables in my garden. The pests and diseases that other plants seem susceptible to don’t bother my peppers as much, if at all. Perhaps I’m just lucky but I think peppers are just well adapted. Peppers like a nice rich soil to grow in. Raised beds are great for peppers but pots work well too. In fact peppers are tropical perennials that you can bring indoors over the winter and put back out next spring. I did that for several years with an ornamental pepper called ‘Black Pearl’. That can be especially useful if you have a favorite hard to find type of pepper you want to preserve for several years.
Peppers can be planted much like tomatoes. Their stems aren’t as flexible so planting them horizontally isn’t a great option but you can plant them deeper into the soil to encourage more roots to grow which results in a stronger pepper plant. Pepper plants are also self fertile and have perfect flowers. This means that they have both the male and female parts of the plant. Because of that they can produce well indoors even without pollinators to move pollen around.
|Ghost Pepper flower buds
2007 Guinness Book of World Records
winner for spicy pepper!
When planting peppers it can be a good thing to remove the first sets of flowers. Removing the first several flowers puts more energy into growing the plant which results in a bigger plant with more fruit later. If you miss a few pepper flower that’s not a big deal though. Just harvest the first few peppers early! The spicy ones are more mild when picked early. The longer you leave a pepper on the plant the better it develops. Fully ripe peppers will have better color, better taste, and more spiciness (if a spicy variety).
In our garden we have about 13 varieties of peppers ranging from hot to sweet and in size from a large block bell to a small min-stuffing pepper. Spicy peppers like cayenne, Tabasco, and jalapeno tend to produce many more peppers than we need so I’m planning on drying them. I may do some pepper grinding this year to make sauces and rubs for seasoning.
|Pasilla bajio pepper – good for mole sauce|
How do you like your peppers? Spicy and hot, tasty and sweet, or somewhere in between?