Friday, 22 November 2013

Peppers Hot and Sweet

Surprisingly, my peppers were really great this year!

Not that I don't generally grow great peppers ...  cuz I really do, lol (much chest thumping going on ; )
Surprisingly, because I thought that I could only grow great peppers inside the greenhouse, on the south side, where they get tons of heat and light.

However, this is not so!
This year, the greenhouse had to come down in July, in preparation for the big move!

Therefore, all the peppers were grown outside. They responded marvellously to the elements, while I treated them like I usually do .... with carefree neglect ; )

All the peppers started out at the old location, on our lovely, south east facing deck, which only received about 6 hours of sunshine a day, from about 10 in the morning to 2 or 3 pm. That's it.

Still growing outside at the new 'ugly'house'
.. stayed outside till mid-November. 
You see that some have 'plastic garbage bag hoop houses' on them?
I can honestly say that peppers do not need them!
I removed the bags after a few weeks, as the ones without the plastic were performing better,
despite the cool and even frosty nights.

Then we moved to the new house, the 'ugly house' as I call it, and they still had to grow outside.
They were placed on the wee deck out back, which faces west, but due to the trees on that side of the house, still did not get more than 6 hours of sunshine a day.
At both locations, I placed them close to the house so that they could soak up extra heat from the siding.

They were left outdoors to grow, ripen, and thrive, till mid-November. Then I picked a huge basket of peppers and composted the plants.
We picked sweet peppers as we needed them, throughout the late summer. However, hot peppers we tend to pick all at once, usually when we are going to be canning or pickling.

Growing peppers...
Hot peppers are started in the greenhouse, very early in the year (12 to 16 weeks before last frost), while sweet peppers are started a month or so later.
I start them with bottom heat, sunlight or grow lights, use a good, loose, high porosity, soil-less potting mix, and give them a weekly foliar feed of Reindeer Liquid Seaweed. They also get a spray of insecticidal soap weekly, for aphid and white fly prevention/control.
Once they germinate, I transfer them to 3" square pots. They stay in these pots till they are sold, and until I plant my own into 3 gallon pots in June. 
They are not heavy feeders once they get out of those small 3 inch pots.

After they have been transplanted into their 3 gallon pots, they get a scoop of espom salts on the surface of the soil, maybe get watered with alfalfa tea a couple of times, and might get a foliar feed or two during the summer, if  I remember. Plant into a good mix of compost and soil-less potting mix.

Peppers simply like lots of heat, sunshine and to be kept a wee bit on the dry side ... See? Easy to grow as they thrive on neglect!

Scotch Bonnets - one of the prettiest peppers I grew.
Here, in no particular order are some of the fabulous peppers I grew this year.


Purple Beauty Sweet Bell Pepper ...

Beautiful to look right from the get go. This pepper starts off purple and stays purple throughout the growing process. As it ages, it gets bigger, thicker walls, and sweeter. It will eventually turn green and then red, if left long enough. A pepper I would grow again and again.

Albino Bullnose Sweet Bell Pepper

This pepper starts off white, then starts to get a purple tint to the bottom. Then it turns to a peachy colour, orange and finally red. You can eat it at any stage, any colour, however you do want to let it size up first. If you pick it when the bells are small, they have thin walls and little flavour. However, if you wait till they size up, they are sweet and crisp.
The shrub stays very compact, mine is only about 1.5' high, and loaded with peppers. I would stake or cage this one as it forms so many peppers on the compact shrub that it weighs down the branches.


Golden Marconi Pepper

This one gets rave reviews from folks, but I thought it was just an 'okay producer', not near enough peppers on the plant for my liking. The fruits were gorgeous though ... lovely, tapered, sweet peppers.
I will try it again next year, one more time, to see if it produces more peppers than it did this year.
If I am unhappy with the performance of a variety, I will usually grow it one more time, so two years running, just in case the first year happened to be a fluke ... a bad year, bad weather, bad something.
However, so far, I really must admit that I prefer the yellow Bullhorn Pepper better ( Corno di Toro Giallo)

Corno di Toro Rosso (Red Bull's Horn Sweet Peppers)

These Italian heirlooms are my favourite sweet peppers, both in the red and the yellow (rosso and giallo)
They are long, lovely, thick walled, tasty, sweet, spicy, yummy and pretty! .. and as you can see, heavy producer, much more fruits than on the Marconi.


Pumpkin Habanero
Now, you all know I do not eat hot!
Therefore, I am unable to give you my personal opinion on taste and kick of the hots.
What I can say about this pepper is that it is late to ripen but loaded in these lovely orange coloured beauties.
They are large, about 2" long, plump, and produce tons of peppers! 

 Fish Peppers

These guys are pretty! the foliage is stripey and variegated. The peppers are striped and pretty. Everything about it is pretty to look at.
The peppers start off creamy with green stripes and then turn orange-y with green stripes.... eventually they turn a solid red.
Is edible at all stages, dries well and makes super hot sauces. The flavour of these peppers blends well with fruits and seafood.

Giant Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia)

The ghost pepper, super-sized. .... with the same heat and kick.
Used to be known as the hottest pepper in the world, though others have since taken over that status.

Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia)

A super hot and pretty to look at pepper. Must admit that these guys scare me, as they are super duper hot.

I do not know what to do with them, as they are known to be so hot. Could use one or two to spice up my salsa ...  maybe.
Hubby generally takes the super hots to work for the chefs to cook with. Plus, as some of the staff there are from Africa, South America, Mexico, they like to eat these guys raw, straight out of hand! Yikes! Not for the faint of heart.

Chinese Five Colour Peppers

This glorious pepper is my favourite to grow.
For the past three years I have been growing the 'Chinese Five Colour' hot pepper as I love it so much!
It grows all five colours on the shrub at once, making it look like a jelly bean tree, or a candy tree. Watch your wee ones around this plant... though the peppers look like candy, they are super duper hot.
You only need a few peppers to make a hot salsa, or add some heat to your tomato sauce. 

Giant Bhut Jolokia ripening on the bush in late November.