Peppers – Heat!!
Garden Clippings – June 1, 2019
Some like it hot. The hotter the better. That’s how I like my peppers and that’s how peppers like to grow.
Peppers need heat and sun for peak performance. May’s persistent cool and damp weather has done no favours for newly planted peppers which bodes well for those waiting for till June to plant. Put them in warm soil and peppers will hit the ground running.
Peppers have climbed up the popularity ladder and now rank second, right behind tomatoes. Peppers are easy to grow, take up little space and rarely suffer from pests. Peppers popularity is understandable. They run the entire gamut from deliciously sweet to dangerously hot, giving foodies many options.
Home grown peppers are tastier than greenhouse peppers because the later are pumped with water and force fed to increase their yield and weight. Growing peppers in the backyard avoids the need for packing and trucking.
Plant peppers in a sunny garden bed, spaced about 18 inches apart. Soil should be well drained because their roots don’t like to be waterlogged. Those new to growing peppers may want to start with early varieties although any variety will likely give satisfaction.
Peppers want their fare share of water but will do well with surprisingly little. Summer of 2018 gave our home garden enough water so we could leave the garden hose coiled up in the garage. Yet we had our best crop ever. Gardeners who are frugal with water may want to put a layer of mulch at the base of each plant.
Peppers can be loaded with fruit so it may be wise to provide support with garden stakes. Use soft ties of strips of old panty hose to attach plants to stakes.
If garden space is not available, try growing peppers in containers. I’ve never tried it, but some say peppers in pots are better because soil is warmer and water is controlled by you, the farmer.
At harvest time use a sharp knife or pruning tool to cut stems. Harvesting early is fine but the best flavour is achieved when pitched at maturity.
The most widely grown peppers are sweet, available in green, yellow, red and orange. Sweet peppers are delicious, versatile and will brighten up any salad. ‘Pimento’ is sweet with heart shaped fruit. ‘Bananvana’ is a favourite for grilling and picking.
In the hot pepper line-up the ultra hot ‘Habanero’ is a top pick, used fresh or dried. ‘Ghost,’ is on of the hottest growing clusters of 2-3” narrow fruit.
‘Hungarian Wax’ has long waxy yellow fruit, turning red at maturity. ‘Hungarian Wax’ is easy to eat and great for canning. ‘Yellow banana’ is my favourite as added to give my stir fry dishes a lively kick.
‘Jalapeno’ is a popular deep green smaller chili pepper that matures to a bright red colour. ‘Garden Salsa’ is on the milder side and great for salsa and giving a lift to bruschetta. ‘Cyenetta,’ equally mild is a compact grower making it ideal for container growing.
For the brave, try ‘Carolina Pepper’ which has been named in the 2013 Guinness World Records hottest chili pepper in the world. ‘Niagara Viper,’’Moruga Scorpion’ and ‘Yellow Carolina Reeper’ have equal claim to the hot top spot.