The peppers haven’t minded the heat, or the cool front, and are churning out their fruit like the good little food-producers they are.
What I learned about peppers recently:
- Anaheim peppers will turn brownish, and then bright red. They are less bitter the longer they ripen.
- They don’t need tomato cages like I thought. They do fall over when they get laden with fruit, but that’s ok with me.
- Planting them at 15″ instead of 18″-24″ will let their canopies shade the ground so they don’t get so hot and dry so quickly (even when I forget to mulch for the third time come July…)
- Bell peppers that start out purple just might turn orange on you.
- Fish peppers are the most interesting looking peppers I’ve ever seen, and grow on the prettiest of plants. It’ll be a walk-way lining plant next year instead.
Think there are enough Anaheim peppers on this branch?
Fish pepper plant looking lovely…
And the peppers themselves just get cooler looking!
I call these “button bells” – they don’t really get much bigger than this. I’m guessing it’s my water restrictions.
As for the cayenne…they just won’t quit! I have a Ristra, and a bowlful, and am about to try my hand at drying them for grinding.
Speaking of plants that can withstand the heat but are admitting their guilty pleasures (6″ inches of rain in 30 minutes) – the Anaheim has gone bonkers!
I picked all the Anaheims last Sunday, and this Sunday – these aren’t even all of them. DH already had the grill fired up for some hot sauce brown sugar chicken, so they found their way over the flames and into our bellies less than an hour from harvest.
The rest of the peppers aren’t to be outdone!
We have three little poblanos that were left to redden-up on the vine, a purple bell that decided to go a little green?, and an orange bell that’s looking more red to me. Oh, and a pile o’ jalapenos, fish peppers, and cayenne. As you can see, the tomatoes have slowed down. The Cherry Chadwicks are still going, the yellow pears are making an effort, and a previously unproductive red cherry variety (whose name I lost track of) has just started up. I lost a few multi-pound Black Princes, Zapotecs, and others to the birds and the bugs during my neglect, but that’s ok. They’re thirsty, or hungry, and my freezer has plenty of tomatoes in it already. (Unless the hungry bugs are squash bug nymphs. Then it is most definitely not ok and they find their way under the sole of my boot in no time.)
Ever planning ahead as I look behind, I can’t forget to show my appreciation for the prolific output of this plant by saving its genes again for next year.
For anyone who hasn’t saved pepper seeds before, it really is that easy. Scoop them out, lay them on a paper towel (label your paper towel!), and let them alone until everything’s dry and crunchy. Fold up the paper towel, wrap a rubber band around it, and store it with any other seeds you sow at the same time.
I spent a four-day weekend on a business trip and arrived home just in time to do some more work before ordering some take-out and hitting the gardens. The light was fading fast, and the insects were emerging with even greater speed. The fire ants had once again relocated, and I had once again been too stubborn to don real shoes and received two more bites for my troubles. I had remembered to leave the bug spray in the car though, and escaped with nary a mosquito bite. DH managed only one fire ant bite, no mosquito bites, but took the cake with a mean mystery bite on his back.
We were once again rewarded with pound after pound of fresh heirloom tomatoes! DH struck up an easy conversation with a neighboring gardener, and we managed to send her home with a few of his heaping double handfuls of the smaller varieties. She’s raking in buckets of apple-sized tomatoes herself (we politely declined any.)
What about non-tomato news?
Things I’ve learned about peppers this year:
- Two cayenne plants is more than enough to make an attempt at a ristra for the first time
- Two jalapeno plants is not enough for DH’s appetite.
- One fish pepper plant will make more fish peppers than you know what to do with (assuming you know what to do with a fish pepper, which…I don’t yet.)
- Two Anaheim pepper plants is perfect.
- Two poblano plants is half as much as necessary for prepping portions to make chili with in the winter.
- One Chinese Five Pepper is one too many (apparently something likes to devour every last bit of leaf on the poor thing as soon as the peppers are close to ripe! That, and I’m not sure if they’re ripe when they’re purple (their first color), white (their second color), or if I’m supposed to wait until they’re dried and shriveled and orange…)
- We both miss the magic of the Czechoslovakian Black Pepper.
- Purple and orange bell peppers are magical when combined in a dish. One of each is not nearly enough!
Things I still don’t know enough about to help thrive? Basil tops the list. I can get it to germinate. I can get it about two inches tall. I can keep it alive if I buy it…until it gets mealy bugs, gets woody, keeps over, or bolts immediately.
In the “bolts immediately” category is this lovely African Blue Basil. Not a week after planting it in the backyard bed (under a shade cloth!) it flowers. It’s lovely to look at, and perhaps I should reconsider basil as a landscape plant for the bees instead of a seasoning for us.
Speaking of landscape-plants-that-I-would-like-to-some-day-eat-from, my raspberry is happier this year (it’s third year) than last!