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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Peppers


In spite of evidence to the contrary from this picture, I did not have a good “pepper” year in 2007.

It started out quite well, with several varieties of peppers that I started from seed. For bell peppers I had “Orange Sun Sweet’, ‘Red Beauty Sweet’ and ‘Big Bertha’. I have to have ‘Big Bertha’ no matter what. She’s like the matriarch of my vegetable garden; I can just imagine what type of woman this bell pepper might have been named for, if indeed there was a Bertha behind this bell. My other sweet pepper was the ‘Yellow Banana’.

For the hot peppers, I planted ‘Anaheim Chili’, ‘Jalapeno Chili’, and ‘Hungarian Yellow Wax’.

All was going quite well with my seedlings and toward the later part of May, I planted the peppers out in the garden, all in one bed, lined up side by side in straight rows, evenly spaced. It was pepper perfection, a precise parade formation of peppers.

Then one day I went out to the garden to discover that a rabbit or some rabbits had bitten off six or more of the pepper plants. Queue up the horror music! And they left the uneaten stems lying in the garden! My raised bed of pepper perfection was a mess.

To try to restore order, I had to buy some more pepper plants and because it was getting late in the season, I bought them at a nearby big box store. I know I looked suspicious at that store, furtively looking around as I picked out some pepper plants, hoping that no one I knew would see me because it was kind of embarrassing, buying pepper plants like that. I am an experienced gardener. I know about rabbits. I should not have left those pepper plants like that, unprotected with no defense, easy pickings for the rabbit-vermin.

Long story, longer, I planted the replacement peppers and then sprinkled cayenne pepper on all the plants. This seemed to keep the rabbits away until the plants grew enough that they could withstand some rabbit nibbling on the side branches.

But the order in the pepper bed could not really be stored. I didn’t put labels in quite the way I should have to know which plant was which and as some of the peppers matured, I didn’t know which varieties they were, so I didn’t feel quite right giving them away. Plus, with the ‘near draught’, the overall crop was just so-so.

Many of the peppers ended up in the compost bin after the first frost. I know. You don’t need to scold me. I felt bad about that. I know that when you grow food like that, you should either eat it or give it away.

But this year is a new year, a fresh start, and I’m very hopeful again about growing some good peppers. I will sprinkle cayenne pepper on them right from the beginning (I get the big containers of it from the local wholesale club store) and I won’t be trying to grow them all lined up in one bed. I’m going to spread them around the garden.

The varieties I’ve chosen, all from Pinetree Garden Seeds, include:

‘New Ace’ sweet pepper
‘Early Jalapeno’ hot pepper
‘Anaheim’ hot pepper
‘Serrano’ hot pepper
‘Sweet Banana’ sweet pepper

And of course ‘Big Bertha’ bell peppers.

There are dozens of good varieties of peppers available, so I wonder if my list is too short, and maybe there are some really good peppers I should be trying? I probably have room for a few more varieties.

(Did I mention that I myself don’t eat peppers that much? I don’t mind them chopped up and cooked into food for flavor, but to eat one raw or even grilled, I don’t really like them. But I still like to grow them and give them away.)

14 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Too bad I don't live closer. I would love to be the recipient of your veggie garden abundance. This is one of the things I miss most about my Dad not being able to garden now. Sigh~~~~

And those rotten rabbits. I could just pinch their little heads off when they bite off something and then not eat it. What are they thinking????

Sherry said...

I love peppers both raw and in my salsa. I'll take any you want to get rid of, and to make it sweeter for you, I'll offer one of my raised beds for your pepper plants. They ought to be safe with the cats and dogs on patrol!
I'll even water for you...and weed.

Annie in Austin said...

Me three on any extra peppers, Carol - sweet or hot! Ours sometimes look great until you get close... birds peck holes and the inside goes bad.

I once heard that "Big Bertha" was the name given to some form of artillery [maybe a machine gun?]in World War One. Until that time, Bertha was a common name for girls, but its popularity fell and the name never recovered its earlier status after the war.
I don't know if this has anything to do with your favorite pepper, but beans or cabbages named 'Big Bertha' might actually have something to do with artillery.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Frances said...

Fourth in line for all peppers, please, raw or cooked, hot or mild, bring 'em! Our favorite last year was a cubanelle type called Aruba hybrid, very thin skinned, perfect for rellenos, without having to be peeled. Yum!

Frances at Faire Garden

Mary said...

"Queue up the horror music" made me laugh. We are pepper lovers and I grew wonderful peppers one year...the next year was a flop, a complete disaster because of the ninja bunnies and a fat groundhog.

Diana said...

it is particularly annoying that they just left them laying there, isn't it?! So sorry. I had to LOL that you don't really care for peppers! Sometimes it's just fun to grow something, even if you don't eat much of it, because it's so darn fun to grow or so pretty to look at. There's a lot of pleasure in that for me, too.

Gina said...

Carol - the peppers in that first shot looked simply delish! What a tragedy. My pepper plants were terrible but I can't blame the rabbits...

Tina said...

Carol,
sorry about those darn rabbits. I think they're worse than our woodchuck and deer, but we hit on a little secret a few years ago - grow them a patch of sweet clover and they'll choose that over any garden plant!
Peppers are my new 'thing' this year, but I'm hoping I can keep my hots far enough away from my bells to avoid cross-pollination. The husband would have a fit if he bit into a sweet and it had any heat to it! lol.
For a really cool looking pepper (I completely understand you growing them, even though you don't like them! I'm guilty with other veg) maybe you should try Medusa.
Anyway, good luck this year!

Christine said...

I'll have to post a list of the ones I'm planning this year. I have read several places to put the contents of a book of matches in the bottom of the hole, add a little dirt, than plant the pepper on top of that. Have you ever heard or tried that? I'm gong to try it this year, I just have to find a hundred and something books of matches!

Nicole said...

This weekend I got some lovely cubanelle and banana peppers from the farmer's market-did some stuffed baked peppers for dinner. My pepper plants-hot, sweet and seasoning are now coming up. For some reason I had poor germination this year, maybe the seeds got zapped in the summer heat.
Feral chickens ate my crop last year.

Carol said...

Lisa at Greenbow, Those rabbits view my garden as "theirs", apparently.

Sherry, Wow, that's quite an offer. Maybe I'll give you a few plants.

Annie in Austin, I am laughing so hard I can hardly breathe. My beloved Big Bertha will never be the same! Where did you get all that historical knowledge of “Big Bertha”? And here I thought someone just named this pepper after a favorite aunt or something. I imagined a wise old peasant woman with a big long skirt and the kind of apron that she could pull up the corners on to carry loads of produce from the garden to the house. Sweet face, tanned and worn from the sun, longish gray hair pulled back into a braid or bun, kind of heavy-set. No more!

Frances, if you were closer, I'd give you some peppers, whatever I could hide from Sherry. I may try 'Aruba'.

Mary, I think I have must have Ninja bunnies, too. They can be so destructive!

Diana, Yes, my secret is out, I just grow peppers for fun.

Gina, Try again! You never know when you'll have a good pepper year.

Tina, To my knowledge, growing the sweet peppers next to the hot peppers doesn't affect the taste, but then I don't really eat many of my peppers. I might try some sweet clover to see if the rabbits will eat that instead. Thanks for the suggestion.

Christine, I've not heard of doing that. Is that because the matches are made with phosphorus? And are you really going to plant 100 pepper plants?

Nicole, Thankfully, there are no feral chickens around here!

Thanks all for the comments and suggestions!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

You grow them and give them away?!? Goodness gracious. You must have quite a lot of friends!

Robin at Bumblebee

Kylee said...

I have to giggle at the "sprinkling pepper on peppers." I know, it's supposed to work, but it just sounds funny. You and those rabbits....
We don't eat peppers either, but we grow them. Last year, I grew 'Chilly' chili peppers from seed and they were gorgeous. We're planning more varieties this summer. I love how pretty they are!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Like Kylee I find it amusing that you have to sprinkle pepper on your pepper plants.

Good luck with your pepper growing this year. Hopefully you will have zillions of peppers to give away.