Ahh, peppers. I love them. Hot, mild, sweet– it doesn’t matter. I love them, and Jaime does, too. So, we grow a lot of peppers.
In the past few years, we have only grown peppers bought locally from home improvement stores. Last year, we grew 19 basic varieties, like jalapeños, orange habaneros, serranos, cayennes, etc. This year, we’re only keeping a few of those around.
Carried over from last year are Thai chilis, which are miniature peppers about the size of your pinkie fingernail that ripen from green to yellow to orange to purple to red. They’re hot as hell, and the plants, while only growing about a foot tall, are very prolific. I’m growing these from seeds I harvested two years ago, and I’ve experienced an excellent germination rate.
Also carried over is a Tobasco pepper, of the famed tobasco sauce. It grew really well last year, almost five feet tall in a ten inch pot, and it gave us about fifty peppers that were, surprisingly, much hotter than tobasco sauce. It survived the winter and a major chopping, and there are two nice, healthy shoots growing out of a one inch stump. I’ll be planting it in a five gallon bucket later this week to encourage new growth.
The last carryover is a scotch bonnet. I bought it mislabeled as a habanero at the grocery store and grew it from seed last year. It grew incredibly slowly, only yielding 2 peppers. This plant made it through the winter. I transplanted it into a five gallon bucket about a month ago, and it is already about a foot tall. I pruned the top of the plant today as part of my bushy growth strategy that I’ll get into in a later post.
So now, the new varieties. Jaime and I decided that we were going to grow more rare or unusual varieties this year. We want peppers that people we meet have never heard of. For that, the only choice was to order from seed suppliers by mail.
The first type of pepper we wanted to grow was a variety or two of paprika peppers. These peppers are typically mild red peppers that are dried and ground, and used as a spice. We ordered two varieties– Paprika Supreme Sweet Peppers and Hungarian Paprika Hot Peppers.
Once grown, we’ll dry the peppers in the sun. We’ll take half of the peppers and smoke them on the grill or some sort of smoking contraption, and then we’ll grind the peppers into a spice. So, we’ll have four varieties of paprika: sweet, hot, sweet-and-smoky, and hot-and-smoky.
You’ll note that I ordered those seeds from Reimer Seeds. According to everything I’ve read online, their reputation is mixed. My paprika seeds have done good, though, with all four of the sweet variety seeds germinating, and three out of four of the hot variety germinating.
The other seeds I got from Reimer, though, haven’t fared as well. I’m not sure if it is the variety– Red Savina Habanero, or the specific seed they sent me. The seeds were dark– darker than any hot pepper seed I’d seen before. Only two of four germinated. It took a full two weeks for germination, and the plants are small, light in color, and growing very, very slowly. If they don’t grow so be it, but I really hope they grow. My other red habanero (below) has suffered the same poor germination rate.
I got the seeds for all of the rest of the hot peppers from Pepper Joe’s. He’s got a great reputation, and his seeds have germinated well, for the most part.
Here are the Pepper Joe’s varieties I’m growing:
Spicy Mustard Habanero- A habanero that, when ripe, is yellow. It is supposed to be very hot.
Caribbean Hot – A habanero that, when ripe, is red. It is supposed to be even hotter than the spicy mustard habanero, and very close to the Red Savina. Like the Red Savina, I experienced poor germination on this variety compared to the rest, and germination took a full two weeks. I think it’s just a characteristic of the variety, and not the seed stock.
White Habanero – A habanero that, when ripe, is white. Again, it’s supposed to be very hot.
Fluorescent Purple Pepper – According to the website, “florescent purple and white foliage is surrounded by little hot dynamos that turn from green, to purple, then to red when ripe.” It sounded cool, so we went for it.
PepperJoe.com also sent us some free seeds– Pimento peppers (mild, obviously) and Long Red Slim cayenne peppers. I think it’s so cool that they sent us free seeds. We’re growing both of them, and I’m particularly looking forward to the Long Red Slim cayennes. All the other cayennes I’ve ever grown were very mild– much milder than a hot jalapeño– even though they were billed as hot peppers.
Oh, we’re growing some standard colored bell peppers too. Those suckers are expensive these days, so growing our own makes sense.
And last, we’re also growing a pepper we stumbled upon by accident. We were at a Chinese food restaurant, and they had a decorative pepper plant out front. It was nice and tall, and was covered with several dozen peppers of assorted colors– green, purple, orange, and red. Well I was admiring the plant and somehow, unbeknownst to me, one of the ripe peppers accidentally made its way into my pocket, to my house, onto my desk, and into the little storage space below my monitor where it sat until the other day when I decided to break it open, and plant the seeds. I planted nine of these, and plan on keeping the nicest plants and giving the rest away to future pepper enthusiasts.
So, that’s it. Hot peppers. Mmm. I’ll post some pics soon!