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Spicing things up

January 28, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

It wasn't until I was much older that my husband introduced me to the idea of Pepper boats. I thought he was crazy. You see, as I was growing up, it was a mystery how my dad always seemed to be able to occupy his thoughts enough that he always, and I mean always, ran the peppers over in my mom's little garden that she kept by the house. This being said, I never really had the opportunity to eat any kind or type of pepper while growing up on the farm.

I like peppers. They are relatively easy to grow and harvest. They seem to take forever in our environment but we usually get more than enough of them when we do remember to grow them. I have some spaghetti sauce that is probably the hottest spaghetti sauce I have ever had since I threw in a couple two three chilies into the jar before I canned it. This spaghetti sauce is eaten only on the coldest of days during the winter. I think it gets hotter as it is left sitting on the canning shelf in the basement.

There are basically two groups of peppers: sweet and hot. You can break it down from there into other groups such as Goliath, Sweet Bells, Ornamental, Hot and Sweet- Non Bell type peppers. I think that most of us really enjoy the green bell peppers while there are many of us out there that like to add a little spice to their life by eating some habaneroes.

You can generally pick up most varieties of peppers in any store during the spring. You can also order some through catalogs, of which, the one that has the most peppers that I have seen, in sort of a one stop shopping type of way is Totally Tomatoes. Totally tomatoes has a catalog and you can order on line as well.

Peppers don't have a lot of enemies (except lawn mowers). They like it when you pick their little plants hard because this stimulates them to make more peppers. They don't like it when temperatures are too cold or too hot because they will drop their blossoms. Blossom end rot is a problem that occurs when there isn't enough water. You will see a brown patch on the bottom and sometimes the side of the pepper.

You can still eat this pepper, just cut the brown spot off of the plant. White patches are caused by sunscald. This doesn't happen very often but when the leaves on the plant fall off or for some other reason that the plant was sitting in shade, white patches will eventually develop on the pepper. Again, they are generally still edible. Aphids can also be another problem.

There is a new trick I recently learned that seems to work with aphids. I have not yet tried it on ornamental plants but have tried it a little bit in the vegetable garden. Tin-foiled covered square pieces of cardboard laid on the ground by the new little plants will confuse them and keep them from feeding in great numbers. The reflective material supposedly confuses them.

Some varieties to check out are: Goliath series Sweet Goliath, Jalapeno, and Griller. The hot varieties to check out are: Anaheim chili, Balloon, Big Bomb, Cayenne, Chiltepin, Garden salsa, Habanero, Holy Mole and Volcano. Ornamental peppers which look good mixed in the ornamental flower garden are:

Filius Blue Pepper, Pointsettia, Tricolor Variegata, Black pearl and Purple flash. Sweet Bell peppers which are many gardeners favorites include: Bell Boy, Colossal Hybrid, Kind of the North, Piros Hybrid and Super Heavy Weight. Sweet non-bell type varieties include: Fooled You Jalapeno, Aruba, Banana Bill, Corno Verdie or Corno di Toro, Pimiento and Sweet Cayenne.

Next week, we will talk about raspberry varieties. Let me know what your favorite raspberry varieties are.

For more information about gardening, you can reach me at 823-4632.



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