"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Good Year For Peppers

Surprisingly, considering where we live, one of our most dependable crops is the pepper. With partial sun, sometimes rainy cold summers, and early and late frosts you would think they would be more of a novelty crop. So what's your trick Mike? I don't really know, luck and a really early start I suppose. Now before I brag too much let me say that although I have high hopes this year we hardly ever see any of those wonderful peppers turn red on the vine. The chocolate (purple beauty) and yellow banana peppers usually turn for us but the red bells, Marconi, and Italian, rarely vine ripen. We do have some luck getting the more mature ones to ripen off the vine if the plant is pulled and hung in the greenhouse or on our porch towards the end of the season. This works especially well for small bells and hot peppers.

We are growing 14 different varieties trying to find the ones that do best for us. At this point there are a few clear leaders in this year's batch:

Red Belgian is tied for first place, an extremely early and productive pepper. It's only fault may lie in the fact that the plant seems to have serious issues supporting it's own fruit.

Sweet chocolate is easily my favorite this year, a sturdy plant producing large quantities of peppers. I believe it was the first to produce this year and all of the plants look healthy and are loaded with fruit.

Mini red bell is a prolific producer of numerous small round peppers, perfect for pickling.

Yellow banana is our faithful standby, a constant producer of storage quality elongated peppers.

Pepperoncini, perfect for canning whole or using in various Italian dishes.

Sweet Italian is a beautiful pepper, but only fairly productive in our gardens.

California wonder is outperforming this year but tends to lag behind on the cooler years.

New to us, red-orange mini peppers straight from the organic section of a grocery store seem to be doing extremely well.

Red organic #2 from last year's local farmers market is also showing it's stuff. Really packing them on...to the point that I'm not sure how to get them off.:)

Fresh in salads, as a pizza condiment, or pickled right along with the dills, we love peppers any way we can get them. The jars in the background were canned a few days ago and we are preparing to do few more this afternoon (actually yesterday afternoon). We like to pickle the peppers and cucumbers at the same time. Horseradish, dill, fresh grape leaves, garlic, and a few red pepper flakes make up the spices. We do have luck storing fresh peppers and eggplants all the way into January sometimes but the rest are frozen, dried, or canned.

Toppings for a simple pizza pie we made last week. What pizza is complete without a few peppers?


Roasted Garlicious said...

OKAYYYYYYYY i am simply drooling at your vast array of peppers!!! and yes even here on the coast it's been a great year for peppers!! i keep my peppers under a reemay 'hut' and that works very well for when the weather cools and is damp... i just wish i could grow more...

Stefaneener said...

My hot peppers have been great this year, but the sweets not so much. I believe it's me, actually. Your peppers are an inspiration! Next year, more peppers!

Hana_Caena said...

The only thing that seem to be working for me this year (my first year)
are the hot peppers..

LynnS said...

Why'd you stop at 14? :-)

I find that the worst problem with peppers is what you mentioned -- not enough room for the full pepper to develop. We are always watching ours develop because there seems to be more fruit than open areas for them to grow.

Don't you love when they are half between the green and red -- such a beautiful shading. I don't know if we'll have many red sweet peppers this year since it's been cooler than our normal summer. But green works.

Sending you a scratch-n-sniff comment right now (smell the tomato sauce?).

Ruralrose said...

Awesome post, great pictures - now you just can't find information like this anywhere else - the rewards of blogging - thank you so much - peace for all

Silke said...

This is amazing! I am going to bookmark this post for when we get ready to order our seeds for next year's peppers. Our peppers here are doing just great, which makes me think of planting more next year. We love them in any way, but especially roasted. :) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

I do have a secret for growing peppers. I always grow way more then we need. That way, if it is a bad year we will hopefully have just enough and if it is a good year way to much...we win either way. But yes, this is an exceptionally good year for our peppers as well...fingers crossed.:)

Mr. H. said...


I am so kicking myself for not growing any hot peppers this year. I tried a "wonderful" new hot variety from Baker Creek and none of them came up. My other peppers were doing so well I kind of forgot about my lack of hots...oops. Next year, more hot peppers for me.

Mr. H. said...


For some reason the hot peppers and small peppers in general always outperform our big ones during bad pepper years. I bet next year you will have great peppers all the way around. We start our transplants really early, give them enough (but not too much) water, plant them very deep in good rich soil, and cross our fingers. That strategy works well most years.

Mr. H. said...


I love the different shapes, sizes, and watching them slowly turn colors on a good year. I noticed today that some of my mini bells and Belgians are starting to change.

I can smell your sauce, and it is good. I just ate a Santa Sweet and black krim tomato...so sweet this year. I can't wait to make my own sauce.

Mr. H. said...


Thanks, it certainly is nice to be part of a community of bloggers that share information with each other. What a great learning tool.

Mr. H. said...


I like green peppers a lot, but oh to have roasted red peppers...now that's heavenly. Thanks, now you've gone and made me hungry.:)

Granola Girl said...

The best way I have found for getting our peppers (as well as most everything else) off the vines is a drywall knife. It sounds odd, but they are long, narrow, serrated and incredibly sharp. With a good handle they can manipulate in between the fruit and the plant really well and then saw off the stem leaving little to no damage.

Mr. H. said...

Granola Girl,

You know that's actually great idea. I will try that, I think I have one somewhere. Eggplants are the really hard ones. I am looking forward to visiting your blog.


LynnS said...

I'm back....can you give a bit of info on cold storage for the yellow-green Banana peppers? Or any, for that matter! I've never tried to store them (except for the vege bins in a refrigerator).

We had another crop of Bananas recently and I made a second batch of pickled rings yesterday. This time I just made-up a vinegar recipe, so maybe I'll get the botulism this time....

Sure would be nice to have peppers all the way through December or so, but I've never tried to store them.


Mr. H. said...


We have found that the trick to holding peppers into December and beyond is to pick small or immature peppers just before a frost. We can store pepperoncini, banana, small bells and others for quite some time at 35-50°on our porch. The bigger the pepper the quicker it will deteriorate.

I would try saving out a few smaller ones of each variety and see what happens. They need to be stored in a single layer not touching each other. We do the same thing with smaller eggplants, they will wrinkle a bit but are still more then edible.

I suppose it may depend upon your exact conditions compared to ours. All I know is that regardless of what my food storage books say we have had lots of success storing vegetables much longer then what is suggested in the books. Luckily I have learned to never fully believe anything I read until I have seen the proof with my own eyes.

Good luck with those pickled rings. Don't you just hate following directions when cooking, I know I do.

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