Friday, July 26, 2013

New Varieties in the Pepper Patch for 2013

I am a confessed pepper addict, not necessarily a hot pepper addict, I am not a "chilehead", but I love peppers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I like them from totally sweet to hot but not scorching. I like peppers raw, cooked, fire roasted, and dried, but not necessarily pickled (I'm not really a fan of pickles). And the only way to really explore the world of peppers is to grow them yourself. So every year I try new ones. I usually choose some sort of theme. For a few years I tried every mild Capsicum chinense pepper (the habanero family) that I could find seeds for. I found a few of those that I really love, but when I moved to a cool growing region I had to give those up because they just don't do well here. I've tried just about every Spanish pepper I could find seeds for. Mexican peppers made an appearance one year. Then I went on a binge of mild Capsicum baccatums. I found a few of those that I love that do well in my climate and I continue to grow them, actually they are cold hardy and sometimes stick around for a couple or three years. Last year I tried every cool climate/short season sweet bell or pimento pepper that I could find seeds for and found a few that I really like and the best are back in the garden this year.

This year the new theme is Peppers From The Southwest. I have long been eyeing the selection of chile peppers at Native Seeds / SEARCH and decided that this was the year to explore some of the varieties offered there. They have an extensive offering but I focused on varieties that are mild to medium-hot and I wanted some that are more fleshy and tasty when green and I eliminated anything that was a long season grower. It was still hard to decide but here's what I ended up with:

The descriptions are lifted directly from the Native Seeds / SEARCH website.


Alcalde From northern New Mexico at 6,300'. An early-maturing native chile. Mild-medium heat, with a complex, slightly sweet flavor when red. 4" long.

Casados Native

Casados Native An early-maturing Spanish heirloom from El Guique, NM (5,500'). When green, slightly sweet and fleshier than other NM native chiles. Also has a good flavor when red. Mild. 4" long.


Cochiti From Cochiti Pueblo at 5,200', where loss of farmland has threatened this and other Cochiti crop varieties. This New Mexico native chile is sweet when green and flavorful when red. Mild to medium heat level. 3-4" long.

Isleta Long

Isleta Long Collected in 1988 from Isleta Pueblo at 4,900'. This New Mexico Long type chile has smooth skin and is fleshy when green. Flavorful, sweet and fruity when red. Mild-medium to medium. 7" long.


Jarales From Jarales, New Mexico. Various sizes and shapes. Relatively fleshy when green. Mild to medium heat. 5" long.

Negro de Valle

Negro de Valle First collected in 2000 north of Buenaventura on the plains of Chihuahua. Similar to Vallero (D020) but contains only the darker, "native, old type" chiles. Some cooks select only these dark brown chiles to the make the best chile colorado. Very productive. Mild to Medium heat. 6" long. 

Pico de Pajaro

Pico de Pajaro "Bird's beak." From Yecora, Sonora. The knobby fruit are often curved. Mild in heat. Almost 1" wide and 5-5" long.

Quatro Milpas

Quatro Milpas Grown in the mountain village of Quatro Milpas, Sonora. Fleshy and smooth-skinned. Ripe fruites are dark brownish red. Mild heat. 5" long.

San Juan "Tsile"

San Juan “Tsile”  A native New Mexico type chile still grown by elder farmers in San Juan Pueblo north of Espaola, NM. Early-maturing, mild to medium-hot. 3.5-5" long.

Tarahumara Chile Colorado

Tarahumara Chile Colorado An elongated poblano-shaped chile from southern Chihuahua. Very shiny when green. Mild heat. 1.5" wide at shoulders and 3.5-4" long.

Zia Pueblo

Zia Pueblo One of our few collections from Zia Pueblo, at 5,500'. Early-maturing, mild, and when red becomes sweet.


One more Southwestern pepper that I'm growing but is not from Native Seeds is Sonora, a mild and fleshy Anaheim pepper that should be great for fire roasting.

Sweet Chocolate

Another pepper that is new in the lineup this year is a short-season sweet pepper that I didn't try last year - Sweet Chocolate (aka Choco) Early bell pepper bred by Elwyn Meader and introduced by the University of New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station in 1965. Ripens from green to chocolate on the outside and brick red inside. Thick sweet flesh. Great for gardeners in short-season areas. (Description from Seed Savers Exchange)

Happy Yummy

And yet one more new pepper - Happy Yummy Peppers From Dave at Our Happy Acres. Dave sent me seeds for this interesting pepper that he's been growing for the past few years. I managed to get at least one plant to grow from each of the three seed selections that he sent me.


But wait, there's one more pepper that isn't actually new but that I've not grown in a few years and that is Aleppo. Years ago I purchased a plant from the and saved seeds from the peppers. It's been a few years and I'm running low on dried peppers, not to mention that my seed stock is getting a bit old so they are back.

And while I was in the garden a few of my lizard friends posed for the camera.

Western Fence Lizards

There are a number of the Fence Lizards that inhabit my garden. The Fence Lizards like to bask in the sun and don't run off quite so readily as other lizards, like the beautiful Whiptail that I've never been able to photograph. There's one Fence Lizard that inhabits the vegetable garden that allows me to get almost close enough to touch him (her?), and he's a beauty with teal scales interspersed among the scales on his back. I'll have to get him to pose for the camera one of these days.

While the Fence Lizards were obligingly posing on the rocks a Western Skink popped out nearby, and wouldn't you know it my camera battery decided to die at just that moment, but not before I got one snap.

Western Skink

This skink doesn't have the colorful tail that many of the Western Skinks have, but I did get a shot of one the other day when I was out hiking. Look at this beauty, it's hard to miss that bright blue tail.


  1. Oh wow very impressive, so many peppers, how many plants per variety do you have? I saw a mild habanero pepper in Renee's catalog which I might try next year, have you grown this before? How was the taste?

    1. I've only got two plants of most of the varieties, one each of a couple because of gardener error on my part. I did try to grow that mild habanero from Renee's and what I managed to harvest was good but the plants just were not happy, but they did have to suffer through a couple of the coolest summers that we have had around here for a while. I imagine that they would be much happier where summer weather is truly "summer" weather. It would be very interesting to see how they do for you.

  2. I love your adventurous spirit in selecting garden plants.

    And I really, really love your lizards!

  3. I always love reading about your pepper adventures! I was inspired to try several chinense varieties this year, as well as your Aji Angelo (which is doing well and just starting to set peppers for me).

    The Happy Yummy peppers are still quite variable. I had one of the Sweet Happy 12 seeds produce a plant that has hot purple peppers! Time will tell if it is worth saving that one. I never know if a plant is going to make hot or sweet ones until I do a taste test.

    1. It will be fun to see what the Happy Yummy's produce. I got four plants going, at least one from each set of seeds, so it will be interesting to see how variable they are. It will also be interesting to see just how hot the hot ones turn out be in my garden since hot peppers don't always turn out to be as hot as I expect in my mild climate.

      I'm looking forward to reading about your experience with the chinense peppers. I dearly love them because they are so flavorful and it is very disappointing to me that they resent my cool weather. I hope they do well for you. And the Aji Angelo too.

  4. Ha ha! Pepper addict! I guess I am addicted to growing them and different varieties but not as much for eating. But my kids love sweet peppers of any shape, size and color so I can grow them! I love the colors and varieties. You have a beautiful variety and I can't wait to see them in all there colors.

  5. I love to come by for a side by side tasting! Please share your thoughts on which ones will become more regular features later in the year.


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