Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pepper Progress Report

Tomorrow (Thursday, July 28) I am joining some chile heads who volunteer with the Santa Clara County Master Gardeners for 3 hours of chile talk on KKUP radio FM 91.5 (not a Master Gardener event) from 10 am to 1 pm Pacific Daylight Time. You can listen live online here. So in the spirit of the event I think it's appropriate to do a progress report on the chiles/peppers in my garden.

Peppers (and Tomatoes) on July 27
 The pepper plants are growing quite well and almost all of them have peppers of some size although nothing is near ripe yet. The leaves, as usual, are somewhat wrinkled and distorted, I still don't know for sure why that happens but it doesn't seem to affect the fruits in any way so I've stopped fretting about it.

I'll do a survey of the all the peppers...

Pimento (Turkey)
Pimento (Turkey) is one of the experimental peppers that I got from Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm. SSE offers seeds through the annual yearbook that are available only to members. Pimento Turkey should be sweet with little to no heat and have thick flesh. It was originally collected in Irelize, Turkey in the 1970's, grown in Alabama, and subsequently donated to SSE.

IPK P 262 (Turkey)
 SSE Heritage Farm offers a lot of peppers that have no description, just an ascension number from the seed bank that they got their original seeds from and where the seeds were originally collected, and for most of them whether they are sweet or hot. I chose a few of those to try just to see what I might get. IPK P 262 (Turkey) was listed as "Unsorted" so I don't know yet whether it should be sweet or hot. It's looking like a stereotypical hot pepper, but I've grown long slim peppers like this that are entirely sweet.

IPK P 557 (Italy) is described as having "pendant fruits 4" long... and mature from green to orange. It's a sweet pepper and looks like it might end up being a bell type.

IPK P 632 (Italy)
IPK P 632 (Italy) is another "Unsorted" pepper with no description. So far it has fairly good sized pods that are standing upright. One of my favorite sweet peppers, shown further along, starts the same way. Again, I don't know if this will be sweet or hot.

IPK P 633 (Italy) is supposed to be sweet.  

IPK P 557 (Italy)
I put this one in again because it was a blunder on my part. Dang it, this should be IPK P 852 (Italy), but somehow it got left out and a duplicate 557 went into its place. I've got a couple of 852's in 4" pots and they look pretty good so I am going to pot them up into bigger containers and give them a chance.

Aji Amarillo blossom

There's 2 baccatum type pepper varieties in the garden, Aji Amarillo is returning for a second year, I loved it last year, it makes The Best Pepper Jam. It's just starting to bloom and this looks like the first pepper.
Rat Gnawed Aji Amarillo
The Damn Rabbit isn't the only critter causing problems in the garden, no sooner than I had replaced one Aji Amarillo that had died than the new plant started to get trimmed. So I slipped a water bottle that had the top and bottom cut off over the plant to keep the Damn Rat from gnawing any more shoots and leaves off the plant. At some point I'll have to cut the bottle away, but not yet, the plant is still too small.

First Buds on Aji Amarillo Grande
Aji Amarillo was great so Aji Amarillo Grande must be even more great, or at least as good. It's a larger plant with larger peppers but the same great flavor. It's slower to bloom than it's baby brother, that's the first flower buds starting to show up.

Chile Negro should be a "black" or dark brown pepper with medium heat, although Native Seeds/SEARCH says an occasional plant will bear red fruit. I hope I didn't get that occasional oddball.

Craig's Grande Jalapeno
Craig's Grande Jalapeno is also returning after a successful run last year. It's a good sized jalapeno and in my garden it came out with very little heat, but it's supposed to be medium hot. It made great dried Chipotles last year and that's what I want to do with them again this year.

 Ometepe is a sweet pepper from Nicaragua. William Woys Weaver wrote about this type of pepper (Chiltome Grande) in his book 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From.

Rosso Dolce da Appendere
Another returnee from last year. Rosso Dolce da Appendere is a large sweet thick fleshed pepper that is perfect for roasting. I love roasted peppers and try to grow plenty of them so we can enjoy them in some preserve form through the year.

Etiuda is new in the pepper patch this year, it is a large thick walled orange bell pepper. I'm still searching for a great yellow or orange bell pepper. I grew Giallo di Cuneo for a few years and while it is a good pepper I was looking for one with thicker flesh that will stand up better to being roasted. Etiuda is looking good so far.

Florina is back again! I loved this pepper last year. It produces large red thick fleshed pods that are great roasted. It has a very distinctive sweet spicy flavor.

Lady Bell
 Lady Bell has been my go to red bell pepper for 4 or 5 years now. It is dependable, productive, delicious, and great roasted.

Shepherd's Ramshorn
 Shepherd's Ramshorn is another favorite sweet red roasting pepper that I've grown as long as I have grown Lady Bell. They both got trialed the same year with a bunch of other sweet peppers and are two of the few that have stayed in the lineup.

Petite Marseillaise
 Here's a new pepper to me but an old pepper from the South of France. It is sweet, wrinkled, and ripens to yellow and is supposed to be good for stuffing or pickles.

Violet Sparkle
Yet another new pepper, Violet Sparkle goes through a few color changes, starting yellow green, then developing purple streaks, progressing to purple with yellow streaks, and finally ripening red. It is supposed to be sweet, crisp, and thick-fleshed.

Yummy Belle
Yummy Belles are back again. These small sweet peppers ripen to yellow. They are very sweet and crisp. My favorite way to eat them is raw in salads or just cut into strips for snacking or to put on a crudite plate. They are also very prolific!

 A new favorite last year. Gogosar is a cheese type pimento, very sweet and very thick fleshed. I couldn't get enough of them. One of my favorite ways to use them was to cut the tops off, stuff them, and bake them. They are great roasted also.

Odessa Market
Odessa Market is one of the few that stayed in the lineup after my big sweet pepper trial a few years ago. It's a beautiful pepper, starting a lime green and ripening to a bright red. It's one of very few sweet peppers that I like to eat when it is still green. It is very prolific but I'm afraid that my crop will be curtailed this year because the Damn Rats have been gnawing on the plants and I only have 2 plants because of difficulties with germination.

Mirasol is yet another new pepper (I'm always trying new peppers, very few return after a year or two). When dried this pepper is called Guajillo, which is how I intend to use it. It has mild to medium heat.

Mareko Fana
Mareko Fana turned out to be one of my favorites last year. It makes the most fantastic pepper flakes, which I make without seeds.

Natural Smoke Flavor from The Soberanes Fire
The Soberanes Fire is still burning out of control and is getting closer. The plume of smoke has been flowing straight this way for days now. At this rate my peppers are going to get smoked before I can even harvest them. Joking aside, this is a bad one. It's burning in very rugged terrain, I've hiked in a number of places that it has now scorched or is threatening and I know how difficult it is to get around there. The fire fighters have an incredibly difficult job with this one and so far the fire is winning - almost 24,000 acres burned, 22 structures destroyed, and most sad a fatality. They keep putting the projected containment date off, from July 31 to August 5 and now to August 31. It's only 10% contained now so they have a long way to go.


  1. I always love your pepper reviews! I think I'm only growing one in common, the Mirasol. I grew it last year and only got maybe 6 peppers before I lost the plant, but they made a great Guajillo chile powder. So I have high hopes it will do better this year. I am growing the Baby Aji Amarillo, and my 2 plants are loaded with peppers so far. I'll try and catch the radio show. I heard the taped show the last time you did the pepper talk, and it was pretty interesting.

    The fire is downright scary. I've seen the news reports on TV, and I have nothing but admiration for all the folks fighting the fires. I hope they get a break and start to make some headway soon.

  2. "Natural Smoke Flavor from The Soberanes Fire" I laughed out loud upon reading this. Great sense of humor, Michelle. 50 at Monterey (one of the five coldest places in the state), 70 at Carmel Valley and 90 here in Monterey Park around 6 pm. Our skies are clear, though.

    Containment only means they've put a ring around it, nothing more; some fires are never contained. (Learned in volunteer fire lookout training.) But Soberanes is actively moving south and east, not good.

    Chiles are an appropriate topic; sounds cool, but is hot.

    1. Yeah, I realize that containment just means it isn't spreading, but that would be a relief, it keeps spreading in this direction. I'm sure we'll be smelling smoke for at least a couple of months!

  3. That is one huge fire, stay safe out there.

    Your pepper plants look good and they look like they're producing really well. The few peppers ours were able to set in the heat are starting to ripen, but come September they'll be setting many more fruits.

  4. That's pretty impressive lineup, Michelle. You seem to favour sweet(er) peppers rather than hot ones. I don't like eating Sweet Peppers so I don't grow many. I'm also not keen on the super-hots, so most of mine are in the "mild to medium" bracket that you mention. I hope your radio show chat goes well - you must have a fair bit of expertise to impart to listeners. Likewise, good luck to all you folks (especially your firefighters) with that dreadful fire.

    1. I definitely go for the sweeter ones, we really enjoy eating them in various ways and they are one of the few veggies that I put a fair amount of effort into preserving. And it has been a long time since I tried super hot peppers, I just can't manage them. I'll be just one of a bunch of speakers on the show so I don't expect to do more than just chime in now and then. But it will be fun to participate.

  5. That song! I can't get it out of my mind. Can't remember all the words ... Pee co day guy yo, don't get it in your eye oh ... you gotta try oh ... pico de gallo ... even if you're from Oh high oh.

    Only lyrics I ever herd that contain a recipe. How much fun!

    Pi de lo

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  6. What an amazing array of peppers, so interesting. The smoky landscape shot was a great photo, but scary for what it means.

  7. The variety of peppers you grow is amazing, I don't know how you keep a memory for all of them. The smoke is definitely worrisome, hope that fire stays far away.

  8. As usual, such a wonderful variety of peppers...that Violet Sparkle is gorgeous! I'm trying out the Odessa Market this year and it's looking good so far.

    I have several dried peppers in my cabinet for making Mexican food, including some Guajillos, but I have yet to give them a go when it comes to growing them. I think I may grow some in pots next year now that watering them won't be as big of an issue. And lucky you with the mild jalapenos - I would love to have some mild chipotle.

    Yikes - I'm hoping that the fire doesn't take any more lives and is able to be contained sooner rather than later.


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