Two years ago, I grew 2 varieties of pepper – one sweet, one hot – and I had so much fun, especially with the productive Hungarian Hot Wax pepper, that I decided to expand the number of varieties I grew this past season….to 10. Quite the jump!
Pepper harvest in early September
I did goof, however, when I planned the pepper beds. I grew climbing beans on one side of the bed (just like in the previous year) but because of how this specific bed was positioned, the peppers ended up being shaded for a good portion of the day. The problem is that I miscalculated the orientation of the beds - the "south" side of the bed (where I planted the peppers) was not exactly south, it faces more towards the south east. This meant that they were shaded by the pole beans much earlier in the afternoon than I anticipated.
|Pepper plants (left) with pole beans (right)|
|Pepper plants (left) with bush beans (right)|
All of the peppers were new to the garden except for the Hungarian Hot Wax, although I did purchase new seed from a different supplier this time round. The Hot Wax took a very long time to germinate back in 2014 and I wasn’t sure if it was variety or seed related. As it turned out, it seems to have been the seed as the new ones purchased at William Dam took a much more reasonable length of time with 50% germinating within 5 days vs. 20 days for those I purchased at Baker Creek the year before.
I decided to compare the plants/fruits from both of these sources and noticed one interesting thing. The William Dam peppers grew pointing up while the Baker Creek were pointing down.
|Hot Wax from William Dam|
|Hot Wax from Baker Creek|
|Hungarian Hot Wax|
|Corne de Chevre|
The Tam Jalapeno – which is supposed to be a very mild Jalapeno – was hot, with pretty much the same level of spice as most jalapenos I’ve tasted.
|Pimiento de Padron|
The Anaheims were amazing! They were a little late to get going, the first harvest not being until the third week of August, but once they started, their harvest was beyond impressive - a whopping 800 grams (1.8 lbs) per plant.
The other favourite in the hot pepper category was the Pepperoncino. These little guys were pickled and I use them primarily in salads & on pizza – they are not super spicy, but a little definitely goes a long way.
|Stocky Red Roaster|
And now for the numbers:
In a short season area such as mine, one of the biggest considerations is date to maturity. Hungarian Wax was the winner in terms of an early harvest, being almost 2 months earlier than the latest variety, Corne de Chevre. And, as I mentioned with Melrose peppers, it also helps when a variety can be harvested (and enjoyed) while still at the green stage. Anaheim, Padron, Tam Jalapeno and Pepperoncino all fell under this category.
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
The overall yield per plant was actually down a bit from 2014, when I harvested a total of 4.1 kg ( 9 lbs) from only 16 plants (vs. 28 this year), but the variety of peppers harvested was what made 2015 a great pepper year in my mind.
I’m so glad that I decided to grow so many varieties - I quite enjoyed seeing all those different shapes and colours in the harvest basket. I have a feeling that peppers (like tomatoes) will be one of the more difficult veg when it comes to picking and choosing which to grow each year - I just want to grow them all!
Much will stay the same when it comes to growing the peppers this year. I am, however, redoing the bed layout - no pole beans in the bed this time round! I’m hopeful that positioning the peppers so that they receive more sun and installing the new drip irrigation system will result in a larger overall yield.
I enjoyed the varieties I grew and will be growing them all again this coming season. We normally have fairly hot summers, but this past year was hotter than average. This likely contributed to the spiciness of some of the hot peppers, and it will be interesting to see how they taste when grown during a “normal” summer – if we ever have one of those again :)
I’m growing so many varieties already, but couldn’t resist adding a couple more to the list. Michelle wrote about a variety called Odessa this past year and her description had me placing it at the top of my “to try” list. In addition, last year I ordered "Orange Blossom" tomatoes from Lindenberg Seeds and they ended up sending me "Orange Blaze" peppers by mistake (when I called them they immediately sent out the correct seeds but told me to keep the pepper seeds). Even though these are a bell pepper, which don't seem to do very well in my garden, I decided to give them a try. Lindenberg Seeds is in Manitoba which has a much shorter growing season than we do, so you would think that any seeds they sold would grow well there (and here). My experience, however, has taught me that seed houses don't always sell seed that is appropriate to the climate they are in. Nonetheless, I figured it was worth a try.
And there you have it. Only one review left to go and I've saved one of my favourites (I seem to have so many of those now!) to last...tomatoes.