While we are planning what to put into the dirt for the next growing season, we are never too far from thinking about dinner. One of the things we certainly could have eaten more of last year was peppers. And this year we should have plenty of them; hot, sweet and in-between.
There are at least three popular ways to start your pepper seeds:
- Pop them in the dirt as-is. Keep them moist and very warm (as high as 85 degrees would work) and hope for the best.
- Soak them in water overnight before popping them into the dirt, etc.
- Soak them for 10 minutes in a 10% bleach solution, then plant them. This method is recommended for killing any possible disease that might be carried on the seed if, just as an example, perhaps you got your seed from an unknown or unusual source, let’s say.
We have trials of all three methods going right now using seeds from Guajillo peppers that are supposedly grown all over Mexico and very popular but which I could not find this year for love or money from our usual seed sources. My ever-resourceful husband found a handful of seeds from someone on eBay for us to try. And I drove up to Penzey’s in Menlo Park to buy 1 oz. of dried Guajillo’s for $2.09. I cut a slit in the side of one and now have enough seeds left over to go into business on eBay myself. Of course, we don’t actually know if the peppers will grow from either source yet.
Guajillo’s are moderately hot peppers for us, they rank at ~6,000 Scoville Units. We are also planning to try ‘Hot Lemon‘ peppers (5,000-30,000), Jalapeños (2,500-8,000), Anchos (1,000-2,000), Santa Fe style peppers (500-700), ‘Pizza‘ peppers (500) and the very hot Fuego F-1 Hybrid (60,000-100,000), even though we usually try to grow from open-pollinated seed.
The sweet pepper list is shorter, but also very important for fresh eating. Many of the Dirt to Dinner kids will happily eat sweet peppers right off the plants! This year we’ll try Yolo Wonder, California Wonder 300, Golden Star, Mini-Red Bells and a Tangerine Pimento. (If this one is anything like the Pimento we grew last year, I’m going to have to move it to the Hot list.)
We plan to be using our peppers in a variety of Mexican dishes since Mackenzie has been interning in Mexico for the last several months, for fresh salsa, for pickling, for drying and for smoking. We will also be canning ketchup, pasta sauce and barbecue sauces.