Hot Weekend with Hot Peppers

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I had to transplant the new hot peppers into their bed in the fading evening light because of the unseasonably hot weekend, but they don’t seem to have minded. There are six of them spread out across a 3′ x 4′ bed with a few Nasturtiums. I edged the planting bed in with a dozen ‘Chandler’ strawberries because my daughter can’t seem to get enough of them and they won’t mind a little shade from the growing peppers when things heat up for real. But I’m afraid to look at any of my companion planting books now that I’ve mixed strawberries and peppers.

The peppers for this bed include a ‘Manzano Orange’ which has soft, fuzzy leaves that look more like an eggplant’s. The Manzano pepper is one of the few chilies that are not in the Capsicum annuum species. Instead, it’s a Capsicum pubescens from the Andes. Maybe that’s where the fuzzy leaves come in. Wilipedia says pubescens means hairy. The thick-walled peppers are supposed to look like small apples and make nice hot salsa.

I’m hoping to over-winter the ‘Manzano Orange,’ though it’s going to need to be replanted somewhere with a lot more space because Wikipedia also says, “They grow into four-meter woody plants relatively quickly, and live up to 15 years, which gives them, especially with age, an almost tree-like appearance.” Sounds wonderful! This winter I was able to keep two sweet pepper plants going on in pots on the semi-protected patio. They are each several feet tall and leafing out fully with lots of flower buds right now. I’m very interested to see if, and how, they produce this year. I think they are a ‘King of the North’ and a ‘Corno di Toro.’

My Hot Pepper Have to Have list has been trimmed, due to my uncanny ability to kill pepper seedlings. I can grow asparagus from seed. I can grow potatoes from true seed for God’s sake! But I cannot seem to manage to keep pepper seedlings alive long enough to make it into the garden. Out of the dozens of pepper seeds I have started this year, only one ‘Fish’, one ‘Matchbox’ and one ‘Joe’s Long’ have survived. They are heading out into the garden along with the purchased starts of ‘Pasilla,’ ‘Red Cherry Bomb,’ ‘Ancho Poblano,’ ‘Ethiopian Brown Berbere,’ ‘Pimento Super’ and the ‘Manzano Orange.’

Suddenly that seems like it might be a whole lot of peppers. What’s your favorite way to use peppers? Fresh, dried, pickled or something else I haven’t thought of? Please share!

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