Spicy, Sweet and Definitely Seedy
Written by: Sumati Shah, Go Go Green Thumbs
We are now officially in “seed season.” It’s the weird-winter end of February into March. The days grow longer….
So here we are with about 10 weeks before the last expected frost date. I’m generally referencing zone 6 here, and there’s about 7-10 days of grace in there depending on your specific location and exposure. Zone 5 could wait another couple of weeks, while Zone 7+ is still right in the window if you’ve not started yet. It’s all good, timing isn’t something you can really get “perfect” except by happy accident.
Rule of Green Thumbs: Nature doesn’t follow calendar dates. Adapt your calendar to Nature
Let’s do start to think about specifics with peppers, though. They are slow to germinate and just won’t cooperate unless you’re keeping them in at least 6 hours of bright light and a nice warm seed tray or pot. Here’s a few tips to get you started;
Spicy or Sweet…Why not both?
Bell peppers are the ones I’ve found to be most challenging to grow. They’re all needy about water and warmth, but they won’t reliably set fruit if it’s over 30ºC and that’s just not worth it in my books. Most Bells are best suited to greenhouse cultivation…but there are so many other choices!
I like a versatile pepper with a juicy snap for salads and one that’s also good for cooking. My choice is a Hungarian Wax. I’ve found them wonderfully adaptable to both cool and hot summers and they are so versatile – not as thick as a Bell pepper but also a milder flavour that’s less overpowering.
The hot ones aren’t actually hot unless you let them ripen to a much bigger pepper – when small, they’re tasty in salads. The sweet ones are a little paler in my experience and just a bit smaller overall – definitely sweet and delicious. Most importantly they’re great garden performers.
The “Green Crackler” is a hot green pepper perfect for making a Thai dish or Indian cooking – totally worth it even if it’s new to you! Hot peppers are generally much more appreciative of very hot weather although they do appreciate a bit of light shade to keep them happy – they produced all summer and right into the fall. These peppers freeze exceptionally well, so if you look to sustainability or homesteading ideas as you grow your garden skills…Get them started between now and early March in 4” pots so they have room to fill with roots before transplant time in May.
Go Go Green Thumbs … it’s time to Pick your Pepper (seeds)!
PS: Interested in recipes for your new hot pepper plants? What food are you interested to find new ways to eat and grow?