Peppers: A Hot Topic (Part 2)
Last time we focused lots on hot peppers and new varieties so let go a little milder. Let’s talk Bell Peppers. Bell Peppers are a staple of the garden, who doesn’t love a fresh bell pepper to eat or have in a salad or your meals? They add a lovely flavour and spruce everything up with their vibrant colours of red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. PURPLE? Yes I said purple!
The Purple Beauty Bell Pepper to be exact. There are multiple varieties of purple bell peppers but Purple Beauty is the one we carry most typically. This pepper, when fully ripened, turns a deep eggplant purple. However, if you chop them up they remain that vibrant lush green on the inside. This makes for a fantastic veggie platter contrast. What is so special about these? Well, really nothing I suppose. They taste just as good as any other pepper and require the same care as other peppers, I just simply think they look so amazing when they turn that rich dark purple. If you love peppers but want more colour in your meals this pepper will make all your salads, stir frys, and homemade salsa look amazing.
Another colourful bell we carry is the Red Baron. Sweet and crisp with a delicious vibrant red colour, this is by far a must-have in any garden. The Red Baron pepper has often been described to me as a sweet, refreshing veggie with subtle hints of strawberry! I thought this was crazy, but I have had so many customers tell me now that their Red Baron peppers had a hint of strawberry. I personally haven’t tried them yet so I can’t vouch for this, but I feel that if several people have separately claimed this there has to be some truth to it!
The last bell I want to highlight is the Orange Blaze Pepper. Based on the name alone I can’t tell you how many customers were scared away because they thought it would be a hot pepper. And with a name like Orange Blaze, I don’t blame them. But I can assure you that the Orange Blaze Bell Pepper is just that, a bell pepper. The name comes from the colour rather than the spice. The Orange Blaze pepper gets an exceptionally delicious orange colour when fully ripened and they are known to be quite sweet at this stage. Honestly, if you want to make yourself hungry or salivate just go look at pictures of these beauties: they look absolutely delicious. And they are! With their refreshing, sweet taste they are sure to make your garden treats that much better!
So we’ve talked about some fun colours, some crazy heat, and new varieties but what is the general care of peppers? Some people seem to have all the luck while others seem to never be able to get their pepper starting. What’s the secret? The one thing that makes the biggest difference is planting time. Peppers are incredibly fickle when it comes to temperature. Peppers are best to plant at the earliest end of May. I typically plant mine in the first to second week of June. Pepper flowers are incredibly delicate and the most sensitive part of the pepper plant. Though the plant itself could possibly tolerate a very mild frost, the flowers themselves will die or not reproduce if it gets lower than +4. So if the weather is ever looking cold make sure to cover your pepper plants, and if it’s looking like frost you may want to go so far as to dig up your peppers, put them in some pots and store them in the garage until the threat is gone. Another important thing for peppers is heat. They LOVE the hot weather, if you have a little greenhouse that is perfect for them. However make sure there they have room and a breeze. Peppers need good air circulation and don’t like to be crowded. As far as watering the feast and famine method is always a good one. Peppers love a good soak, but they hate staying wet. Give them a good watering and then let the soil dry out for a couple days. The amount of days will vary depending on how hot it is and how much rain we are getting. Our weather is currently in a crazy transition, we just came out of an incredibly hot dry spell and now it seems to have flipped on its head giving us cold and rainy weather!
And that is my insight into the hot topic of peppers!