This was my first year growing peppers (unless you count the dismal failure I had in my first garden when I was in my 20’s!) and I must say, I’m already addicted. Everywhere I look there seem to be more and more varieties that are begging to be tried.
In this first year, however, I only grew two varieties – one hot pepper (Hungarian Hot Wax) and one sweet pepper (King of the North). I first sowed the seeds back on February 19th. By March 5th, all of the sweet peppers had germinated. Nothing yet from the hot peppers. I had read that peppers – especially hot peppers - sometimes take a long time to germinate, but I was getting antsy. What if I kept waiting and they didn’t come up…I could end up losing weeks of growing time.
|Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers|
My original plan was to grow all of the peppers on the south side of the bed that held indeterminate tomatoes. I like keeping the same or similar families in each bed, when possible, just to make things easier when it comes to crop rotation. I am finding, however, that this is much easier said than done, especially if you want to make the most out of available space during the growing season.
|King of the North Sweet Peppers|
As the summer progressed, I began to notice that the pepper plants growing in the bean bed were significantly lusher & more productive than those in the tomato bed. I talked about this at length in THIS post. Best guess is that tomatoes in general are a very hungry crop and they were likely sucking back more than their fair share of nutrients. Beans, on the other hand, are nowhere near as demanding, so the peppers in this bed were able to draw up more nutrients, which was reflected in their growth & production. Perhaps the beans even gave the peppers a boost with their nitrogen fixing power.
I was very happy with the hot pepper production; not so happy with the sweet peppers, where I only harvested 5 red ripe peppers with the rest being harvested while only semi-ripe or still green.
One of the first things that surprised me on reviewing the table was that I started harvesting hot peppers almost 1½ months before the sweet peppers. And that’s after starting most of the hot peppers a full 2 weeks later because of the germination issues.
Something else to note is that of the 16 sweet peppers harvested, only 7 came from the plants in the tomato bed – exactly one pepper per plant. The rest of the peppers – all 9 of them – came from the two sweet pepper plants in the bean bed. Pretty dramatic difference, eh? There were too many hot peppers to keep track of, but I have a feeling that the difference between the beds was likely just as impressive.
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
When it comes to starting pepper plants, I will definitely be pre-germinating the seeds from now on. At the very least, this will give me some assurance in a relatively short period of time (less than a week) that the seeds are in fact viable. If I sowed them directly in the soil, I wouldn’t know if they were viable for a month or more.
The most surprising aspect of growing peppers this year was how productive hot peppers (as a whole) were compared to sweet peppers. I just assumed that hot peppers – which I often associate with hot, tropical climates – would not do as well as the sweets. Well, that assumption was obviously wrong.
|Loaded Hot Pepper Plants in Bean Bed|
In the future, peppers will be kept out of the tomato bed. I’m planning on growing quite a few more climbing dried bean varieties, so my plan is to place the peppers on the south side of these beds. I’ll be growing the Hungarian Hot Wax again – my husband has gone absolutely nuts over these as pickled peppers. No need to explain why I need more beds next year – I just mention that this would mean more hot peppers and he is at the ready to help out… ;)
King of the North is not tasty enough nor prolific enough to continue to grow, so these will be dropped. Now the hard part – how on earth to decide between the plethora of pepper varieties out there. I have a very large list already, based on the fabulous varieties other bloggers have grown but there is no way I will be able to fit them all in. Decisions, decisions…..
Till next time…