Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bell Pepper Celebration!

Green & Red Bell Peppers ~ Homegrown by me!

For 10 summers now, I have been trying to grow bell peppers in my garden. I want big beautiful bell peppers of many colors! I always plant them. Sometimes the plants do grow well, but the peppers have never really pleased me. I have tried several different seed varieties from many sources. I especially want to grow red and yellow/orange/gold bell peppers. They are sweeter than the typical green ones and they are so expensive in the supermarket. I never buy them in the market. Sometimes our local organic farmer has colorful bell peppers, and then I will buy one or two. This year I did buy a few purple bells from our farmer friends to make my favorite stuffed pepper dinner recipe.

Big Red Bell Pepper ~ a green Cal Wonder turned red in the sun

In years past, I have tried growing bell peppers from seeds and also resorted to buying pepper plants when my seeds wouldn't sprout correctly, or when I couldn't find the seeds I wanted. I have planted and grown green, light yellow, purple, gold and red bell pepper plants. I said, I grew the plants. However, usually the plants only produced a sparse few peppers, mostly green, mostly small and not very tasty.

The purple variety, as I recall, produced many peppers, but they were all the size of a ping pong ball at maturity, (maturity = turns color) which didn't work very well for my stuffed peppers recipe.

Gold & Green Bell Peppers!

This year, I started two varieties, a Green Cal Wonder, and a Golden Cal Wonder from seeds. The plants were healthy if a bit small at transplanting time. They flowered well and started to bear fruit. Little peppers formed on each plant. However, they kept getting shaded by the adjacent summer squash leaves that were taking over my entire raised bed garden. I kept moving and even pruning the big squash leaves away from my peppers, but the little pepper plants did not get enough direct sunlight to really produce well. That is until the end of summer when the squash plants started to die back and let the sunlight into the rest of the garden.

Then the recent cold nights hit and a few rainy and cold days. Peppers love heat, bells being no exception. So I went ahead and harvested all of the rest of the peppers, green, red and gold and brought them into the kitchen. Perhaps a bit prematurely, since it has been sunny outside now for a few days.

The peppers that were already starting to turn yellow or red have since turned color completely in the warmth of the house. They are beautiful, thick walled, crunchy, juicy and sweet. I have been enjoying them mostly raw in fresh green salads. Also some in stir fries. Only one or two were really large enough or the right shape (square & blocky) for my stuffed pepper recipe, so I doubt I will use them that way.

So I am celebrating my harvest of beautiful bell peppers. There are more peppers of more color variety that actually taste good, than I have ever grown before. So this really is a pepper celebration.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket


CaliforniaGrammy said...

A big high-five for you, Farmer Jen! They are beautiful. When we lived in Southern California we grew beautiful peppers, but I'm not even gonna try since now we spend our summers in Oregon. Congratulations on a crop of peppers of which you must be proud!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Congrats on those big, beautiful peppers! As you know, this was my first year growing red peppers - they turned out yummy but extremely small...just a bit bigger than your former ping-pong ball sized ones. My yellow pepper is big, but it's still completely was 36 degrees this morning, I wonder if I should pick it and hope it turns yellow in the house?
What an amazing harvest you had this year...yum....

BTW, I just looked at your weather pixie..can you believe it's almost 30 degrees difference between your house and my house right now??!!

Farmer Jen said...

Hi CA Grammy,
Thank you! I love my garden and all of my produce. When I lived in Southern California several years ago, I had a bell pepper in a pot on my patio that never got very big, but did not die in the mild winters down there. I believe peppers are really perennials when grown in warm enough weather.

Hi Danni,
Thank you for the congrats! I wish I could offer you some "pepper growing wisdom", but as I admitted in my post, I have struggled for years to grow bell peppers. Now, hot peppers like cayenne or jalepeno chilis, I can grow very well. Didn't even try any of those this year, as I have many dried and stored in my pantry.

My weather pixie is really not very accurate for the foothill area in which I live. The closest pixie I could get was in a major city in the valley below me. The weather here today was about 10 degrees cooler than my pixie was indicating. So we were only 20 degrees apart in temperature!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Your peppers are beautiful. They remind me of the colors of the holiday season.
A basket of red, yellow and green peppers on a table would look so cheerful for Christmas, don't you think?


Hardware Bob said...

I was hoping to have home grown bell peppers of my own this year, yours really look great, colorful, and the closeup photos are super.

My tiny struggling pepper plant barely produced one very adorable, bell pepper. I nurtured and watered it all summer, hoping it would be a prime contributor to the fajita fest I had planned.

Then, the exact day before I was about to harvest my precious single baby pepper, some insensitive deer chomped the plant down practically to dirt level, and consumed my baby pepper.

I truly hope the pepper fought back vigorously and was very, very hot going down.

So, I guess I am relegated to begging some peppers from you or getting my fajita peppers at the market this year.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Lisa,
Thank you for the pepper praise. I enjoy their bright colors, and I often have baskets of produce decorating my kitchen, the dining table and my wooodstove hearth. Especially this time of year. I like the natural look. Right now I have tomatoes, pumpkins, apples, peppers and almonds in baskets all over the house.

Hi Bob,
I know how much enjoy your garden and were looking forward to harvesting bell peppers this year. That deer was indeed violating your garden. I don't blame you for being angry. I doubt that the bell pepper was hot going down, as it really has no heat at all. Bells have a rating of zero on the famed Scoville heat unit scale used to measure "hotness" of peppers and chilis. Some deer even eat jalapenos, which are much hotter, with no problem.

Next year we should make sure your tender plants are protected from wildlife with some sort of fencing, perhap a chicken wire cage for the smaller plants.

If you treat me sweetly and ask just right, you might be able to talk me out of a few homegrown bells for making your fajitas. At least some of the green ones...♥

JeanAnnVK said...

Wish I could have grown those here in Oregon this year...sigh...we had tiny peppers...

BTW, canning post up on, wonder if you agree with my experiences...

frugalmom said...

Peppers....they have always stumped me. Mine stay really, really small. I think out of 6 or so plants I have maybe gotten 5 nice, large ones.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi JeanAnn,
Many of my bells are smaller than I'd like, but this year I had quite a few larger ones. I haven't had a chance to check out your canning post yet, but I will soon.

Hi Frugalmom,
This is the first year that I have harvested some really nice sized bell peppers. Usually they are very small. I think they really need a lot of water and soil nutrients while they are growing their "fruit". I grow an organic garden, so I usually add compost before I transplant the peppers into the garden, and should add more througout the summer, but usually don't. I try my best to place the pepper plants where they will get enough water to produce good peppers.