Harvesting peppers in August

Harvesting peppers in August.

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For the most part, peppers have been a huge success this summer. Last summer all the Havasu peppers turned out to be frying peppers. I’ll never figure that one out. This summer the Havasu plants are so productive I can’t keep up. Fortunately, I invested in a dehydrator and am drying all the peppers that aren’t used immediately for salads and other summer dishes. More about the Havasus and dehydrating below.

I’ll start with the sweet peppers. 2 Ace bell peppers plants. 2 Yankee bell pepper plants. 2 Intruder bell pepper plants.

The 2 Ace plants are doing OK except they unfortunately got planted in the shadow of some speckled Roman tomato plants that have grown sky high and forgotten how to produce tomatoes. The Ace peppers are pretty much like the green peppers that can be bought at the grocery store, so the question is why bother.

1 Yankee bell plant died. The other Yankee bell plant grew nicely but has yet to produce a pepper. So. Failure there.

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That brings us to the 2 Intruder bell peppers. They were planted in a raised bed with 2 Havasus at the shadier end of the garden. Since several trees have been removed from neighbors’ yards, that area is now sunny most of the day. Whether in shade or sun, the Intruder bells are a delight. F1 hybrids. This is the first year I’ve grown them. They are darker green than the Ace bells with firmer walls. Broad-shouldered. The plants are big and healthy and producing well.

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In the photo above, an Intruder bell is on the left, an Ace on the right. The Intruder is somewhat darker and sturdier than the Ace. I don’t know, maybe I’m just ready for a change from the Ace bells.

I’m thinking that Intruder bell peppers will be planted again next year. Then I’ll look for another bell to replace the Ace peppers. That’s the plan for bell peppers.

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3 Carmen frying pepper plants have been great successes as well. F1 hybrids. So far I’ve used them in cooking or dehydrated them while they are still green, and they are wonderful in all respects. I tend to think that vegetables should be harvested to encourage the plants to produce more. I must remember to give these peppers time to turn red ripe, which according to Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog is 20 more days from green. That’s a long time to wait, but it will undoubtedly be worth it. Maybe continue to harvest peppers from 1 plant green and leave peppers on the other 2 plants to turn red ripe on the vine.

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Carmen frying peppers will be repeated next year. I’m thinking 1 good frying pepper variety is enough, especially when it’s as tasty as these are.

5 Havasu hot pepper plants. F1 hybrids. Medium hot. A pretty pale yellow that’s attractive in salads and cooked dishes both. Love Havasus. Here’s the funny thing about Havasus this year. The 3 that were planted inside the vegetable garden fence are doing OK. Medium-sized plants with reasonable yields. All harvested at the pale yellow stage. 1 pale yellow Havasu pepper started to turn red on the kitchen counter, but it turned mushy, so I guess red-ripe Havasus have to happen on the vine.

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But here’s the funny thing. 2 Havasus were planted in black grow bags out in the old apple tree area. These plants are enormous and they are covered with peppers, as can be seen in the photos. Extraordinary when you remember that I didn’t grow a single Havasu pepper last year. It’s a miracle.

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These plants get lots of sun in the old apple tree area, but I don’t think that’s the explanation for their abundance. I think it’s the soil. I made a mixture of garden soil, compost, and a bagged compost/manure mix called Bumper Crop from a local nursery. Some rock phosphate was added as well, if I remember correctly.

This is more of a commentary on my vegetable garden soil than anything. Guess it’s not as good as I thought. Peppers and tomatoes need lots of phosphorus and calcium. It seems my vegetable garden soil may be lacking in nutrients. Hmm.

That brings us to a similar story with the 4 El Jefe jalapeño pepper plants. F1 hybrids. Medium hot. 2 were planted with the tomatoes, which was a mistake. The tomato plants are overshadowing the pepper plants and probably hogging moisture and nutrients.

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2 El Jefe jalapeño plants were planted in a little fenced-in area I call the white oak area. I didn’t have great expectations for them since the area is semi-shady. Well, they don’t seem to mind the shade. Again, as with the Havasus planted outside the vegetable garden, these jalapeños are performing superbly. Big healthy plants producing loads of peppers. Go figure.

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They are growing in non-garden soil, which is not particularly good soil, or so I thought, amended with some compost and rock phosphate. They should be puny and struggling to survive. Gardening is a mysterious endeavor. I’ll never figure it out.

El Jefe jalapeños are wonderful. They are a definite repeat for next year. All have been harvested green so far. I must leave some on the vine in the hopes of a red-ripe experience. No reason not to. There’s certainly enough of them.

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2 Cheyenne cayenne chiles were planted among the tomatoes. A big mistake, as I mentioned above with the jalapeños. Unfortunately, no cayenne plants were planted elsewhere. F1 hybrids. Warm chiles. I haven’t harvested any yet. Guess it just seems like cayenne peppers should be red. So, I’ll wait and see. If there are 4 or 5 big ones, like in the photo above, to dry and use for pepper flakes, that will be good. I’ll plant the Cheyenne cayenne chiles again next year and hope for a better yield.

2 Tiburon ancho/poblano plants, F1 hybrids with warm heat, have not done well through no fault of their own. Once again, they are inside the vegetable garden fence and seem to be lacking in nutrients. They were just sitting there not producing until I gave them a foliar feed of Neptune’s Harvest fish fertilizer, which is high in phosphorus.

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After that, they bloomed and have produced a few peppers, which are wonderful as green poblanos. Very dark, thin walls with an excellent flavor that comes through with both taste and texture in a tossed salad.

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I doubt there will be any anchos this year. However, the fish fertilizer experiment certainly indicates that the problem with peppers in the raised-bed soil is a lack of phosphorus. This is probably true for the tomatoes as well, although the tomato plants are doing better than the peppers.

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That leaves 1 Helios habanero pepper plant to be celebrated in this post. F1 hybrid. I love habaneros. Little Scotch bonnets. Didn’t raise a single one last year. This year, I managed to grow 1 spindly little plant from seed and transplanted it out without any great expectations for it.

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But the little dear has managed to thrive in the raised-bed environment of the vegetable garden. I gave it the same fish fertilizer mentioned above with the Tiburon ancho/poblanos. It has set on several peppers, as can be seen in the photos above, which I hope will turn a lovely orange or even red. A few habanero peppers go a long way, since they are VERY HOT. Handle with gloves, that’s for sure.

All in all, a successful pepper season in progress. Lots of peppers for eating and drying for the winter. Equally important, I think, are the lessons learned by planting the same varieties in different environments. That was a eye-opener for me.

I’m thinking of planting more peppers out in black grow bags next year. Gardener’s Supply has pepper bags on sale now. Pepper bags are black grow bags just like potato bags but smaller, so they don’t need as big an investment in soil. I ordered 6 pepper bags. Maybe I should order more. Hmm. Because of Daisy and her dog friends, I have to plant vegetables either in fenced-in areas or in potato/pepper grow bags. The potato bags certainly worked well with the Havasu peppers, and they are attractive out among the wildflowers. So, that may be the pepper plan for next year.

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