Peppers Peppers Peppers

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, you’ll know that I am fairly new to pepper growing. In fact, I wasn’t particularly fond of peppers in any form until I was in my 20’s (I was one of those picky eater children, sorry Mom and Dad). Thankfully I smartened up and started eating peppers, even becoming obsessed with them.

I only started growing peppers a few years ago when I bought a jalapeno plant one spring from the garden centre. I planted it in my raised bed and got a pepper (or maybe two) from it. Quite sad, but that little ounce of success excited me. I decided the next year to try growing peppers from seed. It was a failure. Then the next year we built a little greenhouse in our backyard with the help of my Dad. I’d gotten a late start to my garden that year so the peppers didn’t grow as I’d hoped they would. But still, I wasn’t discouraged. Last year I started my peppers quite early indoors and then transferred them out to the greenhouse that spring. It was a huge success. So of course this year I decided I should go insane with pepper plants and here we are now.

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I ordered all of my pepper seeds at the beginning of January because I knew that I wanted to start them indoors as soon as we returned from our trip to California. I am growing a wide variety of peppers, but mostly hot peppers. I like the milder hot peppers (with a little bit of a kick – not too much!), but my husband loves the really hot peppers, so I’ve selected a few of those just for him (we have plans to video tape the taste testing of the really hot peppers!)

Here is the full 2015 pepper growing list:

Sweet Peppers

Tequilla Sunrise – I chose this one because I liked the coloring on it, but also they are apparently early ripeners which is a huge plus in my books.
Oda – I definitely chose this for its purple color!
Mini Chocolate Bell – I’m a sucker for the miniature sweet peppers.
Mini Yellow Bell – Same as above!
Sweet Cherry Red – I grew this one last year and really loved the flavor. Although it isn’t a prolific producer, I still think it is worth growing at least one plant.

Hot Peppers

Italian Pepperoncini – These guys are supposed to be great for canning and come with just a little bit of heat.
Fish – I actually read an article on Garden Betty about this variety and immediately added it to my wish list. I’m interested to see how similar it will be to her description since I am in a completely opposite growing climate.
Pimiento De Padron – Eating these is apparently a game of Russian roulette as some are hot and some are not. With that description, how could I not try them?! I live on the wild side.
Chocolate Habanero – I discovered last year that I love love LOVE habanero peppers. So of course I had to purchase every different habanero pepper seeds I could find.
Lemon Drop – These small yellow peppers are supposed to be fairly mild but with a citrus-y flavor. Sounds delicious. Banana – This one I’m growing from saved seeds that I acquired from a pepper I purchased at the farmer’s market. I’m interested to see if the seeds will even germinate. Banana peppers are pretty mild as far as hot peppers go and are excellent for canning.
Black Hungarian – These ones are supposedly a bit rare and look pretty much exactly the same as a small black jalapeno pepper. They are supposed to be mildly hot but very flavorful. I have fresh salsa in mind for these ones.
Filius Blue – I wasn’t totally wild about these last year and actually found them to be very weak. But I did love the plant itself as an ornamental and it doesn’t hurt to grow this one again – who knows, the flavor may be completely different this year.
Joe E Parker – I did grow this one last year as well and enjoyed it eaten raw – it really wasn’t a hot pepper at all and I feel like I should be categorizing it more under the sweet peppers, but maybe it will be a bit hotter this year so I’ll keep it under this category for now.
Habanero – By far my favorite hot pepper that I grew last year.
Pasillo Bajio – Another one I grew last year. I really liked the flavor, but it wasn’t hot at all so kind of in the same category at the Joe E Parker.
Mustard Habanero – I need to grow all the habaneros.
Jalapeno – The most common hot pepper, but I do love jalapenos in fresh salsa and on tacos.
Chinese 5 Color – I grew this one last year and loved it especially for the multi-colored peppers.
Red Cap Mushroom – I bought the package of these from the Stony Plain Urban Homesteading Store and had a good conversation with someone there about our mutual love for hot peppers. I’m most intrigued by the shape of these guys. These are supposed to be ideal for pickling.
Trinidad Scorpion – This is one of the hottest peppers in the world. Plus the name is total bad-ass. I am still debating whether or not I will actually try the really hot peppers in fear that I will burn all of my taste buds off, but we’ll see.
Bhut Jolokia – More commonly known as the Ghost Pepper, I am very excited to grow this one. If you want to see something totally messed up, watch this.
Scotch Bonnet – This is another really hot pepper but it is not supposed to be as bad as the 2 previous life destroyers. I might try it, we’ll see.

Are you trying any new peppers this year? What are some of your favorites?

Seed sources: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, West Coast Seeds, Urban Harvest (I am not affiliated with any of these companies, I am just a huge fan and supporter of the work they do preserving non GMO, rare, and heirloom variety seeds)

My Favorite Seed Starting Supplies

It’s that time of year again – that time where I drag out the shelves, lights, trays, dirt, seeds, etc. and start the planting process! Also known as the time of year my husband resents me the most (maybe not really). But that nice clean space in our dining room that once existed has now been claimed by a huge mess of plants and bright lights. I’ve greatly expanded my seed starting operation over the last couple of years, mainly to save some money (I’ll show you my set up in a few weeks). I grow a lot of plants and if I were to buy them all at the nursery, I would be broke. The initial investment can be a bit, mainly the shelves and the lights, but after that the only real expense will be soil and seeds, which is fairly minimal. I decided to put together an inspiration board of all of my favorite seed starting supplies in anticipation of starting my seeds in the next couple of weeks:

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1. Seed Markers $9.10 – Kaufmann Merchantile – Essential for writing down what seed you’ve planted and the date you planted it. When planting tomatoes, I also make note whether or not is in indeterminate (i) or determinate (d) so I know which ones to transplant directly into pots in the spring. I like the wood markers because they will eventually break down in the compost but I also don’t mind using the plastic ones as they can be cleaned and re-used.

2. Grow Light $39.97 – Home Depot – I purchased an inexpensive shop light a few years ago and it works great – just make sure the bulbs you purchase are daylight bulbs – I asked an employee for help picking the right bulbs. The best part of these lights is that the height is adjustable for various growing stages and if you use the wooden shelves, you can easy screw in a few of those little hooks for ease of light hanging.

3. Notebooks $14.00 – Rifle Paper Co – I keep a notebook of seed starting schedules, when things were transplanted into larger pots, etc. It is great to reference back the next year instead of re-inventing the wheel every year.

4. Heating Mat $42.15 – Amazon.ca – Perfect for getting seeds like peppers and tomatoes to germinate quickly. I only keep my heating mat on until all of the seeds have germinated and then it goes back in to storage (it fits inside of my seedling trays so it isn’t take up any additional storage space to have it).

5. Seed Starting Mix $5.95 – Good quality seed starting mixture is essential. I don’t buy this specific brand, but I buy a locally made product from the nursery. I always underestimate how much I will actually need and usually end up having to make multiple visits to the nursery to stock up.

6. Pot Maker $19.57 – Kaufmann Merchantile – I have a similar one from Lee Valley and it is not an essential, but it is very fun to use and is a good reuse for newspaper you would otherwise throw in the recycle bin. Perfect for starting flower seeds that you will directly transplant into the garden.

7. Seeds – Happy Cat Farms – Obviously you need seeds, but why not try out something new that you’ve never planted before. This year I am trying out cow peas, orach, shiso, and fava beans!

8. Seedling Trays $5.95 – Veseys – I love these trays because they are very space efficient, inexpensive and are re-useable – and they stack for easy storage when not in use.

9. Plant Tray $9.95 – The garden centre sells a lot of flimsy plastic trays which I hate – I need something sturdy that will hold up to being brought inside and outside during the hardening off stage. Last year I finally invested in a good quality tray with taller sides that is made from a much sturdier plastic and I can’t express how much easier it has made that aspect of the spring for me.

10. Shelf $109.00 – Ikea – I can quickly become surrounded by seedlings as it nears planting time and being able to keep things in layers is so much less chaotic. Plus I can actually use these shelves in my basement for storage in the off-season (having things do double duty in my smallish house is essential!).

Do you start seeds in the winter time? What are some of your favorite seed starting supplies? I’d love to hear any feedback!

Wardrobe Architect 2015

I don’t know if anyone has heard, but one of my favorite sewing bloggers and pattern designers, Colette, has started a build-your-own wardrobe challenge. And I’ve decided to participate.

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The idea behind the challenge is to think about your clothes and how you create your wardrobe. Most people that I know (myself included), purchase their clothes from the mall or online, not really thinking much about where they came from or the quality of the product. It’s convenient and affordable. But the problem I’ve been facing lately is that I am not able to find the things that I really want. That’s where the challenge grabbed my attention. I’ve been experimenting with sewing apparel lately and while I wasn’t crazy about jumping in to it without a pattern, I’ve come up with a rough outline for my challenge. Please note: this is not the exact outline presented by the Coletterie, but I feel like you’re allowed to be flexible and adjust things to suit your own needs.

January – I’m going to consider my blouse the first part of the challenge completed. Not because it was highly successful, but because it was the first attempt at anything.

February – The Violet blouse. I’ve already picked up the pattern and chosen the fabric I want to use (I’ve gone with a voile this time). I’m excited about this blouse because unlike the first blouse, I’m not going in blindly.

March – An accessory. After sewing a blouse, I wanted to give myself a bit of an easier project. I’ve sewn a few bags in the past so I’m leaning towards that – and I already own tons of patterns.

April/May – Using another Colette pattern, I’m going to finish a dress. I have two patterns to chose from that I already own so that narrows down the choices a lot. I combined two months for this part of the challenge because I needed to be realistic about the time commitment. This usually marks the beginning of a really busy gardening season for me, so the next few months will be similar.

June/July – I’m still thinking about this one, but I’m pretty sure it is going to be the Amy Butler rain jacket. I’ve had both the pattern and laminated fabric for this pattern for several years and this is the kind of push I need to go ahead and make the jacket already.

August/SeptemberWool cape by Burda. This is another one of those projects I pinned ages ago and have always looked back on thinking I need to make it.

October – a kimono robe. I know the exact fabric I want for this as well.

November/December – I decided to put these months together as well since it is another really busy time (I need to be realistic here). I haven’t actually decided what I’m going to do for these last months of the project and I think I’ll leave it open ended for now.

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I am really excited about this challenge. I normally do not go for challenges of any sort, mostly because they do not appeal to me and almost seem more like a punishment that anything else. But I’m all for this one because I kind of wanted an excuse to do more personal sewing this year (I like sewing for my Etsy shop, but it isn’t challenging and sewing the same thing all the time can get to be a little dull). Although my version of the challenge is not exactly the same as the Coletterie, I had fun making it my own. And I’ll be sure to post my progress, challenges, and hopefully successes. Are you taking on any challenges in 2015?

And to help myself along the way, I’ve added a little button on the side panel of my blog as a daily reminder!