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.


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)

2014 Garden Successes & Failures

One of the really important skills of being a gardener is the ability to look back on the season and reflect on what worked and what didn’t work. And I will freely admit that I am not the most compliant person when it comes to this task. A few years ago I dedicated a notebook to keeping track of things as they would come up – it worked for a season and then I just didn’t really bother picking it up again. Another thing I am guilty of is the “I’ll remember that” statement – and of course I always forget. So I’m saying it right here – I am going to change. I will keep gardening records and I will stick to it. Frankly, it is silly not to. How am I going to remember which green tomato I liked and which one I didn’t? It is best to save myself the effort of growing them both again if I just make a note of which one I liked and which one was a waste of precious growing space.

The season started off a bit slow. We decided to do a home renovation right at the beginning of the gardening season (so smart!) and then instead of spending the long weekend working in my garden, I took off to help my sister plant her garden. Then when I finally got around to the garden, it was the end of May going in to the first week of June. Luckily I didn’t pile on too many big garden projects so I wasn’t feeling too overwhelmed at the beginning. Here are some reflections for the season:


A tiny bit of success with my first cauliflower grown from seed – unfortunately the rest looked nothing like this one.


– Dealing with Sod Mountain. It was one day of really hard work but it paid off. And I’m looking forward to utilizing this area a bit more next year by growing some squash in the raised bed. I will need to remember to build some chicken wire domes to protect young squash seedlings though.

– Growing peppers in the greenhouse. I think this was one of my proudest gardening moments from this year. And I’ve got at least 15 new varieties on my wish list for next year! So basically my entire greenhouse is going to be peppers.

– Mulching the front yard. This had been on my to-do list ever since I started digging out sod in the front yard several years ago. We were able to cover all of the beds in mulch and add a nice rock border with collected rocks (my parents have a gravel pit on their property!), so now it is looking much neater and is a lot more low maintenance. The plan for next year is to do a bit of an overhaul of the front yard, moving things around and adding some raised beds – and also removing the remaining sod, so I will need to add quite a bit more mulch, but for now it is looking nice!

– The galvanized steel planter. I was actually surprised at how well the livestock tank worked as a raised bed because I first saw the idea in a gardening magazine and kind of figured it might just be something they made pretty for the photo shoot and then everything died immediately afterwards. I’m so optimistic! Anyway, I really liked the look so I gave it a try and it worked wonderfully. I grew tomatoes in the planter and while I possibly planted them too close together, they did exceptionally well – and seemed to love the heat and reflection from the metal. I’m curious to see how long the tank will hold up for – it is heavy duty as it needs to stand up to cows and other heavy livestock so I feel pretty good about it lasting for quite awhile.

– Corn. I think everyone was a bit surprised that I grew corn. And it was delicious! The key was to start it in the house about a month early (thanks for the tip, Mom!).


Greens are always very successful in my colder climate garden.


– Growing eggplant in the greenhouse. I think I’m done trying eggplant. I grew 3 very very small eggplants (only 1 was actually big enough to resemble an eggplant – shown in the photo below). This was probably my fourth year attempting to grow eggplant and although it was the most successful year because I actually got something more than nothing, it wasn’t enough success to justify trying it again. I just don’t think it was meant to be. And that’s okay – our local farmer’s market has some great greenhouse grown eggplants.


– Dirty disgusting Cabbage Loopers. I wiped out the population when I first discovered them and things seemed to be fine after that – I was even able to harvest two decent sized cauliflower heads from the plants in October! Then I discovered the caterpillars in the community garden when I went to clean out my bed in October – they’d done quite a bit of damage over there and I ended up tossing a lot of the kale. Next year I’m going to be on the lookout for these creatures early on in the season, but I’m also going to either try an all-natural spray to kill them or consider a row cover. The other thing is, I didn’t find too much of a taste difference between the cauliflower I grew and the cauliflower I purchase at the market. Maybe I’m being crazy here, but it might not be worth it to attempt growing cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts again. I will continue growing kale, but I will keep an eye on it for space bugs.

– Carrots. I don’t know what it is, but the last 3 years I have had completely unremarkable carrot harvests. The roots are stunted or insect damaged. Maybe I am not meant to grow carrots anymore until I have a large in-ground garden. I blame myself for this one.

– Mason bees. I don’t know what happened with my bees. What I want to believe is that I released them and they found a better yard to live in and made tons of babies. I guess I will never know what really happened to them, but I’m going to assume that I released them in a crappy location in my yard and they left – they did all emerge from their cocoons and flew away because I did not find any dead bodies in the release area. I’ve got a better location picked out for next year. And I have had some success with mason bees in the past, so I’m chalking it up to poor planning on my part.

– Squirrels. I lost a lot of seedlings (especially tomatoes and squash) to pesky little squirrels. I mentioned it above but I will be constructing some chicken wire domes to protect my young seedlings next spring.

One of the things I am glad that I took the time to do was take regular pictures of the back yard. The intention was to do this bi-weekly, but it turned into once every two months (which is better than nothing!). This gives you an idea of what my garden looks like throughout the seasons:

Processed with Moldiv

Clockwise from top left: March 2014, June 2014, October 2014, August 2014

Even though it doesn’t always seem like it to me, we did accomplish quite a bit in the garden this year and it really does keep getting better with every growing season. I’m really looking forward to what next year has to bring us – trying lots of new hot peppers, a few new tomatoes, and hopefully expanding our edible growing operation in to the front yard. In addition to that, we’re hoping to remove most, if not all, the sod from our front yard (it’s a huge project)! What are some of the highlights and lowlights from your growing season?