Growing Hot Peppers

Growing Hot PeppersGrowing hot peppers is a very rewarding experience and a culinary delight!! That is if you like the heat.  Personally I can’t eat hot peppers but my husband loves them so we grow a lot of different kinds.

You do have to wait until the fall to see the wonders of growing hot peppers. Peppers take a long time to mature. So, even though, we were harvesting hot peppers at the end of the summer; they are truly bountiful now in October. That is if you live in a place where it stays warm until November!! You can see from this picture of Habanero peppers that they are prolific and what I mean about bountiful hot peppers! And not only are they so plentiful. They are truly beautiful as they shimmer in the fall sunshine! If you like hot peppers I recommend that you try your hand at growing them next spring.

Peppers need really good soil to grow well.  This Habanero pepper plant was gorgeous.  The one growing next to it didn’t do nearly so well.  It was a little scraggly with much fewer peppers and the plants were only 2 feet apart.  The soil was different just two feet away.  I would recommend that you dig a deep hole before you plant and amend the soil with compost, worm compost and rabbit manure if you have some available.  Of course, you can always use fertilizer.

Experiment with Growing Hot Peppers

There was another pepper plant that did very poorly at the end of the garden.  I am going to do an experiment this winter and put Bokashi compost and rabbit manure in the hole that I dig.  After the first frost when the pepper dies, I will dig this hole.  I will also do this with the scraggly Habanero pepper and see if we have better luck next year.  To the left is one of our Jalapeno harvests!  The Habanero peppers are the hottest that we grow.  The Jalapeno peppers are not as hot. Here is more info on the heat in Hot Peppers.

We grew all kinds of peppers including 2 sweet peppers (Green and Lunchbox Yellow).  I am listing the hot peppers below.  We bought some as seedlings at a nursery and we grew some from seed.

 

  1. Habanero
  2. Serrano
  3. Red Chili
  4. Dragon Cayenne
  5. Jalapeno
  6. Thai
  7. Garden Salsa (not too hot)
  8. Giant Jalapeno
  9. Fish Peppers
  10. Tabasco
  11. Plain Chili

After we pick the peppers we cut them up.  We use latex gloves to protect ourselves from the heat!  Then we dry them using this which we bought from Amazon:

Then we grind them up and make all kinds of hot pepper mixtures! We gave one mix for a gift and it was greatly appreciated!

Composting Branches and Flower Stalks

I have discovered a new way for composting branches and flower stalks. You know those thick, rigid flower stalks that you have at the end of the summer.  And all the branches that fall out of the trees in wind storms!  I used to cut them up and put them in my wire bin compost piles. Then when my compost was finished I would have to pick them out, one by one, when I wanted to use my compost. The branches and flower stalks needed more time to break down so they became a pain in the neck when separating compost.

The plus side to them being in the compost was that the stalks created oxygen spaces for the bacteria and other creatures in the compost pile. What I came to learn through experience was that the compost breaks down fine without branches and flower stalks.

Method for Composting Branches and Flower Stalks

Last winter I started piling branches and flower stalks and leaves in a pile, spread out in a long row.  I’m talking about sunflower, zinnia, rudbeckia triloba and milkweed stalks.  Also I put in the pepper, tomato and squash stalks and all the branches that had fallen out of the trees in storms.  When I trimmed the raspberry canes I added them too.  I am basing this loosely on the hugelkultur theory which I write about at this link the Hugelkultur Composting Method.  Of course I layered leaves, soil and compost to cover all this garden debris.

The Results of Composting Branches and Flower Stalks

Squash Growing From Hugelkultur Composting RowI wanted to keep you posted on how this composting method worked.  I have some pictures of the Tahitian Melon Squash that I planted in this hugelkultur space.  At the left you can see how lush this squash grew.  It is beautiful and still growing great!  The main thing that I learned from this experiment is that in the beginning the plants need a lot of water!  Plants in a hugelkultur mound need a lot of water in the beginning before they get established.  It only makes sense.  Their roots are growing down into a mixture of branches, stalks, leaves, soil and compost.  Whenever they are watered or it rains the water goes through this mixture very quickly.  Once the plants were established they didn’t need to be watered as much.

A Great Way to Get Rid of Branches and Old Flower Stalks

Composting Branches and Flower StalksHere is another picture of the squash growing.  You can see how prolific it is.  It grew up trellises that were 6 feet high!  The great thing about this method is that you don’t have to deal with all the branches and dead flower stalks again.  You don’t have to sort them out of your regular compost pile because they take longer to break down.  You don’t have to bag them up and send them to the landfill because you don’t know what else to do with them!  They will stay in the hugelkultur row, under the ground and eventually decompose into compost.

As you can see from the pictures, the squash had no problem growing in a row where there where branches and flower stalks buried.  I am very excited about this discovery and am planning my next hugelkultur row for next year!  If some of the branches and stalks become exposed you might have to put more soil or compost on top of them.

My experiment is a modified version of hugelkultur.  To learn more click on The Many Benefits of Hugelkultur.  I have written a lot about growing these type squash–Tahitian Melon Squash.