Growing 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.
- Red Chili
- Dragon Cayenne
- Garden Salsa (not too hot)
- Giant Jalapeno
- Fish Peppers
- 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!
The last few days I have been searching for Monarch caterpillar eggs. Monarch butterflies have been visiting my garden for the last week or two so I am assuming that they have been laying eggs on the milkweed. This will be my third year raising Monarch caterpillars.
Monarch Caterpillar Eggs Ready to Hatch
Because this is my third year, I now know what Monarch caterpillar eggs look like. Here is a picture of one that is quite new. So as I search, I recognize them much more quickly. I had been watching two eggs for the last two days. Today the top of the egg became much darker. So I knew that the caterpillar was about to emerge. These are a great series of pictures of the monarch caterpillar egg hatching. You can clearly see the black head of the caterpillar at the top of the egg which is what I saw today.
Growing Monarch Caterpillars in the House
The first year I had lots of caterpillars and then slowly they started disappearing until I could hardly find any. They were being eaten in my garden. See my post about Saving the Monarch Caterpillar.
When I saw that the caterpillars were about to emerge today I cut the leaves off to bring into the house. I like raising the caterpillars in the house. The last two years I have raised between 20-24 Monarch butterflies successfully. It’s quite easy to raise them if you have lots of milkweed leaves to feed them, which I have. Here is a picture of the monarch caterpillar a few hours after it had emerged. You can see it compared to a dime. They are very small when they first emerge, almost like you can’t see them. They eat voraciously and grow very fast.
Bad News About the Monarch Caterpillar Eggs
Unfortunately my two baby caterpillars died. I think that the milkweed leaf that I had in with them got too dried up. I am heartbroken and devastated. They had actually crawled off the leaf. I found them and put them back on. Now, in retrospect, I think they were looking for more moisture. After doing some research on the internet I found this great article on raising baby monarch caterpillars. THE LEAVES THAT THEY FEED ON SHOULD BE LEFT IN WATER OR SPRAYED WITH WATER TO KEEP THEM MOIST!
As a Beginner Collect Larger Caterpillars
This was a hard lesson for me. All the caterpillars that I raised in the past were larger than these newly hatched babies. They were stronger and seemed fine with the milkweed leaves that I put in for them to eat. I replaced the milkweed leaves every day when they started looking old. So if you are a beginner I would recommend raising larger caterpillars at first until you become an expert at that. Then if you want to raise them from eggs keep the leaf stems in water so the leaves stay hydrated. The link above has very good information about raising Monarchs from eggs.