Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Peppers Hot-and-Sweet


Aji Pineapple hot-pepper
I will be the first to admit that many of my readers run circles around me in terms of real-world, gardening success.

That is why I love reading the comments. I throw out my impressions and they tell me where I screwed up.

Mrs ERJ adores sweet peppers

We finally figured out that it takes about 18 sweet pepper plants to meet her need for sweet peppers.

I planted a mix of peppers that ripen to yellow, orange and especially red. Green sweet peppers are OK but fully ripe ones are divine. At least according to Mrs ERJ with whom I never argue. Or, more accurately, I never argue with her and win.

The tension comes from the fact that I like to grow some hot-peppers as well. In my tidy, rectilinear, engineer-brain there are few items that produce so much flavor per square-foot of garden space as hot-peppers.

The knotty problem is that most hot-peppers are the same species as sweet-peppers (Capsicum annuum) and they will cross-pollinate. Saving seeds is a crap-shoot as the features of the seedlings will be intermediate in characteristics. That is, the sweet-peppers might not be "sweet".

And I am addicted to saving seeds.

A solution

There are other species of "hot peppers" that never, or only rarely cross-pollinate with Capsicum annuum.

The super-hot peppers like Ghost peppers and Grim Reapers are Capsicum chinense. I am a mid-Western boy and these are just a little too hot for my blood.

There is also a group of peppers that come from Peru and neighboring countries called Capsicum baccatum or Aji peppers. These show a lot of promise as they are very large, productive plants and the fruit is approximately 30,000+/- 15k Scoville heat units.

Dale Carnegie contends that the best way to make somebody your friend is to ask them to do you a favor that means a lot to you but costs them little. Consequently, I asked my two daughters to keep their eyes out for "Aji" peppers.

One daughter lives in Miami which has a very diverse cuisine and many immigrants from Peru, Bolivia and Columbia and the Caribbean.

My other daughter lives in East Lansing which hosts a large University and exotic foods are more available than in Eaton Rapids.

I have no doubt that I will get a Christmas present of some C. baccatum seeds. I only need a few. A single plant can be 4' tall by 4' wide.

Tyler Farms has pepper seeds for those of you without strategically positioned daughters.

A short video. All of the varieties the gardener liked best happened to be C. baccatum and you can get a sense of what the plants look like.


  1. Been there, done that, got multiple T-shirts.

    My solution (guessing there are better out there) is 'sealed' cloches (and separate greenhouses) and 'manual' pollination of all those varieties that have the annoying habit of crossing with anything within 3000 miles (OK slight exaggeration). That or only, when applicable, allowing one variety to 'go to seed' per season.

    They told me this gardening lark was easy. Hah! I sometimes actually miss being shot at instead.

  2. So how are you going to get some seeds for this amazing pepper?

    Also what sweet pepper did you find most productive? Again where to get seeds?

    Peppers is something I have trouble growing in my area. Always looking for an edge :-)

  3. While I'm not an authority, I was of the understanding that, while they CAN cross-pollenate, most peppers are self-fertile, with less than 5% likelihood of sweet/hot cross-pollenation occurring, even if they're growing right next to one another - but I still try to separate sweets that I'm gonna be saving seed from hots by at least a few plants in between.

    I like heat, but had to swear off Habaneros and anything hotter, years ago.

    Grew 100 pepper plants(at least 15 varieties) in the garden this year... Sweet Banana was very productive, as usual, Big Bertha was the best bell type . Ajvarski and Stocky Red Roaster were top-flight. Habanada and Trinidad Perfume, two no-heat/low-heat Habanero/Scotch Bonnet types, were really good, and I lifted and potted them before frost to overwinter indoors; they have a nice fruity/citrus-like flavor/aroma, with mnimal to no heat.
    Nadapenos were nice; mild enough that Dr. M can even enjoy them - and I'll be combining them with Jalapenos to make hot pepper jelly.
    I've been slicing/dicing most of the peppers and dehydrating... freezer space is at a premium, and frozen peppers just don't hold up well for me, long-term.

  4. I learned years ago that truly hot peppers were not for me. Jalapeno peppers weren't too bad. In years past I tried to grow sweet peppers with mostly poor results. This year I tried growing Jalapenos and was going to "bragplain" since there was NO heat. They tasted just like sweet green peppers. Then without warning God changed that. Did I remember to say that some of the Jalapenos were a bit too hot? The video you linked to sounded like a good idea and I payed close attention to the Scoville rankings. The lemon drop and starfish seemed likely candidates to grow until I checked on the comparison of heat in Jalapeno and the other two. Two k to six k for Jalapeno 10-30-K for the others OUCH.

  5. "strategically positioned daughters'

    Dang, that takes prepping up a few notches.
    Prepping for peppers.


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