Fun with peppers: Beyond the bell
Peppers are the second or third most popular vegetable plant to grow in home gardens (after tomatoes and neck and neck with cucumbers). For good reasons - there are many different kinds and they are fun and tasty when added to many recipes and dishes. Sweet bell peppers, the traditional green, red, orange and yellow blocky ones are most common, but let's get wild and crazy and take our veggie garden to the next level with some not-so-common peppers - both hot and sweet.
Some Like it Hot
Hot peppers are all the rage these days - whether being added to recipes or cooked alone and served as appetizers. Here are a few of our favorites this year.
Tabasco, a light yellow/green or red variety that is fiery hot and reminiscent of the famous namesake hot sauce, can be used fresh or dried and ground into a powder. Tabasco is perfect for small gardens and patio pots but should be used in moderation when cooking because these peppers are hot!
Sweet Heat is a very unique hot pepper because it produces 65% higher vitamin C content than your average garden pepper. Its unique, mildly spicy flavor is delicious raw or cooked and you'll love its bushy habit and early ripening in your garden or large planter.
Last but certainly not least, you have to try Dragon Roll Shishito peppers this season! More mild than a jalapeno but still with some heat, Dragon Roll is quickly becoming a mainstay on both menus and farmer's markets across the country. Fry them up with some olive oil and lemon juice and you have a quick and tasty appetizer that is sure to be gobbled up fast.
Sweet peppers come in all shapes and sizes and again, let's think beyond traditional bell peppers. Burpee is excited to offer Thunderbolt, an amazingly huge Marconi sweet pepper that can grow to more than a foot long in gardens or very large patio containers. Great fresh, fried or stuffed (huge peppers are perfect for stuffing), Thunderbolt delivers exceptional flavor and texture.
Speaking of stuffing, Cherry Stuffer is a very cool sweet pepper bred and introduced specifically for stuffing, grilling and snacking. Plants produce loads of small 2-inch fruit that ripen from green to red.
Lastly, Bananarama not only has a fun name but also grows huge fruit on small, 2-foot plants. Great for pickling, grilling and adding to salads, this yellow to orange/red variety is a can't-miss when it comes to non-bell sweet peppers.
Finally, a few tips for growing the healthiest peppers in the neighborhood. Peppers need fertile, well-drained soil and 6 or more hours of sunlight for best performance. If you plant them in pots, use a big pot (14 inches or larger) with fresh soil and stick with natural or organic fertilizers.
Peppers are warm-season crops so try to plant after your region's last-frost date and harvest before the weather gets too cold. Peppers have shallow roots so be sure to water your plants at least once each week and watch for signs of wilting.
But the most important thing is to have fun and try as many different kinds of peppers as you have space. There are many unique shapes, sizes and flavors in the Burpee brand to choose from if you make it a point to think outside of the bell.