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My Favorite Pepper

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I enjoy growing a variety of peppers, including Green Bells.  We eat them often and they are easy to preserve for Winter.  Finding a good bell pepper for gardens in the Northeast US can be a challenge. I spent years trying different varieties, and have been delighted to find one that works for me.

It’s all in a name.  Often, started pepper plants from commercial garden centers have names like California Wonder or Golden Calwonder.  The “wonder” lies in why one might grow California Anything here in New York?  I have found great results instead with King of the North, an OP pepper.  There are other hybrid strains that do well here, such as Ace (F1), but I like to use Open Pollinated varieties so I can save my own seed on some crops.

King of the North reliable produces multiple fruits

King of the North reliable produces multiple fruits

I get King of the North seeds from Fedco Seeds of Maine (www.fedcoseeds.com), though they are likely found with other purveyors of heirloom open pollinated seed.

They do well both in the high tunnel and outside.

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I start my peppers under a grow light at the end of March to set out around Memorial Day here in the Southern Tier of New York.  They like full sun.  Too much nitrogen will encourage leafy growth and leave less time for fruits to develop.  I usually have full sized green fruits to pick by the end of July.  I generally have no trouble collecting a number of red fruits well before frost.

Peppers are easy to put up.  I simply cut the raw clean peppers into chunks or slices and place in quart sized freezer bags to freeze.  They will be flaccid upon thawing, but this texture if fine for the dishes we commonly enjoy, such as pasta sauce or chili.

Let me know what varieties of sweet bell peppers you grow for your region.  I’m always looking to try something new.  🙂

Bell peppers produce well without taking up much space

Bell peppers produce well without taking up much space

First Fruits

As we reach the height of Summer, the gardens are beginning to yield:  flowers that we have anxiously watched turn to tiny green fruits are at last ripening, and it is the gardener’s delight to find those first fruits; whether it be a cucumber, green beans or summer squashes. The garden picture is finally complete!  It is very gratifying to see results of this labor of love that we call gardening.

That first Cucumber!

That first Cucumber!

In conversations with home gardeners, I have noticed a tendency among the novice to feel reluctant to harvest these first-comers, for they look so beautiful and it’s fun to show them off to visitors.  Resist the temptation to dwell upon this image, and go ahead and pick those first fruits!  What many folks don’t realize is that these first to ripen are merely a bit of a test for the plant, a “feeler” if you will:  How quickly the plant finds itself parted with its first offering is indication of “demand”, thus influencing “supply”.  Simple Economics.  If the first fruits of a plant are allowed to go to maturity and set seed, the plants gets the message to slow down growth, that it has accomplished its mission to reproduce and there is no need to produce very many more fruit.  If those first ones are picked, the plant kicks into production mode and begins to send out several more.

So, to get more beans, cukes or squash, it is important to go through and collect the first ones that appear.  You’ll get the double gratification of enjoying what you have grown and watching many more to come.

So pick all you want!  They’ll make more. 😉

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