Regular readers may remember the ongoing saga I am calling the Happy Yummy Pepper Project. Last year, I invited blogger/gardeners from around the U.S. to grow some unusual peppers I had discovered here at Happy Acres. About a dozen or so gardeners responded to my call.
For a quick recap of the history of this project, in 2009 a sweet mini bell pepper variety called Yummy had made some decidedly un-sweet long and hot orange peppers. I saved seeds from several of those rogue peppers, and have been growing them out every year since then to see what happens. You can read more about this experiment in this post from earlier this year.
The first ripe peppers are now starting to roll in here at HA, and also for my fellow intrepid pepper growers. And not surprisingly, the results so far have been pretty interesting! The Bee Girl at Sky Minded and Ever Growing checked in first with a report that one of her Hot Happy Yummys turned out red, instead of orange. I can’t say for sure, but it’s possible one of the original 2009 peppers got cross-pollinated with a nearby Anaheim type, or some other red pepper. She says they are HOT, so it could have been pollinated with a Jalapeno. The original Hot Happy Yummy was quite hot too, but her pepper has a different shape. The below photo is hers, and the peppers do resemble a long jalapeno, or maybe a serrano type. Who knows?
That isn’t the only surprise so far, either. One of my Sweet Happy Yummys turned out red too, though it was still sweet. And Annie’s Granny at Annie’s Kitchen Garden was actually pleasantly surprised when one of her Hot Happy Yummys turned out to be sweet instead of hot. At least it was orange! I am expecting other surprises when more peppers start ripening and additional reports start coming in.
So what does it all mean? I wish I knew for sure! My rogue pepper plant from 2009 certainly could have gotten cross pollinated from any number of other pepper plants, since I usually have at least 30 or so plants of numerous varieties growing every year (both sweet and hot). And I did nothing to keep cross-pollination from happening, because I wasn’t expecting to even have a rogue plant, much less save seed from it. But those seeds from 2009 were all I had to start with, and they were full of unknowns.
But there are a few things I can safely say so far:
- The Hot Happy Yummy seeds from 2009 are pretty likely to make sweet orange peppers, the ones I call Sweet Happy Yummys. They look just like the hot ones, but are sweet. It happened last year, and it’s happening again this year as more of the 2009 seeds are planted. For sweet pepper lovers like me, that’s not a bad thing! This sweet version is prolific and has a great flavor.
- Some of the Sweet Happy Yummy seeds from 2011 can produce a sweet red pepper that is thick walled, and similar in shape to the original Hot Happy Yummy. For lack of a better name, I’m calling it Red Happy Yummy at the moment. I saved seed from the first one, though I have to say given the other cross pollination issues, only time will tell if it comes true when planted out. That is, if it does get planted out.
- The Hot Happy Yummy seeds from 2009 are running out, and losing their viability. I am not sure if I will try and grow any next year or not. I’m not sure there’s really any reason to grow them again.
- I have saved seeds from Sweet Happy Yummy and Hot Happy Yummy plants that were grown in my greenhouse, and came true to expected form. It is less likely that these plants got cross-pollinated, though not impossible. That gives me 2012 seed for growing out in the future, though at this point the number of seeds is limited. There is plenty of time left in the growing season though to get more peppers.
Time will tell how the great experiment plays out this year. Thanks again to all those who volunteered to grow the peppers this year, and please share your comments and photos with all of us when you have some ripe peppers, and some spare time!