As a young kid growing up, the game of ‘pepper’ was something that involved a baseball, and a bat. Those games are far behind me now, and these days a ‘pepper game’ involves the peppers from the garden. And right about now, they are starting to ripen, which means I need to get it in gear and do something with them.
I have about 35 pepper plants growing outside in the ground, and another 8 or 10 in containers. And yes, that is a lot of peppers! I am guessing about 2/3 of those are sweet peppers, and the rest are hot. Most of the bell peppers are not ripe yet, with a few exceptions. Flavorburst and Orange Blaze have already given us a few ripe fruits. Some of the non-bell sweet peppers are giving us LOTS of ripe ones though, most notably Jimmy Nardello. The Sweet Happy Yummys are ripening as well, though not always turning out as expected. My lone plant in the ground is making sweet red ripe peppers, not the usual orange. Fortunately I have 2 more of this variety in containers in the greenhouse, and they are orange and sweet like they are supposed to be.
Over on the hot pepper side, the first to ripen this year was a Hot Happy Yummy I had growing in a container in the greenhouse. After that the Cayennetta plant began ripening. As cayenne peppers go, these are on the mild side, though they still have heat. After that the serranos and jalapenos began turning red. From left to right in the below photo, we have Thai Bird, cayenne, serrano, Pimiento de Padron, Shishito, Golden Greek, Hot Happy Yummy, and Biggie Chili. Most of the ripe Shishito peppers are not all that hot, so I guess they really belong in a roundup of sweet peppers. The others have varying levels of heat. Biggie Chili is a hybrid Anaheim type that has become my favorite pepper of that type. And the Pimiento de Padron, Golden Greek pepperoncini, and Shishito peppers are usually used at the green stage, though there’s nothing wrong with the ripe ones.
The littlest pepper of the bunch is also one of the hottest, which is generally the case with hot peppers. It’s a Thai ‘bird’ pepper, which is a name given to several different varieties of small Thai peppers. I got the seed from the instructor at a cooking class, Aumpai Holt. Aumpia was born in Thailand, and she works and teaches cooking classes at Kitchen Affairs. My wife and I took her Thai Green Curry cooking class last year, and she was giving away seeds of her favorite Thai basil and peppers, which she saves every year. I got some of her pepper seed and I’m growing a lone plant in a container which is going to give me scads of hot little peppers!
So what are we doing with all these various peppers? We’ve been eating the sweet peppers, using them in frittatas, on pizza, and grilled for a side dish. I plan on drying some of them later, when more are ripe. I have other plans for the hot peppers though, including making some hot sauces with them. I’ve already made one hot sauce, and I’ll be back later this week with the recipe. And I have more sauces in the works, if the pepper plants cooperate. I will also dry some of the hot peppers later on, and grill some of Anaheim types for the freezer. That’s the reason I grow so many, because we have so many uses for them.
Peppers aren’t the only game in town though. The okra plants have remained unfazed by our yo-yo weather, and keep putting on pods as the plants get taller and taller. We’ve been eating some, and freezing some for use this winter.
The eggplants seem to have slowed down for a bit, but we still have all we want to eat at present. The tomatoes are definitely taking a break, as we feel the effects of the blazing heat wave we had in July. The blooms from that time period got fried by the hot temperatures, but green tomatoes are now setting on and it won’t be long before ripe ones are back on the menu. The smaller tomatoes are still bearing, since they don’t seem to be as susceptible to heat damage. The summer squash is all gone now, and that area has been replanted with some late bush beans and some turnips.
That’s a look at what we’re harvesting here as the month of August slowly slips away. To see what other gardeners from all over the world are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays. And Happy Growing to all of you!