Ever since I can remember I’ve harvested my vegetables almost daily to keep them producing and increase the harvest. I guess that was one of the reasons I gardened for many years before finding out that virtually all peppers turn red when they’re mature. It’s been so long I don’t remember the details, but I guess finally I read something in one of the seed catalogs that finally clued me in.
Even after learning that fact, I had a hard time getting red peppers. I grew mainly bell peppers and banana peppers and if I left them on the vine long enough for them to turn red, something started eating on them — or they would rot. (I found out later that one possible cause for the rot was an insect that laid its eggs on the blossom and they hatch and developed inside the pepper.)
Then I met a friend who seemed to always have an abundance of red peppers. From him, I learned that with certain varieties you can get red peppers sooner. He was good enough to share some seed with me and I grew the same two unnamed varieties that he grew — a sheepnose and a large, long pepper.
Green bell peppers are still a must-have in my garden, but I’ve become a red pepper fanatic. Although I’ve progressed from having no red peppers to having 4 or 5 red peppers a day —– I WANT MORE! I want enough red peppers to freeze for the winter as well as to eat daily. And I want them even earlier in the season.
How to Get that Extra Month of Red Peppers
The majority of peppers take about 100 or more days to mature. By finding varieties that mature in 65 to 75 days you can add almost a full month more of red peppers to your season.
In the interest of time (life is short) I wanted a pepper that was not only early, but had already been tried and proven true. So I did a little searching.
As a result of that – here are the 5 main varieties of peppers I’m growing this year.
#1 – Ace is said to be the first pepper to turn red in almost any garden, ripening in 65 to 70 days! It is a medium-sized pepper that does well even in cool weather. The only thing I found that was a negative for me — was it’s thin walled. But still — I’m trying it just to get an early red pepper.
#2 – Lipstick is considered by many to be THE most delicious sweet pepper. From the description – I can see why: heavy, thick, juicy and sweet and ripening to a rich red. I’ve already got these seedlings up and running. The seed germinated better for me than any pepper seed I’ve ever had. (Lipstick is available at Diane’s Seeds and Gurney.) (Matures in 70 to 73 days.)
#3 – Jupiter Bell is an heirloom from Annie Heirloom Seeds that I want to grow because it’s a typical green bell pepper that ripens early. It might be my imagination, but I think bell peppers have a unique flavor that other green peppers don’t quite capture. (Matures in 70 days.)
#4 – Last year I grew a hybrid called Carmen. We really enjoyed it and consider it one of the best and sweetest peppers we’ve ever had. I couldn’t resist saving the seed although I know it’s a hybrid and will not produce peppers that are identical to what I had last year. Nonetheless, I will be anxious to see what comes. If its offsprings are not close, I’ll end up buying seed again next year.
#5 – After growing Sheepnose pimento peppers, I’d never want to be without it. So it’s on my list again for this year.
Red peppers are almost like a different vegetable than green peppers. They’re sweeter, have twice the amount of Vitamin C, are high in Vitamin A and potassium and low in calories. They’re great sliced or diced; in salads, stir-frys or roasted.
And almost as importantly to me, they’re beautiful ornaments for my garden.
Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and a lot healthier.
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