Peppers Vegetables

Peppers – Can’t get sweet red ones? Here’s how!

Peppers are a vegetable you can’t set your clock by so to speak. Given a chance, they are survivors and will do what it takes to not only survive but produce an abundance of fruit.

They like warmth, so they need to be started inside to get a jump on the season. Once you plant them outside, if the weather stays cool they’ll just sorta sit there and wait for it to warm up. In severe heat, they won’t set fruit. If it’s too dry in the summer and they need moisture, they’ll stall and wait for the right conditions before growing or producing. Even if you’re set up for watering, its not the same as rain.

They’re sensitive to cold and if the frost hits them they are pretty much over unless you have some type of row cover or protection for them.

Season for Harvest

Most of the time I have great peppers from August through October.  But in years when conditions have been just right, I’ve had peppers in abundance from May through November and sometimes even through December!

Peppers from my garden.

How do you get red peppers?

For the record — just in case you don’t already know — most all peppers will turn yellow, orange or red when they are mature.   It was this maturing that always gave me trouble.

I’ve been growing peppers for 32 years and its only been in the last two years that I’ve been able to harvest red peppers without some bug getting to them the minute they start to turn red.

What turned all that around?  A friend and the variety of pepper.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw red peppers hanging by the dozens on the plants of my then “new-found” friend.  It was about 3 seasons ago and believe me I was dumbfounded!

He grows two type of peppers and saves his seed from year to year.  One pepper is a long red pepper.  Its name has long been forgotten. The second pepper was called sheepnose. He was nice enough to share seedlings with me the second growing season of our friendship.  I was just about the happiest person you’ve ever seen!

Long red peppers on the plant in October.

If you look closely you can count at least 6 red peppers and 4 greens.

Ripens Earlier

This sheepnose pepper ripens earlier than the other red peppers. (about 75 days as opposed to 100).  I’ve only picked a few that were bothered with bugs.

Sheepnose peppers ripening on the plant.

Vitamins and other good stuff

Those peppers highlighted the garden for me.  We had never been able to enjoy red peppers. (And I certainly would not eat one from the store because of high pesticide residue.) They were a dream of almost 30 years come true.  Instead of 3 or 4 green peppers a day for several months, we ate 4 or 5 red peppers a day. These thick walled peppers not only taste wonderfully sweet, but they are filled with Vitamin C and A, fiber and a lot of other good stuff. Low in calories too.

Extend the season

Another bonus – when you pick all the peppers before frost hits them, they will keep several weeks in the refrigerator —-thus, extending pepper season almost a month!

In the two years that I’ve grown them —-even with drought and unfavorable condtions —–I would highly recommend these peppers.

Sheepnose – Good eating when green, but more delicious and sweet when red.

Where to get it

The sheepnose pepper is a pimento pepper. From what I can find online, I suspect the sheepnose that my friend has is a hard-to-find heirloom from Ohio. J.W. Jung (non organic seed) and Seed Savers Exchange (organic seed) are the only companies I found that carry it.   Since they are hard to find,  I suggest you save seed from the peppers you grow so you will be sure to have them in years to come.  Make sure they’re heirloom (open pollinated) so the seed will come back true to the parent.  (Hybrids will not.)

Be Aware

Even though peppers self pollinate, they can cross-pollinate when bees and insects carry the pollen from one variety to the next.  You might want to grow one specific kind only.  Or perhaps you can grow two or three varieties, but keep them a good distance apart so they won’t be subject as easily to cross-pollination.

(I have found some peppers in my garden that I think may be from peppers that cross-pollinated last year. It alarms me only because I don’t want to loose the “true” sheepnose pepper because they are hard to find and may well become unobtainable from available sources.)

Pimento Peppers

There are several varieties of pimento peppers.  Most of them are pretty good and you may want to try different varieties. Again – make sure they’re heirloom varieties.

Diane’s Flower Seeds carries a “Red Cheese Pimento” pepper that looks a lot like sheepnose.  Diane sells all heirloom seed so you’ll be good to go ordering from her.

You probably won’t want to give up bell peppers entirely, but you’ll really enjoy the difference these sweet red peppers make in your meals. Totally different flavor than green peppers (or bell peppers.) Good in just about everything!

I’ll give you a few simple examples of how they can be used before I close. You’re not limited to just these few examples. There are 100s of recipes online that are absolutely elegant and oh so easy that call for sweet red peppers.

Plan to add Sheepnose peppers to your garden next year.  I’ll bet you’ll never look back and you’ll never be sorry.

Some simple ways to use sweet red peppers:

  • Chop and add to tuna salad or chicken salad
  • Slice and pile on your pizza
  • Saute and top off your hamburger
  • Chop will other vegetables, add a bit of dressing, and put in a pita pockets
  • Chop and add to rice (with other veggies if you wish)
  • Chop and pile onto a baked potato
  • Chop and add to pasta salad
  • Slice and snack
  • Makes an elegant hors d’oeuvre
  • Make stuffed peppers
  • Great with omelets
  • Bruschetta – wonderful with roasted sweet redpeppers

Beautiful red peppers. Easy to find even through lots of foliage.

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  • What a great and long article (no wonder you haven’t been able to get outside). Just what I wanted to hear. I can’t wait to get my seed and try the sheepnose next year. I have really loved the pimento I grew this year.
    Thanks for all your knowledge.

  • Hi Beppy,

    Yes, you’re right! That is exactly why I haven’t been outside!

    It took some time to write. But sure makes it worth it if you benefited by it.

    Thanks for letting me know.


  • I am going to try these. I grew red peppers in my garden this year but they never turned red.

  • Hi Christine,

    The problem that you are having with peppers is the problem I had for 30 years!

    It seems that the catalogs are filled with peppers that are suppose to be “red” peppers. To hear them tell it — almost every pepper they sell is a “red” pepper. And I guess for someone they might be —- but they never turned in my garden until my friend shared his with me.

    I hope you will have lots of luck with these Sheepnose peppers. I would (and I think many folks would) be interested in knowing how they do for.

    And by the way, welcome to my site! If you have a minute, let me know how you found me.

    Best regards,

  • Theresa, That last photo is just beautiful. I love the ? dill ? in the foreground with the beautiful pepper in the background. I’m searching for your post that will tell me when you start your seeds.

  • Sandra, the foliage that looks like dill is asparagus fern.
    I didn’t start peppers until mid March and again the first of April last year and because I didn’t want to set them in the garden until about May 10th or after.
    I may start a few at the end of February and again mid March this year and if it stays cool I’ll put them under one of the hoop tunnels.

  • Theresa,
    I have loads of peppers on my plants that I’m waiting on to turn red.
    I’m also excited about the prospect of lots of red peppers.
    Do you think you could talk Bill into sharing his recipe for his healthy pizza? These peppers make me want pizza!
    Thanks again,

  • As soon as I have time Betty, I’ll email you the recipe.
    One of our favorite things!


  • Theresa,
    I was just reading this post again and I have a question for you. Is there any way possible that you could share some seed or a couple of plants from the long red peppers with Diane and she could develop a line of seed of this also, so we all could purchase them? What a BLESSING that would be!!


  • Those long red peppers in one of the pictures is probably Carmen, which is a hybrid. BUT, I also grow Corno di Toro which is an heirloom that is open pollinated and is 8 to 10 inches long and delicious.

    Also you might want to try Red Marconi Pepper. They are about 7 or 8 inches long. It too is an heirloom and open pollinated.

    I hope this answers your question, Betty. Let me know. I think you may have thought the picture was a pepper special only to my garden?

  • Thanks for the information. I will see if I can find them. Do you mind sharing your source?

    Thanks Again,

  • I have red peppers i grew in pots in northern ohio. I got ine and then 3 more started to grow in late august. Now its getting cold and the peppers are still green and mid sized, still growing. It took 3 months for my other pepper to grow but I am not sure what to do now that its getting too cold. Thanks

  • Lisa, it’s the characteristic of peppers to take a long time to start growing. It always seems they do there very best just before the first frost comes.

    Here are 3 posts that will give you information to help you extend the season:
    #1 –
    #2 –
    #3 –

    Wishing you lots of wonderful peppers even through the first few frosts,

  • Finally! Someone who is able to go “I didn’t know how to either” and “Bugs were a ******.”
    I trust Someone who’s struggled then developed, as it means that Their success is far more likely to be attributed to work and knowledge, opposed to good climate or fortune.

    This was informative without using gardening jargon that less experienced gardeners would find difficult to understand -Yet it also wasn’t simplistic.

    Very pleased to have stumbled on to this little gardening treasure trove.

  • Hello Jess,

    This was a most meaningful comment and I appreciate your taking time to write it.

    One of the things I’ve always disliked about many sources is the way they make what is so simple seem so complicated.

    Also many indicate that the garden is always perfect. As all who have gardened know, it’s not always perfect and is in a constant state of change.

    And yes there are bugs. The idea is balance rather than getting rid of all the bugs. (You need at least
    some bad bugs for the good guys to feed on.)

    Delighted to have you reading and hope you will continue to find TMG helpful.

    Thanks again,

  • I found this article while searching “why are my peppers not turning red?” You give me hope! There are 8 or so Giant Marconi sweet peppers on my plant, a couple almost 7”. Good to know how big I can expect them to be. All still green but you give me reason to believe that THIS time I may get red peppers! It is a Bonnie brand plant I bought locally.

    Thank you!

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