Displaced Geek

Just a city geek and father coming to terms with being replanted in farm country

Feelin’ Hot! Hot! Hot!

While I enjoy all the vegetables that we grow, it must be said that chiles are my passion.

As much as I enjoyed spicy foods, I didn’t really become obsessed with growing my own until we dug our first real garden in Baltimore.

As our “backyard” was composed of about 90% patio bricks, 7% gravel, 2% sand, and 1% good soil, it was a pretty sad affair.

Exhibit A
Note the ADT sign in the backyard

Exhibit B










Nevertheless, by adding pots, a topsy-turvy, and low expectations, it was enjoyable. In fact, much to my delight, I did get a few decent peppers out of it, although not as many as I would’ve liked. In truth, it was probably much more work than it was worth by any standard.

After we got back from our honeymoon, I pursued my pepper growing hobby with a significantly increased vigor. You see, a very sweet lady (who while not truly our daughter’s namesake, was definitely an inspiration for such)whose B&B we stayed in had given me a gift… five beautiful ripe hot peppers.

Thank you Gabriella!

I brought these peppers back home (in our luggage which was temporarily lost… oh the drama!) and after eating them, saved the seeds. This was the true beginning of my attraction to vegetable gardening in general, and chiles in particular.

By the time we started gardening here in southeast PA, I was growing as many peppers as I could find room for, and I hadn’t paid a cent for seeds. You see I discovered several online gardening communities, most notably gardenweb, where everyone was more interested in spreading knowledge and seeds than getting something in return. I sent out saved seeds from my “Italian Honeymoon Pepper”, and received dozens of seeds in return. Everyone was extremely generous, especially in the beginning when I didn’t have much to pass on by way of reciprocity.

For the past two years I’ve taken part in an annual tomato/pepper seed exchange, which has brought my total number of distinct varieties to near triple digits, and the number of individual accessions (including duplicates from different sources) to twice that or more.

In short, I have more seeds than I can reasonably grown in any one season by far. Keeping this in mind, and considering that I do in fact grow ten or twelve varieties each year, I often get asked pretty much the same question: “So what do you do with all those hot peppers”? It’s a valid question, and one I’m loathe to answer too quickly. You see I have plans, but right now the answer is the same as it was three years ago — “I eat them?”.

But as my snack of the first ripening 7pot of the year reminded me just the other day, even I don’t need 15 plants each growing a dozen or more peppers most of which will melt your face, just to snack on. Now, yes I make chili with a habanero or two, and we can add jalapenos to tacos, but as much fun as it is to eat peppers hot enough to keep away elephants, even that gets old after you can’t feel your face.

This year the plan is to make several small batches of hot sauce. Hopefully I’ll be able to try several techniques, (including fermentation) and settle on a decent recipe that I can duplicate. It’ll be hot, for sure, but I’ll be working to give it flavor, too.

Here, have a pretty pepper picture.


Written by Peter

August 3, 2011 at 1312

Posted in Gardening

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Oooh, you sneaky little thing, smuggling produce from overseas!

    And that last photo IS pretty cool. Not just the colors but the variation in sizes and shapes too!


    August 4, 2011 at 900

    • To be honest I never even thought about the legality of it until I’d already decided to bring them back. (At which point I stuck them in my dirty socks.)

      And I have to say, I do like how that picture turned out.


      August 4, 2011 at 950

      • I did. I was actually quite nervous about it


        August 4, 2011 at 1423

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