Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pick a Pint of Peppers

I had decided not to start tomatoes, eggplants or peppers this year but despite my best intentions, people kindly shared seed, and I saved seed, and well I really wanted this or that variety so I ended up starting a near full house of plants including the above three varieties.

(Scroll down for how to save pepper seeds)

For those of you gracious enough to share seed, a selection of your babies:

Black Hungarian from Southwest Ontario:


I was intrigued by this variety but had never tried it before. The plant is very ornamental and productive even in our less than ideal weather as of late. I am looking forward to tasting them.

D'eschellette (my ink ran... Michel what was that pepper called again?... How plant names get altered.) from MidEastern Ontario


Since I took this picture, mere days again, these peppers have really beefed out.

Banana Pepper from somewhere... I can't remember exactly where... (why you should keep better records than me.)


Mini Chocolate Bell saved from my garden


I did not isolate these plants from the others they were snuggle-close with so I don't know if there has been any crossing or not. However, they do have strange pointy bits on their flesh which I'm not sure is a change in the genes or some sort of pest damage. The peppers look undamaged just bumpy.

Scotch Bonnet Habenero from grocery store


Thanks box store, and anonymous growers, for these. They are just about to flower so I'm not expecting fruit to ripen outside or even this year but I overwinter my peppers so hopefully next year I can taste them. Beside it is the re-rooted variegated fish that I saved from The Museum of Agriculture's demonstration gardens (it was on the ground, I swear). I'll have to wait until next year to get fruit from that too.

4 year old peppers plants confined to small pots:


Long Red Cayenne, on the left, producing strong and Fatali taking a break this year after fruiting indoors.


Saving Pepper Seeds

This is easy. Find yourself ripe peppers, scrape out the seeds, let them dry for a good week, spread out on a flat surface with good air circulation, not touching anything, and then label and put away in a cool, dry place like other seeds.

I like to dry mine on paper towels as they suck up moisture. They also tend to stick to the seed but a bit of dry towel on my seed hasn't yet been a problem for germination.

Okay, that's the way I do it but there are some caveats.

Caveat 1: Peppers are generally self-pollinating (they fertilize themselves) but if you are growing more than one variety, especially in the same species (same latin name), it's possible they might cross. Sources vary on how common this is (see Chileman link below for lots of detail)

Caveat 2: If you are saving from a hybrid pepper, then the result is anyone's guess but heck, if you have the room, it might be fun to experiment.

Caveat 3: I'm assuming peppers carry seed born diseases. Chileman recommends discarding any deformed, damaged or spotty seeds. You can treat seeds with 'hot water' before planting them. I have never tried this but it sounds like something you would want to do just before sowing them. As a general rule, don't save seed from plants with serious disease and warn the person you are sharing seed with of any potential problems. Destroy any deformed or suspicious seedlings or plants while growing too.


Chileman gives you more details on saving hot pepper seeds
Treating seed with hot water or chlorine from the Ohio State University


Sigrun said...

Interesting about wintering peppers. I wouldn't mind trying that next year. and plant some in pots. Mind you, they are likely doomed to a slow death--what often happens to my indoor plants. I managed to kill a mother-in-law's tongue (snake plant) once. The irony is that we operate a successful greenhouse, I do great with the garden and flowers outdoors, but indoors, it's another story.
so you have a solarium, or just keep them in a sunny window?

Ottawa Gardener said...

I dream of a solarium. Nope, on a sunny window sill. They aren't thrilled there but do pretty well considering the lowered light levels we get. My only problem are aphids and white flies but I only had a lot of them one year. We'll see how the next year goes.

Stefaneener said...

A friend in foggy Santa Cruz overwintered his peppers in a pepper-dedicated small unheated greenhouse. He just couldn't get them otherwise, and they grew for years.

I love the black ones; they're just gorgeous!

Emily said...

Beautiful Peppers. Overwintering is an interesting idea. Are peppers perennials in warmer climates?

Ottawa Gardener said...

Yes, they are perennial though some longer lived than others. So far though I've had success even with hot peppers. I would like to try the small fruited sweet ones or cuttings from regular sweet peppers.

Daphne said...

I've never tried overwintering my peppers. Do you grow them all in containers? I like growing mine in the ground and I think it might kill them to dig them up and try to keep them. Have you tried that?

Ottawa Gardener said...

I've done both: kept them in pots and planted out to dig up later. Both worked. Though the ones that I planted out were only 1-2 years old. I know some pepper enthusaists trim back the branches and root trim so they seem to take some punishment though I don't do this technique. I do get branch dieback on occasion.

This year, I'm going to try and root then overwinter cuttings which should be a fun experiment.