Jalapenos in the Garden

Jalapenos have to be the most-recognized chile pepper around.  You probably see them at the grocery store, and you’ve likely downed your share of them.  But what about growing them in the garden?

The Humble Jalapeno

Jalapeno Pepper PhotoYou may not know this, but there are a multitude of jalapeno varieties.  They all have the same basic pepper shape, but would you believe they come in different colors?  Not to mention different sizes and Scoville units (“heat” to the uninitiated).

Now most of the time the jalapenos you see and/or grow are the green peppers we all know and love.  But they come in yellow and purple, too!  And all varieties ripen to red (which can be fire-engine or quite deep burgundy).

How Hot — Or Not?

Yes it’s true, these versatile chile peppers come in several degrees of heat.  There is the “regular” jalapeno, which is around 4,700 Scoville Units.

There’s also a “lite” variety called Tam Jalapeno that has less heat — somewhere in the vicinity of 2,000 SUs.

And for those who love these peppers but for whatever reason can’t take the heat — there is at least one variety that’s barely at 500 SUs.

To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t a super-hot jalapeno, but if you live in a warm climate, your peppers will get hotter as your weather warms up.  In addition, if you let the peppers ripen to red, they are hotter yet!

Jalapenos — Does Size Matter?

You can look at this two ways — size of the pepper itself, or size of the plant.

There’s a variety called Mucho Nacho whose peppers are roughly twice the size of the standard jalapeno — great for anyone who can’t get enough of a good thing!

As far as the plants go — well, be prepared for the possibility of a large plant.  Like 4 feet tall and just about as wide (yes, I’ve had them like that).  That’s when they are planted in rich, well-drained soil and have plenty of warmth and at least 8 hours a day of direct sunlight.

If your soil, warmth or sunshine isn’t up to snuff, the plants will very likely be smaller; how much smaller depends on the conditions.   But 2 feet tall is a good guesstimate.

Jalapeno Plant, Growing in a ContainerYou can also grow these chile peppers in containers (which is what I am personally doing now).  A 5-gallon pot will give you plenty of peppers to pick.

Just make sure to keep it well-watered and fertilize it more often than you would if it were in the ground.  (I like to fertilize weekly, with 1/3 to 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer — fish emulsion is my favorite.)

The plant in the picture is roughly 18 inches tall at the moment, and it’s come through some chilly weather the last month or so.  But now that the weather is warming up, I expect it to  grow at least another 12 inches by the time everything is said and done.  For more information, check out my post on growing chile peppers in containers.

No peppers are ready for picking, but I’ve got plenty of blooms to tantalize me, knowing that most (if not all) will become a hot jalapeno.

While I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure this is the variety called Jalapeno M.  It’s a nice open-pollinated variety that does well in most climates.  If you need some tips, check out the growing chile peppers post.

Jalapeno peppers in the garden are easy to grow and quite forgiving.  Give your plant(s) some care and you may end up with more peppers than you know what to do with!

Peppers in the Garden

So what’s new with the peppers in the garden?  We’ve had a cold winter here in South Florida, which has affected the peppers (sweet and chile).  However, the days are warming, and hopefully we won’t have any more nights in the 30’s!

So what’s with the peppers in the garden — and what about another pepper germination update?  Here goes!

What’s in the Garden?

The biggest plant by far is my (oldest) jalapeno.  Even though I have it growing in a 5-gallon container, it looks pretty happy, and already I see tiny peppers being born!

The plant most unhappy is a tie between my Thai Hot and a generic yellow bell.  Both have gone through some mighty cold weather that the jalapeno didn’t, and they are both showing stress.  However, the yellow bell does have one pepper on it, and it starting to sprout more leaves, so maybe it’s turning the corner.  The Thai Hot has had a lot of flowers, but so far no peppers.

Some of the peppers that are just humming right along are Anconcagua, Park’s Whopper (a sweet banana type) and Corno di Toro.  Also doing well are Pretty Purple Pepper and Purira (both chile peppers).

What’s in Staging?

My staging area is for plants that are too big to be inside anymore, but still a little too small to be in the garden proper.  I have them in 1-gallon pots in a spot that gets about 6 hours of sun a day.

So here’s what’s in staging:

  • Bhut Jolokia (one of the hottest pepper in the world).
  • Cambuci Hot (2)
  • Sweet Pickle (1)
  • Redskin (2)
  • Nardello Sweet (2)
  • Mini Belle (2)

I had two Bhut Jolokia plants, but one of them I think I put out in staging a little too soon — it kind of melted away.  The larger of the two seedlings seems to be doing fine, though.

Waiting in the Wings

I have a few more Redskin, Sweet Pickle and one Mustard Habanero.  For some reason, the other one failed to “take” after it sprouted.  This one waiting in the wings has taken it’s own sweet time, and it will still be another week or two away from moving out to staging.

If you’re wondering about the Peter Pepper I mentioned in my last report, alas, the peppers didn’t make it.  They sprouted, but never grew strong enough to shake off the seed coat.  I’ll try again sometime later this year.

Upcoming Chile Peppers

I’ve got some more chili pepper seeds that I’ll be planting over the next few weeks.  They include:

  • Datil
  • Fish Pepper
  • Early Scotch Bonnet
  • Aurora
  • Purple Jalapeno
  • Jaloro (a yellow jalapeno)

Still debating on if I should plant some Starburst, Medusa and Riot.  All three are chile peppers, but more ornamental than for eating.  I probably will, seeing as the front garden (which faces the street) could use some color.

I’ll go out and take some photos in the next week, so you can see how pretty the large jalapeno is.  Pretty Purple Pepper is also neat, as it has varigated foliage.

Meanwhile — gotta take care of the peppers!  Which brings me to ask — what are you growing, or planning to grow?


Germinating Pepper Seeds, Update

It’s been just over a week since I planted my latest batch of pepper seeds, both hot and sweet. So what’s sprouting already?

And the Winner Is…

Corno di Toro, a sweet pepper, was first out of the gate at 5 days. However, of the two seeds I’ve planted, only one has shown up yet. On the other hand, I planted two different strains (confused yet?). At any rate, the red Corno di Toro is the clear winner.

Jalapeno M was the second to sprout at 6 days, with both seeds coming on up. Jalapeno M was closely followed by Cambuci Hot, about a half day behind.

The next two sprouted at nearly the same time — Nardello Sweet and Mini Belle.

And finally this morning — Mustard Habanero.  Wow, a super-hot pepper in 7.5 days — amazing.

I’m Waiting On

Some “hotties” — Hot-Banero, Peter Pepper and Bhut Jolokia.  Also lagging are two more jalapenos — Jaloro and Tam Jalapeno.  Brazillian Rainbow is also nowhere to be seen yet.  I know — patience!  And considering 10 to 21 days is the usual for hot chile peppers, it’s great that some have already shown their faces (er, leaves).  Yes, the seed germination mat I talked about does work well, shaving days off the sprouting.

Thinking About a Transplant

Purira pepper (quite hot) is growing very strong and looks like it will need its final transplant before going outside to harden off for the garden in the next few days.  Seeing as I did its first transplant early last week, this one appears to be a winner!

Other pepper seeds that need their final transplants before hardening off include Redskin, Anconcagua and the last of the sweet banana peppers.  For Sweet Pickle I just did its first transplant on Saturday, and it appears that it will need its second transplant this weekend — wow, that was fast!

More Seeds?

I think I’ll take a short break, since I have at least 20 pepper plants at the moment, not counting the ones that are just now sprouting.  Come the middle of April, it will be time to start thinking about my late Summer wave.  I’m planning on the following peppers for then:  Datil, Tennessee Teardrop, Ring of Fire, Yellow Cayenne and Scotch Bonnet.  On the cooler side it will be more Sweet Banana, along with Anconcagua and probably Nardello Sweet.  Perhaps Mini Belle again, if small bell peppers work well for me.

Have You Planted Your Seeds Yet?

I know, it’s been a cold winter, and for many of you, putting pepper plants into the garden is many months away.  But for you folks in zones 8, 9 and 10 — it’s pepper “prime time”.  Get planting!

P.S. — it’s a few hours later and both my Corno di Toro, both Cambuci and both Mustard Habaneros are up. Even Peter Pepper is starting to break through! What a difference a few hours can make. 🙂