Pepper seeds, sowed!

As I have learned throughout the years, pepper is one of the most economic veggies to grow. They are easy to take care of (once they are in the garden) and can give you fresh peppers for about 5-6 months out of a year, not to mention you can pickle, freeze the extras and use them later. Growing peppers from seeds is not hard, and it can save you a lot of money considering each pepper plant in the store can sell up to $3.50. You can grow your own pepper starts for a fraction of the cost. You will also have the luxury of picking the right varieties yourself.

The peppers I choose this year are : Sweet Eda Bell Pepper and Estella Bullhorn Pepper(From New Dimension Seed). Sweet Eda is a great quality bell pepper, the plant is low and robust, producing tons of peppers with thick meat and great flavor. Estella is a great pepper for making chili rellenos. It matures extremely early and has a long producing season.

2" pots and trays;
Packets of pepper seeds;
Fresh potting soil;
slow release fertilizer (the kind with polymer coatings).

1. For every bag of potting soil add 1 C. of the slow-release fertilizer.
2. Place the 2" pots in the trays. Fill the pots with potting soil.
3. Place 2-3 seeds in each pot, lightly press the seeds into the soil.
4. Cover the trays with a thin layer of the potting soil.
5. Water the trays with a watering can that will distribute water evenly and gently.
6. Place the trays in a nice warm spot, preferably on a south facing window or on top of a heating mat (Most gardening supply stores have them). Keep the pots moist, but not soaking wet. And wait for your pepper seeds to germinate.
The ideal germination temperature is 80F, if the temperature is lower it will take longer to germinate.
Note: If the temperature is too low (say below 55F consistently), then you might not get them to germinate no matter what.

When pepper seeds germinate, remove all seedlings but the strongest one in the pot. Remember: only one (1) pepper plant per pot. This can be hard for beginning gardeners, but absolutely essential! As in a 2" space only one pepper plant can develop healthy and strong. When pepper plants are 2" tall, Transfer them to 4" pots. Then await for spring to finally arrive and transplant them to your garden.

Winter Salsa

You don't have to settle for the store bought salsa from the jar just because you don't have fresh tomatoes in the garden. Here's my "semi-fresh" salsa:
1 pint of home canned tomatoes (canned at peak of tomatoes producing season last summer);
1 small white onion, finely chopped;
1 clove of garlic, finely minced;
1/2 C. fresh cilantro, chopped;
Juice of 1 lemon;
Juice of 1 lime.
Mix all ingredients together, viola!

Anyberry Cobbler-Delicisou!

Anyberry Cobbler
I made a boysenberry cobbler with a bag of frozen boysenberry (about 2 C). This recipe is based on a recipe I got from my friend Kathy a long time ago, with a little improvising. It turned out delicious! It goes like this:
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup),
2 C. fresh or frozen berries (or other fruit),
2 eggs,
1 cup of sugar,
1 cup of flour,
1 t. baking soda,
1/2 t. baking powder
1 C. of white or yellow cake mix (this was the improvising part),
Melt butter in a large bowl, sift dry ingredients, add to butter, add eggs. Stir until the mixture is incorporated (it's ok to have lumps). Pour berries in a 9x9 square pan, top with flour mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 40 minutes.
(It tasted so good, it was gone before I busted out my camera. So I had to make another one just to take the picture...)

Garden: Time to start your pepper plants!

Pepper is one of the most economical vegetables to grow. With proper planing and timing, you can harvest peppers for 4-5 months out of your own garden, and you can preserve the excess peppers by freeze or pickle them.

February is time to start your pepper plants. Select varieties you like and pick the early kinds. The following is a few varieties I grew last year (see blog titled "Battle of the Pepper Field"):

1. Estella Pepper: The Estella Pepper is a bullhorn shaped one that is mild when young and develop more pungent taste when matured more. It is ideal for Chili Relleno. The pepper is a lot like Anaheim pepper with one distinct benefit-the skins are a lot easier to come off when charred. I also used this pepper a lot in my salsas. It is a extreme early maturing variety and was ready to harvest before any others and lasted until early December.

2. Sweet Eda Bell Pepper: This is an early maturing bell pepper. The peppers are very meaty and sweet. A good tasting pepper. The plant doesn't get very tall, and is sturdy and robust. It sets fruit easy and has high yield.

3. Jalapeno Pepper: I started this one from seeds in Feb. I thought the small pepper may be maturing earlier, but it didn't. The plant is 50% taller than the Sweet Eda and peppers matured after both the Estella and Sweet Eda. However, it was well worth the wait. I got tons of jalapeno peppers and they have this sweet taste on top of the hotness. I made many many snacks of jalapeno poppers and they were ALWAYS popular.

4. Yellow Banana Peppers: This is a bullhorn shaped pepper but is not hot. Plant is very productive, maturing later the Estella. I made a lot of pickles with this one and I also used them for salsa to add flavor and bulk.

5. Super Hot: This is a super hot pepper, super productive, early maturing. Grow waives of peppers like cloud. The peppers are milder when young and get VERY HOT when old. I couldn't eat the red ones, and I consider myself have good tolerant for heat in food. I got a good recipe from Kim, my Korean friend, of stir fried super hot with anchovies... it was mouth watering good and also burns coming and going....

That't all the peppers I grew last year. I think now I should go get the seeds in the pots so I can have peppers again this year!

Spring is right around the corner, so happy gardening!