"Garnet" peppers

On my birthday this year I sowed seeds for some cool chillies – chilli varieties developed for flavour, not heat. Due to the garden not being ready, I wasn’t able to plant them out until the end of June. They had a west-facing spot, with plenty of afternoon sun and the warmth of the house wall behind them. Mostly they thrived, and were trouble-free plants. I had to stake them, and water them when I watered the rest of the garden, but for the most plant they got on with life without me.

Although there has been no frost here yet (and if last year is anything to go by, there won’t be for some time yet), the garden is winding down for the winter and it seemed like a good time to bring in the pepper harvest. If I had thought about it, we could have been eating green peppers for weeks now. As it turned out, only one fully ripened during our rather lacklustre summer.

The two ‘Garnet’ plants turned out to be interesting, as only one of them has produced fruits typical of the variety. The other set are stubbier, with a certain amount of heat! I have been processing them for the freezer, by slicing them up and open freezing them:

Harvested peppers ready for open freezing

I did start recording how many plants I had of each variety, and the weight of fruit they produced, but my garden isn’t really about volume, I work with a much broader interpretation of yield. Suffice to say that I grew enough peppers to last us through the winter!

The idea behind freezing them on a tray (and transferring them to a bag/ container a couple of hours later) is that you get free-flow frozen veggies rather than one big lump. It has worked for me in the past, with onions. However, we’re tight on freezer space at the moment, so I have started just plonking the slices into bags to freeze. Hopefully that will be fine, since the slices are much drier than onions.

The original plan was that at least some of these cool chillies would ripen, and I could have dried them. The Garnet are paprika peppers, and I could have made my own paprika. The chillies I could have ground into heat-free chilli powder to add flavour to dishes. Instead they will all be rather indistinguishable green pepper slices (except the slightly hotter ones), which is slightly disappointing.

The most productive varieties have been the ‘Fooled You’ jalapeno and the ‘Cool Cayenne’, which are long and curly and look like yellow witches fingers. The least successful were the ‘Roter Augsburger’, perhaps surprisingly as they are supposed to be a reliable outdoor variety (a sweet pepper, rather than a cool chilli), but unfortunately they suffered more than most in the delay before planting, and had some catching up to do.

I will definitely grow some peppers again next year, and I like the idea of the cool chillies, so I will probably try them again. However, they will need a new spot in the garden, as the planters at the front are now going to be given over to their original purpose. When I bought them I had a herb garden in mind, as they are pretty much the closest bit of garden to the kitchen. I am clearing them now and assembling my collection of herb plants to work out a planting plan.