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Expand your market by growing a wide selection of peppers
Hot and sweet peppers are used in cuisines around the world so the more
types of peppers you offer customers, the more likely you are to find
buyers. Think of all the cuisines that use peppers: Mexican,
Southwestern, Cajun, Indian, Thai, Italian, Ethiopian...the list goes on
and on. By growing a diversity of peppers, you are likely to attract a
diverse customer base.
has more than three dozen varieties of peppers, so you can choose
specialties that meet the demands of your customers. You can cater to
specific ethnic groups that may have trouble finding their favorite
peppers in supermarkets. You can encourage customers to try new peppers
by providing recipes and preparation suggestions.
Peppers have a long and illustrious history. Native to Central and South
America, they were in cultivation by the Aztecs when the Spanish
explorers arrived. The Spanish, who were hoping to find a new source of
expensive black pepper, realized that the local hot peppers would be a
good substitute, so they brought them back to Spain. By the first half
of the 16th century, they had spread to Italy, France, and Germany and
within a few more decades to India and the Balkans. The English
re-introduced them to America.
Most of the peppers in commerce today are of the species Capsicum
annuum. They are broadly divided into sweet and hot peppers — though
there may be the occasional crossover. With the Spanish heirloom Padron
for example, one out of 20 fruits will be hot, the rest mild. Sweet
peppers include bell peppers, pimentos, cone-shaped frying peppers, and
long, lobed Shishito types. Weather can often produce unexpected heat or
mildness in some peppers, with hot weather generally leading to hotter
peppers. Another important pepper species is Capsicum chinense, with
Habanero being the best-known variety.
Hot peppers, known as chile peppers, are categorized by their capsaicin
content — their heat. They are ranked on the Scoville Heat Unit scale,
on which a bell pepper has 0 Scoville Heat Units, a Numex Joe E. Parker
has 4,500, a Serrano
25,000 and a Habanero
150,000-200,000. The hottest pepper known is the Bhut Jolokia, a C.
chinense pepper from India that scores 1 million Scoville Heat Units.
Shop for Peppers by Heat Scale
Sweet and hot peppers are grown the same way. They
should be sown inside or in a greenhouse 8 to 10 weeks before you plan
to set them out. Heat lovers from the start, they require a soil
temperature of 80-90°F/27-32°C to ensure fast germination. After the
seeds germinate, they should be transplanted into 2” cells or pots so
that they can develop strong root systems before planting. The ideal
seedling for planting outside has buds but no open flowers.
Peppers should not be transplanted outside until the soil and weather
have warmed. In cooler climates, they do best on plastic mulch covered
with row cover on hoops until the weather gets hot. Plants should be
watered in with a high-phosphorous solution.
The first peppers should be picked as soon as they reach full size to
encourage further fruit set. After that, fruits can be left to ripen to
their mature colors of red, yellow, or orange. Peppers are packed with
antioxidants and vitamins, and they are very low in calories.
Whether your customers like their peppers hot or sweet, nearly everyone buys peppers.Visit Johnny's Selected Seeds for more free
information about growing produce, herbs, cover crops and flowers.
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from JSS Advantage January 2012