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Connecticut Garden Journal: Looking forward to this year’s sweet and hot pepper crop

Chili peppers growing on a plant.
Getty Images
Getty Images
Some of the hot peppers Charlie grows get tossed in freezer bags whole and others are dried slowly in the oven and used as crushed hot pepper flakes in pastas and soups.

As I cook the last of my frozen sweet peppers from last summer, I'm thinking about this year's crop. I love growing peppers. I've experimented over the years with different varieties and have found a few that grow really well for me.

For sweet peppers I lean towards the bull's horn type. These Italian frying peppers grow easily and produce abundantly. And they turn their mature color, such as red, yellow, orange, faster than bell peppers. This is a treat because even though I like any pepper, I love mature sweet peppers. My two favorite varieties are the red 'Carmen' and the yellow 'Escamillo'. They produce reliably each year. I don't always find transplants in local greenhouses, so I start my own seedlings indoors each April.

I've also grown a variety of hot peppers. These varieties are great because unless you're a hot pepper fanatic, just a plant or two will produce enough to keep your meals spicy all summer and fall. 'Padrone' hot pepper is a variety I first tasted at a restaurant in Barcelona on one of my garden tours. It was grilled with a bit of olive oil and salt. With a pitcher of sangria, those peppers didn't last long. Another keeper is 'Thai Hot'. I grow this attractive, pepper plant mostly to process the mature red fruits for winter. Some peppers get tossed in freezer bags whole and others are dried slowly in the oven and used as crushed hot pepper flakes in my pastas and soups. The stored peppers last frozen or dried about 6 to 8 months indoors. There's nothing like the taste of your own veggies in winter in your meals.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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