We love peppers here at Sow True Seed. All of the different color combinations and shapes and sizes make for endless opportunities - beautiful dishes with thin, long slices of multi-colored goodness or bright red, spicy and creamy hot sauces. Everyone knows home grown veggies taste better than the ones that come from buckets in the grocery store, which makes for even tastier dishes. Peppers can be a little intimidating to take on as a new gardener but don’t stress! We’re going to walk you through how.
The joy of sweet peppers starts at the very beginning of the fruit’s journey. They can be harvested green or at any point along the spectrum of colors they may exhibit. The longer the pepper is left on the plant, the sweeter and more nutritious it becomes.
You won’t believe it until you see it but these bell peppers are a deep, royal purple as if they came out of a fairy tale! They are especially crisp making them just delicious raw and plain or dipped in a spicy hummus! They ripen from green to purple to a deep red so you have options at harvesting time. These beauties are sure to steal the show in a salad or veggie plate.
- Pepper Fried Rice
- Classic Sausage and Peppers
- Faro Stuffed Peppers with Feta
Marconi Red Pepper
This massive Italian pepper grows up to 12 inches long. It is a beautiful tapered fruit, and an heirloom, so reliably well-loved. These fruits are delicious fresh or fried (or stuffed with cheese and roasted- of course). We all love a reliable garden snack in the middle of a work day and this is it!
- Muhammara (Red Pepper and Walnut Spread)
- Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Gratin
- Broccoli Stem and Red Pepper Slaw
Ashe County Pimento
A gorgeous and miniature bell pepper, the Ashe County Pimento is uniquely dynamic. The thick, fleshy walls make them perfect for stuffing and the sweetness allows for a great garnish when stuffed inside an olive. Famously, these peppers are what make pimento cheese what it is! Pimentos are sweet and very mild- the taste is often described as “peppery” rather than spicy. More of an unparalleled flavor than any sort of spice. Sure to add a special punch to any dish! These amazing peppers are also a Western North Carolina variety, so they’re suited to cooler temperatures than other pimentos.
- Pimento Mac and Cheese
- Pimento Cheese Frittata
- Tomato Pie topped with Pimento Cheese
A favorite among our staff! Jimmy’s thin and crisp flesh makes for a beautiful frying pepper and dries easily, making it great for preserving. It’s got a sweet and fruity flavor that gives the impression that it might get spicy as the flavor matures but never actually gets hot. It originated in Italy in the tiny town of Ruoti, the variety then traveled to Connecticut in the palm of Angela Nardiello. A true and cherished heirloom. Read more about the Jimmy Nardello pepper’s history on our blog.
- Stir Fried Tofu and Peppers
- Memphis Dry-Rub Mushrooms
Shishitos have skyrocketed to glory in the past couple of years, stealing the show in the best restaurants and the best dinner parties. Stuffed with goat cheese and blackened in the pan or on a grill, there’s nothing like them. These incredible peppers have a complex flavor profile described as smokey and citrusy. They’re green when ripe and best picked at about 2-4 inches long.
- Blistered Shishito Peppers
- Spicy Corn and Shishito Salad
- Bulgogi Cheesesteak
There’s nothing quite like the power of a hot pepper- but the beauty of them as they’re growing is as exciting as the dynamic flavor they can bring! From full-blown heat to a soft tingle, these peppers bring more than temperature to the table.
These classic jalapenos are everything you need without the eye-watering heat! All the flavor of our favorite peppers with none of the pain. We love that! About half as hot as a regular jalapeno, these will do the trick in any recipe that calls for that pesky little green pepper. Alternatively you could impress all your friends by eating them whole without a single tear!
- Jalapeno Grilled Pork Chops
- Cornbread Madeleines with Jalapenos
- Breaded and Fried Jalapenos
Spice Level: 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville Heat Units
There’s nothing quite like a classic Poblano pepper originating from it’s namesake, Puebla, Mexico. In the classic dish chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), this pepper truly shines. And how dynamic! The fruit ripens from dark green to red, getting spicier as it goes.When ripened and dried, this pepper’s name changes to Ancho chile and is often ground into powder. Roasting and peeling this pepper gives it a better texture.
- Creamy Corn and Poblano Soup
- Roasted Tomatillo-Poblano-Avocado Salsa
- Chiles Rellenos
Spice Level: 1,500 Scoville Heat Units
Fish Peppers have a long history of being grown and tended to by the Black community in and around Baltimore and Philadelphia. It became a food staple in crab houses and oyster bars (hence the name), and can still be found in a lot of those classic restaurants today. The color ranges from green to orange to red or brown and even sometimes white! Flavor wise, this pepper is often compared to a serrano with a bright, fruity, and tangy flavor.
- Fish Pepper Soup
- PIckled Fish Peppers
- Fish Pepper Salsa
Spice Level: 5,000 - 30,000 Scoville Heat Units Depending on Pepper Maturity
Chinese 5-Color Peppers
These are very hot peppers not for the faint of heart (or just in reasonable doses). That being said, they are stunning! They turn a string of vibrant colors as they ripen from purple to cream to yellow, orange, and red. Truly, truly beautiful plant. They are also fairly small plants, which makes them perfect for container growing! Great frozen or dried for use later.
- Chinese 5-Color Hot Sauce
- Chinese Style BBQ Ribs
- Spicy Pork and Shrimp Wontons
Spice Level: 5,000 - 30,000 Scoville Heat Units Depending on Pepper Maturity
Our customers get so excited about this pepper. It has a lovely, fruity flavor with a satisfying slow growing heat. It’s name translates to “yellow chili pepper” which is an appropriate name for this sunshine yellow treat. Originating in Peru, it’s considered one of the most important ingredients in Peruvian cuisine.
- Bass Ceviche
- Aji de Gallina (Peruvian Spicy Creamed Chicken)
- Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce
Spice Level: 30,000 - 50,000 Scoville Heat Units Depending on Pepper Maturity
How to Grow Peppers at Home
So which kind of pepper do you want to grow? Read on for some tips on how to grow these amazing fruits!
When To Plant Peppers
Different types of peppers take different amounts of time to grow. Generally, it’s between 8 and 12 weeks after transplanting. For example, hot peppers tend to take longer than sweet peppers. Do not plant outside until after your absolute last frost date. Here in Western North Carolina, it tends to be after the first week in May. Look up your average last frost date online, in a resource like the Farmer’s Almanac, or ask your local university extension agent. You should start your pepper seeds indoors eight to twelve weeks before this date to give your plants the best advantage.
Soaking Pepper Seeds
Peppers can be slow to germinate and get growing. It’s even more difficult to get them to germinate without supplemental heat and light. Using a heat mat or warm grow lights can increase the germination rate of your seeds. Another step you can take is to soak your pepper seeds. This helps to break down hard seed coats that inhibit germination.
Here at Sow True we’ve had great luck soaking our pepper seeds for 2-6 hours in a weak, room temperature chamomile tea! This helps to disinfect the vulnerable seeds and break open the seed coat, speeding up germination.
Plant seeds in your favorite seed starting mix, or consider making your own! It helps to mix the soil with water before you put it in your tray or pots. Your soil should be moist enough so that when you squeeze a handful, it holds together in a ball but does not drip out water. This helps to set a standard of moisture to be maintained. Plant seeds ⅛ inch below the surface of the soil and mist well with water from above. Using a seed tray dome top can also help to trap moisture, helping with germination. When your seeds have sprouted, remove the humidity dome and water the soil as often as needed to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
Planting Peppers Outside
When it's time to plant outside you’ll have to go through the hardening off process, which prepares your plant babies for the brave new world! This process involves gradually exposing them to a colder outdoor environment before they are transplanted entirely. When your plants are 4-6 inches tall, and at least a week before they’ll be planted outside, begin setting them outside for a couple hours each day.
Prepare your beds for planting by working in an inch or two of good compost and have some stakes ready to put in the ground next to your plants for support.
Plants should be put in about 18 inches apart. Water well immediately after transplanting.
Peppers can tolerate some drought but they are susceptible to drought-related stress, which can affect production or make them especially vulnerable to pests or diseases. In general, it is a good idea to make sure peppers get at least one inch of water a week.
Usually, peppers take around two months after transplanting to mature to harvest. In order to encourage your plant to produce early, harvest peppers just before peak ripeness! This will send a signal to your plant to continue producing and quickly. Be sure to cut the stems of fruits instead of pulling them. This reduces damage to the plant.
So there you have it! Peppers are and should be a staple in everyone’s garden. There are endless possibilities, endless foods and meals to create for friends and family. Try your hand at growing peppers, and check out our wide selection of pepper seeds.
Written by Sow True's Community Coordinator, Hannah Gibbons