Tag Archives: pepper

Pepper – Easy to grow

Easy to grow peppers is the last of this ‘Easy to grow’ series … really. I won’t bore you with any more Easy to grow post. 🙂 Thank you for taking time to visit my little blog.

Peppers are a warm season crop. Red and green peppers are good sources of vitamin C, some vitamin A, and small amounts of several minerals. Red peppers have more vitamin A than green peppers.

Peppers are good consumed raw or cooked. Eat them as a snack, use them to decorate food, add them to salads and casseroles. You can also stuff peppers with seasoned bread crumbs and or meat and bake them. Of course you may want to pickle some of your pepper crop.

Peppers grow in all types of soils but do best in heavier, well drained soils. Plant them in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

Work your soil 8 to 10 inches deep and rake it several times to break up the large clods. Work the soil only when it is dry enough not to stick to garden tools. Incorporate large amounts of organic matter into the soil, especially if you are planting in heavy clay soil. You can use compost, peat moss, rotted hay, or other organic matter.

Only a few pepper plants will feed most families, it maybe best to buy pepper plants rather than grow them from seed. Buy healthy plants that are 4 to 6 inches tall. About three to four hot pepper plants and eight to ten sweet pepper plants usually are enough for a family of four.

If you plant from seed, soil germination temperature for pepper is 70 F to 95 F. Pepper will not germinate when the soil temperature is below 55 F.
Tip Sweet peppers may germinate well when soil temperature reaches 70 or 75 degrees F, however the hotter your pepper variety the higher the soil temperature must be for good seed germination. Hot peppers may not germinate below 80 or 85 degrees F soil temperature.
Days to emergence: 7 to 10 with a soil temperatures around 85 F.

Peppers can be temperamental when it comes to setting fruit if temperatures are too hot or too cool. Daytime temperatures above 95 F or nighttime temperatures below 60 F or above 75 F can reduce fruit set.
Too much nitrogen fertilizer may promote lush vegetative growth but fewer fruits. Peppers usually responds well to phosphorus fertilizer. Look for something NPK 5-10-5.

At planting time add 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer such as NPK 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of garden area. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the garden. Work it into the soil.

If you will plant single plants, place about 2 level tablespoons of fertilizer on the soil in the planting area. Mix it well with the soil.

Water the plants enough to keep them from wilting. Slow, deep watering helps the root system grow strong. Do not let pepper plants wilt because this will reduce yield and quality of the fruit.

After the first fruit begins to enlarge, place about 2 tablespoons of fertilizer, something like NPK 5-10-5, around each plant about 6 inches from the stem. Water the plant after adding the fertilizer. This will increase the yield and the quality of the peppers.

Peppers can be harvested at any size. If you pick the peppers as they mature, the yields will be greater. The first peppers should be ready 8 to 10 weeks after transplanting.

Pick bell peppers when they become shiny, firm, and dark green. If left on the plant, most peppers will turn red and are still good to eat.

Harvest most hot peppers when they turn red or yellow, depending on the variety. Jalapeños are mature when they reach good size and develop a deep, dark green sheen.
Note Hot types will be much milder when harvested small, young and tender. They will become hotter if left on the plant and began to mature.

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Preserving (canning) excess peppers

4 peppers For your safety and the safety of your family I Strongly Recommend that you read and understand all safety tips provided by the United Stated Department of Agricultural. National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Canning (using no vinegar) Peppers Hot or sweet, including chilies, jalapeno, and pimiento.
You will need about 1 pound of peppers for each pint of processed peppers.
A bushel of peppers about weighs 25 pounds and will yield 20 to 30 pints.
Hint: Use only firm peppers. Avoid using soft or diseased peppers.

Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling hot peppers.
Oven or broiler Place peppers in a hot oven (400° F) or broiler for 6-8 minutes until skins blister.
Range top Cover hot burner, either gas or electric, with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes, turning often, until skins blister.

Allow peppers to cool in a pan covered with a damp cloth. This will make peeling the peppers easier. After several minutes, peel each pepper. Flatten whole peppers. {Optional} Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar. Fill jars loosely with peppers and add fresh boiled water, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Another option is to drop in 1 clove of garlic and pack with peppers fill jar with olive oil leaving 1/2 of headspace. Seal tightly and store peppers in your refrigerator up to 1 month.
Avoid using salt when packing in olive oil.
* For the adventurous, use pepper oil when making vinegar and oil salad dressing.

Table 1. Recommended
process time for Peppers in a dial-gauge pressure
canner.
Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 2,000 ft 2,001 – 4,000 ft 4,001 – 6,000 ft 6,001 – 8,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 35 min 11 lb 12 lb 13 lb 14 lb
Table 2. Recommended
process time for Peppers in a weighted-gauge pressure
canner.
Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size Process Time 0 – 1,000 ft Above 1,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 35 min 10 lb 15 lb

pickled peppers

Pickled Hot Peppers

Hot long red, green, or yellow peppers
{Optional} sweet red and green peppers, mixed
5 cups vinegar (5%)
1 cup water
4 tsp canning or pickling salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic
{Optional} Pickling Spices

Wash peppers. If small peppers are left whole, slash 2 to 4 slits in each. Quarter large peppers. Hint Peppers can be pickled with or without skins, whole, sliced or diced.
Blanch in boiling water or blister in order to peel. Fill jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Combine and heat other ingredients to boiling and simmer 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Add hot pickling solution over peppers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process according to the recommendations in Table 1.

Table 1. Recommended
process time for Pickled Hot Peppers in a boiling-water
canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Raw Half-pints or Pints 10 min 15 20

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Salsa The Spice Of Summer


Salsa {This is a good basic Salsa}
Prep Time: About 20 minutes
Recipe Yield about 4 cups (2 pints)
Ingredients
4 or 5 large tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
1 strong yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or {1 Tablespoon dried}
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tomatillo, diced (optional) {Best roasted}
salt to taste
2 – medium or 1 large size mild green Chili peppers de-seeded and course chopped
1 or 2 green or red jalapeno peppers, minced {de-seed and de-vane peppers for pepper flavor and less heat from the peppers}(Use 1 pepper, taste Salsa, adjust salt and pepper to your taste.)

Directions
In a food processor or blender, combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, oregano, lime juice, vinegar, tomatillo, hot pepper, mild chili pepper(s), salt to taste. Chop /blend a scant 20 or 30 seconds.
In a non-aluminum pan, over medium heat, warm until Salsa reaches 165 to 180 degrees. {Use meat thermometer to check temperature} Pack into (2) hot sterilized pint jars, Seal tightly, when cool, this may take several hours, refrigerate Salsa. Salsa will keep safely under refrigeration for 1 or 2 months.
For longer storage, process Salsa for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool over night, check to insure jars sealed properly. Store in a cool dark place. Salsa will safely keep 1 or more years.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information.
Calories: 53
Total Fat: 0.5g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 13mg
Total Carbs: 11.7g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1g
Protein: 2.3g

Avocado Feta cheese Dip
A chunky, savory summer dip that tastes great with tortilla or corn chips or as a topping for corn or flour tacos.
Prep Time: About 20 Minutes
Recipe Yields about 12 servings
Ingredients

2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 ripe avocado – peeled, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or {1/2 Tablespoon dried}
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar {replace with fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice}
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese or {Diced / Grated cheese that you like}
(1 de-seeded finely chopped green or red hot pepper to add more spice to your life)

Directions:
In a bowl, gently stir together avocado, pepper, onion, and garlic. Mix in tomatoes, parsley and oregano. Gently stir in olive oil and vinegar. Then stir in feta {cheese of your choice}. Cover with plastic wrap. Best served chilled for 2 hours.

Nutritional Information
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Calories: 66
Total Fat: 5.6g
Cholesterol: 8mg
Sodium: 108mg
Total Carbs: 2.8g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3g
Protein: 1.8g

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Summer Weather Pattern Settling In For A long Hot Dry Period

After receiving almost 3 inches of rain over the past 5 days, long term weather forecast is for many rainless days with day time temperatures ranging from 95F(35C) to 105F(40.5C). Nights will be at or above 75F(24C).

Tomato’s and Peppers stop pollinating and blooms drop occur when:
Daytime temperatures greater than 32° C (90° ) Pollen sterility occurs, flowers may drop.
35° C (95° F) Much reduced fruit set .
Night time temperatures less than 15.5° C (60° F) or greater than 24° C (75° F) will result in poor fruit set.

Take extra time to check your garden. Cucumbers, squash, zucchini and okra may need to be harvested every morning. A good rule is harvest while young, smallish and still tender.

It is the time of the year tomato horn worms are hatching and are active eating your tomato vines. Check your vines very carefully.
Late evening is a good time to find and remove horn worms as they come out of hiding from the days sunshine and heat and began feeding on your tomato vines.

As temperatures rise and rains are less frequent, observe you garden for signs of drought stress. If plants look stressed, drooping leafs in the early morning you may need to increase your irrigation schedule to 2 or even 3 times a week to your plants healthy.

Heavy mulching around your plants will help in weed control, reduce moisture loss and keep soil in your plants root zone cool.

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Some Like Them Hot – Some Don’t

This Is Not a recommended list of peppers to grow in your home garden. It is a chart to base you pepper selection from.

How hot do you like your pepper? The sweet bell peppers at zero Scoville units to Naga Jolokia(Ghost Pepper) at over 1,000,000 Scoville units.
The substance that makes a chile{chili} pepper so hot is called Capsaicin. Pure Capsaicin rates between 15,000,000 and 16,000,000 Scoville Units!

Scoville Units

Chile Pepper

Heat
Range
Sweet Bell 0
Sweet Banana 0
Pimento 0
Cherry 00 ~ 500
Pepperoncini 100 ~ 500
Sonora 300 ~ 600
El-Paso 500 ~ 700
Santa Fe Grande 500 ~ 750
NuMex R Naky 500 ~ 1,000
Coronado 700 ~ 1,000
TAM Mild Jalapeno 1,000 ~ 1,500
New Mexico 6-4 1,000 ~ 1,500
Espanola 1,000 ~ 2,000
Poblano 1,000 ~ 2,000
Ancho 1,000 ~ 2,000
Mulato 1,000 ~ 2,000
Pasilla 1,000 ~ 2,000
Anaheim 500 ~ 2,500
Sandia 500 ~ 2,500
NuMex Big Jim 1,500 ~ 2,500
Rocotillo 1,500 ~ 2,500
Pulla 700 ~ 3,000
NuMex Joe E. Parker 1,500 ~ 3,000
Bulgarian Carrot 2,000 ~ 5,000
Mirasol 2,500 ~ 5,000
Guajillo 2,500 ~ 5,000
Jalapeno 2,500 ~ 8,000
Chipolte 5,000 ~ 8,000
Long Thick Cayenne 6,000 ~ 8,500
Hot Wax 5,000 ~ 9,000
Puya 5,000 ~ 10,000
Hidalgo 6,000 ~ 17,000
Aji Escabeche 12,000 ~ 17,000
Serrano 8,000 ~ 22,000
Manzano 12,000 ~ 30,000
Shipkas 12,000 ~ 30,000
NuMex Barker’s Hot 15,000 ~ 30,000
De Arbol 15,000 ~ 30,000
Jaloro 30,000 ~ 50,000
Aji 30,000 ~ 50,000
Tabasco 30,000 ~ 50,000
Cayenne 30,000 ~ 50,000
Santaka 40,000 ~ 50,000
Super Chile 40,000 ~ 50,000
Piquin 40,000 ~ 58,000
NuMex XX Hot 60,000 ~ 70,000
Yatsafusa 50,000 ~ 75,000
Red Amazon 55,000 ~ 75,000
Haimen 70,000 ~ 80,000
Chiltecpin 60,000 ~ 85,000
Thai 50,000 ~ 100,000
Merah 85,000 ~ 100,000
Tabiche 85,000 ~ 115,000
Bahamian 95,000 ~ 110,000
Carolina Cayenne 100,000 ~ 125,000
Kumataka 125,000 ~ 150,000
Bahamian 125,000 ~ 300,000
Jamaican Hot 100,000 ~ 200,000
Birds Eye 100,000 ~ 225,000
Tepin (Wild) 100,000 ~ 265,000
Datil 1,000 ~ 300,000
Devil Toung 125,000 ~ 325,000
Fatalii 125,000 ~ 325,000
Orange Habanero 150,000 ~ 325,000
Scotch Bonnet 150,000 ~ 325,000
TigrePaw-NR 265,000 ~ 348,000
Rocoto / Manzano 225,000 ~ 350,000
Caribbean Red 120,000 ~ 400,000
Choclate Habanero 325,000 ~ 425,000
Red Savina Habanero 350,000 ~ 575,000
Dorset Naga 800,000 ~ 900,000
Naga Jolokia “Ghost Pepper” 800,000 ~ 1,041,000
Pure Capsaicin 15-16,000,000

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Tomatoes Q&A

Tomato (40 Questions)

1. Q. When should I start my seed indoors to produce tomato transplants for my garden?

A. Depending upon temperature and how the plants are grown, it takes from
6 to 8 weeks to produce a healthy, 6-inch tall transplant for setting out in
your garden. The plants should be grown in a warm area and receive 6 to 8
hours of sunlight daily or tall, poor quality, leggy plants will result.

2. Q. How do you select good transplants at nurseries or garden centers?

A. First, select the Extension recommended varieties of transplant
whether it be tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or broccoli. Also, look for plants
that appear healthy, dark green in color, and do not have any spots or holes in
the leaves. The ideal tomato, pepper or eggplant transplant should be just
about as wide as it is tall. Avoid tall, spindly plants.

3. Q. How often should my tomatoes be fertilized?

A. It is necessary to fertilize the garden before planting tomatoes.
Apply the fertilizer again when fruit first sets. From that point on, an
additional fertilization (sidedress) every week to 10 days is recommended.
Plants grown on sandy soils should be fertilized more frequently than those
grown on heavy, clay soils. A general sidedress fertilizer recommendation is
one to two tablespoons of a complete fertilizer scattered around the plant and
worked into the soil. If using a fertilizer high in nitrogen such as ammonium
nitrate or sulfate, reduce the rate to one tablespoon per plant.

4. Q. Should tomato plants be staked, caged or left unsupported?

A. Tomatoes should be supported. Whether you cage or stake them is
personal preference. Regardless of the method, plants with foliage and fruit
supported off the ground will produce more than unsupported plants. Caging has several advantages. It involves less work than staking. Once the cage is placed over the plant there is no further manipulation of the plant – – no pruning, no tying. The fruit are simply harvested as they ripen. In many areas, staking and pruning of the plant to a single or multiple stem results in sunburn when the developing fruit is exposed to excessive sunlight. Other advantages of caging over staking include protection of fruit from bird damage
by more vigorous foliage cover and less fruit rot. Caged tomato vines produce more fruit of a smaller size, but staked and tied plants produce less fruit which mature earlier yet are larger.

5. Q. My tomato plants look great. They are dark green, vigorous and healthy. However, flowers are not forming any fruit. What is the problem?

A. Several conditions can cause tomatoes to not set fruit. Too much
nitrogen fertilizer, nighttime temperatures over 70 degrees F., low
temperatures below 50 degrees F., irregular watering, insects such as thrips
or planting the wrong variety may result in poor fruit set. Any of these
conditions can cause poor fruit set, but combinations can cause failures. If
Extension recommended varieties are used , the main reason tomato plants do not
set fruit is because they are not planted where they can receive 8-10 hours of
direct sunlight daily. Any less direct sunlight will result in a spindly
growing, nonproductive plant with healthy foliage.

6. Q. Are there really low-acid tomato varieties?

A. There are some varieties that are slightly less acidic than others,
but this difference is so slight that there is no real difference in taste or
in how the tomatoes should be processed. Some yellow-fruited types are
slightly less acidic than the normal red varieties, but not enough to make any
difference. Research conducted by the USDA indicates that all varieties
available to the home gardener are safe for water bath processing as long as
good quality fruit are used. Flavor differences which exist between varieties
are not because of differences in acid content, but balances of the sugar to
acid ratio.

7. Q. Some tomato varieties are recommended because they are determinate and fast maturing. What does determinate mean and can you tell if a tomato is determinate by looking at it?

A. Determinate means the plant is small. Determinate tomato varieties
seldom are more than 5 to 6 feet tall. A determinate vine is distinguished by
a repeating pattern of two leaves followed by a flower or fruiting cluster. An
indeterminate vine has a repeating pattern of three or four leaves, then a
cluster.

8. Q. Can I save seeds from my tomatoes from next season’s plantings, and if so how?

A. You can save seed from tomatoes if the variety is not a hybrid.
Hybrid tomatoes do not come true from seed. The plants and fruit from seed
saved form your home garden may or may not resemble the parent. Chances are the
fruit will be poorer quality and the vine characteristics will not be the same
as the parent plant. However, for true breeding varieties, such as Homestead,
it is easy to save seed. To save seed from tomatoes or any other home
vegetable fruit crop, leave the fruit on the plant until it is mature, pull
it, squeeze juice with seed into a glass, let this ferment for two days
adding water if needed. Rinse the seeds two or three times to remove debris.
Seeds will settle to the bottom. After rinsing the seeds, blot them and place
them in the sun to dry. Store the seeds under cool, dry conditions.

9. Q. When caging tomatoes, how large should the cage be?

A. The diameter of the cage should be at least 18 to 20 inches. Smaller
cages often restrict plant growth and reduce yields. Height of the cage will
vary but generally 2 feet is sufficient for the recommended varieties.
However, if vining types such as Better Boy, Homestead or Terrific, are used a
cage 5 feet in height is preferred. Regardless of variety, the 2 foot tall
cage is sufficient for most fall garden tomatoes.

10. Q. How do you stake tomatoes?

A. Staking involves pruning or suckering the plant to either one or two
main stalks. Tomatoes grown without support develop a bush shape. However, if
the plant is to be trellised or staked, it must be pruned to a single or double
stalk. The small suckers which develop between the axil of the leaf and the
stem are removed to develop a vine structure rather than a bush. A wooden
stake an inch in diameter and 6 feet long is driven into the ground beside the
plant. Do not damage the root system when inserting the stake in the ground.
The stalk of the plant is loosely attached to the stake as it grows. The plant
can be attached to the stake with twist-ties, soft string, strips of cloth or
panty hose. The plant is sufficiently supported if it is attached to the
stake at 12 to 14 inch intervals. Continued suckering to prevent the plant
from developing more than one or two central stems. If a double-stalk plant
is desired leave the sucker produced above the first flower cluster since it
will be the most vigorous.

11. Q. What causes a tomato to crack? Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

A. Cracking is a physiological disorder caused by soil moisture
fluctuations. When the tomato reaches the mature green stage and the water
supply to the plant is reduced or cut off, the tomato will begin to ripen. At
this time a cellophane-like wrapper around the outer surface of the tomato
becomes thicker and more rigid to protect the tomato during and after harvest.
If the water supply is restored after ripening begins, the plant will resume
translocation of nutrients and moisture into the fruit. This will cause the
fruit to enlarge; which in turn splits the wrapper around the fruit and results
in cracking. The single best control for cracking is a constant and regular
water supply. Apply a layer of organic mulch to the base of the plant. This
serves as a buffer and prevents soil moisture fluctuation. Water plants
thoroughly every week. This is especially important when the fruits are
maturing. Some varieties are resistant to cracking, but their skin is
tougher.

12. Q. What could cause the leaves of my tomatoes to turn brown along the edges?

A. Leaf-burn or scorch generally indicates root injury, quite often
caused by heavy amounts of fertilizer applied too near the roots. This injury
often results in browning and die back of the ends and margins of the leaves.
Other possible causes are root injury caused by nematodes, insects or physical
injury by cultivation. Also overwatering or underwatering along with diseases
might cause leaf-tip burn.

13. Q. About the time my tomatoes ripen and turn red, I lose at least half my crop to bird damage. What can prevent this?

A. Bird damage is common in all areas. One control method which works
quite well is to take old nylon stockings and cut them into pieces 10 to 12
inches long. Tie a knot in one end of the stocking and slip the open end over
the entire cluster of tomatoes. Secure the end above the tomato cluster with a
rubber band or twist-tie. Birds will not be able to peck through the nylon.
Slip the stocking off the cluster and harvest the ripe fruit and replace it to
protect later-ripening fruit. Also, birds damage fully mature fruit more
readily than breaker or pink fruit. Harvest in breaker or green-wrap stage.
Gardeners have tried many ways to reduce bird damage. Scarecrows, aluminum
strips, tin foil plates and noisemakers will work until the local birds become
accustomed to seeing or hearing them. Fabric covering materials such as
Grow-Web and Reemay can also be used as a barrier mechanism.

14. Q. What causes the black spots on the bottom of my tomatoes?

A. Blossom end rot, caused by improper (fluctuating from too dry to too
moist) moisture. Maintain uniform soil moisture as the fruit nears maturity.
Remove affected fruit.

15. Q. What causes tomato leaves to curl?

A. The exact cause of tomato leaf roll is not fully known. Tomato leaf
roll appears about the time of fruit setting. The leaflets of the older leaves
on the lower half of the tomato plant roll upward. This gives the leaflets a
cupped appearance with sometimes even the margins touching or overlapping. The
overall growth of the plant does not seem to be greatly affected and yields are
normal. This condition appears to be most common on staked and pruned plants.
It occurs when excessive rainfall or overwatering keeps the soil too wet for
too long. It is also related to intensive sunlight which causes carbohydrates
to accumulate in the leaves. Some varieties of tomatoes are
characteristically curled.

16. Q. What causes some of my early tomato fruit from the spring garden to be oddly shaped and of poor quality?

A. This condition is usually caused by low temperatures during bloom and
pollination. Fruit that set when temperatures are 55 degrees F. or below
often are odd-shaped and of poor quality. The blooms these tomatoes develop
from often are abnormal because of temperature conditions and grow into
abnormal, odd-shape fruit.

17. Q. Do products which are supposed to aid in setting tomatoes really work and if they do, how should they be used?

A. These hormonal products are designed to substitute for natural
pollination. These products work better when tomatoes are failing to set
because of too cool temperatures. Tomatoes which set after use of these
products will be puffy and have less seed.

18. Q. What is the plant advertised as a tree tomato?

A. The tree tomato is a member of the Nightshade family. The regular
tomato belongs to the same plant family but is a different species. The tree
tomato has the scientific name Cyphomandra betacea. Like the true
tomato, it is a native of Peru. It is grown in market gardens there and in
several subtropical countries including Brazil and New Zealand. The tree
tomato is woody, grows from 8 to 10 feet tall, bears fruit 2 years after
seeding and may continue to bear for 5 to 6 years. They are not winter hardy
except in southern areas and would need to be taken inside over winter. Fruits
of the tree tomato are oval, about 2 inches long and change from greenish
purple to reddish purple when fully ripe. The fruits are low in acid and the
flavor is moderately agreeable. Some varieties of the tree tomato produce
bright, red fruits. The fruits can be used in stew or preserves after the
tough skin and hard seeds are removed.

19. Q. Should you allow tomatoes to become fully ripe and red on the vine before harvesting?

A. Generally, yields will be increased by harvesting the fruit at first
blush or pink instead of leaving them on the plant to ripen fully. A tomato
picked at first sign of color and ripened at room temperature will be just as
tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine. Picking tomatoes before they
turn red reduces damage from birds.

20. Q. If tomatoes are picked green or before they are fully mature, how should they be handled to insure proper ripening and full flavor?

A. Never refrigerate tomatoes picked immature. Place them in a single
layer at room temperature and allowed them to develop full color. When they
are fully ripe, place them in the refrigerator several hours before eating.
Those handled in this manner will be of high quality and full flavor.

21. Q. What is a husk tomato?

A. Husk tomato is also called Ground Cherry, Poha Berry or Strawberry
Tomato. It is grown the same way as regular tomatoes and produces a fruit the
size of a cherry tomato. The fruits are produced inside a paper-like husk
which, when ripe, turns brown and the fruit drops from the plant. If left in
the husk, the fruit will keep for several weeks. Like tomatoes, they are
sensitive to cold weather and should be set out from plants after all danger of
frost in the spring. Space the plants 1 feet apart in rows at least 3 feet
apart. When ripe the small fruit can be used in pies, jams or may be dried in
sugar and used like raisins.

22. Q. I have the best tomato crop I have ever had, but the large tomatoes are falling off the vines. Even the ones that stay on the vine are jarred off easily. What is the problem?

A. Cool fall temperatures cause the abscission zone, the area where the
tomato is attached to the plant to weaken, and the heavy fruit subsequently
falls. Gather fallen tomatoes as soon as possible, wipe them clean and store
them in a warm place to ripen. These aborted tomatoes will rot if left on
the ground.

23. Q. I have large translucent areas on my tomato fruit. What’s going on?

A. This is an environmental problem. The translucent areas are sun
scalds. Heat from direct intense sunlight destroys the color pigments of the
tomato. This damage does not make the tomato inedible.

24. Q. Can I propagate tomatoes for the fall garden from spring- planted vines?

A. If quality transplants of Extension recommended varieties cannot be
found, use suckers or layering (cover with soil until roots appear) of existing
vine. Do this several weeks before the recommend transplanting date for fall
tomatoes, and use early-maturing tomato varieties.

25. Q. Can spring-planted tomatoes be cut back in late summer or early fall resulting in renewed growth and increased production until the first killing frost?

A. This can be done in some areas, especially in the southern parts.
However, the plants must be healthy and free of insect problems. Trying to
carry an unhealthy plant through the summer into the fall usually means
disaster. If the plants are to be cut back, avoid removing too much of the
foliage since hot weather can burn the plants to death. After pruning, apply
additional fertilizer and water to renew growth and increase tomato production
well into the fall.

26. Q. How do you tell when a green tomato harvested early to prevent freeze damage will ever turn red and ripen?

A. This can simply be done with a sharp kitchen knife. Harvest a tomato
typical of the majority of green tomatoes on your plants. Look at size but pay
particular attention to fruit color. Slice through the center of the tomato.
Closely examine the seed within the fruit. If the seeds are covered with a
clear gel which cause them to move away from the knife, then that fruit will
eventually turn red and ripen. If the seeds are cut by the knife then those
fruit will never properly ripen. Compare the color and size of the tested
fruit when harvesting tomatoes on your plants. Most similar fruit will
eventually ripen and turn red.

27. Q. Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable.

A. The tomato is legally-declared a vegetable by the Supreme Court of the
United States. A vegetable is a herbaceous (non-woody) plant or plant part
which can be eaten without processing and is usually consumed with the main
meal.

28. Q. The foliage on my tomatoes is infected by irregularly- shaped spots which cause it to turn yellow and drop off. This occurs in all seasons and is on the top as well as the bottom leaves.

A. Several types of leaf spots will attack tomatoes. Septoria leaf spot
is seen quite often. It can be controlled with a combination chlorothalonil
and benomyl (Benlate) spray program. Begin the spray program early in the life
of the plant. Apply chlorothalonil every 7 to 10 days adding benomyl every
second spray (14 to 20 days)if humidity is high or rain and dew cause wet
foliage.

29. Q. The leaves on my tomato plants are distorted. Why?

A. This is a mosaic virus. If the virus is severe, remove the plants to
prevent spread to other plants. Many viruses are insect transmitted and are
difficult to control even with insecticides.

30. Q. My tomato plants are stunted and have a pale yellow foliage. The root system has knots or swellings on the roots.

A. These are root knot nematodes. Varieties such as Celebrity, Better
Boy and Small Fry resist this problem. If other varieties are to be grown
nematode populations must be reduced. Root knot is a species of nematode
which causes galls or swellings on plant roots. It restricts the uptake of
nutrients from the root system to the foliage, resulting in a yellow and
stunted plant. Root knot lives in the soil and can survive on a number of weed
and vegetable crops. It is best controlled by planting a solid stand (close
enough for root systems to overlap) of marigolds three months before the first killing frost of fall and/or planting cereal rye (Elbon) for a winter cover
crop. Cereal rye should be shred and tilled into the soil 30 days before
planting a spring crop. Nematode resistance is indicated by the letter N
after the tomato name. Example: Celebrity VFN.

31. Q. My tomatoes were healthy during the spring and early summer, yet after a recent rain, they wilted and died very rapidly. I found a white fungal growth at the base of the plant.

A. This is southern blight. It is a soilborne fungus and lives on organic
material in the soil. Terrachlor used as a preplant treatment will reduce this
problem. Also, the deep burial of undecomposed organic material in the soil
will reduce the problem. Control foliage diseases on tomato plants because the
fallen leaves around the base of the plant will feed the fungus, and it will
build up in this area and cause damage later. Crop rotation will also reduce
southern blight.

32. Q. My tomato plants wilted rapidly. When I cut the stem open, I found a brown ring around the inside.

A. This is Fusarium wilt. It is a soilborne fungus that attacks tomatoes
and other crops. It is controlled only through the use of resistant varieties.
Most commercial tomato varieties are resistant. Before you plant a variety,
make sure it is resistant to Fusarium wilt. This resistance is denoted by the
letter F after the name. Example: Celebrity VFN.

33. Q. What do the letters “VFN” associated with particular tomato varieties indicate?

A. VFN indicates the tomato variety is resistant to three types of
diseases; Verticilum wilt, Fusarium wilt and nematodes. Many of the new hybrid
varieties are VFN types. Disease resistant varieties preferred in areas of
Texas where these problems are severe and cause great losses to home
gardeners.

34. Q. The lower foliage on my tomatoes is beginning to turn yellow and drop. The leaves have circular, dark brown to black spots.

A. This is Alternaria leaf spot or early blight. It is a common problem
on tomatoes and causes defoliation, usually during periods of high rainfall.
Plant tomatoes on a raised bed to improve water drainage. They can be spaced
enough so air can move, dry the foliage and prevent diseases. Follow a spray
program using daconil beginning when the fruit is set and continuing at 1- to
2-week intervals during the growing season until harvest.

Insects

35. Q. My tomato fruit have small yellow specks on the surface. When the fruit are peeled, those yellow specks form a tough spot that must be cut off before eating the tomatoes. What’s wrong?

A. Your problem is not of a varietal origin. The yellow speckling is
caused by sucking insects such as stinkbugs or leaf- footed bugs. Early
control of sucking insects that feed on the fruit is helpful in alleviating the
problem.

36. Q. We planted tomatoes in our small garden. They are loaded and are the best tomatoes we have ever had; however, there are some small holes near the stem end of the tomato. When we cut the tomato open, there is a small worm inside. What is it and what can we do?

A. You have been invaded by the tomato pinworm. They usually do not
damage all fruit and can be controlled only by a preventive insecticide spray
every 7 to 10 days. When the damage is evident, it is too late to do anything
about it.

37. Q. What causes my tomato leaves to turn yellowish and fall off?

A. Many conditions may cause these symptoms including spider mites,
diseases and nutrient deficiencies. Examine the underside of the leaves for
small red to greenish mites. If mites are found, treat with Kelthane,
malathion or sulfur dust. Make two to three applications at 5-day intervals
for best results.

38. Q. On some of my ripe tomatoes I have discovered
small holes with numerous ants in them. I was unaware that ants could do this
to tomatoes. How can I control them?

A. Ants aren’t really your problem. They are just attracted to the
moisture in the holes which were caused by other insects. A likely culprit is
the tomato fruitworm, also known as the corn earworm. Bt (Bacillus
thuringensis
) is a nontoxic biological control which you can apply to the
plants.

39. Q. My tomatoes wilted and died soon after they bloomed. Last fall I had the soil tested and followed the recommendations. I didn’t notice any insects on the tomatoes, and none of the other plants growing in that area were
affected. The plants were in full sun, though one limb from a black walnut
tree which is about 20 feet from the garden reaches over that corner at about
30 feet above the ground. Could the slight shade from this branch cause such a
severe problem?

A. The branch is not the cause of your problem, but the tree it is
attached to probably is. Roots of black walnut and butternut trees release a
substance called juglone which kills roots of sensitive plants. Tomatoes
happen to be among the most sensitive, and should not be planted within at
least 50 feet of these trees. Juglone is emitted from living and dead roots
and can persist in the soil for over a year, so avoid areas where juglone
producing trees have grown for two to three years after removing the trees.

40. Q. What is disease resistance?

A. Disease resistance is the ability of a plant to withstand attack from disease causing organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The extent of resistance can vary from being strongly resistant to infection to being only somewhat more tolerant of the disease than standard varieties. Resistance is not immunity. Improper culture of a resistant variety may negate that resistance.

A. Plant breeders have a tough job to breed disease resistance into crops because there are so many diseases and often several strains of a given disease. What is often done is to select the disease that causes the most problems and work on breeding resistance to that disease. Seed catalogs and packets indicate what, if any, disease resistance a variety has in descriptive text or with initials following the variety name.

Disease resistance in tomatoes indicated by initials include:

V – Verticillium wilt
F – Fusarium wilt (F1, race 1; F2, race 2)
N – nematode
T – tobacco mosaic virus
A – Alternaria alternata (crown wilt disease)
L – Septoria leafspot

Source Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System

Tomato Growers supply company has a website that I often use as a reference when looking for seedlings and seed at my local nursery.
Along with a good quality picture they also give a short description of it’s mature appearance, days to maturity and a bit of other useful information on each variety offered.
They have more than 500 varieties of tomatoes and peppers, including huge selections of both hybrid tomato seeds and heirloom tomato seeds.

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Pepper – Q&A

Public Service Message
If your eyes hurt after drinking Coffee
Take the spoon out of the cup

1. Q. Why do my pepper plants often bloom but fail to set fruit?

A. Peppers, like tomatoes, are sensitive to temperature. Most peppers will drop their blooms when daytime temperatures get much above 90 degrees F. in combination with night temperatures above 75 degrees F. They will also drop their blooms in the early spring if temperatures remain cool for extended periods. Hot peppers, such as jalapenos, withstand hot weather fairly well and can often produce fruit through the summer in most areas. Optimum temperatures fall between 70 degrees and 80 degrees F. for bell-type peppers and between 70 degrees and 85 degrees F. for hot varieties.

2. Q. If I remove the first few blooms on a pepper plant, will my overall production be increased?

A. Maybe. Occasionally, if a bell pepper plant sets the first bloom that flowers, the plant will be stunted as it matures that fruit. This is likely to happen if the plant is growing under marginal conditions which might include low fertility or perhaps low moisture. With the first bloom removed, the plant will grow larger before setting fruit which often does result in higher total yields. However, if the plant is grown under satisfactory cultural conditions removing the first bloom should not affect subsequent yield.

3. Q. If you plant hot peppers beside sweet peppers, will the sweet pepper plant produce hot fruit?

A. Absolutely not. Pepper flowers are self-pollinated, although occasionally cross-pollinate. However, the result of this crossing will appear only if seed is saved from this year’s crop and planted next year. It will not result in off-flavor or differences in fruit characteristics of this year’s crop.

4. Q. Can I cut back my spring planted pepper plants in late summer or early fall for increased production later?

A. Yes, although this is not a recommended practice. In the northern parts of the state spring-planted pepper plants can often be carried through to first killing frost without pruning. However, in southern parts, judiciously pruning the pepper plants and applying additional fertilizer as a sidedress application can prolong pepper production until the first killing frost. Pruning should not be severe in southern parts of the state as excess foliage removal can often result in burn, stunting or death of the plants.

5. Q. Is there any difference in taste or nutritive value between green peppers and those that mature and turn red?

A. Peppers that are allowed to mature and ripen entirely, from green to yellow to red, are higher in vitamin content, especially vitamin A. There is little difference in taste although there is a considerable difference in texture caused by the ripening process.

6. Q. How can you tell when jalapeno peppers are mature?

A. Jalapeno peppers are edible and flavorful at all stages of their growth. However, a connoisseur of jalapeno peppers can distinguish a definite flavor difference between a fully mature jalapeno and one harvested early. A fully mature jalapeno pepper, regardless of size, generally exhibits small cracks around the shoulders of the fruit. Often a darkened area on the fruit indicates maturity and the initial stages of a color change in the fruit.

7. Q. Can I save seed from this year’s pepper crop for planting in my next garden?

A. Yes. Peppers are self-pollinated seed saved from this year’s garden for planting in next year’s garden is an excellent choice. Although an occasional cross-pollination will occur, this is generally not a problem. Do not save seed from hybrid pepper plants as these will not breed true and will result in plants exhibiting characteristics different than the desired hybrid.

8. Q. The foliage on my pepper plants developed spots or lesions and the leaves have dropped off.

A. This could be a combination of three foliage diseases: Alternaria leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot and bacterial leaf spot. In most cases, two or more of these occur simultaneously on the foliage. They can be controlled with foliar sprays using a combination of chlorothalanoil and Kocide or any other copper fungicide. Begin at the first sign of the disease and continue at 1- to 2- week intervals during the critical disease periods.

9. Q. The foliage and fruit of my pepper plants are distorted and small. The leaves have a mosaic pattern.

A. This could be one of five viruses that attack peppers in Texas. The best control is to buy healthy plants and to follow approved cultural practices and a good insecticide program. The viruses are transmitted by aphids. For this reason, it is important to control insects. Also, when a plant becomes infected with one of the viruses, remove the plant.

10. Q. After the recent rainfall, my plants wilted and died soon. The inner stems of the plants were dark.

A. This is Phytophthora stem rot. It is a soilborne fungus that attacks peppers. It is particularly severe in areas where water stands around the plant. Plant on a raised bed for optimal drainage.

11. Q. After a summer rain, my pepper plants died rapidly. I found a white growth at the base of the plant. Intermingled with this growth were small, round, bead-like structures the size of a pinhead.

A. This is southern blight, caused by a soilborne fungus. Crop rotation and deep burial of organic material will help control it. Do not allow leaves to collect around the base of the plant because the fungus will feed on them and later develop on the peppers.

12. Q. There are small wiggly trails all over the leaves of my pepper plants. What are these?

A. These trails are caused by leaf miners. Heavy infestations can defoliate plants and reduce yields. Control this pest by treating with diazinon or a recommended insecticide. Two or three applications at 5-7 day intervals may be necessary to achieve control. Use as directed on the label.

13. Q. We have just moved to this area and enjoy the Mexican food. What makes Mexican food so hot? Is it the pepper they add?

A. The cooks add pepper alright but not the black stuff you shake from a can – they add green peppers, Capsicum annum. These peppers contain a chemical named capsaicin. When you eat these “green bullets from hell” there’s a cellular response that releases neurotransmitters. These are proteins that mimic chemically the sensation of burning or pain. They go to the end plate of our sensory nerves and create the sensation of pain. The body’s response is to remove the chemical irritant by increasing heart rate to increase metabolism, by increasing salivation and increasing sweating. Your nose runs and the gastrointestinal tract goes to work in high gear to remove the irritant. You sweat to cool yourself.

The body’s strong reaction to capsaicin is why many people claim chili has medicinal properties. A paper by a New Mexico biologist noted that the death rate from heart disease in the state was about half the national rate. She also said the rate of heart disease among Hispanics and Indians was low. Presumed reason? They all eat lots of chile pepper and that reduces blood fat levels. Hot peppers are said to protect against blood clots that could cause thromboembolism.

So why do folks eat this hot food? When people eat hot chili the brain secretes endorphins, the opiate-like substances that block pain. Endorphins are produced when runners “hit the wall” and get their second wind. Who needs to jog and watch their diet? Just eat peppers and keep on burning!

14. Q. Can good pickled jalapenos be made from garden grown jalapeno peppers?

A. Yes, if you have a good recipe. Here is THE BEST:

Using fresh TAM Mild Jalapeno peppers, blanch peppers for 3 minutes in boiling water. To prevent collapsing, puncture each pepper. Add the following ingredients to a pint jar packed with the blanched peppers before cooling occurs.

1/4 medium-sized garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon of onion flakes
1 small or medium bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon of ground oregano
1/8 teaspoon of thyme leaf (not seed)
1/8 teaspoon of marjoram
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (olive, refined sesame, corn)

Cover with boiling brine solution prepared as follows:
Mix together:

3 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons salt
2 pints water
2 pints vinegar (5 percent)

Close the containers and process 10 minutes in boiling water, then cool.

Note: Jalapenos must be hot when brine solution is added. The addition of carrot slices adds color to the product.

15 Q: We have 2 bell pepper plants, in containers, that have until recently been very healthy and produced several beautiful peppers. Within the last week or two the peppers have developed small round tannish spots on the some of the fruit. The fruit were not fully developed, but we harvested then in order to save the fruit, if possible. In cleaning the fruit, the only damage is the small spot or two on the bottom of the peppers. I thought perhaps it was sunscald, but these plants have plenty of leaves. Could they be getting too much sun and would moving them to a shadier location help?

A: Tan or translucent spots on developing pepper fruit is DEFINITELY sunscald. All the young pepper has to be exposed to is a few minutes of direct sun during the hottest part of the day and that does it. Remember the last time you burned your body parts the first sun exposure of the spring?! The same situation! If you can see the pepper on the plant SO CAN THE SUN and it is not protected. A bacterial spot would be black so you can rule that out. You did right by removing the fruit; such removal may stimulate more foliage growth and subsequently more fruit protection.

16. Q. Do you have any information on the hot pepper used in Mexican dishes?

A. Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear eat in the woods? OF COURSE, I have information on the pepper which made Mexican food famous! Peppers are hot, trendy items. Look at a recent crop of mail-order gift catalogs. Inside you can order pure silk chili pepper ties, sterling silver red or green chili pepper tie tacks; t-shirts, shorts, cotton caps blazing with red peppers or the red chili pepper string of Christmas lights. These gifts indicate the popularity of peppers. If you can’t grow peppers, the least you can do is wear one to show your support. The National Garden Bureau declares 1993, ‘The Year of the Pepper’ to encourage more folks to grow this New World native. With basic information, anyone in North America should be able to successfully grow pepper plants in pots or in the garden. Grow a hot or a sweet pepper for the flavor and satisfaction of saying “I grew it myself.”

SWEET PEPPERS
Bell–This pepper is mostly blocky in shape with three or four lobes on the bottom of the pepper. For years, gardeners could choose only one color of bell, a green that matured to red, Through modern breeding efforts e can now grow bell peppers that mature to an artist’s palette of colors including red, yellow, orange, lavender, purple and chocolate. The bell peppers have a crisp, thick flesh and are suitable for eating fresh, or stuffing and baking.

Paprika–When dried and ground, this thin-walled pepper becomes the flavorful condiment paprika.

Pimiento–This heart-shaped pepper measures 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. Fruits have very thick flesh. Strips of this fully mature, bright red, mild tasting pepper are found in stuffed greenolives.

Sweet Banana, Sweet Hungarian, Cubanelle–All of these are also referred to as sweet frying or pickling peppers. The shape is long, narrow tapering down to one, two or three lobes. These are thinner-walled than bells and Cubanelle has the thinnest walls of the three. They are usually picked when immature as a light yellow or green. Because they have less water content than bells, they are excellent choices for frying. ‘Sweet Banana’ is a variety that has withstood the test of time–it was a 1941 All- America Selections Winner. ‘Gypsy,’ a 1981 AAS Winner is early to mature–only 62 days and performs very well in cotainers as well as in regular gardens.

Sweet Cherry–Here is a pepper that looks like its name in that it is globe or cherry-shaped and about 1 1/2 inches across. This pepper is harvested when mature green to deep red and is generally used in processing as pickled.

HOT PEPPERS
Cayenne–This pepper is slim and tapered, ranging in length from 3 1/2 to 8 inches. Cayennes are often dried. The hybrid ‘Super Cayenee’ is a 1990 All American Selections Winner. It is very productive, early to mature and hot, hot, hot.

Red Chili–The small cone-shape peppers of this type are 1 to 3 inches long and have medium thick flesh. They are often used dried and ground in chili powder. ‘Super Chili,’ a 1988 AAS Winner is the first hybrid chili. The compact plants were bred for increased yields.

Green Chili–These are the long (7 to 8 inch) green, two celled mildly pungent Anaheim type peppers that are so flavorful in chile rellenos. They turn red at maturity but are nearly always harvested, green, roasted and peeled. They’re the kind you’ll find in the canned goods section of supermarkets labeled “Green Chile Peppers.”

Hungarian Yellow Wax (also called Hot Banana)–This pepper is pungent but still one of the more mild “hots.” It is 5 to 6 inches long and picked when an immature greenish yellow color but matures to orangish red. This type is good for pickling or canning.

Jalapeno–Jalapenos are the popular peppers used in many Mexican entrees. They are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long and have a thick-walled pungent flesh. They may be harvested when immatue green or mature red and are good for pickling or canning. There are many varieties of jalapeno peppers with varying degrees of pungency. It has been said that more than 200,000 pounds of jalapeno seed is planted in Mexico annually.

Red Cherry–This hot pepper is only 1 1/2 inches across and ahped like a cherry. It may be used fresh or pickled, primarily pickled.

Red Hot Peppers–There are other Capsicum annuum in the Longum Group that add distinct flavor to their native regional cuisines. These vary in plant and fruit size and shape. Smaller plants are attractive in patio containers and hanging baskets. These scorchers such as Chili Tepine, Chile Peguin, Tabasco, and Thai, mature red and zest-up foods. Many additional kinds are available. Small hot yellow peppers like Cascabella and Santa Fe Grande are used primarily for canning and pickling. There is the hot Serrano type that is popular in the Southwest. There is Habanero, said to be 50 times hotter than Jalapeno peppers.

HARVEST
Peppers may be harvested and enjoyed when immature or mature. There is not a “best” time to harvest, let personal taste preference be the guide. Remember that sweet peppers become sweeter as they mature and hot peppers come hotter.

To harvest, do not pull or tear a pepper from a plant. Peppers have shallow root systems and it doesn’t take too forceful a pull to dislodge the etire plant from the ground. Fruits of many varieties will easily snap off at the tem. With some varieties you will need to use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the fruit stem from the plant. Harvesting regularly will encourage the plant to keep blossoming and setting fruit, especially early in the growing season. If the temperature just drops belwo 32 degrees F. for a short time, covering the pepper plants will protec them from damaGe. At the end of the growing season such as September in Minneapolis, if there is a threat of killing frost, pick all fruit regardless of the size. This is the last harvest for the plants.

NUTRITION
Peppers are the right food for people seeking a healthy, nutritious diet. Low in calories, high in Vitamins A and C, peppers are also high in a very important mineral–potassium. One cup of raw sweet green peppers contains 22 calories. For comparison a cup of cucumber is 16, cottage cheese is 223 and whole orange is about 41 calories.

A red sweet or hot pepper contains about ten times more vitamin A and double the amount of Vitamin C than an immature green pepper. A 100 gram serving of red hot peppers eaten raw contains 369 milligrams of Vitamin C. The same serving size of sweet raw green pepper contains 128 milligrams, about one third less.

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Jump start your 2017 garden plan

A month into winter – it’s time to start planning and making preparations for spring planting.

Tomato and pepper seed or seedlings, a few things you need to know.

Hybrid or Heirloom seed? Which is best for you?
Hybrid seed is not the same as GMO/GEO seed. In agriculture and gardening Hybrid seed is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, and so forth. Today, hybrid seed is predominant in agriculture and home gardening, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century.
In the US, the commercial market was launched in the 1920s, with the first hybrid maize. Hybrid seed from the first generation of hybrid plants does not reliably produce true copies, therefore, new seed is usually purchased for each planting.

Heirloom plant variety is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade.

Heirloom growers have different motivations. Some people grow heirlooms for historical interest, while others want to increase the available gene pool for a particular plant for future generations. Some select heirloom plants due to an interest in traditional organic gardening. Many simply want to taste the different varieties of vegetables, or see whether they can grow a rare variety of plant. Heirlooms, by definition, must be open-pollinated.

Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), and then die. They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or “suckered” as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container, minimum size of 5 or 6 gallon.

Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called “vining” tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all the time throughout the growing season. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. The need for it and advisability of doing it varies from region to region. Experiment and see which works best for you. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants.

I will not attempt to list or recommend any one variety to you. I am including a link to a seed supplier that I have used with good success.

Tomato, Pepper Seed website list over 200 different tomato varieties. About 60 sweet and mild pepper and around 75 hot pepper varieties as well as about 15 eggplant varieties that you may want to consider as well.

Tomato Growers Seed Company has a website that I often use as a reference when looking for seedlings and seed at my local nursery. Along with a good quality picture they also give a short description of it’s mature appearance, days to maturity and a bit of other useful information on each variety offered.

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Flowers That Repel Insect Pest

Planting a few Flowers, Flowering herbs in your vegetable garden is not a bad thing.

Careful selection of flowering plants will add color and interest to your vegetable garden as well as act as a natural barrier to many insect pest.

* Basil Repels house flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil in containers by your house doors and in outdoor areas where you like to relax.

* Lavender bouquets repel fleas, flies and other biting insects. Repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries to add a pleasantly sweet fragrance to homes.

* Lemongrass repels insects like mosquitoes. You’ve no doubt seen citronella candles in stores during the summer and read how citronella will keep mosquitoes. Citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass, it can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season.

* Lemon thyme Repels mosquitoes. This hardy herb can adapt to dry or rocky, shallow soil. The plant itself will not repel pesky mosquitoes. To release its chemicals, you must first bruise the leaves. To do this, simply cut off a few stems and rub them between your hands.

* Mint Repels mosquitoes. The leaves are commonly used to flavor iced tea. Containers of mint strategically placed in the garden or on the patio will help keep nearby plants insect free.

* Rosemary Repels mosquitoes and a variety of insects harmful to vegetable plants. Rosemary is available in various forms. Plants can be grown in containers or grown in herb gardens or planted in landscaped beds, some varieties can grow quite large.

In your garden
* Bay leaves Repel flies.
* Chives Repel carrot flies, Japanese beetle and aphids.
* Dill Repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms.
* Fennel Repels aphids, slugs and snails.
* Lemon balm Repels mosquitoes.
* Oregano Repels many pests.
* Parsley Repels asparagus beetles.
* Thyme Repels whiteflies, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, whiteflies, tomato hornworms and small whites.

* Alliums are broad spectrum insecticide plants. They repel numerous insects that plague vegetable gardens, including slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms. Alliums include small growing herbs such as chives and garlic chives, leeks and shallots.

* Chrysanthemums are famous for repelling beetles, ants, and roaches, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, harlequin bugs and root knot nematodes.

* Marigolds Repel many garden pests. The scent from various types of marigolds repels aphids, mosquitoes and even rabbits. The roots of marigolds are known to repel nematodes. Grow marigolds mixed in along the border of your flower beds or interspersed throughout your vegetable garden.

* Nasturitiums Repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many beetles and cabbage loopers. Nasturtiums could be considered the poster child for companion planting. Nasturtiums release an airborne chemical that repels predacious insects, protecting not just the nasturtium but other plants in the grouping. Many of the insects nasturtiums repel favor vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, cabbage and radishes. Hint: Nasturtiums do not repel a important pollinator, the bumblebee.

* Petunias Repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs. They are popular mostly because they are available in a variety of bright colors, require minimal maintenance and are almost foolproof to grow. Plant them near vegetables and herbs such as beans, tomatoes, peppers and basil.

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Peppers – Hot And Spicy

A wide selection with a detailed description with a picture of peppers mild and hot types can be found at Tomato Growers website. They of course have a large selection of tomato seed and a nice selection of egg plant seed as well.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with Tomato Growers company. I have purchased seed from them and found them to reliable, fast with polite service. Products I have received were as advertised.

Peppers listed in my opinion are mildly hot to insanely hot, meaning there is a little hot pepper ‘bite’ to inhuman hot types. These peppers are a good addition to any fresh salad, roasted, used in stir fried meals, salsas, pickling and hot sauces.
I’m not sure but they may also kill cockroaches on contact and send your house guest fleeing for their life.

ANAHEIM TMR: Also know as the ‘New Mexican Chile,’ this moderately pungent fruit is deep green, but turns red at full maturity. Very smooth peppers are 7-1/2 inches long and 2 inches wide and borne on tall, productive plants that offer good foliage cover for the fruit. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Excellent for canning, freezing or drying. 75 days.

BIGGIE CHILE HYBRID: Is the first hybrid Anaheim-type chile we(Tomato Growers) know of, and it is significantly more productive with much larger fruit than other Anaheim varieties. Huge crops of 8 to 10-inch long, 4 ounce fleshy peppers appear over a lengthy harvest period. This is the classic ‘California green chile’ used for roasting, peeling, and including into cooked dishes. Very mild pungency. 68 days.

SAHUARO HYBRID: Is a large green chile pepper is a more vigorous version of Big Chile II and is the new generation of this popular type of pepper. Stronger, disease-resistant plants yield big and early harvests of huge chiles that can become 9 inches long. On average, pungency is a mild 500 Scoville Units. These peppers are great for roasting or used fresh in all your favorite salsas and spicy dishes. 68 days.

ANCHO: When fresh and still green, these mildly hot, heart-shaped peppers are stuffed and made into chiles rellenos. When mature they are dark, rust red, richly flavored, and often dried and ground into chili powder. Peppers become 4 inches long, tapering to a blunt point. Wrinkled skin takes on even more character when dried. May be strung into long ropes or made into wreaths. 76 to 80 days.

ANCHO SAN LUIS: A high quality, uniform heart shaped peppers are dark green, maturing to red, then mahogany. Mildly pungent peppers, 1,500 to 4,500 Scoville units, are 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. They are used fresh, but are also excellent for drying because the fruit is so uniform in size and shape. 76 to 80 days.

MOSQUETERO HYBRID: A very large ancho peppers are perfect for stuffing into chiles rellenos as well as use in chili, and other dishes where mild to moderate heat is needed. Deep green, flat and tapered peppers mature to 6 inches long and about 3 inches wide, with a high percentage of two lobes. Tall, large plants are high-yielding and perform well even under cooler conditions. 90 days.

POBLANO L: A dark green peppers mature to almost brown and are 5 inches long and 2-1/2 inches wide with a slight taper and blunt end. These are a little longer and milder than Ancho, with Scoville units from 600 to 1,800. These peppers are often called Poblano when fresh and Ancho when dried. 75 to 80 days.

CHILE DE ARBOL: A Cayenne type of pepper with pointed pods, 2 to 3 inches long and 3/8 inches wide. They mature to dark red and are thin fleshed. Mexican common names for this type are pico de pajaro or cola de rata. Ranging from 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville units, they are usually ground into dry powder for red chile sauces or added to soups and stews. 80 days.

LARGE RED THICK CAYENNE: Concentrated set of wrinkled, very pungent fruit, 6 inches long and 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Very pungent, even when small. Useful for sauce and drying. 76 days.

LONG RED SLIM CAYENNE: Bountiful harvest of pencil shaped fruits that are 5 inches long and 1/2 inch thick, but often curled and twisted. Flavor is red hot and best used in very hot dishes. Easily dried. 75 days.

MESILLA HYBRID: Often labeled ‘finger-hots,’ these are bright green at first but later turn to red. Slightly curved and wrinkled, these peppers are about 10 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, and are borne in abundance. Use them whenever good, spicy flavor is desired. Large plants are disease resistant and easy to grow. 85 days.

CAMPEON HYBRID: Large to extra large jalapeno produces high yields of uniform, smooth peppers with the classic jalapeno shape ending in blunt tips. Peppers have a high pungency rating and are reliably hot. Large, vigorous plants are widely adaptable to a variety of climates and resistant to Bacterial Spot. 75 days.

CHICHIMECA HYBRID: A giant fruited jalapeno pepper that becomes 4 in. long and 2 in. wide. Fruit is a little milder than regular Jalapeno, measuring about 3500 Scoville units rather than the 5000 units registered by the standard Jalapeno. Expect large yields of these impressive peppers on strong virus-resistant plants. 65 days.

EMERALD FIRE X3R HYBRID: ALL AMERICA SELECTIONS WINNER. Extra large and tasty jalapenos grow on vigorous, compact plants that set a huge amount of concentrated fruit. Thick walled and glossy green, these 4-in. long peppers are great for stuffing, grilling, canning, or using in salsa. They have 2,500 Scoville Units of heat, which is perfect for most tastes. Get your jalapeno recipes ready to make use of a very large harvest from these disease-resistant plants. 65 days.

JALAFUEGO HYBRID: One of the hottest and most productive jalapeno varieties on the market, this one yields 4-inch long peppers over a long season. These jalapenos are of top quality and turn out smooth and very dark green. Large, vigorous plants produce excellent yields. 70 days.

JALAPENO M: Fiery, thick-walled peppers grow 3 in. long and 1-1/2 inches wide, with rounded tips. Dark green at first, then turning red. Good for fresh use or pickling; famous for nachos and other Tex-Mex dishes. 75 days.

MUCHO NACHO HYBRID: A jumbo jalapeno that is not only longer than the standard jalapeno, but also wider, heavier, and hotter. Very vigorous plants are excellent producers of these 4 inch long peppers. Beautiful fruit ripen to red upon full maturity. 75 days.

SERRANO CHILI: A very hot chile called for in many recipes. Candle flame shaped fruit are 2-1/4 inches long, green, then red at full maturity. Borne on attractive 30 to 36 inch erect, branching plants. Suitable for salsas and sauce recipes as well as eating fresh. Vigorous bearer. 75 to 80 days.

SURENO HYBRID: Excellent production, flavor, and size make this serrano type pepper great for the home gardener as well as commercial production. Firm, large peppers are uniformly straight with a solid core and hold up well even after picking. Fairly compact plants yield an early harvest. 75 days.

BHUT JOLOKIA RED: Known as the Ghost Pepper, this is one of the hottest peppers in the world, bearing extremely hot red fruit about 2-1/2 inches long. In 2007, Guiness World Book of Records named it the hottest pepper and listed it as 1,002,304 Scoville Units. It has since been surpassed, but it’s still plenty hot and should be handled with great care. Germination may take up to one month. 100 days to maturity.

CARIBBEAN RED: Seed for this habanero variety was found in the Caribbean, and then improved, resulting in a uniform, fiercely hot pepper that is way hotter than the regular orange habanero. Dried samples of Caribbean Red measured 445,000 Scoville units whereas regular habanero tested at about 260,000 Scovilles. This pepper must be used carefully, but is wonderful for salsas, marinades, and making your own hot sauce. Bright red, wrinkled fruits are about 1-1/2 inches deep and 1 inch wide and have flavor with fruity overtones. 110 days to red.

HABANERO: A blistering hot pepper 40 times hotter than Jalapeno! Among the most potent ones we sell. Wrinkled fruit is 1 inch long and 1-1/2 inches wide, with a tapered end. Peppers begin as light green then turn to golden orange and are loaded onto 36 inch tall plants. Thrives best in warm southern climates. 90 to 100 days.

HABANERO (RED):Is a bright red version of Habanero is one hot pepper, a staggering 285,000 Scoville units! The fruit shape and size are much like the regular Habanero, wrinkled 1 inch to 1-1/2 inch long peppers with a tapered end. These peppers turn a brilliant red upon maturity and grow in abundance on 3-1/2 foot tall plants. 85 days.

SCOTCH BONNET: A Capsicum chinense very similar to Habanero, but later in maturity with fruit that is not quite as long. Tall, vigorous plants bear peppers that begin as green, but mature to red. Fruity aroma and same blistering heat as the Habanero. 120 days.

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