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How to create a perfect red pepper

I love red peppers, and the past decade I have been on a quest to find the sweetest red pepper that would turn “red” in our garden before frost hit. Our Midwest weather is not the best for peppers. Maybe it works out for those that live in a very sunny location without buildings or large trees shading out your garden. My Urban Potager is not a pepper growing paradise. I have been trialing red peppers for several years and finally saved seed last year to grow out my own red peppers.


I have finally achieved my goal this summer!Β I have to admit it has been a bit of luck for our urban lot does not provide consistent full sun which a pepper plant needs. I do get afternoon sun but not all day. I am thrilled that I got a pile of red peppers this year and they were coming right up till the end of last week. My plants were covered with blossoms. Oh, what I could grow if I lived in the land of opportunity; you know where full sunlight and warm weather graces your home 12 months a year! I would not have to buy red peppers and pay $4.99 a pound from November until June. UGH!!!!


Back a few years ago, I crossed my Jimmy Nardellos and Lipstick which I grew out each alone in the garden a few summers. This year, I have my very own red pepper designed for my climate and taste buds. The most essential trait this year was an early red color.


I also made sure they tasted right and were a pretty red pepper.Β  I have to admit some were a bit small but not too many were long and skinny as our first Nardello peppers were back in 2012.


I had piles of these lovely red peppers from just a dozen plants. I also used my new green fertilizer comfrey which I grow now to help with the caretaking of our edible food. Yep, I make comfrey tea to feed these peppers, and they loved it this year. I mixed in some compost, comfrey tea, rock dust earlier in the year and will layer the beds with leaf litter this fall. It seems to be helping for this is an abundant crop which I usually don’t see for we started with a city lot that had a lot of obstacles. Build the soil, and your food will grow!


I was eating these peppers fresh from the garden each day. I felt spoiled!I don’t mind green peppers, but there is nothing like a freshly picked red pepper from the garden.


This pile was my late August harvest. I saved seed from the earlier red peppers and will grow them out again next year. I did have some “off” peppers that were not as pretty or a bit small which were not traits I was looking for in my peppers. The most important characteristic was flavor, but most of them meant that criteria. I can’t wait to see how many I get next year. I do believe when you save seed from your own plants which will be acclimated to your growing area, you will get excellent tasting nutrient dense food.


I recommend saving seed for once you find the perfect vegetable pass it on to others. If you want to keep seed make sure you only grow one type at a time. I live in an urban area, and it is a bit of luck since you never know what someone is growing down the street. I am going to see if I get some beautiful red peppers next year, too. Most of my neighbors don’t grow food, so I have been getting the same red peppers each year. Love them Peppers!!!!

36 replies »

  1. Well there’s a benefit to your non growing neighbours right there Robbie (scraping the bottom of the barrel for good things right there πŸ˜‰ ). Your red capsicums (what we Aussies call peppers) look magnificent! I so wish that I could get some of your seeds but alas, we live on other sides of the earth and nature and the stalwart customs officers put paid to my desires reaching fruition but now that I know that you had a go at breeding your own, I am going to try! I did end up with a slightly bigger than cherry tomato self seeded sort of oval tomato that had naturalised itself in Sanctuary but it had tough skin so I wasn’t keen on replicating it for too many years in a row. The duck is fertilising Sanctuary this year and I have been keeping my eye out for interesting bee attracting perennial flowers to add to the mix inside this year as I want LOTS of bees to pollinate the fruit and nut trees. I have to chase out two chooks today as they snuck in when Ducky escaped as there was a bit of a breakdown in communication between two pieces of netting on the back of Sanctuary where I rarely go. I have a huge pile of aged chook manure and straw from their coop cleaning recently that I will be wheelbarrowing up to the rear of Sanctuary in the next few days to keep the moisture in the soil and for the manurey goodness to trickle down through the soil profile. Again, my negative steep slope and the positive effects of Mr Einsteins gravity theorum pay off! (You really do have to dig deep for those positives sometimes πŸ˜‰ )

    • Ain’t that the truth! You do have to dig deep or pile high!!!!lol. Do you have comfrey in your garden? I figure I need to post a bit about comfrey for it is helping me. I bet you know about it since you practice permaculture. I don’t have chickens since we can’t have them in the city. I got some( comfrey) from a guy out West. He has a website, and he mails comfrey all over the world. He lives out in the country, and he gave me the type that does not take over your garden. I started a patch a few years ago, and this year I added the tea. I just let the tea sit in a covered bucket ( it smells!) and dilute it later when I use it to side dress the veggies. I even use it on flowers. Except I read you are not suppose to use it on seedings. It made the peppers double in size and right up till I had to pull them out for it was dipping below freezing. It was covered with buds!
      You know I would send you some of my seed in a heartbeat. It would be so neat to see my peppers growing in your Sanctuary. Especially the wicking beds!!! My next goal is to discover the perfect tomato. That is taking a bit longer. I totally understand reseeding tomatoes. I should let one of mine grow and see what I get.
      I just purchased my first red pepper yesterday. I ate my last one this week, ugh….organic 4.99 a pound and I can’t eat them every day at that price!!!

      • I want, but don’t actually have any, comfrey. My daughters have some plants growing under their washing line that I might have to raid sometime soon as I NEED IT FOR TOMORROW! Everything that you put in a bucket and let sit smells, believe me I know! Try making tea out of those pesky weeds (that haven’t yet gone to seed) and you will see what I mean. I think making weed tea is the ultimate shaudenfraud as those weeds have been happily mining all of the best nutrients out of your soil and then you pull them up (equally satisfying) and steal it right back out of them including their lifeless husks! What better revenge for a gardener! Alas, one of the BIG no-no’s here in Tasmania is chilli and pepper seeds 😦 I haven’t had red capsicums all winter. I just buy the big jars of preserved red roasted capsicums and make do with them but I would LOVE to grow some this year.

      • Comfrey is a pretty plant which makes it fun to have. It has lovely flowers for the bees. I like the fact that I can grow my own green fertilizer. Here is a great article on comfrey-
        They also say to put it at the base of fruit trees. I don’t have a lot of space but if I had an orchard, I would put comfrey next to each tree and chop and drop all the time!Good point about weeds. I just purchased some of the roasted capsicums to try out since $4.99 a pound is just too much…lol. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record…$4.99 a pound!!!

      • That’s about what we are paying here ($9 a kilogram) so its a world wide thing πŸ™‚ Cheers for that information about comfrey beneath fruit trees Robbie. I just so happened to have found a wild patch of it (garden waste thrown out) growing where I walked Earl yesterday and am going to take my trusty spade with me in the next few days to dig some up and I will plant it under the trees. I wonder if the possums like it?

      • oh- one last thing I use those gallon buckets with a lid. If the lid is covering the bucket- it does not smell except when you take off the lid! YOWZERS!!!!

      • We have a duo of very powerful and stinky organic liquid fertiliser mixes that are very popular here in Australia called “Seasol” and “Powerfeed” based on natural ingredients. We often buy them to use as Seasol especially is great for reviving plants and helping roots to grow. You have to dilute it in a bucket with water to apply it to leaves and whenever we do this Earl and Bezial both try to drink out of the bucket because they think it is dog lobster bisque and if we make the mistake of using it on something close to the ground or in the soil, Earl rolls in it! Needless to say we only tend to use it where Earl can’t get enough space to hurl himself onto the ground ;). We have 4 gallon buckets here that we use for lots of things (my compost bin, our chook feed etc.) and Steve has some spares in the shed. I might throw some of the copious weeds that we have growing around at the moment (our sow thistles are heading for 5ft tall!) into one or two of them and top them up with water and get some organic fertiliser of our own going. I breath through my mouth when making my own fertiliser! My mum used to make an incredibly potent blend of almost fresh cow manure that she would go out into the country to hunt paddocks for. She would stop when she saw a nice pile of manure within reach of the road, would hop the fence, collect it with a spade and bucket and would head home triumphantly with the “deposit”, topped it up with water and let it mature. Now THAT was stinky! πŸ˜‰

      • It may have been stinky but she was pretty resourceful! The apple does not fall far from the tree-LOL. I see where you get your resourcefulness!!! The rolling thing is such a pain with dogs. All our dogs would find something stinky in the garden and cover themselves. I use to wash them off and it seemed like it took forever to get them cleaned off. I really like the ease of making the comfrey tea. I can harvest a bunch of leaves and place them in a bucket with water every few weeks. I have a constant supply of fertilizer. The plants grow back in a few weeks- it just keeps giving! Truly a miracle plant:-)

      • You have sold me now Robbie. I am off with my spade to dig a few young ones up today! I am also going to do a bit of (silent) filming today to see if I can’t make a little film to add to my blog post tomorrow. I will use music in it but we didn’t borrow the sound equipment so there won’t be voices etc. but I will see what I can do about adding Earl to the mix as he loves being photographed/filmed so it shouldn’t be hard and I can show you our resident Sanctuary duck (and maybe one of the two rogue chooks that invaded Poland) sitting on the chooks eggs πŸ˜‰

      • PLEASE DO!!!! I wish we could have eggs in the city:-( I will look for your post for I always love hearing about all your adventures. I was outside today finishing up caging our blueberries. BRRRR..t is around the corner. I was outside and felt 45 was not cold. I must be getting my winter skin! LOL.A few weeks ago, I was freezing, now it seems warm!

      • Any bit of sunshine is a plus at the moment. We are back to wintery conditions with snow on the mountains at the moment and I have a hot water bottle and a blanket around me while I am tapping away here at 4.45am. The days are lovely and sunny but still cold. My blueberries have flowers so fingers crossed there might be some blueberries this year in the wicking fridges πŸ™‚

      • Yahoo-FLOWERS-If you have flowers, I have no doubt there will be berries. However, all the little critters in your climate might need to be watched so they don’t take your first harvest!
        The first few years my bushes did nothing, but now they are producing a bit. I put in 5 more this year – I can’t wait till the day have blooms!

      • I need to get a few “youngsters” from a nursery as these old blueberries must be approaching their dotage now but I love that I was able to save them πŸ™‚

      • my plants are like my kids:-) I ‘puff up’ when someone asks me about a plant and I say, “I raised this one from a “tiny” little seed. He is all grown up-LOL-they truly are a part of our life like our animals and people:-)

      • Jane, who is one of my blog followers and a lovely lady has grown most of her orchard of trees from seed. She was telling me about growing apples from seed and we have a little sapling that grew from an ancient apple that was long dead when we moved here. I let the blackberries grow around it as otherwise the local possum population would storm it like the Bastille every night till they killed it as possums adore apple leaves. I am very interested to see what it turns out like and we discovered an ancient abandoned apple orchard on the outskirts of one of the towns that we regularly take the boys to walk in an where we pick up our chicken food occasionally when we were walking our boys one day that I may just take some scion wood from some of the trees as who knows what kind of old apple breeds they are? I will graft them onto my little apple tree and see how that eventuates. I love experimenting in my garden and am most happy that most things will grow here if you give them enough love and care (and water!) Earl loves “watering” my plants. He is like concentrate fertiliser though, you HAVE to dilute him πŸ˜‰

      • lol, missed this comment! I have not been on my computer as much-I”m sounding like a broken record these days!!! Snow will be coming and I can spend more time on my computer but then you will be outside working!
        How neat that you can experiment with apple trees. That would be so fascinating to do. I had one possum in my garden over the years. He was out during the day in my compost pile. I have not seen one since. However, Ihave a lot of raccoons that come out at night. They turned up my lawn turf( what I do have out there-LOL) eating all the grubs. It was a mess but they took care of my grubs-natural balance!

  2. Wow, Robbie — those peppers look lovely! Great tips for gardeners too.
    We didn’t grow red peppers this summer, though we grew Scotch Bonnet peppers — don’t ask why, since I don’t like hot pepper! This fall, we roasted and preserved red peppers for the first time — it’s delicious in sandwiches and salads, as a side dish to a meal, etc.

    I have just unfollowed and re-followed you, as I haven’t been seeing your posts. Hope that will help!

    • Not been on the computer much this year-I’ve been busy taking care of my parents that moved near us this past year and my grandson that will be reading your new book! I can hardly wait!!!
      thank you Cynthia, always a joy when you stop by:-)

  3. How exciting to have your own pepper cross! And it does look lovely, such a lovely rich red. I can only grow peppers in the greenhouse here. And didnt even try this year. We have growsncomfrey for many years now, but this year was first year i had a bucket of comprey tea going most if the summer. It is great stuff!

    • You are right comfrey is great stuff!This was the first year I made the tea. I kept it going all summer and had a supply to side dress all my veggie crops. They responded to the comfrey tea better than the stuff I use to purchase online. I can’t have chickens in the city and I really did not want to use cow manure etc. I found more blossoms on all my nightshades. I was so discouraged when I threw the pepper plants in the compost pile they were loaded with blossoms. All THEM peppers I could of eaten-LOL

  4. What gorgeous peppers! I let mine ripen and turn red, but I eat so many before they get there. You have been persistent about getting the right flavor and color. That’s great, especially when you love them so much (I occasionally get cravings for red peppers, so I’m there with you). Good luck with next year’s crop!!!

    • I will need good luck for you never know when you live in the city if it might cross with someone else’s peppers a few city lots over…but- I’ve read several feet to 50 feet when you are not growing them commercially. My fingers are crossed:-) Ive been lucky the past 5 yrs, so thank you for the Good Luck!!!

  5. Your enthusiasm comes through loud and clear, Robbie! It is wonderful to read about your seed saving success. Food is that you grow yourself is always superior and those peppers look delish!

    • I do love my red peppers:-)!!!!! It was hard pulling up my pepper plants this week covered with new blooms. I had red peppers every day from those loyal producers and all I can say– I was spoiled:-)

  6. YUM! My you have picked a pretty peck of peppers! As always, you inspire Robbie. I don’t have much luck with peppers in North Country. I do have a bit of luck growing them in the greenhouse as it stays nice and toasty in there. I just have to remember to pot them up promptly. I bet if I saved seed I would have better results – so thank you so much for that!

    • It would interesting to save your own greenhouse tomato seed:-) I am learning more about how to save seed but being in the city I can’t save some seed that requires distance that is up to 1/4 mile or more. I have been lucky with my cucumbers and peppers. Tomatoes are a bit harder since I have one neighbor that only grows tomatoes. I am still on the quest to find that perfect tomato. Problem is I like too many of them for different flavors-LOL

    • Also, one more thing some people save tomato seed and do not worry about crossing others say you have to etc….I have not done it yet but I will try once I find the perfect tomato-don’t know if that is possible-LOL

  7. They look marvellous. I’ve never grown sweet peppers before, preferring to concentrate on chilli peppers, but I must try next year since I use them all the time and am depressed at how often I see sulphur (or worse I suppose) around the necks. Really inspiring and well done in your selective breeding.

    • Once you grow your own you will never be happy eating one again from the store. The other day, I purchased two perfect looking red peppers.We were disappointed when we put them in our salad for they had no flavor. I am so spoiled now that I had red peppers all summer.I found the timing is critical to their success in the spring. I read you have to make sure they DO NOT encounter a heavy frost for it puts off their blooming. I put them out later this year and it seemed to make a difference.

  8. The red peppers look great. I don’t have peppers but I do have comfrey; lots of it in all the wrong places. When it gets too much I cut the leaves and just place them in other parts of the garden. I tried the comfrey tea but I couldn’t bear the smell.

    • It is my favorite plant. Everything else is brown out there in the garden and the comfrey is tall and green! I understand about the smell, but they plants like it:-) I try to do it in small doses when I dilute it for green fertilizer tea:-) it helps, but I totally know what you mean!

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