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Leaf of the Day: Seeds, Peppers and the Pepper Lady

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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Leaf of the Day: Seeds, Peppers and the Pepper Lady

There can be few things more exciting to a gardener that seeing first seeds sprouting. Over the last few days I have been talking to Samantha who has a blog here and likes very much to grow things from seed. Seeing her blog reminded me of my attempt two years ago to grow 27 different species of peppers on our windy sea salty balcony in Spain.
The whole pepper interest, and a taste for hot pepper sauce on everything, started as a result of coming into contact with Jean Andrews, sadly not personally, but through working at Casem at Monteverde in Costa Rica.

Jean Andrews, also known as the Pepper Lady, has written about peppers, grown peppers and drawn and painted peppers. She is one of life's wonderful, tireless, philanthropic people and I will return to her and Casem another time. But if you want to know a little more about her and her pepper interest go here. I had two of her books (currently in storage in Spain...sigh..) one The Pepper Trail", and the other just called "Peppers". They both have her writings, recipes, pepper history and paintings.

Peppers are completely fascinating, the flowers, colour and shapes are wonderful and they come in every degree of heat from mild and sweet to a mouth searing, scorching Habanero, which will rate 100,000 - 300,000 units on the Scoville scale

The names are equally attractive, my particular favourite was Satan's Kiss, which you stuff with mozzarella and anchovies, grill and drizzle with olive oil and herbs. Delicious.
Also, I grew Purple Tiger, Whippets Tail, Hot Purple Prince, White Habanero, Marbles, Bolivian Rainbow, Aurora which was beautiful , the classics Guajillo and Malagueta, and more. They change colour and shape and come in different sizes and leaf shapes, you can eat them and then there are all the delicious things you can make with them!
The plants did not much like their windy, salt burnt, high rise location but it definitely had the beginnings of an obsession and if we had stayed I had plans to find a small plot of land to really get going.
Probably the most exciting part was germinating the seeds. It's so much better to leave them alone but sometimes you just can't resist lifting the lid off the seed trays to see what is happening, can you?
These were my just-planted and labelled trays.. how satisfying it was to see them all neat and ready to go.

A couple of weeks later...and the first seedlings were growing. I was fascinated how they all grew slightly differently. Some waving the empty seed head aloft until second leaves had grown. I even kept a record of which grew first, fastest etc....Hmmmmm obsessive....

I particularly liked the brown peat pots you can see. I made a few sketches of them and their new little seedlings

These were some of the later results:
Lemon drop.

Bolivian Rainbow

and Balloon...

So thank you Samantha for reminding me of the joys of seeds and now I want to grow peppers again. I need a garden!!...

The drawing is of my Cherry Pepper from 2006. __________________________________________________

Cherry Pepper

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