Capsicums and Hot Peppers

Peppers have been around for thousands of years, and we are now rediscovering what a great vegetable they are- in fact, I find that growing peppers and chillies is much more rewarding in our Northland climate than growing tomatoes, which are more difficult each year it seems, with our humidity and rainfall. Peppers do not need staking, just plant and watch grow!

The sweet varieties are great to eat raw, in salads, stuffed or added to vegetable dishes for their colour. The traditional block peppers always start off green, and if left on the plant will turn either red, yellow, purple or chocolate. This is the reason, with the grower leaving the fruit on the plant longer, the coloured ones always cost more than green ones. When at their coloured stage, the sweet pepper (or capsicum), is at full maturity and sweetness.

Some sweet varieties, especially the traditional ones from Italy, are elongated in shape. These varieties provide a lot more fruit over the season than the block types. My personal favourite, for both flavour and productivity, is Marconi Red. There is another elongated one called Yellow Banana- named for obvious reasons! This one starts yellow and turns a lovely orange at maturity.

Two other ancient Italian varieties are Pepperoncini- bushy, vigorous plants which produce heaps of slender 12cm (5″) sweet green/red peppers. They taste like  slightly hot sun-dried tomatoes!

Topepo Rosso are compact plants, ideal for containers and small gardens. This one produces lots of bright red, small, round and sweet fruit.

Both varieties are ideal for eating fresh,  salads, served with dips or breads, or pickled.

The chilli types originated in Mexico, and have been dated back to 7,500 B.C. Christopher Columbus brought them back to the Old World, from whence they soon became established throughout Europe and Asia.

They are particularly good as they clean out our sinuses and act as a general cleanser and tonic. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours- all on very attractive bushes which are as useful for their ornamental looks as for their eating qualities. Some of the popular varieties are Long red Cayenne, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Jalapeno and  Thai Hot.

There are also some perennial varieties that grow well up here-they are extremely hot, and you need to be very careful to eat them properly, as they can burn your mouth and throat. Remember to NEVER DRINK WATER if you inadvertently taste a very hot pepper – ALWAYS DRINK MILK instead to take away the heat.

My favourite perennial chilli is Jamaican hot, also known as Friars Hat, Bishop’s Crown or Habanero Flyer. These names all indicate the lovely bell shape which is extremely attractive. These gorgeous chillies originally from Barbados, where they are known as Peri-peri, are a great statement in your garden, as well as being edible- eaten green they are not as hot as when red. Then they are spicy hot, and make great chilli sauce.

One comment on “Capsicums and Hot Peppers

  1. Tim von Pein on said:

    I am looking for peri-peri seed. Specifically for the huge 2m bush variety. Do you have any that you might sell or do you know where I can buy or obtain them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

48,392 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>