Hot Peppers (2011)

I had a much larger post in mind for today, but we have to take our aging cat in for an emergency vet visit in a few minutes so I’ll have to pull it back slightly. It’s scary, facing the fact that this little animal whose life is so intertwined with mine and whose care I’ve been in charge of for so many years doesn’t have much time left. The house cat’s life expectancy is only so long, and given the health problems she has had in the past, I worry everyday that there is not much time left. She’s a royal pain in the ass, but I love her so much, probably even for it.

But I digress. Hot peppers. Most people know by now that while I love to grow hot peppers, I do not eat them. As a garden writer whose focus is primarily on food, it is important that I taste everything I write about in order to provide a personal account, but the reality is that I’ve long since lost the ability to digest hot peppers well. The gastrointestinal tract does not approve.

But there is something about hot peppers that keeps me excited about growing them, and each year I spend hours searching for new varieties to try. Even though I don’t eat them, I am always thrilled when the first fruits appear and later ripen. Hot peppers are beautiful plants, and with thousands of varieties available world wide, there is a lot to get excited about.

This year was a hallmark one as I took the opportunity of a new garden space to go a little bit overboard. Since I wasn’t growing the majority of my plants in pots, I was able to allot a great many of them to hot peppers specifically. Most of the post were grown on my stoop, but there were a few out back, as well as a couple of extras that ended up in the ground simply because there was no where else to put them. The above photo represents most of the varieties I grew, although at the time I took the picture there were still a few that were not ripened and even now there are two that are dragging their feet.

They are clockwise starting from the far left: ‘Purple Cayenne’, ‘Orange Rocoto‘ (These hadn’t ripened yet), ‘Fish’, ‘Variegata’, ‘Filius Blue’, ‘Chinese Ornamental’, ‘Chocolate Habanero’, ‘Chitepin’, ‘Golden Nugget.’

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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20 thoughts on “Hot Peppers (2011)

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your cat. My own cat had to go to the ER a week ago – congestive heart failure. He’s doing well now, thank goodness.. He has been my best friend for over a decade and I’m not ready to say goodbye. I hope your cat recovers from whatever it is that’s ailing her so that you have some more time together.

    Those hot peppers look incredibly tasty!

  2. I hope your kitty is okay. I’m hoping I still have a lot of years left with my two, but I get upset just thinking about the fact that someday I will have to let them go. :(

    Good luck at the vet.

  3. first – so sorry on your kitty, my rottweiler is 13 and hobbles at this point so i definitely understand :(

    second – that picture is fantastic! i’m growing these long red italian sweet peppers that i absolutely love, and along with my serranos and jalapenos i’m a happy girl! tomatillos? none ever fruited – just a pretty, wild-growing, flowering plant. arghhhh.

  4. Your cat reminds me of my cat. It’s very sad to watch them not be well and know there’s nothing you can do to really help them. This morning I woke up out of a dream where mine nudged me to help him get his paw freed from something under a chair – I was with him when he died over 18 years ago – he’s still vying for attention!

    I’m growing some new peppers but none of the ones you are … like you I’m not really probably going to ever eat them … they scare the crap out of me now (I cut some two years ago and didn’t wear gloves and almost had to go to emergency because my hands hurt so badly about an hour afterwards) … funny how growing them makes a lot of sense though! They are like these exotic little treasures – eye candy – dangerous eye candy.

  5. What an exciting assortment of peppers! Beautiful colors too. I’m sorry about your cat. I often feel the same about ours. He’s now 23 years old (against all odds), with many things not working quite the way they should. But he still manages to leap on the bed, and howl for food, or knock my mouse off the desk. I agree with the PITA part sometimes ;) However, we do love them all the more for it, and they know it too!

  6. Poor kitty….we had an 18 year old cat die last year that we got when I was pregnant with my first born…and had moved into our house…Losing him just felt like the end of an era! Best wishes for your cat..hopefully you will have some more time with her. We now have an 14 year old dog…its tough!
    Making pickled hot peppers was on my to do list but I wanted to make them with the little roundish ones…which I didn’t grow and haven’t been able to find at our small town farmers market:/
    Next year..this will be the plan. All your peppers look fabulous!

  7. I have a geriatric cat that I check every morning to see if he is still breathing or just sleeping. He has been my inside cat for about 15 years and had been the inside outside cat for 4 other houses before that. Every vet visit I hear about somehting else that is going wrong with him. Last one was a heart murmor and teeth falling out.

  8. I didnt get peppers planted this year. The season started out too cold for plants, then it turned wet so everything was delayed. Everything including black walnut, grapes, cherries, raspberries and the like. Last year I took my peppers and put them inside a smoker with cherry and applewood. My version of Chipolte. I would imagine that you could pickle or can them afterward the same ways.

  9. Thinking good thoughts for your kitters. I’m also a cantankerous older cat’s adopted human, and emergency vet visits are scary. Seeing the way my garden continues to grow gives me a lot of solace. I’m hoping the same for you!

  10. I’m sending good vibes and healing energy to the baby for her to receive if she wants it. Animals always know when is best and I have had great results with reiki and the foster dogs we have done here in Australia. But I also digress… I’ve got a taste tester for you! My husband/fiance and I have been planning on doing tons of different sorts of hot peppers next year when we are in the states. I have a few normal seedlings that I cheated and bought from the hardware store since we don’t have much time left. Anyhoo, I will keep track of what you’re growing and grow them too and give you feedback if you would like? We really liked go thru this Hot Pepper Catalog and plan on ordering many next year!!!

  11. My house cat had to go to the vet this week too just before the Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market. She is recovering slowly but my heart goes out to you. They entwine themselves around our hearts.
    I don’t eat hot peppers either but are one of my favourite plants to grow. They always do well here in Southern Ontario where summers are not always kind to the sweet ones.
    The Chocolate Habanero is on my list for next year. Though we can only grow a few varieties due to isolation distances for seed saving, there are always a few pots in the greenhouse of other ones I want to grow.
    Healing energy to your cat.

  12. Hope your kitty is ok!

    Last year I grew the Fish variety and ended up with way more than I could eat. I used them to make jalapeno-style poppers and they turned out very well!

  13. “She’s a royal pain in the ass, but I love her so much” omg!!!! I know, I know! King, queen and etc :) I love cats :)

  14. Ciao Gayla-

    I’ll ask St. Francis to pray for Kitty. Mario Le Mew is also entering the last stage of his life as he and I cope with his kidney disease. He continues to improve, but he’ll need fluid therapy and other medications including prescription food for the remainder of his life. He looks horrible right now because his mats have been shaved off, but his skin is improving with omega-3s and he’s much more comfortable. I have faith that Kitty will also improve. Those critical care visits sure are scary, though.

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