Peppers, peppers everywhere

Have an abundance of fresh peppers? Make a batch of colourful cowboy candy and enjoy their sweet and spicy flavour all winter long | www.pickytoplenty.com

Have an abundance of fresh peppers? Make a batch of colourful cowboy candy and enjoy their sweet and spicy flavour all winter long | www.pickytoplenty.com

My pepper plants may not have grown very big, but they produced.

I am pretty sure it was a combination of low water and terrible dirt that caused my pepper plants to be dwarves. Watering regularly while living off a cistern is tough. Every time the weather man promised rain, I held off, hoping mother nature would sprinkle down some hydration on my plants — but she didn’t. In fact, it almost seemed like there was invisible umbrella over my house. The skies would get dark and my hopes would rise. But it always passed. Missing us, missing my gardens.

A mix of sweet and hot peppers come together in a syrupy brine to create Colourful Cowboy Candy | www.pickytoplenty.com

A mix of sweet and hot peppers come together in a syrupy brine to create Colourful Cowboy Candy | www.pickytoplenty.com

Regardless of their short size, my pepper plants produced. I grew pepperoncini, jalapeno, California wonder and sweet chocolate varieties.

Next year, I plan to add more varieties of sweet and hot peppers so that I can make more Colourful Cowboy Candy. While I haven’t actually tried any yet, they smelled delicious while they simmered briefly in a syrupy brine.

If you have an abundance of peppers, you should give this recipe a try.

Colourful cowboy candy | ww.pickytoplenty.com

Colourful cowboy candy | ww.pickytoplenty.com

Colourful Cowboy Candy

(yields five pints)

  • 1 pound of fresh peppers, a mix of sweet and hot
  • 1 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • 4 C sugar
  • 4 Tbsp mustard seed, I used brown and black (it’s what I had in my cupboard)
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Wash and slice all peppers into rings.

Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for five minutes.

Add peppers and simmer five minutes more.

Load sterilized jars with peppers first, stuffing them in, then liquid leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Process 15 minutes in a water bath canner.

Avoid eating them for at least a month to bring out the flavours.

Use up those garden peppers with colourful cowboy candy and enjoy your harvest for months to come | www.pickytoplenty.com

Use up those garden peppers with colourful cowboy candy and enjoy your harvest for months to come | www.pickytoplenty.com

 

 

A pepper’s best friend

epsom salt

For a minute there, I was worried.

My beautiful pepper seedlings, which I had raised from itty-bitty seeds, were not looking so hot. The leaves were a light green, with a slight tinge of yellow. They weren’t pretty. They also weren’t really growing.

We eat a lot of peppers, especially jalapeno, so I was counting on getting a pretty decent yield of these thick-walled fruits. I have planted 32 feet of peppers, in two, 16-foot raised row beds. The varieties planted are California Wonder, Jalapeno, Pepperoncini and Sweet Chocolate.

I did a little reading online via Pinterest and made a few quick amendments and my peppers are looking good once again. The majority now have lush, green leaves and are starting to get a little taller.

Here is what I learned.

Epsom salt is a pepper’s (and tomato’s) best friend.

Early in the season this mineral compound aids in germination, early root and cell development, photosynthesis, plant growth and prevents blossom-end rot. Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, adds, you guessed it, magnesium to the soil. Plants like peppers and tomatoes are prone to magnesium deficiency which causes the fruit to be slow to mature and ripen. Because our season is limited, slowing the season is not a good idea. 

How to garden with Epsom salt.

At planting: This step I obviously missed, but apparently adding one or two tablespoons to the hole before transplanting peppers and tomatoes.

Throughout the season: Work in one tablespoon of Epsom salt per foot of plant height around the base of each plant. Do this two times a week. Epsom salt can also be applied as a topical spray by combining one tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water in a sprayer tank (I use a $3 one from Dollarama). Apply this spray once the plants start blossoming to increase yields and keep plants lush and bushy. It is advised to substitute this application as a substitute for a normal watering once a month.

Hopefully, with if I keep up this routine, I will have a lot of peppers to eat and preserve later this season. I also plan to add a layer of black mulch to keep in moisture. I added a layer of grass mulch around my tomato and broccoli plants, however peppers do not like the extra nitrogen so off to the garden centre it is.

epsom salt2