Organic Gardening on the Great Anoka Sand Plain.

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Hot Peppers

Santa Fe Pepper, Czechoslovakian Black Pepper, Fish Pepper

Santa Fe Pepper, Czechoslovakian Black Pepper, Fish Pepper

Last year, right before the first frost, we pulled all of the pepper plants out, dried the fruit, and ground up the hot (and sweet) peppers in a coffee grinder. We ended up with four 4-ounce jars of hot pepper: two extra-hot, one medium (or, rather, fairly hot), and one fairly mild.

It took about two months to finish off the extra-hot jars. So this year I put in an entire row of hot peppers. Unfortunately, they didn’t all make it and I ended up purchasing more at Gordon’s Greenhouse this spring.

I’m still not sure that we will have enough at the end of this year, but the hot peppers are now starting to ripen for us to use them fresh every day.

Pictured above is a Santa Fe Pepper (Gordon’s Greenhouse), a Czechoslovakian Black Pepper (saved seeds from 2007!), and a Fish Pepper (Gordon’s Greenhouse). Both the Santa Fe and Czechoslovakian Black peppers are fairly hot; the Fish Pepper was actually quite sweet, which I believe is due to it being over-ripe (red).

They looked so cute, all the same size, I had to take a picture of all three together. For comparison, here is the size of the peppers next to a bottle cap:

Santa Fe Peppers and Czechoslovakian Black Peppers

Santa Fe Peppers and Czechoslovakian Black Peppers

Looking forward to many spicy meals, and eventually chili to end the summer with!

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Peter Pepper

Peter Pepper

I’m not quite sure this is what Peter pickled…but if it’s what I think it is, it will be quite the entertaining pepper.

Who wants to come over for stir fry later this summer?

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Jimmy Nardello’s Heirloom Peppers

Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Italian Frying Pepper

I am 90% certain that most of the peppers pictured above are Jimmy Nardello’s Sweet Italian Frying Pepper. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me!

I decided not to label my peppers this year because I figured by the looks of them, I’d know which was which when they were ready. Silly me. I know they aren’t Ancho, Czechoslovakian Black, Cayenne, Purira, Szegedi, Banana, or a bell variety. So that leaves the Nardello family heirloom.

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Purira Peppers


Of all the things we grew this year, the chile peppers were definitely the best producing, and the most exciting. Especially the purira peppers – we will be saving seeds from these for next year. The peppers start green, and then turn yellow, then purple, then orange, and then red. I think they get hotter as they mature. This time of year, it’s a real Christmas-light show.

Hopefully the manure will add a lot to the garden for next year! I’m not sure yet where our winter gardening plans sit…

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Cayenne Peppers

We have a lot of cayenne peppers! We will probably dry most of them, and maybe pickle a few. Our Purira chiles are starting to turn rainbow colors (I would have posted a picture, but we picked all of the orange/red ones before I took pictures, and I’ve already put them in a spaghetti sauce!). Also, we learned that if the Czechoslovokian Black peppers just stay on the plant, they get red and spicier! I added a few of those to the sauce as well.

The chiles seem to have done fairly well this year, even planted so closely together. With our tendancy to eat spicy things (especially Chris), I think that next year we may need to add a couple more plants. Probably not the Czechs, but definitely the cayennes, puriras, and maybe some other neat varieties.


The tomatoes are starting to die off. We had a couple of cold nights, just under 40º F, which the tomatoes definitely did not like. We pulled off a bunch of yellowing leaves today, and some entire plants may need to go soon. I’m actually excited about making some fried green tomatoes with curry and possibly even a green tomato pie! (I’ve heard that my dad likes green tomato pies, so I better start looking for good recipes!)


Chris planted some kale in the front yard today. We have a lot of new little areas with seedlings – I hope they mature before it gets too cold! Chris said today that he is going to start building cold frames for this winter – maybe he will write about them soon!

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Czechoslovokian Black Peppers


These went in a curry with lentils, beet leaves, and kale. They have some heat to them, but aren’t as spicy as jalapenos.

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Purira Chile Pepper


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More pepper seedlings


The peppers are starting to look like real plants, and most have their first set of true leaves.

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Chile Pepper Seedlings


We got a ton of peppers from our Easy Bean CSA last year, so this year we decided to plant all chile peppers. According to Chris, you can never have enough chiles! Here’s a picture of our pepper seedlings so far – quite a bit behind the tomatoes, but they are hanging in there. They have all been repotted into a perlite/peat moss/potting soil mixture.

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Fresh Garden Lasagna

Before I start this post, I have two things to point out:

  1. This is the first time I have made this recipe, and it is still baking.
  2. Photos and content are all being posted from my phone. This is kind of a test…I mean, what’s the point of having this fancy camera phone with a huge monthly data plan if I can’t update our blog from it?

Yesterday morning we spent about 8 minutes picking veggies in the garden before we gave up (it was 90 decrees and rising!) and came in. Here’s what we ended up with in that short time:

Garden Harvest - August 26th

On order to clear off counter space, I decided dinner tonight would consist of mostly these things.

Hence, fresh garden lasagna. No noodles, one pot, little prep. Bonus: vegan and gluten free!


Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and vegan riccota

  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes (these are Marvel Striped and Prudens Purple tomatoes
  • Tofu ricotta (crumbled tofu with generous amounts of olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper)
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Salt and pepper


Simple. Slice all vegetables. Layer in a pan. The finished result may look something like this:


We have a little convection oven out on our deck. It lives there or in the garage (depending on the weather), and we use it on sweltering hot days like this one, for roasting coffee, etc.

I crammed all of that into one 9×9″ pan, and it is baking at 400F. I’ll report back if it’s any good!



So, I learned that my iPhone 5 isn’t a replacement for my digital camera. Sorry about the fantastically blurry pictures.

Also, this turned out pretty good. Very flavorful – I went a bit overboard on the basil, but that was a good thing!

Tip for the future: Salt the eggplant and zucchini first. (To do this, lightly sprinkle each piece with salt and place in a colander to drain). This will remove some of the liquid – it was a bit soggy, but still tasted just fine. Alternatively, adding uncooked lasagna noodles would have helped, as it would have soaked up much of the moisture. But not too bad for an impromptu dinner using up some veggies!

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