Just a quick note from me (Erica) this month to report on some new pepper cultivars I’m growing. These include ‘Lesya’ sweet pepper, ‘Tam’ jalapeño, and ‘Escamillo’ frying pepper.
First, ‘Lesya.’ Wow, I’m in love with this one.
It’s a heart-shaped red pepper, about 3-4 inches long, thick-walled and super-sweet. Those thick walls make it great for roasting, but it can also be eaten raw or cooked other ways. It also just looks terrific growing on strong plants that don’t get leggy and seem pretty disease-resistant.
I bought seed for ‘Tam’ jalapeño because it’s supposed to be on the milder side, but with some spice to it, unlike the ‘Nadapeño’ heatless type I grew last year (which was kind of boring). The first thing I did with the fruits was to make them into refrigerator pickles (sliced), and those turned out pretty hot. So I thought I’d do a taste test comparing ‘Tam’ to other jalapeños. Please note, this was not a scientifically valid comparison; that would involve a lot more testers (instead of just me and my son), a lot more peppers, and many tests over time. Peppers can be more or less hot depending on the weather, the soil the plants are grown in, the genetics of particular plants, and probably lots of other factors.
Anyway, I picked a couple of peppers from the Derwood Demo Garden, and a ‘Tam’ from my own garden.
I’ll also note that picking the ‘Lemon Spice’ fully ripe made the comparison even less valid (but it’s so pretty!), and that I should have found a larger and more mature ‘Jalafuego.’ But onwards. Of the three, ‘Lemon Spice’ was definitely the hottest, nice and eye-watering. ‘Tam’ had practically no heat on first bite, and then it crept up on me, but it was definitely milder. ‘Jalafuego’ was weirdly mild as well; I suspect another fruit on another day would have knocked my socks off. So, nothing definitive, but I think if you want a milder jalapeño ‘Tam’ is worth trying.
Apparently this year some people, in some places, bought ‘Tam’ plants that turned out to be sweet banana peppers – all part of the great pepper seed mixup that you can read about on this Garden Professors blog post – but my seed (purchased from Sow True Seed, for the record) turned out to be the real thing.
Finally, this is my second year growing ‘Escamillo’ frying pepper, and I’m very satisfied.
It’s a nice meaty yellow pepper that can easily reach 6 inches or more, ripens up fast, has thick walls for good roasting, and is also great for frying or eating raw.
And that’s the pepper report!
By Erica Smith, Montgomery County Master Gardener. Read more posts by Erica.