Year of the Pepper

A melange of interesting peppers from the Derwood Demo Garden

For this month’s post I was going to write about tomato successes and failures, but the latter part of tomato season has been depressing, so I’ll put that off and cover peppers instead. 2018 has been Grow It Eat It’s Year of the Pepper, and on the whole I think we chose well! My own pepper beds have been plagued by some of the same fungal diseases that are taking out my tomato plants, but our Derwood Demo Garden beds are beautiful and productive. All the peppers there are growing in raised beds, which in my experience peppers really seem to prefer – maybe it’s the extra room in loose soil for their roots, or the slight warming effect in the early part of the season, or the excellent drainage. In any case, they’re thriving.

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A Swede By Any Other Name

A Master Gardener friend who recently traveled to the UK brought me back a packet of seeds. Specifically, ‘Gowrie’ rutabaga seeds from a company called Mr. Fothergill’s.


Except because these are British seeds, they’re not called rutabaga, they’re called swede. The packet does include the botanical name of the plant (Brassica napus napobrassica) so if you’d never heard of swedes and didn’t recognize the picture, you could look them up – I hope all our American packets of rutabaga seeds do the same!

This got me thinking about vegetable names that separate us by a common language, or divide us by different ones, or in general confuse us. I’ll give a few examples below, and please tell your own stories of vegetable name mix-ups in the comments.

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Heatless hot peppers

I’ve been using this current cold snap to get my seed orders together, and one thing I am planning to grow this season is a few not-so-hot peppers. Not in the “yuck, far from delicious” sense, but in the “surprisingly not setting my mouth on fire” sense. American taste buds, on average, have gone to the Hot Side during my lifetime, but not so much in the Smith household, where my husband has practically no tolerance for capsaicin (the spicy component of chili peppers) and I am not much better. But there are flavors to hot peppers that go beyond just heat, and they are worth exploring. Thanks to both older varieties and breeding of new cultivars, us heat wimps can discover them.

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