Out with the tomatoes, in with the peppers

Oh so lonely

Temperatures well above 100 for the last few weeks signaled the end of the tomato plants. All in all, I had an extremely successful crop, with no disease or major animal theft. The process of pruning and trimming the tops really helped to set a large drop of fruit.

Of course while I had great luck with the tomatoes, I had to have trouble somewhere else. The other plant that I grow every year with great success is peppers. I am able to grow enough hot peppers with one jalapeno and one cayenne plant for the entire year. Not to mention the bell peppers keep us happy all summer long. This year everything was going great until I realized in late May that the cayenne pepper plant I bought had been mislabeled and was actually a red bell pepper plant. Now some people may say that is not really a problem. Unfortunately, I depend on the cayenne peppers to get me through the winter because they freeze and dry perfectly, which I will explain how to do in another post if I get a crop this year. Jalapenos are excellent fresh, but lose most of their heat when frozen and are very difficult to dry out.

Naturally I headed out to buy a replacement plant and found no one had any remaining for sale, since most people plant peppers by the end of April down here in the South. Only by blind luck in the middle of June did I find a small mom-and-pop hardware store clearing out their unsold and almost dead plants that still had cayenne peppers. Since it was buy one get one free I bought the last four that had any green left in the leaves and planted them immediately. I also planted so many in the hopes that four plants would be able to produce the same amount as if I had planted the right plant earlier.

For about two weeks, I thought the plants were just going to die off, but by adding potting soil and watering heavily each day I have four healthy plants but none have set fruit yet. When it comes to hot peppers, hot weather is very important for the heat in the fruit. My jalapeno has been producing like crazy for the last month and a half and each pepper is so fresh and spicy. By now I would have piles of cayenne peppers drying as well. Hopefully the month of September will stay above 90 degrees and I will have a good crop. Time will tell.

Come on and set some fruit dagnabit

As for the tomatoes, it is time to pull the plants, compost them and clean up the wire cages. If there had been any disease or trouble with a plant, I would not compost it and the soil around it would be dug out and discarded.

Even with the pruning my tomato plants get pretty tall by the end.

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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74 Responses to Out with the tomatoes, in with the peppers

  1. JamieAnne says:

    Good luck with the peppers! The plants are looking very healthy.

  2. Kristy says:

    You have got one green thumb my friend. You can bring a near-death plant back to life. I on the other hand, bring healthy plants home and they end up dead within weeks. πŸ˜‰ Love the picture of the lonely tomato – it even looks like a tear drop.

  3. Clare Cooks! says:

    Peppers should be exciting! I can’t wait to see how to dry and freeze them. That would be so useful to have on hand.

    Glad to hear that your tomatoes were successful. My tomatoes were coming along nicely, but someone decided to come along and steal them. I suspect that my opponent is a raccoon, but I have no evidence. We put up some netting today, so here’s hoping that the rest of the heirlooms are okay!

  4. We still have tomatoes by the buckets – but have had only three bell peppers! Or course, it’s a 7 to 1 plant ratio, but I still expected more than 3! I hope WE don’t have 90 degree temps in
    September! If so we’ll send them to you!

  5. nrhatch says:

    Tomatoes and peppers are my favorites to grow too ~ when I have green peppers but no hot peppers, I use the green peppers and just add some store bought crushed red pepper to liven it up.

  6. Holly says:

    Your garden looks amazing! Is it all plants, or do you get a small corner to enjoy for yourself too?

    • Do you mean flowers or a place to be eaten by bugs while I drink iced tea? Nope, I have the porch for that last part. Plus, we tend to kill flowers.

      • Holly says:

        A porch? Like you sit inside / outside?!

      • We have a back porch or deck if you will, right off the kitchen. Our deck isn’t screened in, but that’s really popular down here and makes sense because of the skeeters. (Mosquitoes, young lady.) Also, there’s a ceiling fan on our back porch. We thought that was funny when we saw it, but no it’s rather smart considering the heat. We have a front porch or stoop if you will, but it’s not really fun to be out there. The backyard is fenced so we can take the dogs out.

  7. rsmacaalay says:

    The last time I had grown tomatoes was in the Philippines with my grandpa, they grow really easily on our backyard and I am always excited to see them grow bigger. You post brings a lot of memories

  8. At the end of your posts I feel positively breathless. Where do you find the time? i guess you have a clone. I’d never imagined growing cayenne peppers. The powdered condiment is like dynamite – it must be we don’t have the iron constitution of you Southerners. We certainly don’t have the weather.

  9. Charles says:

    Yummy, Cayenne Pepper! So awesome in pretty much anything it touches! I recently harvested a small bell pepper from my balcony pots. I’m sure my yield isn’t going to be as impressive as your plants in general but it’s not bad considering I’m forcing them all to grow rather intensively in about 7 cms of soil in a tiny pot πŸ˜€

  10. Oh, wow. I didn’t know you have a green thumb. It was a lot of fun reading your planting adventures. The words just gives the right amount of zest, makes the reader wanting to plant their own peppers as well. The first picture of the tomato showed how perfect looking it was and how much care you gave to it. Great post.

  11. Fingers crossed for the new peppers. We planted all our hot ones late, so currently have loads of flowers but no fruit..weΒ΄re still hoping!

  12. ambrosiana says:

    In bocca al lupo for your peppers!!! I envy your garden and your devotion to it!! I love peppers! Excellent post!

  13. My mind is still with that squash you planned to plant. Did you end up doing it?? Inform.

  14. Carolyn Chan says:

    *sigh* living in a flat in Singapore I must live my gardening life vicariously through people like you. I am sooooo jealous of you having fresh tomatoes I can only imagine how good they smell and taste !

  15. As much as I like tomatoes, I adore red bell peppers. I could eat them raw as a snack every day. Good luck with the rest of your crop!

  16. I’m waiting to pluck some of my chilli (peppers) any day and find out just how hot the little fellas are…and then plant some more over summer, as they seem to ignore my less than green thumb, which is a good thing!

  17. spicegirlfla says:

    Dagnabit! I need to find a guy who likes to garden!!

  18. I still have tomatoes for a while yet, but my green peppers did not do well at all this year. It has been so hot here and so humid for Kentucky. My peppers did not get very big and turned red way too early. I just can’t go the hot ones!

  19. Kelly says:

    I like these posts. They’re not only informative (particularly for a black thumb like me), but also keep us connected to our food and where it comes from. The latter is really important to me. What a drag about the cayenne mislabelling (I hate when that happens!) – I didn’t know that cayenne retained its flavour while jalapeno losses its heat. Very cool learning from you. Thanks.

  20. egg me on says:

    Ooo … fresh off the vine jalapenos. Nice! I hope the rest of your crop turns out well. I wish I had a green thumb.

  21. Judy says:

    No garden this year. Our growing season here in the Rockies is so short that a vacation at the beginning of the season just knocked out any chance I had for planting. I missed it. Tending the garden is one of the things that draws me into solitude, even for a few minutes (nothing plugged-in out there). And the composting, nothing like it to usher-in the next season. Priceless.

  22. You have an amazing garden and you do amazing things with it!

  23. Eva Taylor says:

    Is that a CD I see in the last photo under the foliage? What is it’s purpose? BTW, lovely garden!

  24. You will find me curled up in a ball weeping when Summers bounty of tomatoes and peppers is gone come winter- I cannot get enough of them!

  25. I put in some late peppers, too – a hot banana and a cayenne. (One was supposed to be a bell, but that’s what I get for letting Hubby pick out the plants…) Two peppers on the banana, nothing on the cayenne. Yet.
    Fingers crossed, for yours and mine!

  26. wee eats says:

    we have a little meyer lemon tree that it’s been “too hot” to plant, all my little baby lemons dried up except one. he’s all alone, but hangin’ in there <3. i bet him and your pepper could be friends πŸ™‚

  27. Good luck with the peppers! Our pepper plants were just starting too produce when we left for our travels. Expecting to see a healthy return on our investment when we get back.

  28. midaevalmaiden says:

    I will wish for heat to last all through september. You’ll need those Cayenne peppers to keep giving us awesome posts.

  29. Christina says:

    Your garden looks great! We have a ton of tomatoes right now…But I have never planted cayenne peppers. I need to remember that for next year! πŸ™‚

  30. I like your plant posts, I learn so much from them. My one garden is not producing much, I suspect it has something to do with the Japanese beetles and the soil. My other two gardens are producing tomatoes and peppers. I can’t wait to see what recipes you guys come up with for peppers. Always looking for new pepper recipes.

  31. You will absolutely have a bumper crop of peppers – you are Mr Green Fingers after all – just for good measure, I will cross fingers and toes that you get the amount you are wanting.
    Have a happy evening.
    πŸ™‚ Mandy

  32. Sissi says:

    Poor, lonely tomato… The CD trick seems to be very international! I have heard from someone in Switzerland that it doesn’t work on all the birds… I read so much about jalapenos here that I have decided: next year I’m planting jalapenos on my balcony! (I am not sure if it will work, but the Hungarian chilies grow easily so…). I am looking forward to all the dishes you will make with your peppers.

  33. You know I’m no fan of raw tomatoes lol.. but these peppers look amazing. Your green thumb is wonderful. Just as great as the items I get from the Farmers Market

  34. ceciliag says:

    Never wipe your eyes after chopping the chilli. I am still crying! c

  35. Oh how I wish I had a garden…good luck with the peppers

  36. I do not have a green thumb when it comes to produce. I am jealous!

  37. ChgoJohn says:

    With my garden doing so poorly this year, I’ve been gardening vicariously through your efforts. Still, on the plus side, my nemesis, the evil squirrel, has yet to raid my tomatoes and my dog hasn’t bothered with them. I think it’s pity.

  38. Joanne says:

    I wish I grew my own veggies…my husband and I move so much that it’s not worth it (I just grow herbs), but I’m looking forward to growing more when we settle down!

  39. Phew- you need a vacation somewhere COLD! I don’t know how you do it.

  40. I have always wanted to be able to grow a garden!

  41. The peppers look great and props on trying the revive the jalapenos – it is never too late! (kind of:)). But, seriously, I know you can make it work. You guys have had a great crop of everything this year.

  42. Good luck with the peppers! We’ve harvested and frozen all of the peppers on my birdseye chilli plant and it’s started flowering again! Looks like we’ll get two crops this year, I am the chilli sauce queen!!

  43. I agree…this week might have been my last “tomato” blog…I love them, but it might be time to retire the theme for awhile. I wanted to know if I might add your blog site to my blog roll at foodonfifth.com? Meant to ask earlier but got busy. I think your site is very inspirational and I quite like that you just pop in an entry that is often short and sweet and thought provoking. Thanks. T

  44. I’m having the opposite problem here, my peppers are fine, but my tomatoes are all still green!

  45. ....RaeDi says:

    Hope you get plenty of peppers and then I can see if you make the pepper ropes! ….RaeDi

  46. Pingback: Pepper preservation | Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

  47. Pingback: The Planting Continues | Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

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