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Tag Archive | "containers"

The Truth about Hot Peppers


 

Golden cayenne peppers are hot with a Scoville heat level of 30,000 to 50,000. Photo credit: courtesy of Bonnie Plants 

Golden cayenne peppers are hot with a Scoville heat level of 30,000 to 50,000. Photo credit: courtesy of Bonnie Plants

By Melinda Myers

Don’t be afraid to add a little spicy heat to your meals this season by growing a few hot peppers in the garden or containers. It’s easier than you think and many of the hot pepper myths floating around the garden are simply not true.

Don’t worry about your hot peppers heating up your sweet peppers. Peppers are normally self-pollinated. If an insect happens to move the pollen from a hot to sweet pepper, it will not affect the flavor or heat of this year’s harvest. If you save the seeds from a cross-pollinated pepper and plant them in next year’s garden, the plants they produce may have hot or sweet fruit (or a little of both), but only time will tell.

And don’t assume all green peppers are sweet or you will be in for a surprise. Jalapenos are typically harvested when green and others, like habanero, Anaheim and Poblano are hot, whether harvested when green or red. You’ll also find that hot peppers can be yellow, orange, brown and, of course, red.

You can turn down the heat when preparing your favorite recipes, too. Contrary to popular belief, all the heat in hot peppers does not come from the seeds. While partially true, the majority of the capsaicin that gives hot peppers their heat is in the white membrane that houses the seeds. When the seeds are growing they may also be coated with extra capsaicin from the membrane. So remove the white membrane and the seeds, just to be safe, if you want to turn down the heat.

The spicy heat of hot peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The ratings are based on the amount of sugar water needed to neutralize the spicy heat in the extracted capsaicin that has been diluted in an alcohol-based extract. A panel of five taste testers decides when the spicy heat has been neutralized and then assigns the rating. Today many companies use a chemical process (liquid chromatography) but translate their results into the popular Scoville heat units.

The Scoville heat unit ratings vary from one type of hot pepper to another, with Poblano rating between 1000 to 2000, jalapenos 2500 to 6000, habaneros at 100,000 to 300,000 and one of the hottest, the ghost pepper, at 1,000,000 to 2,200,000 Scoville heat units.  Check online or the Homegrown with Bonnie Plants mobile app (for iOs and Android) for the Scoville ratings, growing tips and a Pepper Chooser to help you pick the best varieties to grow. Ratings may also vary from individual plants within a specific type based on individual plant differences and the growing conditions.

Whatever kind you grow, be sure to label hot peppers when planting, harvesting and storing to avoid any mix-ups. The sweet banana pepper, for example, can easily be confused with hot banana. This could make for an unwelcome surprise when preparing, serving and eating.

Also, consider wearing rubber gloves and avoid touching your face and eyes when working with hot peppers, as they can burn. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards when finished to avoid any future issues.

And don’t worry if you are having a bad day when planting your hot peppers. Contrary to some old adages, planting hot peppers when you’re angry won’t make the peppers hotter, but unknowingly taking a bite of a hot pepper may very well change your mood.

 Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books and has a master’s degree in horticulture. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments and The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Bonnie Plants for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com. 

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Add sparkle to your landscape with unique containers 


Crates, recycled or purchased, can be painted and personalized to create a colorful, unique planter for flowers and edibles.

Crates, recycled or purchased, can be painted and personalized to create a colorful, unique planter for flowers and edibles.

By Melinda Myers

Perk up your containers and add a bit of sparkle to your landscape with bright colors, unusual materials or a unique purpose.

Include an elevated garden to increase planting space and make planting, weeding and harvesting easier on the back and knees. Liven things up with a robin egg blue VegTrug™ or washtubs elevated on a support for a bit of rustic charm.

Add wheels to make it easier to move planters around the patio or deck.  This allows you to follow the sun or make room for company at summer gatherings.

Recycle items into containers or invest in some of the new planters made from galvanized metal, wooden apple crates and more. Look for new colors or personalize them to create a warm greeting for you and your guests.

Increase growing flexibility with lightweight grow bags. They now come in a variety of colors and sizes. These fabric containers fold flat for easy storage when not in use.

Save space with sleek designs and built in trellises. You’ll be growing pole beans, tomatoes and flowering vines in a compact space. The colorful flowers and fruit will brighten a blank wall or screen a bad view.

Use containers and elevated gardens to increase the fun factor at your summer gatherings. Start your party with a trip to the outdoor bar. Weather-resistant butcher-block with built in planting space is sure to get the conversation going.  Gardener’s Supply Company is offering a new reclaimed wood outdoor bar with an integrated planter called “Plant A Bar.” Fill the planting space with some favorite cocktail herbs. Then mix up your beverage and let your guests add a bit of homegrown flavor.

Include the next course by growing your own salad bar. Guests will enjoy harvesting and creating their own bed of greens to accompany the main course. Fill a pot or elevated garden with greens, radishes, onions, carrots, herbs and your other favorite salad fixings.

Keep your containers healthy and productive with proper care. Water thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil is dry.  Check pots daily and water as needed. Extend the time between watering with self-watering pots.  Look for features such as weep holes that allow excess water to drain, funnels for top watering, and moisture indicators that let you know when it is time to add more water.

Further reduce maintenance by adding a slow release fertilizer to the potting mix at planting. Small amounts of nutrients are released over time, eliminating the need to mix and fertilize weekly. Give planters a mid-season boost or when making a second planting by sprinkling slow release fertilizer over the soil surface.

Harvest regularly to keep vegetables producing and looking their best. Replace early plantings as they fade with a second crop. You’ll extend the harvest and your enjoyment.

So take a second look at your patio, deck or front steps and move in a bit of color, fun and flavor for this growing and outdoor entertaining season.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply Company for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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