Peppers Combine Beauty with Utility

tabasco pepper, hot peppers, edible ornamentals

I almost always plant some kind of pepper plant at the entrance of my main garden. The reason I do so, is that at this time of year, pepper plants, especially,  are so beautiful that I want to see them every chance I can! They give me pleasure, not only because I love using them in the kitchen, and I find a certain happiness as I contemplate the harvest, but also because they are so very beautiful, just to look at. Gardening is about much more than just growing food, though that is a good reason to garden. I find pleasure in having contact with the outdoors and living things in my garden. There are beautiful things to see, intriguing smells and delicious things to taste. Peppers contribute in all of these areas, but especially in regard to visual beauty.

I mainly grow hot peppers, for seasoning food. Yet, my wife will attest that I usually grow more than I could ever use. One reason for this is that I would simply miss them too much, if I didn’t grow them every year; and, since I save seed, I want a large enough population to maintain quality seed stocks.

Green Country Seed Savers discuss saving pepper seed.

Murupi amarela, hot pepper, peppers, gardening
Murupi Amarela is an habanero relative, and just as hot! I LOVE it. You can see how prolific it is.

If you garden at all and have a sunny spot, consider some kind of pepper. They rarely have insect problems. They mix well with flowers, depending on height differences. Their pods can be as beautiful as flowers,  but they last longer. You can also enjoy them in the kitchen.

A Couple Pepper Tips

  • There are small fruited (ornamental) sweet peppers. If you don’t like picante you can grow them.
  • No, you don’t have to eat your hot peppers, whole and uncooked. With some peppers, that would be very unpleasant. In my opinion, the really hot peppers are meant to be used, perhaps sparingly, in hot sauces or seasoning in cooking.
  • Many small fruited hot peppers can be dried for future use. One year we dried pods of Frank’s Thai Hot on thread and used them to decorate our Christmas tree. Later, the dried peppers became pepper flakes for use in the kitchen!
  • The low growing ornamental peppers, sold in garden centers are bona fide peppers. They tend to be quite hot, but they work well in hot sauce and salsa.
Thai hot, hot pepper, ornamental peppers, gardening
Frank”s Thai Hot was probably an ornamental, mislabeled at Frank’s Nursery in Howell, NJ, in 2003. My children gave me two plants for Father’s Day and I have kept the seed ever since.

Related post: Grow Your Own Hot Sauce

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