Growing Heirloom Peppers
Heirloom peppers are a special kind of variety, belonging to the Solanaceae family. They were developed over two million years ago by Native Americans and were used for a variety of medicinal purposes. Among these uses are that they relieve colds, provide relief from pain and fever, treat parasites, purify water and also help in the growth of crops.
Many varieties of heirloom pepper seeds are now available both as fresh seed or as preserved seed at various stores throughout the world. The preserved seeds can be used as they are or can be used as they were originally intended, which is to provide the heirloom pepper its full beneficial characteristic. There are basically two ways to preserve the seeds: use the seeds raw or use the heirloom pepper's skin as a preserving medium.
Raw heirloom seeds should only be used if you are certain it is the genuine article. It is easier said than done. Many seeds, even from well known heirloom plants, are often mislabeled, especially those of the Solanaceae family. They may be hybrid varieties, or they may have been hybridized from another plant, and the resulting seed will lack the real thing.
If you do choose to try to save the seeds, be sure to store them carefully. They should be kept in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight, so they can germinate properly. Also be careful not to over-crowd the jar with the heirloom pepper. Seeds will generally contain about 70% water. A little water or moisture is normal but it should never be more than that.
There are various ways to preserve seeds safely so they can last for years to come. You can buy small jars with tight lids and pour some of the seed's contents into each. Leave the lid on for a few days to let the heirloom pepper begin to germinate. Keep the lid tight and wipe down the inside of the jar before you store it. You can also store it in the refrigerator for up to three months.
To protect heirloom peppers from bugs and insects while they are growing, don't keep them in the garden. They should only be put in the kitchen garden, shed or basement. This protects them from marauding insects which could destroy your crop of heirloom peppers before you've even had a chance to enjoy them.
Don't pick your heirloom pepper plants until they're about ten to twelve weeks old. Once they've produced their first fruits, you can pick and eat them. This helps them get used to eating fresh fruit versus the store bought variety. If you try to eat the fruit right after it's been plucked, it can be very spicy.
Planting heirloom peppers is easy but you need to make sure that they grow into healthy heirloom crops. You don't want to end up with a bush full of hard wood, only to have the vines break and drop their seeds into the soil and wither. Make sure that your heirloom pepper seeds germinate and get off to a fast start. And remember that the best way to grow any kind of vegetable is to be sure to remove it from the soil once it's started to flower and turn purple.
To plant your heirloom peppers you need to dig holes in the ground that are three to four inches deep. Cover the holes with dirt when you're finished. Keep your heirloom pepper seeds moist when you plant them. You can add mulch around the base of your pepper plants as well. This will help keep the soil moist while it produces its fruits. If you live in a colder climate, you might consider purchasing an heirloom pepper kit to help you grow your heirloom peppers.
You'll find many different varieties of heirloom peppers from hot and mild to sweet and sour. They also come in a wide variety of colors including purple, orange, blue, pink, red, yellow, green and even black. It's a good idea to have several plants growing at one time. Your pepper plants will love being planted in several different areas. Just be sure to allow for air circulation and plenty of sunlight during the warmer parts of the year.
You'll be able to enjoy the taste of these heirloom peppers throughout your life. They taste great as they cook and you will enjoy eating them on their own, in sauces, stews and soups, or as a snack. Keep in mind though that you should never harvest any seeds from your heirloom pepper plants as this will harm them. These tips will help you grow heirloom peppers all year round.