Tag Archives: peppers

Projects: the bounty of summer

Bhut Jolokia peppers

The good news about having a greenhouse full of Bhut Jolokia, Trinidad Scorpion, and Moraga pepper plants being trained for bonsai: with the beginning of July comes lots and lots of fruit. The seemingly sad news: since the plants themselves are being deliberately dwarfed for that bonsai, the peppers aren’t anywhere near as big as they’d be if they were fertilized on a constant basis. The excellent news, at least for those with a taste for the dangerously spicy: stressing the plants in this way pretty much guarantees that the peppers will peel the enamel off your teeth in big floppy strips. Now I need to figure out a way to get these to my little brother the chilihead, because he pretty much eats these fresh off the bush.

Jalapeno popper recipes: JUST ONE FIX

My friend Michael Hultquist is a bad man. No, I take that back. He’s a bad, bad, BAD man. Positively EVIL. The sort of guy who comes up behind exhausted parents and gives their children four shots of espresso and a puppy. I can say this, because he just let me know that he’s put together a whole site dedicated to jalapeno pepper recipes. I mean, he already has multiple books on chile pepper recipes out there, and now he has to offer MORE? The MONSTER.

Very seriously, I’m glad of this for one big reason. I was first turned onto cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos via the Red Hot & Blue barbecue chain, where they were titled “Red Hot Chili Poppers”. Unfortunately, Red Hot & Blue removed them from the menu about four years ago, and repeated entreaties to bring them back have been unsuccessful. (I’ve forgiven them this trespass. The Walnut Hill location is still my choice for takeout just before screenings of The Walking Dead.) Now, though, NOW…it’s time to experiment with the basic idea. Even better, it’s time to try some of these with some of the best from the Chile Pepper Institute.

July through October, in the heat

I know it doesn’t help, but I speak from experience. Earth hasn’t been launched into the sun, so things WILL cool off in the Northern Hemisphere. They’ll even cool off in Texas, as heretical the idea may seem. True, we won’t be down to temperatures conducive for carbon-based life for another three months, but it’s something. In the meantime, you can either complain about the heat, or you can sit down, take a nice deep breath of granite vapor, and think about something else.

Now, you could do something to distract yourself, such as watch a nice, tranquil art movie in an air-conditioned theater. Considering the source, though, you have plenty of options for gardening opportunities that don’t directly involve being withered into dust by the big yellow hurty thing in the sky. For instance:

Get in some reading. After you’ve come inside after a hard day at work, and slogged through the pools of molten concrete in front of the door, there’s a lot to be said about doing something that requires you to move nothing but your eyes. With that consideration, I could be self-serving and mention that Gothic Beauty magazine now offers digital subscriptions, and the print subscriptions are ridiculously cheap for the value. However, I’ll also point out that a lot of unorthodox publications tie directly to summer gardening, such as the article on natural vivarium substrates in the current issue of Reptiles magazine. And if your brain is frying in your skull, get into the shade and put in a few orders with Timber Press‘s extensive collection of horticulture books. That should cool you for a while.

Consider something smaller. One word: bonsai. A few more: penjing and Hon Non Bo. When you find yourself feeling like a character in Ray Bradbury’s story “Frost and Fire,” it may be time to reevaluate going outdoors to garden. In that case, consider talking to the folks at Dallas Bonsai Garden for tools and equipment, or peruse the Bonsai Bark blog for ideas. If you’re looking for something more encapsulated, there’s no reason why you can’t consider vivaria, either. (To friends in Massachusetts for various onerous reasons this coming weekend, I’d tell you to head out to Black Jungle Terrarium Supply in Turner Falls and stock up on vivarium goodies, but the whole Black Jungle crew will be at the New York Metro Reptile Expo in White Plains at that time. Do NOT let that stop you. I’ll be at the DFW Lone Star Reptile Expo in Arlington for the same reason.)

Get an early start on the fall season. While the summers are brutal, one of the best things about living in Texas is that the autumns go on forever. I’m only slightly exaggerating, as I’ve gleefully harvested tomatoes and Swiss chard out of my own garden for Christmas dinner, and most citrus, ranging from oranges to Cthulhufruit, isn’t ripe until the end of November. That’s why, when the heat threatens your sanity, start making plans for autumn and winter right now. Considering how well Capsicum peppers work as container plants brought indoors before the frosts start, take a look at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University and run that Mastercard dry. (I currently have a back growing area loaded with NuMex Halloween peppers that are getting big enough to demand UN membership, and Arioch help me when the Bhut Jolokias start bearing fruit.

Combining all of the above. And what’s wrong with Capsicum pepper bonsai? Add in a suitable recipe for jalapeno poppers, and you won’t be worrying about the heat outdoors. Instead, you’ll wonder about what happened to the time when New Year’s Eve hits and you’re up to your armpits in fresh potting mix.