A Tale of Two Peppers

So here’s an anomaly to ponder: Those two pepper plants featured in the middle of the photo above are ostensibly the same type of plant. I bought a 6-pack of Mexican improved peppers to plant in June, and the three on the left-hand side of the bed are tall enough to need staking and are producing peppers the length of my hand, all hanging straight down and so far staying green; the three plants on the right-hand side of the bed have stayed almost ornamental in size, with tons of teeny-tiny pepper that point straight up and have started turning red. The bed itself is a new one that we dug out this spring and filled uniformly with organic soil and mulch, so there are only two possibilities I can think of: Either the big ash tree to the right of the bed is shading that half and keeping the plants small, or else the pack of plants we bought had two different varieties in it and only one label.

Anyone else have an experience like this with peppers? As you can see, the green pepper is at least 6 inches long, the length of my hand, and the smallest red pepper is no bigger than my pinky fingernail. Hard to believe one species of pepper could have that extreme a range!

Here the little red peppers are shown in my hand with some nasturtium pods for scale (I’m saving the latter for seed). Feeling adventurous tonight, I sliced up one of the tiny peppers, thinking to add one to our salmon for dinner. Before doing so, however, I touched the cut stem end of the pepper lightly against the tip of my tongue to gauge its heat—and spent the next 15 minutes with my burning tongue stuck in a cup of milk. Now I am thinking that I should probably make these little peppers into a batch of lacto-fermented chile-garlic paste or else dehydrate them, because neither my parents or I have enough heat tolerance to use these guys fresh! I haven’t been brave enough yet to sample the green pepper after that experiment, but maybe its size means it won’t be quite as spicy?

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