What to do with the grace of pepper in the garden and how to protect your harvest

Late summer and early fall are the hottest months of the year in Southern California. High temperatures (usually over 100 degrees Celsius) are difficult in the garden, but good for both bell peppers and hot peppers.

Each spring we planted fresh peppers and were flooded with hundreds of fruits each fall. To name a few, we grew up in Sierra Leone, Anaheim, Poblano, Jalapeo, Habanero, Spirits, Carolina Harvester, and Scorpion Chile. If you water regularly, they will actually thrive in the heat, and will be relatively resistant to pests. One exception is the tomato horn, so we try to spray it regularly with BT (caterpillar killer or Bacillus thuringiensis).

What can you do with too much hot pepper? Of course they can, but most people just want a handful. You can allow your teenager and his friends to enjoy each other’s company. You can use them in some of your favorite recipes, but there is still a lot of pepper left.

Probably the best way to protect chiles is to dry them (in the sun or in the oven) and then refrigerate them. They can also be frozen. If you want them, they can be selected or served in any tested and approved salsa recipe.

One summer, I had a lot of hazelnuts and pickles, so I replaced 3 cups of chilli with 3 cups of bell pepper in a salsa recipe. Most certified canned recipes suggest that fresh and sweet peppers can be exchanged if the total amount of pepper is the same. For example, if the recipe requires 3 cups of bell pepper, you can substitute 1 cup of fresh pepper and 2 cups of bell pepper. (Always follow recipes, including instructions on how to cut spices properly) I know I have something good!

My children grew up with hot peppers, so they are very tolerant of spicy foods. They absolutely love my “Breaking Bad” salsa and share it with their more adventurous friends. It was so hot that I could hardly stand it. One afternoon I found my 13-year-old daughter sitting on the kitchen table with a check bag, a small salsa plate, and a Clenx box. She alternated between eating salsa chips and wiping away tears from her eyes. I stood in my tracks, and she looked up at me and said, “It hurts, but I can’t stop eating.” This is the nature of capsaicin addiction.

Remember to wear gloves when handling hot peppers as they can cause burning sensation when contacting seeds or their cover.

If you eat pepper and know it is too hot for you, take a teaspoon of honey and roll it around your mouth to calm the burning sensation.

Quickly look at ways to protect fruits and vegetables from the garden –

It’s getting colder Drying
Apples Not recommended Yes
Apricots Yes Yes
Bell pepper Yes Yes
Berries Yes Yes
Carrots Yes Yes
Cabbage flower Yes No
Cherries Yes Yes
Pepper Peppers Yes Yes
Citrus Juice only No
Corn Yes Yes
Figs Not recommended Yes
Bean sprouts Yes Yes
Greens Yes Yes
Pepper Yes Yes
Plum Yes Yes
Pierre Not recommended Yes
Pumpkin (Summer) Not recommended Yes
Pumpkin (Winter) Yes Not recommended
Tomatoes Yes Yes

Do you have any questions? Email gardening@scng.com.

Need more gardening tips? Here is how to contact the main garden in your area.

Los Angeles County

mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/

Orange County

ucceocmghotline@ucanr.edu; 949-809-9760; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/

Riverside County

anrmgriverside@ucanr.edu; 951-683-6491 Extension. 231; https://ucanr.edu/sites/RiversideMG/

San Bernardino County

mgsanbern@ucanr.edu; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/

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