A Peck of Peppers, and more!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:01 AM

Nay to the nay-sayers!

You can indeed grow peppers in Oakland! Practice (and patience) makes perfect!

Normally, this isn't the right time of year for peppers. However, we haven't exactly had a normal year here in the Bay Area. Our summer was much cooler than normal and I personally wondered if anything would ever ripen. But with the recent heat wave, everything has ripened all at once. This morning I finally harvested my peppers. It took me a couple of years to find the correct micro-climate in my small garden, but this year I'd say I hit the jackpot!

To successfully grow peppers, it is important that you find the hottest spot in your garden, and the place that gets the most sun (not necessarily the same thing). Plant several varieties to see which ones grow best in your area. Merritt College usually has a plant sale in the spring where numerous heirloom and other unique varieties are available.

I don't suggest starting your peppers from seed, at least not at first. Peppers can be tricky, so starting with plants will take one hurdle out of the way. Once planted, make sure to keep peppers watered well. I use a soaker hose in my garden and the peppers are right at the very beginning of the line so they get the most water.

Also, it's important to remember that peppers do not like peat moss. So use some nice rich compost to ammend your soil before planting. Finally, if you don't have luck the first year, don't give up. Try a different spot. Try a different variety. Eventually you'll hit upon a winning combination.

Last week I was crazy canning tomatoes. I've also harvested a lot of lemon cucumbers, tomatillos, picallo squash, pumpkins, and even a few small tiger melons. I've still got a trickling of tomatoes coming in, and a few peppers and tomatillos that will be ripe in a few weeks.

Overall, I'd say I've had a successful garden this summer. But it hasn't been easy. Having spinal surgery definately made it a challenge. So I'd like to thank the numerous friends, both old and new, that have generously donated their time to help me plant, weed, water, and harvest. Without all of you, I wouldn't have been able to do it. Thank you for enriching my life!

5 Response to "A Peck of Peppers, and more!"

Rachel Says:

If you have a seedling mat and soil mix that doesn't contain peat (I like to use a terrestrial orchid mix) then peppers are really easy to grow from seed. The trick is to start them really early - February at the latest. Plus the bonus is that you can get so many different varieties that you can't find as plants. I have a primer on how to start them here: http://www.dogislandfarm.com/2009/12/january-planting-schedule-planting.html

Kitty Sharkey Says:

Thanks Rachel. I've been hearing a lot of talk lately about how hard it is to grow peppers here in Oakland. I figured a picture was worth a thousand words.

I attempted germinating a few seeds this year. Although the plants grew to about 2 or 3 inches, they didn't survive the transplanting process. I think my main downfall was starting them too late.

Since I only managed to get a couple of banana peppers last year, I thought it would be better to concentrate on location this year. Now that I've finally found the correct spot and had such success from starts, I think I'm going to give germinating my own plants another try next year.

Rachel Says:

Well, our climate here in Vallejo isn't much different than Oakland. Did you grow any hot peppers? If so, did they actually get hot? That's something we're struggling with now, though I was told there was a trick to get them hot. We shall see.

Kitty Sharkey Says:

The hottest pepper I grew were Peperoncinis. I let them ripen until they were red which makes them a little bit spicier. I don't do well with hot spicy foods, so I stick with the mild peppers.


wow, kitty, the harvest looks great!