Varieties of Pepper Plants
Almost any pepper variety is well suited to grow in a home garden. A multitude of sweet and hot peppers produce fruit in a rainbow of different colors, flavors and shapes. Peppers can be consumed raw or cooked, and some can be dried and ground to enhance the flavor of food.
Sweet bell peppers are some of the most common varieties grown in the home garden. Bell peppers are harvested when they are green, yellow, orange or red. They mature in 65 to 75 days. Use them raw as snacks, whole for stuffed peppers or chopped in a variety of dishes. California Wonder is an heirloom green variety that produces fruit about 4 inches big. Red Knight is a bit larger and matures when it is a deep red color. Big Bertha is probably the favorite of the bell pepper types. It can be harvested and tastes great when it is green, but let it turn red and the flavor intensifies and gets even sweeter. Super Heavy Weight is a bell pepper that produces green and yellow peppers.
Sweet Banana Peppers
Sweet Banana Peppers are wonderful eaten raw, grilled or added to a variety of culinary dishes. They are long and slender and usually a yellow or red color. The variety Sweet Banana can be harvested in about 70 days when it is yellow. Leave it on the vine for the flavor to intensify when it is red. Giant Marconi is an Italian favorite. It is green but turns red when mature, and the fruit is about 8 inches long with a strong flavor.
Hot Jalapeno Peppers
Hot jalapeno peppers will put a punch in any dish. They are usually smaller than sweet peppers and mature in 65 to 75 days. Early jalapeno produces a truckload of peppers because it matures early. It is a green pepper that has a hot flavor. Jalapeno-M is another variety favorite, and the flavor is a bit hotter.
Hot habaneras are some of the hottest peppers grown. The original habanera is hot enough, but the Caribbean Red is even hotter. Always wear gloves when handling these peppers, and if any juice gets on the skin, bathe it in milk.
Chili peppers are hot, yet milder than the jalapeno or habanera. Numex varieties were actually bred with habaneras to enhance the heat of the pepper. Numex Big Jim has a mild flavor, and Numex Sauve Orange has an orange color.
There is a host of other types of peppers including the Ancho, or Pablano pepper. This pepper starts out green, then turns a dark deep red. It is called Pablano when fresh and used in Mexican dishes with a medium hot flavor. It is called Ancho when dried and the flavor intensifies. Hungarian paprika peppers can be grown in a home garden. They are usually long and thin and much smaller than some other peppers. They have a spicy flavor and are dried, then crushed to make paprika. Cayenne peppers can be treated in the same manner.