Persevering for Peppers

Perseverance  – a lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious  success.
Ambrose  Bierce


Some of you, who have been following my blog a little while, may remember my post titled Behold Our First Pepper. It was an account of the unfortunate discovery that my first pepper plants bought here in Okinawa were not the Jalapeños I was expecting. My husband and I love Jalapeños; but when we find them here, they are priced at almost a dollar a pepper! It isn’t just the overpriced produce that has me disappointed. In a previous season, my pepper harvest from a single container counted to the hundreds (literally). That taste of success has me longing to recreate a wonderful bounty that not only enriches our cooking but impresses my husband to no end. Who wouldn’t want that right?

So what was the problem that held me back? I could blame several factors but the most significant was timing. I moved to Okinawa and started my garden in April whereas normally I would have a window sill garden in January and be ready to transplant outside in March. Then the plants became scorched by heat and bugs before they could properly take root, we had a drought this summer, and my Jalapeño seeds were unwilling to germinate. My determination did not waiver and I acknowledged these challenges not as my personal failures as a gardener but rather an opportunity to learn more and persevere. I ordered seeds online from Baker Creek Seed Company and pressed on.

I started new seedlings, I protected them, I waited, I uprooted the disappointing pepper plants (I’m sorry, it was hard but I did it), and I transplanted my heirloom PURPLE Jalapeños. Today they are a little bit taller and two gorgeous blooms have set.

DSC03769 DSC03768

How cute are they? Normally, most pepper plant flowers look like these:

DSC03206English: A recently blossomed flower on a Quad...

But sometimes heirlooms come in different colors. Don’t you love how pretty a vegetable plant can be? I certainly do!

Sometimes when it doesn’t look possible to have success, if you continue to move forward you may be surprised at what can happen. The year that I had the very successful Jalapeño harvest, I also had several other peppers growing at the same time. I remember thinking that the Bell Pepper plant died while the hot peppers thrived but I ended up reaping Bell Peppers late in the season. It seems that as the fall weather set in, the bell pepper plant was much happier and started setting a lot of fruit. The hot peppers had already been setting for months. If I had given up on the plant when it didn’t produce like the others, I would not have harvested 20 Bell Peppers. This isn’t to say I haven’t had my failed attempts in my garden–because I certainly have–but often times there is hope when you don’t realize it.

Here’s to hoping for the possibility of a late Jalapeño crop on an island that has the potential for a long growing season. The air feels cooler now, but it’s still quite warm. The sight of the lovely purple flowers lets me know that there is hope after all!


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