Good morning gardening friends! I haven't posted much lately, but the gardening is going very well so far this spring! We had some 90 degree heat last week for a few days, and several of my plants soaked it up and went bananas - particularly the zucchini, which will have harvestable fruit on it in probably a week!!
I bought a bunch of hot peppers at the Farmer's Market last weekend to fill out my garden - I purchased Cayenne, Jalapeno, Poblano, Thai Dragon, Habanero, Carribean Red Hot, and Bhut Jolokia. The latter is also known as a Ghost Pepper, and from time to time has been known as the world's hottest pepper. I also have a couple of Big Bertha bell peppers, and I have two Jupiter bell peppers that I haven't transplanted yet.
Hot Pepper Heat - The Scoville Scale
The Ghost Pepper rates anywhere from 350,000 to over 1 million on the Scoville Scale
, a system that measures that amount of "heat" a pepper has. Habaneros, which are the hottest peppers you can buy in the grocery store, usually rate between 100,000 and 350,000 - I have eaten habaneros straight before, and I made some really awesome jelly from them last year. More recognizable, the Thai Chili scores a 50,000 to 100,000 ... cayenne from 30,000 to 50,000, Jalapenos from 3,000 to 8,000, and the Poblano only 1,000 to 2,500.
Bell Peppers have no heat at all and score a 0 on this scale.
Honestly, I don't know if I'll try eating the Bhut Jolokia peppers. I doubt it. I bet they'd make some hellishly spicy jelly though!!
Finally, a use for Tomato Cages
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I don't subscribe to caging tomatoes. The tapered tomato cages you see at the big box stores aren't anywhere near big enough for a tomato plant, as most tomatoes will get 5-6 tall or higher. They are suitable only for caging "determinate" tomato plants or "bush" tomatoes. These types of tomatoes will usually only get 3-4 tall. I have several varieties of bush tomatoes planted. Two of them are "Better Bush" which will allegedly get about 4' tall and the main stalk is so sturdy that they won't even need to be staked. I don't know about that - we'll see! The other are "Celebrity" which I grew with good luck last year in the garden. This year I have them in large containers, and these do need some support, as they will be quite laden down with heavy tomatoes! Since they only get 3-4' tall, the standard tapered tomato cages work fine for these. Just make sure you know what kind of tomatoes you have and how tall they will get. If they are "indeterminate" they will almost certainly outgrow these types of cages and you'll be left with a wrangled mess!
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I have found, however, that peppers and eggplants can use some level of support, especially as they get older and get heavy with peppers. Even the branches of the smaller cayenne and jalapeno can droop under the weight of a bountiful crop! And certainly eggplants need lots of support!
Since most pepper plants only seem to get 2-3' tall, these tomato cages are perfect!