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thoroughburro 2023, kith and kitchen

I’m just a week or so away from my first round of seed starting, and The List has stabilized.

As the title suggests, I’m focusing on a more shareable garden, this year. My high heat tolerance is well satisfied by sauces and flakes, so it’ll be a mercy to others and not much sacrifice to me if I cook more with mild or heatless peppers and lean into condiments for my own spice satisfaction.

Capsicum annuum​

4 Gogoşar (pronounced “gogoshar”; also transliterated as gogosar, gogosari, etc), a heatless Romanian variety whose name is confusingly also used generically for red pepper. My partner has very fond memories of this large, pumpkin-shaped pepper being roasted and then stuffed or preserved. They’re also used fresh, like red bell pepper. I had to import these seeds from a Romanian seller on Ebay who at first resisted since US customers had been leaving bad reviews for unreliable shipping. I assured her I would leave a good review regardless of ever getting them. It all worked out, and now of course I’m that much more invested in growing the variety…

4 Quadrato d’Asti Giallo, a superlative, heatless yellow bell pepper from Asti, in northern Italy. I grew this last year and, although the pods were stunted in only 5 gallons of soil, I was extremely impressed with the thick flesh and excellent flavor. Together with Gogosar, these should account for most of our “vegetable pepper” usage.

4 NuMex Heritage 6-4, well known as a choice, but mild, New Mexican cultivar. I grew Big Jim last year, but it was too hot for my partner to enjoy when used as the base of, for example, chile verde.

4 Jalapeño Zapotec, nearly rejected for again being too hot for my jalapeño-popper-loving partner, it found a place as my primary fresh spice pepper for pico de gallo and other fresh salsas. I’d find a place for it regardless, really; I find it a very compelling pepper.

4 Jalapeño TAM, this is the jalapeño to hate if you despise the near-heatless jalapeño products which took over the mass market: it was developed by Texas A&M University to be a commercial (but open pollinated) crowd pleaser. It should be exactly right for my partner’s poppers, and thus allows me to grow my Zapotecs!

4 Chiltepin O’odham (pronounced something like “OH ohdahm”, the apostrophe representing a glottal stop; they’re fascinating), a really tempting chiltepin collected from a sacred mountain. I struggled to choose a chiltepin for the year, especially because my dried Chiltepin Hermosillo Dwarf from last year have been amazing… but I do want to see if the berries of a non-dwarf might be a bit bigger, and I’m a sucker for a good origin story.

4 Stavros, an apparently choice Greek pickling pepper of the general type known in the US as “golden Greek pepperoncini”. “Pepperoncini” terminology is an absolute minefield, which is a shame since so many of us developed an addiction to them in childhood (thank you for that if nothing else, Papa John’s). This seems to be the only specifically named cultivar widely available, so it was an easy choice.

Capsicum chinense​

4 Orange Habanero (SLP) and
4 Orange Habanero (CPI), let one of these be the harpoon which slays at last this white whale, please god! This will be the third year I attempt to accomplish the original goal of this now-major hobby, which was to replace my no-longer-locally-available favorite sauce (El Yucateco XXXtra Hot Kutbil-ik) with homemade. The first year, I began too late and only whetted my appetite; last year, I put all eggs in the Habanero Oxkutzcab basket, which was too fruity for purpose. I’ve realized I need a bog standard habanero for the sauce I crave. Hopefully one of these will do.

4 Habanada (also using seeds collected from @HellfireFarm), which will allow me to make a medium-heat, taste-alike version of my signature sauce for more sensitive friends and family. This technique, of substituting some of the spicy variety with a heatless version to make a mild sauce, works so well that the smell, texture, and damn near the flavor are almost identical to the real deal. I hope to slowly create more heatless varieties of sauce peppers to allow this for each sauce I make. Someday.

4 Bahamian Goat, which saved my bacon when Habanero Oxkutzcab proved unsuited. It’s bulletproof and super productive with no downsides. It would almost be hubris not to grow: oh, you think you’re so good you don’t need the Goat at your back? It’s a good luck pepper.

4 Hot Paper Lantern, which I failed to see through last year. These have an almost universally excellent reputation, and in general sound like another pepper with all pros and no cons. I tend to like those! In addition, Johnny’s offers a yet more lauded version which was apparently the pride and joy of one of their breeders, Janika Eckert. I expect great things!

2 7 Pot Jonah, which I fully expect to regret growing. The capsaicinoids all over everything around processing time was a bit annoying last year. This year, I know to dedicate a separate cutting board and generally be more aware of the invisible menace which accumulated capsaicinoids become. Even so, I expect processing a superhot into sauce to be an ordeal. But I do want that sauce. I want a sauce in my repertoire which can make me think twice. Plus, I already thought of a good name.

2 Ají Charapita, which I grew from RFC seeds last year. I wasn’t sure if I would grow it again, but it’s lovely and compact, and looks amazing filled with glowing berries. We made a present of the single harvest of the single plant we grew, packed in vinegar, and it was both surprisingly beautiful and tasty. This seedline from Peter Merle was collected by him from a wild (or, I would suspect, naturalized) context along the Amazon, near Iquitos where the variety is common. I don’t expect it to be appreciably different to RFC’s, but the extra provenance is cool!

2 Redfire, also known as CAP 691. An enigmatic wild (or naturalized) red chinense which @Pr0digal_son described temptingly here. I’m hoping this has deciduous pods…

Capsicum baccatum​

4 CAP 455, which was the most productive pepper I grew last year, as well as the tastiest heatless red. The large jar of refrigerator pickles leftover has seen heavy use in chickpea salad sandwiches. I intend to devote a future season to more widely exploring baccatum, but this one is essential.

Capsicum frutescens​

4 Tabasco, which sure, yawn, but that unique flavor is still my absolute, must-have favorite on breakfast eggs. I’ll be surprised if I can make an acceptable substitute, but taking a shot at it will be my first fermented sauce project.

It’s a smaller grow than last year, in order to allow room for a burgeoning interest in herbs and a tentative branching out into other veg. As long as my choices work for purpose, it should all be more than enough!
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Here’s Ancho San Luis, which is nicely demonstrating the appearance of nutritionally happier, newer foliage against the malnourished, older:


I’m glad I chose the lighter green Bhüt Jolokia, they’re really striking:


Jalapeño Zapotec is looking strong and providing well:


Habanada, looking deceptively wicked:


But what really has me salivating are the Bahamian Goats, with nearly full-sized pods already:

It’s amazing how quickly they need staking. Always a good problem to have! Local supply led me to choose these spindly, bamboo ones this year. I was unsure at first, but after working with them today I actually like them better than the plastic-clad metal ones. Took a few photos as plants suggested themselves…

First, let’s check out the 7 Pots. (But thoroughburro, we only see 6 pots!) Nebru on the left, Jonah on the right:


It’s hard to capture in the photos how huge the Nebru are, for this early in the season, compared to all the other chinense — even compared to most of the annuum!

Nebru close-up, second plant from left above:



They’re starting to really put on the pods, too. On this individual, they are incredibly uniform in shape. The others are also remarkably consistent, but this one is freaky!

I haven’t shown any Jonah pods yet, so:


Just average production so far, but I shouldn’t need many! 😅

Bhüt Jolokia is stretching out and podding up impressively, too:


This is the shade tree group — four Haskorea in rear, four CAP 455 in front (culantro in between):


CAP 455 close-up:

Bolivian Rainbow (FS) is continuing to do well, and some more colors are showing up:



I have to say, despite the terrible germination problems and other gripes with getting this Fatalii Seeds version started, those marketing photos I fell in love with years ago were no lie — this is a truly beautiful plant.

Again, what sets it apart from the other rainbow-ripening types I’ve seen is the specific combination of chubby, blunt-tipped pods; softer, more pastel color phases; and a more typically-annuum, non-dwarfed, non-absurdly-branching habit.

I apologize for the lack of updates. Life stuff; nothing major. Was able to take more than the minimum time in the garden, today, so here are some photos!

I harvested the first round of Bahamian Goat on Jul 16:


It was enough for about 20 oz of hot sauce, most of which will go to my parents — they’ve been gratifyingly eager for this first batch since they ran out of their last bottle. Homemade sauce is back in the fridge!

The rest of the photos are from today.

Bolivian Rainbow:



The purple and ivory phases are quite long, followed by a short yellow phase, and a very short orange phase, before of course ending red. Nearly time to see if they’re off any use in the kitchen. They needn’t be, but it’d be a nice bonus.

My dream ornamental would be these pods plus white-green variegated foliage. I bet that would be a nightmare to stabilize, assuming the traits are even genetically compatible… still, doesn’t hurt to have a project. Hm!

Here’s the earliest of the Habanada:


3 of 4 Habanada are like that, true to type… but one, a cross with something (probably ghost pepper), ripens to red and is at least as spicy as a good habanero:


These weren’t isolated seeds, so no big surprise… probably won’t bother saving seeds it unless it really impresses.

The other bit of genetic interest is far more likely to be useful. First, here is our star Gogoşar Anileve (of 7):


And here is the oddball gogoşar:


I haven’t tasted one yet, but aside from color its traits are identical to the red ones. I’m hopeful it’ll be heatless, and if so that we’ll be able to stabilize a yellow gogoşar to grow along with the red each year.

The Zapotec Jalapeños are beginning to cork up properly:


Golden Cayenne is as compact and bushy as a chinense, at least in these buckets:


I’ll be harvesting and processing a few varieties, tomorrow. First up, the ghost peppers:


Then the much anticipated 7 Pot Nebru:



And finally 7 Pot Jonah:



My first supers… wish me luck! 😅
I water peppers, harvest ‘em, process ‘em… doesn’t leave much time for photos and commentary! 😵‍💫

7 Pots Nebru and Jonah:


That looks relatively balanced, but that’s the fourth harvest of Nebru and only the first of Jonah. In fact, Nebru has even been more productive than Bhüt Jolokia, of which this is the second harvest:


Also, Jonah has had many more pods which aborted, rotted, or just were too small to bother with. Maybe it will make an irresistible sauce (this first batch is frozen waiting for more), but I’m beginning to suspect I won’t grow it again. It’s not been bad at all, just unimpressive compared to the easy growing, productive, and beautiful ghost pepper.