Not Such Hot Stuff

  Peter Peppers 10-5-10 004_edited-1

Guest Post by Sandra Knauf of Greenwoman Zine

I realize it's not a nice thing to complain about, with the prurient overtones and all, but I'm disappointed. 
My peter peppers don't look like they are supposed to!
Go ahead and be disgusted. Judge me. I can't help who I am. A naughty, curious gardener. One who is into the weird stuff. 
But I grew these peppers, it took a lot of work, and I had expectations.
It all started last summer when a friend forwarded me an e-mail about "Peter Peppers" — peppers that looked like . . . you know. I LOL'd back to the sender. Then I scoffed. These aren't real. What a scam.
I looked them up. They were real. Capsicum annuum var. 'Peter.' Native to Louisiana and Texas. Mildly hot, 100-plus days to maturity. Some red, some yellow. Good yields of 3-4" long x 1-1½ " wide fruits (the forward claimed they grew up to 18"!)
Native, kinky, spicy . . . I had to have these peppers! Since my garden budget is almost nil I thought I'd check eBay for these rare seeds–and I found some! The seller was Organzmopeppers (the name referring to the fact that the seeds are organic, for those of us with dirty minds) and the seller had an excellent rating. Thirty seeds, fresh, grown in the U.S.A., organic, under three bucks. What a deal.
Seeds can be frustrating. You order them in early spring, wait for them to arrive, and then you wait some more. When it's time to finally start them indoors (I live in Colorado), you fret to see if they'll germinate (peppers can take weeks). When they do, you worry that you'll miss a watering or they'll get some terrible disease and die as babies. More long, anxious weeks go by before they're big enough to plant in the garden. And then, more waiting to see what you have. Almost a year of waiting! It's worse than being a kid at Christmas.
Simultaneously, I'm thinking, is what I'm doing . . . wrong?  Now that I'm in my 40s, I am sorry to say the illicit excitement of many things has been largely replaced by responsible, boring, grown-up guilt. This was my first year at the neighborhood community garden. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this. Of course I imagine blatant, huge, fire-engine red peppers springing up and jutting out for all the gardeners to see. However, growing older also brings wisdom.  I had given seedlings to some girlfriends gardening there, so I wouldn't be seen as the only perv.
All summer, the endless build up . . . and then . . . the harvest.  Small, wrinkly, weird.  Interesting for sure, but not the showstopper I hoped for.  I secretly wanted excitement. A hot garden scandal. I imagined a fellow gardener bringing a small child to the garden and I would have to dash, throw a blanket over my produce, yell, "Oh no! Keep away!"
Instead, these. The size was about right. Good flavor, like a milder jalapeno. Useful, but . . .  I ponder. Those pictures on the Internet, and I saw a few, were those mutants, and mine the norm? Was this a hoax after all? Or were mine the mutants, the progeny of a genetic dud? Or, could it have been something else, say, a metaphysical element, too much female energy in the community garden?  
Finally, a thought that soothes.  Since mine are not obscene, maybe they're more marketable, more acceptable.  Maybe my peppers are better!
Capsicum annuum 'Wrinkled Wonders' anyone?


  1. Guy I worked for in TN grew these and kept them going from his own seeds. He definitely got a good number of um…nice specimens. I like the too much female energy theory, well that or the seed batch was cross pollinated.

  2. a “hot garden scandal” – I love it! Couldn’t we all use one of those once in a while? sorry they didn’t live up to their potential!

  3. I grew three peter pepper plants this red peter…purchased the seeds from and two yellow that I found at my local mom and pop gardening center of all places. They all have done pretty well, producing some peppers that had me and the wife cracking up. I think the seeds you purchased were cross pollinated…bummer

  4. Ack! My ancho pepper plants bombed this year. Last year they were fantastico – I figured I must be some sort of pepper prodigy; this year I planted MORE peppers and over fed them. End result? All plant with stunted little balls of nothing that claimed to be peppers. The shame of it all.

  5. I know I am a bit late to the pepper party, but this was a great post. Very descriptive and fun. I never heard of this pepper, but am sure going to Google it now.

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