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Seed Starting 2023 and Save the Date for our Plant Sale

February 1, 2023

Real gardeners are not letting grass grow under their feet; they are busy starting seeds. By starting seed indoors you can extend a plant’s growing season, scoop up new and varied varieties of seed rather than depending on garden center transplants, and maybe even save money. Packages of seeds are so much less expensive than transplants.

The Master Gardeners at Raincatchers Garden have seed starting operations in their homes.

This is Joe Armitage, Class of 2019, and his set up with LED lights. He started Tasmanian Chocolate and VR Moscow tomato seeds on 1/10/23.

Jackie James has a simple set up in her sunny window for seed starting and uses reading lamps to provide extra light.She enjoys up cycling take home containers. They work just as well as store bought trays with humidity domes for germination.Pimento peppers planted January 14th are already sprouting.

Peppers in production are:

Mad Hatter, Purple Jalapeno, Lemon Spice Jalapeno, Orange Spice Jalapeno, Aji Amarillo, Hot Hungarian Banana Pepper, Cherry Bomb, Pimento, Shishito, Fish Pepper, Hot Pops Purple Ornamental, Santos Orange Ornamental, Wicked Purple Ornamental. 

Sheila Kostleny has started pepper seeds for the North garden at Rainctcher’s and our plant sale. Sweet Jimmy Nardello, Northstar Hybrid, Gypsy Hybird, Habanada and Early Jalapeno are in production.  

As seen on the bottom rack, Sheila is trying paper towel germination for Marconi Sweet pepper, Tam Jalaepeno and Rainbow Blend Lunchbox Peppers.

Jim Dempsey uses a grow light with three trays and each tray holds two 72 count seed trays. He planted the peppers around January 18 and plans to start tomatoes in the next few days. Next he will plant flower seeds.

Jim has a total of 175 peppers in this tray.

These seedlings will be potted up and planted at The Raincatcher’s Garden in the spring. Many varieties will also be sold at our plant sale in May.

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2005, with input from Beverly Allen

NEWS-OUR PLANT SALE AT THE RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN IS SCHEDULED FOR MAY 4TH!

Glorious Gardening in The North Field

December 2, 2022

Joy in the garden and what to expect in your fall and winter gardens:

Our gardeners who work in the gardens pictured are called the “vegetable team.” Beverly writes-I have been thinking about the gratitude the vegetable team has for the harvests we have donated. (over 675 pounds donated) When we are trying a variety that is new to us, we taste it-often as a part of lunch before we go home from our workday. I’m grateful for that fellowship.  I’m also grateful for the gardeners who start seeds for us at their homes. 

The loofah and Zucchino Rampicante (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) escaped the raised beds and trellises after the worst of the summer heat was over. The loofah seeds were saved from a prior year and direct sowed. 
Aji Dulce peppers are mild and productive. They become very sweet when allowed to turn red. Our seeds were a gift and we save them from year to year.  They are becoming easier to find at some of the specialty seed outlets.

We planted small varieties of carrots such as “Little Finger” from Botanical Interests and kept the soil consistently moist until they germinated.  

Even though garden centers have turned their inventory to Christmas trees, you can still find lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and herb transplants. Also, keep direct sowing radishes.  You may get a wonderful winter crop of vitamin packed vegetables. 

Ann Lamb and Beverly Allen, 2 Dallas County Master Gardeners

Pictures by Starla Willis, Dallas County Master Gardener-2008

Pepper Palooza at the Raincatcher’s Plant Sale

We made a decision last year to fill the courtyard at Raincatcher’s garden in 2022 with lots of pepper plants.  Some of the peppers will be grown to use in our very popular pepper jellies but several of the ones we selected are for ornamental purposes.  Ornamental peppers are safe to eat but they are typically used for their attractive color or ornamental quality rather than their flavor.  They are often considered too hot to eat by most people.  

Fish Pepper

A favorite ornamental pepper that you will see growing in the courtyard is the Fish pepper.   Last summer, we fell in love with this pepper plant growing in the edible garden.  In fact, most visitors to the garden asked us about this plant because it is so unusual and beautiful.  The Fish pepper is an African-American heirloom variety that dates back to the 1800’s. It is a large plant and the leaves range from fully white to part green and fully green.  I can testify to the fact that the peppers on this plant pack a lot of heat as I was asked to try it in preparation for the pepper class that was taught at the garden last summer!!!  

Fidalgo Roxa

Fidalgo Roxa is a pepper plant from Brazil and is considered to be “one of a kind.”  The flowers are white and purple and the plant will eventually be loaded with purple, pink and apricot colored peppers.  It is described to have a fruity flavor that is in the upper mid heat range.

  

Cherry Bomb

Cherry Bomb (AKA Hot Cherry Pepper) is another variety that we chose to grow this year.  It is a beautiful compact plant with brilliant red cherry-like peppers.  Despite its name, this pepper is described as having a heat level close to a mild jalapeno – medium heat with a sweet taste.  The pepper is fleshy and juicy and can be used as a substitute for jalapenos, in vinegars and is good for stuffing and pickling.  

 

Shishito Pepper

Shishito pepper is a Japanese pepper variety that is very trendy right now.  They are easy to grow and yield a lot of fruit in a short period of time.  The plants are compact and do well in containers.  They have thin skin which makes them perfect for quick frying, roasting and grilling.  The pepper is considered to be mildly spicy but occasionally you might find one that really packs a punch!  

Aji Dulce pepper

And back by popular demand, we have grown more of the Aji Dulce peppers for the sale this year.  This is a fun plant with red and green lantern shaped peppers.  They are sweet and can be used in many recipes.  If you read the article I wrote for this blog last year, you will remember that the seeds came from Puerto Rico from my good friend Paco.  We have had several requests for this “Paco” pepper plant from people who bought and grew this plant last year!!!   

The Raincatcher’s plant sale is on Thursday, May 19, 2022 from 10 AM – 3 PM at Midway Hills Christian Church (11001 Midway Road, Dallas 75229).  You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity to fill your yard with beautiful and useful pepper plants.  Other pepper varieties will also be available along with many annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, yuccas, ground covers, etc.  Hope to see you there!!!  

Jackie James, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 1993

Aji Dulce – Paco’s Peppers

April 29, 2021

This article is about my friend Paco.  We met on a pickleball court 5 or 6 years ago and have been good friends ever since.  The first time I stepped into his backyard, I discovered we had something other than pickleball in common – gardening!  Paco is from Puerto Rico and he has turned his backyard into a tropical paradise.  Last year at a summer pool party, I noticed a pepper plant with small, wrinkly looking red and green peppers.  He explained that he collected the seeds from peppers he got in Puerto Rico because it is an important ingredient for sofrito.  I left the party with a baggie full of seeds.

The Aji Dulce peppers (Capsicum Chinese) are small, sweet peppers.  They have the shape and size of a habanera pepper but without the heat.  They start out light to dark green and eventually turn red and orange if left on the plant to mature.  Aji Dulce is used to season dishes in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba.  My research found that in Puerto Rico, it is most commonly used in sofrito (which translates to stir fry or sauté in English).  It is a perennial in the tropics but is an annual here.  

With the seeds Paco gave me last year, we have been able to start a number of these pepper plants for the Raincatcher’s Garden annual plant sale which will be held at the garden on Thursday, May 13th.  I am looking forward to growing a couple of these plants myself this summer and will be looking up sofrito recipes once I get a good crop going!  

This plant goes by several names.  In Puerto Rico it is know as aji dulce, ajicito or ajies.  In the Dominican Rebuplic it is called aji gustoso and in Cuba it is aji cachucha. To me, this plant will always and simply be referred to as Paco’s peppers!  

Jackie James

Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 1993 

We will be posting more details on this blog about the May 13th plant sale in the near future.  

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