The cold days of winter are perfect for planning a summer garden. Seed catalogs start to roll in soon after the holidays, and with no green to be seen outside, our eyes grow bigger while looking at the beautiful pictures of summer vegetables. Last winter was especially fun for us to plan our garden. Our daughter was born in the middle of February, so perusing seed catalogs during those last few weeks helped me keep my sanity.
As we put together our seed order and wish list, my husband saw paprika peppers. We had never thought of growing and drying our own paprika. But, what did we have to lose? We ordered our seeds, my husband built a seed-starting table, and our dreams and tummies had us thinking of the bounty that would await in the fall.
After failing to harden our plants off properly and a late-season freeze, we were convinced our plants were doomed. But, they bounced back big and strong. Our paprika plants were the best-looking peppers in our garden.
Since the peppers were ripening at various rates, we would pick the ones that were ripe and keep them until we had enough to dry. Since we don't have a dehydrator, we used our oven on its lowest setting to dry the peppers.
We were looking forward to a big harvest in the fall, as our plants were loaded with peppers. But, our white-tailed friends thought that they needed them more and we lost the rest of the harvest. We were happy we dried what we could and saved them in our pantry until the time came when we needed some paprika.
A few weeks ago, during one of the many cold snaps this winter, we decided to grind some up for chili. We pulled out our food processor and got to work. The smell took me back to the warm days of summer. And there was no comparison to store-bought paprika!
If you like growing peppers in your garden, think about planting a few paprika plants. We plan to expand this year and grow some cayenne peppers as well. And we hope to invest in a dehydrator as well. What's your favorite herb or seasoning to grow?