Pepper is Piqued - Sun Scald on Peppers

| 8/10/2012 8:32:50 AM

A photo of Shannon SaiaI’m convinced that Pepper has found my Vegetable Lover’s Diary. Why else would he be in such a snit all of a sudden? Sure his neighbors the tomatoes all have blossom end rot, so they’re getting a lot of attention lately, and maybe I do step over Pepper on my way to them, and okay so that one time I made a crack about how incredibly long it takes for his fruit to ripen, but hey, it was just a passing comment, and I’m okay with it. I really am. But what I am not okay with is these streaks of soft whiteness that are appearing on his otherwise lovely, elongated fruits.   

If you ask me, it’s pure temper. 

 I have never written a confession about Pepper. It’s not that I don’t love Pepper. I do! I particularly love Jalapeño, and yet there was a moment this year – just a moment – that I almost allowed a Jalapeño-less summer to unfold. It wasn’t my fault. It was because this stinking little rabbit found his way into the garden and ate the tops off of four of my pepper plants when they were still getting themselves established. And I didn’t know, at the time, for sure, that both of the Jalapeños were among the victims. Still, I have to admit that I suspected it. And I also have to admit that when I was in Big Box, browsing for peppers and squash plants to replace the damaged ones, I bought Carmen. I bought Anaheim. I bought Mini-Bell. But I did not buy Jalapeño. I tried to explain it to him. It was because I knew he would come back. I had already seen the tiny new leaves forming. But I think he has made a few pointed to comments to Anaheim and to Mini Chocolate Bell, and that they’ve all arranged some kind of protest against me.  

The thing that I hate about having to Google descriptions to see what’s wrong with any plant is that all too often it turns out not to be some disease that is beyond my control, but the result of some kind of relationship problem, by which I mean to say that so many things are my fault. The nutrients aren’t right. Or they’re not getting enough water. Or they’re getting too much water. Take blossom end rot. The first time I saw blossom end rot on my gorgeous heirloom tomato plants, I freaked out! I mean, there are all of those beautiful, ripening, multi-colored fruits, and whenever I would reach for one…well, it was kind of like a scene in a horror movie, or a nightmare, playing in slow motion. The tomato is a deep, rich, ripe-red. It’s hanging heavily from the vine. You’re coming at it from an angle at which it looks perfect. You reach for it. Your fingers get closer. Then your perspective shifts, ever so slightly, and barely a moment after it’s too late to prevent it, you see the flattened bottom of the fruit, and instead of a handful of luscious swell, you sink your fingers up to the first knuckle in mush. Can’t you just hear the Psycho music in your head right now?  

I hate mush. 

Before you know it, instead of harvesting tomatoes for your next meal, you’re running around the garden flicking the ones that are affected down onto the ground – and they’re all affected, and you go back inside with nothing but a shame-face. 

S.M.R. Saia
8/13/2012 11:48:40 AM

Dave, I agree with you. It's definitely been a strange gardening year. My tomatoes are in a slump too. They never really took off this year. I've already pulled up half my plants and usually I have tomatoes until September. The trees are starting to drop leaves here a bit too, and every time they do I think, already? It doesn't feel like fall is coming on here, but I can kind of feel it inside, you know? Maybe it's just being tired of summer and heat! Thanks for reading!

8/11/2012 1:37:42 PM

Shannon, the only peppers I grew this year was the bell peppers. When I planted them they all went into wilt mode and stayed there for a couple months. No growth and wilted. All my gardener friends said the same thing happened to theirs as well. Finally toward the end of July they started growing and setting peppers. I expect in another week or two I might have peppers. It's been a strange gardening year for sure. Some of my tomatoes had bottom rot but most have been glorious. The tomatoes have kind went into a slump. There are plenty of green tomatoes but none are ripening. I'm not exactly sure why that's happening. Signs of approaching fall surrounds us here in Nebraska. The trees are beginning to drop leaves. I suspect it's to survive the drought. Less leaves means less water evaporation. At least we are getting some heat relief. The temps are in the 80s during the day and the 60s during the night. That will probably begin the fall cycle for the garden. Have a great day wooing the peppers in garden.

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