Peppers one of my favourite vegetables! They are native to Central and South America and were grown extensively by the Aztecs. Seeds have been found that date back to 7000 BC. Columbus thought he had tasted black pepper, which was really pricey at that time. But the spiciness was due to the hot peppers. This is caused by the alkaloid capsaicin and measured in Scoville units.
Plant your pepper starts (baby plants) when they start to get flowers, this is a common mistake a lot of people make. The plants should be planted 12″ apart. I like to wait a few weeks after the last day of frost, I find it gets warmer and the peppers are happier, up here in Canada.
Capsaicin increases blood flow and is actually used in muscle liniments. It helps to fight a hangover, prevents and helps to relieve bronchitis and emphysema, stimulates endorphins which reduce pain and also create a feeling of well being. Who knew right?
Pepper’s best friends are tomatoes, okra, and basil. Plant them with some friends so you can have lots of peppers this summer.
I feel obligated to mention that hot peppers can burn your skin. Just in case you have been so lucky as to not have been burned before. I worked in a restaurant once where this guy was making suicide sauce, he went to the bathroom and didn’t wash his hands good enough…you can imagine. While we all found it super funny, I am sure he did not. Wear gloves, just do it.