“right plant right place.” it’s a mantra for landscape designers and ornamental gardeners. failure to place a plant in a suitable spot can result in higher maintenance, excessive watering, and a general failure to thrive. the wrong plant can be one that is much more prone to native insect species, or one that isn’t disease resistant or reliably hardy. or simply a plant that prefers shade planted in the sun, or vice versa.
all that said, this is usually not a concern for vegetable gardeners. for example, i know heirloom tomatoes like cherokee purple and speckled roman are more susceptible to pests and disease, but i plant them anyway, because i love the flavor. and i plant so many tomato plants that by this time of year i’m almost relieved when my more delicate varieties start to give up the ghost. if you have the room, as i do, you can easily make up for the shortcomings of some varieties by just planting more.
however, for some reason the bell pepper variety “california wonder” has become the standard plant for new england gardens, and i’m beginning to wonder why. i’ve grown this variety for years, simply, i think, out of inertia. i spend so much time picking just the right tomato varieties that i don’t have the bandwidth to worry about the pepper plants, and i just grab the easiest, most common seed to start. and i’ve always wondered what i’m doing wrong… why i never get ripe peppers till practically first frost in october. i’ve scoured pepper growing websites and vegetable guides for pepper-growing tips and tricks, all to no avail. i still wind up every year with 3 or 4 ripe peppers, if i’m lucky, by october.
well, this year i decided it was time to rethink that whole approach. i scoured the totally tomatoes catalog (who, contrary to their name, carries lots of great pepper varieties) for any bell pepper variety that was labelled “early.”
i wound up buying four peppers: early sunsation hybrid, north star hybrid, chablis hybrid, and king arthur hybrid.
eureka! i’ve been picking ripe peppers since july. i picked one gigantic yellow pepper from the early sunsation plant last month that had to have weighed 2 pounds. the chablis has been producing peppers since june. suffice it to say i’m never going back to planting california wonder.
just goes to show you that the expression “right plant right place” belongs in the vegetable gardener’s lexicon too.
UPDATE: great minds think alike. this is a photo from a fellow garden club member, who also looked for early peppers. this is a variety called “big early.”