Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘pepper’

A Pepper for the Fog

Rocoto Pepper

Rocoto Pepper

I think I’ve mentioned before that our garden is in one of the foggier micro-climates of the Bay Area, so a lot of the classic summer veggies are hard for us to grow. A few things like peppers and tomatoes are too important to give up on, so we’ve tried different varieties to find out what might work best. We seem to have found the right pepper for our garden. We’ve been getting a bumper crop of peppers from our Rocoto, Capsicum pubescens, sometimes known as the Peruvian Tree Pepper.
It doesn’t seem to need the heat that other peppers do. It’s our third year since we bought it as a 4″ at Annie’s. The first year I just potted it up, no fruit. The second year, after I transplanted it into the garden in the spring, it looked unhappy for several months, and then recovered at the end of the summer to put out maybe two dozen small peppers. This year we’ve had all-we-can-eat peppers since mid-June, and the plant shows no sign of slowing. We’ve been harvesting them green, when they have a nice pepper flavor and medium heat; three or four green ones in a sauce make it noticeably hot, but not fiery. A lot of people wait until they turn red and very hot, but not me. My stomach still remembers a plate of stuffed and baked ones that I ate in Peru thirteen years ago.
So far, I’ve just let it grow without pruning or shaping, and it has become a leggy seven footer without much ornamental presence. I’ve seen bushier, self-supporting ones in sunnier sites, but ours definitely needs the bamboo poles to keep it upright.

Our Rocoto staked to a Bamboo Tepee

Our Rocoto staked to a Bamboo Tepee

There’s a devoted website, rocoto.com, by a Bay Area enthusiast, with recipes and photos and info about growing them.


Our garden is smack in the middle of the Bay Area fog belt, so we are marginal for every heat-loving plant. We don’t even try to grow bell peppers, but we get good harvests of poblanos every year. We grow it with an ugly blue plastic bag and bottles of water around it to give it as much heat as possible. I’m not sure how much it helps, but we harvested a fistful of small peppers on New Year’s Day, so I’ll be putting the bag and bottles out next year too.

ryan 1/2