Hello Hot Gardening…
Hot peppers offer wonderful variety both for culinary creation and cultivation. Jalapeño peppers are a popular choice for home cultivation because they live in the medium range of the Scoville “heat” scale for peppers, which makes them a versatile ingredient for many dishes.
We share some important tips below for growing jalapeños; follow them and you’ll be provided with abundant yields of this popular chili to share with family and friends.
The jalapeño pepper is without argue the most popular variety of chili pepper around the world. The name “jalapeño” comes from the region where it was originally grown, Xalapa, Veracruz. Jalapeños originated in Mexico, but they are now grown globally due to high demand. It adds heat to dishes, but it’s not so hot as to be unpleasant for most people to eat. In fact, many think it’s “just right” in terms of spiciness.
Jalapeño peppers can be used in a variety of ways. They are often hollowed out and stuffed with seafood, chopped poultry or cheese, and baked to a soft consistency. They can be pickled and used as a spicy condiment for tacos, hamburgers, and other foods. They are often sliced and used in Mexican and Vietnamese dishes, as well as chopped up and added to salsa recipes and chili recipes. They can also be made into a flavorful hot pepper jelly. Their versatility in the kitchen makes jalapeños the perfect choice for home gardening.
The jalapeño pepper is rated between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale, which puts them in the “medium” range of intensity. The Scoville scale was developed by an American pharmacist in 1912. The scale measures the amount of capsaicin, the component that produces the pungent heat in peppers. The “medium” intensity of jalapeños makes them easy to incorporate into many dishes. It’s a terrific chili to experiment with in the kitchen.
How to grow jalapeños
Growing jalapeños will provide a leafy and attractive plant, full of red and green peppers, that makes it an interesting addition to any garden area. Jalapeño pepper plants will thrive if you provide a few critical conditions:
- Jalapeño plants dislike the cold; so wait until outdoor temperatures stay between 65 at night and 75 to 85 during the day to ensure that they do not fail.
- You can start plants from seed indoors about 8 to 12 weeks before transplanting them outdoors. You can also purchase started plants from your local garden center.
- Plant in an area that gets sunlight most of the day. Jalapeños thrive on light.
- Plant in a well-draining potting mix that contains plenty of organic material.
- Space plants 14 to 16 inches apart to allow good air circulation. This measure will help to prevent mold and fungus growth on plants.
- Keep the soil moist but not wet. Jalapeño plants can tolerate some drought, but the plant will produce more peppers if moisture is available.
- Use a plant cage or other support when pepper yield becomes heavy.
When to pick jalapeños
A mature plant will grow to two to three feet tall and will produce thirty to forty pepper pods. Jalapeños can be picked when they reach about two to three inches long or when they develop “stress stripes” on the exterior flesh. The pepper pods can be picked multiple times during the growing season. You can pick jalapeño peppers either when they are green or after they turn red.
Green jalapeños are slightly crisper, but slightly milder in heat. Jalapeños are usually used when they are green, but waiting until the redness develops can provide a subtle sweetness and a bump to their medium-intensity heat. The mix of red and green peppers also provides an attractive presentation for dishes.