Peter pepper- the dirtiest pepper in the garden

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A few years back I got a couple of seeds of the unusually shaped chili pepper which after first sowing became one of my favorite peppers and a display pepper which brings giggles from each person that sees it.

Peter pepper (often called Chilli Willy) is becoming a well-known ornamental pepper, mostly used as a funny gift because of its…khm… particular shape. The resemblance with a male anatomical part is pretty astonishing. This Capiscum annuum is a bit wrinkled with a big “head” and a cleft on top. It dangles down from the plant and when you consider its size of 6-13cm(2-5in) it is no wonder that it makes people laugh. The plant reaches 60cm (23in) in height, it’s 50cm(19in) wide and it’ carries dozens of different sized peppers.

 Although it’s mostly sown for its funny shape, this pepper tastes excellent. It is a medium-hot pepper reaching from 10 000 to 23 000 SHU, not for every person because it can be up to 10 times hotter than Jalapeño. I personally don’t consider it too hot because I eat pickled Naga but for someone who likes milder hotness this pepper could be a real challenge.Its taste is a bit crisp similar to Jalapeño but a bit sweeter and a lot hotter. It can be used similar to Jalapeño and Serano peppers, fresh, frozen, or dried for powder, but it’s also great pickled. The seeds are located at the top so there is no need to clean them before pickling. The only problem with pickled ones that aren’t sliced is that they will fill up with vinegar so you have to be careful not to squirt yourself in the eye while eating it (no pun intended).
Sowing Peter pepper is done the same way as every other chili peppers. The difference is that this seeds are pretty hard to find. This peppers are very rarely sold in stores, there are maybe a few companies that produce this pepper in hobby packs but they are hard to find. Seeds are available online directly from gardeners that grow them so this is basically the only way to get them.
Peter pepper is sown into pots from January till April, it can be started first in zip lock bags, or containers with wet cotton or paper, but it can be also sown directly into pots. When sowing them make sure that they aren’t covered with too much soil, up to 1cm(0.3in) is more than enough, space between seedlings should be around 5cm((1.9in). Also, make sure that you keep your pots in a temperature over 18°C(64°F). Plants can be transplanted to the garden after the last frost date which in my case is May, 15th.

It can be grown in larger pots throughout the year without any problems, it will need daily amounts of water, a good quality soil, but it will not need extra fertilization.

As for the diseases I haven’t noticed any disease on my peppers although I’m pretty sure it would catch blight if it were close to the very infected field. I haven’t sprayed my peppers with anything and they weren’t sick in these few years although we had some hard years. Aphids and mites also seem to avoid it, even when I had all of my potted peppers infected Peter pepper was one of the rare ones that didn’t have any pests on them.
Peter pepper takes up to 90 days to fruit so it needs to be started pretty early. Harvest usually lasts from July till October or the first frost.  I have to say that my first peppers never came before August. They do grow pretty early but the ripe process is very long. Peppers slowly start changing their color from light green to dark green and red at the end.

They can be harvested as green peppers, they will have their normal flavor they just won’t be as hot as they would be if they were harvested completely red. If you plan to harvest them for pickling I would recommend harvesting them before they ripe completely because they will stay firm and will have an even more crispy texture when eaten.

 So if you are looking for a medium-hot pepper or just pepper to have a funny display in the garden Peter pepper is a great choice. 

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