Growing Pepper Trees
Getting a taste of the islands
Here in the Bahamas one of the things that the natives love which have passed down from generation to generation is eating foods that have that extra spice. Now while it may be ok at times to give your foods that added spice
be very careful because overuse of this can cause some health issues. Some of the foods that the islanders love include, jerk pork, jerk chicken, crack conch, conch salad just to name a few. But without those peppers, this would be impossible.
In the past, I have had my share of spicy and believe me the spicy taste was awesome but had me reaching for a glass of water to cool my mouth sometimes going for a glass of milk because milk tops the list that can bring fast relief to a burning mouth. The Islanders just love peppers.
Growing pepper trees
As a kid, I had many gardens and what made me so proud was to see all of the veggies that I grew with my own hands, now as a kid that is a very big accomplishment. Some of the veggies I grew were corn, peas, okras and of course peppers.
The peppers that we grow on the island is called bird and goat peppers. Bird peppers are much smaller but don’t mind the size because they can really pack a punch. Goat peppers are bigger. There are so many peppers that are grown worldwide but for us, it’s bird and goat peppers.
I was surprised to discover that, birds such as ring doves and baka doves make a meal out of these hot peppers by swallowing them.
Taking a stroll down memory lane, planting those pepper trees
This is how I planted peppers as a kid and it is still done this way today. Some natives may give it a bit of a twist but the basic still applies.
1. You can plant directly in the soil or 1 -gallon growers pot.
2. Look for a sunny location to plant your seeds.
3. Soil should be a good garden soil, the garden that I had as a kid had that good old garden soil.
4. If planting seeds directly in the ground, plant seeds spaced in rows of about 6 inches apart.
5. When planting seeds in the ground or growers pot, plants seeds at a deep of no more than 2-2 1/2 inches in the soil.
6. Make sure and give the soil a good soaking, do not allow the soil to completely dry out. Keep the soil somewhat moist.
7. You should see plant emerging from soil in about a week to a week and a half.
8. When the plant reaches 2-3 feet peppers should appear.
10. Peppers are ready to harvest when they turn from deep green to orange, red, bright green or a mixture of these colours.
Pest problem of a pepper tree
There is nothing like having unwanted guess that seeks to make a meal out of your hard work. 1. Caterpillars are a major problem of pepper trees, They don’t eat the peppers but they will eat the leaves. The ones that invaded my garden were fat and green. A good way to control them is hand picking and dropping them in a container or bucket of soap and water
This will eliminate them keeping your pepper tree safe. This is also a safe way without the use of harmful chemicals.
2. Another problem that you may encounter is spider mites, signs include spider web on plant leaves, the leaves take on a somewhat of a dusty appearance. If you hold a piece of white paper under the leaves and gently tap, you will see brown-black dots moving around also you may feel them crawling on your skin.
Use a teaspoon of dish liquid to a gallon of water, place solution in a 32oz spray bottle and apply to the top and underside of the leaves. Spray to the point of runoff, also the spray should come out of the spray bottle nozzle in a fine mist, not coarse droppings or you can apply organic insecticides, for more on this have a look at organic gardening.
3. Other problems may include whiteflies and mealybugs, you can follow direction as discussed with number 2 on this list. Here is more information that is very useful. Garden pest and pest control and Pest control methods.
The final word
It is alright to add a little spice to your life by giving your foods that extra flavour. So plant a pepper tree and get a taste of the islands.