I recently moved into a condo, and there is plenty of room to do some growing out on the balcony. The balcony faces east, so it gets a lot of direct sunlight from sunrise until about 1-2 PM. The balcony gets quite warm, so I will grow some plants that like the heat: peppers!
I grew Golden Marconi peppers a few years ago, and the yield and taste were very good. I will also grow the Snapper variety, which is another bell pepper variety. Neither of these peppers are considered ‘hot’.
Jun 19 = Day 0. Plants started from seed: Golden Marconi (Baker Creek), Snapper (Park Seed). Seeds (3) sowed into one 1.5 inch rockwool cube in 2 inch net-pot. Moistened with Seedling Blend, a dilute blend of fertilizers. N-P-K (in ppm): 22-12-13. Covered with plastic wrap until seeds have germinated.
Jun 29 = Day 10. Seeds are germinating. Placed in a sunny window for 4 hours per day, and then under a fluorescent light (spiral bulb, 23W, color = 6500k) for 8 hours per day. The bulb emits a lot of heat, so the bulb is positioned 7-8 inches above the plants.
Jul 9 = Day 20. Plants transferred to small plastic jars containing 3 cups of Regular-Strength Blend. N-P-K (in ppm): 103-41-168.
The plants receive about 4 hours of sunlight in the morning, and then they are supplemented with a fluorescent light bulb for an additional 8 hours in the afternoon. My set-up is not fancy, I just use a clip-on light from my local hardware store.
Jul 19 = Day 30. Installed plants into 5-gallon buckets containing Regular-Strength Blend. N-P-K (in ppm): 103-41-168. The plants are placed outside on my balcony. I have been putting them outside for a few hours each day to try to harden them up, but they still tend to wilt in full sun, so I will use a 70% shade cloth for the first few weeks.
Aug 7 = Day 49. The plants are growing quickly now, and are starting to produce flowers. Since the plants are starting to get tall, garden tape was used to secure them to the metal cages. I took the shade cloth off the plants to expose them to full sun, but my outdoor growing location is just too hot (90-100 °F), and all leaves became wilted within 1 hour! So I reinstalled the shade cloth, and the plants are OK now.
Aug 26 = Day 68. The plants are getting tall, so the shade cloth was completely removed. There are several flowers on each of the plants. Upon lifting the buckets, I can tell that there is very little fluid remaining, so I added fresh fluid (Regular-Strength Blend) to each plant: Golden Marconi (1 gallon), Snapper (1.5 gallons).
Aug 30 = Day 72. Added Regular-Strength Blend (1.5 gallons) to each plant.
Sep 3 = Day 76. Added Regular-Strength Blend (2 gallons) to each plant.
Sep 12 = Day 85. Added Regular-Strength Blend (2 gallons) to each plant. Lots of peppers are now developing on both plants.
Sep 20 = Day 93. Added Regular-Strength Blend (1.5 gallons) to each plant.
Sep 30 = Day 103. Added Regular-Strength Blend to each plant: Golden Marconi (2.5 gallons), Snapper (1.5 gallons). A few of the Golden Marconi peppers were showing signs of sunscald (too much direct sun exposure), so some of the exposed peppers were loosely wrapped in foil to prevent further sun damage.
Oct 7 = Day 110. Harvested 3 Golden Marconi peppers.
Oct 15 = Day 118. Added Regular-Strength Blend (1.5 gallons) to each plant. Harvested 1 Golden Marconi and 5 Snappers.
Oct 19 = Day 122. Harvested 2 Golden Marconi peppers.
Oct 22 = Day 125. Harvested 3 Golden Marconis and 4 Snappers. This was the last of the Snapper peppers, but the Golden Marconi still has several peppers ripening on the plant.
Oct 28 = Day 131. Harvested 2 Golden Marconi peppers.
Oct 29 = Day 132. Added Regular-Strength Blend to each plant: Golden Marconi (1.5 gallons), Snapper (1 gallon).
Nov 10 = Day 144. Harvested the final 6 Golden Marconi peppers of the season. Even though there is plenty of fluid remaining in the buckets, the plants are looking poor and are losing leaves. Plants were discarded at this time. Approximately 1 gallon of fluid remained in each bucket.
Total harvest for each plant: Golden Marconi = 17 peppers, Snapper = 9 peppers.
Total fluid used by each plant: Golden Marconi = 17.5 gallons, Snapper = 16.5 gallons.
The Golden Marconi and Snapper peppers turned out great. Juicy, crispy, and sweet. I enjoy slicing them up and cooking them on top of a pizza:
Another great way to use peppers is to include them in Quinoa Salad:
3.5 cups water
2 cups dried quinoa
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 large bell pepper, diced. (I normally use a yellow, orange or red pepper. Today I used 2 Golden Marconi and 2 Snapper peppers.)
1 English cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
Boil water in a pot on High heat, then add the quinoa and turn down to Low heat. Cover and simmer for 10-13 minutes, until quinoa is cooked and has absorbed all the water. Quickly cool the quinoa by either spreading it out on a large plate and placing in the fridge, or by surrounding the whole pot of cooked quinoa in a larger vessel of ice water. Set this aside.
To toast the pine nuts, add the nuts to a small frying pan or skillet. Cook on a stove over Medium heat. As the pan gets warm, keep stirring the pine nuts until they are toasted (takes about 5 minutes). Do not let them burn! Then, put the pine nuts on a plate to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, and cilantro (just the leaves, no stems). Squeeze the juice of the lime over the mixture.
In a separate cup, combine the olive oil and vinegar. Stir vigorously with a fork until it forms an emulsion. Then stir in the salt and black pepper. Pour this dressing over the cut vegetables and mix.
Add the cooled quinoa and the toasted pine nuts, mix, and enjoy! Makes about 8 servings.