• John R

More Pepper Dreams

This year one thing we grew successfully was chili peppers. We had what I’d call an overabundance of chili peppers—overabundance in Schiddyspeak defined as “more than three of anything.”

So with success warm on my heart like a puppy snuggled in a chest carrier, I have developed helpful guidelines for growing and harvesting chilies:


Guideline One: Do not touch your genitals after handling chilies.

Based on my personal experience, this is very important, especially if you are handling chilies while consuming adult beverages because those are exactly the kind of beverages that prompt nature calls and unfortunate memory lapses with regards to Guideline One.


Guideline Two: Do not touch your eyes after handling chilies.

Have you ever run around the kitchen screaming and then unnaturally contorted your body in order to get your face under a kitchen sink faucet so you could run a gusher of cold tap water directly into your eyeball? Yeah, me too.


Guideline Three: Like luggage at the airport carousel, many chilies look alike so don’t plant your chilies too close together or confusion may ensue.


We made a nice raised bed for growing chilies, and in retrospect I’d say it’s the ideal size for perhaps a dozen chili plants. We planted 34. (I say “we” so I can drag Deb into the conversation and perhaps create a little confusion as to culpability). Call it a cacophony of chilies. They grew all higgly piggly, with branches woven into each other and fruits of uncertain origin dangling all over. Is that a ripening UFO dolma? Maybe a chilhuacle? Nothing seemed to conform to the little I.D. markers we stuck in the dirt. [editor’s note: don’t forget to insert a cheesy emoticon here]


So I began tasting just-harvested chilies to see if I could tell what from what. I nipped little slices and munched them, sipping beer to cleanse my palette between morsels. Mostly they were like crunchy beer with a grassy aftertaste.


Then I tried a habanero. Clarification: an extremely potent habanero. If I had made a positive I.D. of this little pepper prior to sampling it, I might have proceeded in a less cavalier fashion. But, being ignorant in so many ways, I popped a piece about the size of a dime.


It was like chomping down on a lava bomb. Immediately my brain threw some kind of emergency switch that reduced my involuntary nervous system to a single imperative: “Save yourself!” My tongue tried to escape but found itself hopelessly attached to the back of my throat. My feet took me around in little circles as if, all on their own, they were trying to find a way out. My eyes gushed tears and instinctively (and, as it would turn out, regrettably) I rubbed them so I could see to find my cleansing beer. “Oh my God!” I sputtered. “Oh God my eyes!”


After much consternation, eyeball water flushing, and bread and beer consumption, the pain began to subside to something more bearable, like sunburned tonsils and blow-torched retina. “Whew!” I exclaimed, unconsciously using a slice of bread to wipe sweat from my forehead.


And then I went to pee.



Want good info on growing chili peppers? Check this out.

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