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Picking Peppers and Pepper Pointers



Written by: Kevin Milaeger

May 5, 2021


At Milaeger’s we always strive to have a complete, up to date selection of everything we’re offering. This year’s pepper collection has been revamped with superior varieties that you might like to look at. Our regular pepper collection, available now, consists of fifteen sweet varieties and nineteen hot ones. The sweet peppers come in many sizes and shapes, including bell, bullhorn, banana, and mini. Numerous colors. An increasingly popular type is the mini bell pepper. We’ve upped production of the smallest, called ‘Lunchbox.’ Another slightly larger one is called ‘Sweetie Pie,’ but it’s still considered a snacking pepper. In addition to our regular pepper collection, we have our “Vintage Veggie” collection. It’s available starting May 13th, and lasts until we run out. There are over sixty vegetables in this group, and this year there are seventeen types of peppers. Since we’re trying most of these for the first time, we grow a small quantity, and most are sold out before Memorial Day. Shop early. Eight of these are what I call “savory” peppers. That is, not sweet, but not really hot either. All eight have a Scoville rating of under 1,000. (Jalapeño peppers range from 2,500 to 5,000 Scovilles.) These are all grown for their distinctive flavor, not for sweetness or heat. Perhaps the most appealing is ‘Habanada,’ a heat free habanero with that unique, fruity habanero flavor. Among the hot peppers in this program you’ll find ‘Golden Cayenne,’ ‘Mexican Sunset,’ ‘Scotch Bonnet Orange,’ and ‘Death Spiral.’ The Scoville rating on the last one is 1,000,000, so buyer beware. Here’s a link to the “Vintage Veggie” collection.


photo courtesy of


photo courtesy of



So our pepper selection will be thirty-four varieties available all season, with an additional seventeen during the Vintage Veggie event. There’s something for every taste, but keep in mind that many of these peppers have terrific ornamental value. I can’t eat the really hot ones, but I grow a few anyway because they are beautiful. Plus I like to give some away to the occasional guest who fancies them.


photo courtesy of

Aji Rico

photo courtesy of

Alma Paprika


What’s the most common error when growing peppers? Planting outdoors too early, by far. When talking about spring planting, the phrase “hardening off” often comes up. This means gradually exposing plants to cooler temperatures, so that there’s less shock when they’re put outdoors permanently. This is effective with many plants, but less so with peppers. Everyone is anxious to get their green going, I get it. But this error usually causes an entire season of frustration in the case of peppers. It’s tempting to want to plant them after we get a few short sleeve weather days. After all, our average last frost day here is April 27. But here is what usually happens. If we are frost free from now on, but we have some cool nights, you probably think that’s fine with the pepper plants. But the plants are usually stunted, but since they’re still alive and green, you might think all is well. Not so. They can remain stunted for many weeks, considerably delaying the first flush of fruit. This is frustrating for any gardener. Much better to plant them after the night temperature is regularly over fifty degrees. In most years that’s after June 1.


photo courtesy of

Ancho Gigantea

photo courtesy of

Giant Aconcagua


Many of our common vegetables originated in tropical or subtropical climates. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, and cucumbers all have this in common. None of these should be planted before Memorial Day, and then only if the weather forecast is favorable. If you want to prove this to yourself, plant some of these in early May, during one of our warmer spells. Then plant another batch in early June. You’ll see that the later planting will not experience any weather related setback, and you’ll usually be able to observe progress every day. That’s much more rewarding than waiting and wondering why your plants have failed to “take off” even though they’re green and we haven’t had a frost.


photo courtesy of

Piquillo Pimento

photo courtesy of

Super Heavyweight


A much better way to satisfy the early planting urge is to plant only plants that are well suited to the cool weather we are certain to get. Onions, especially sets or young plants, radish (from seed), peas, lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, and anything in the cole family (cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, and the like.) All of these can be planted as early as the first week of April. (Of course, not if it’s unusually cold at that time.) The weather has to be reasonably pleasant and the forecast seasonal or better. Then you can plant these crops, and you’ll be delighted with the results.


Please email me ( with your questions and comments!

Click here to see Kevin Milaeger's Vintage Ornament Blog



May 2021 - Picking Peppers and Pepper Pointers

January 2021 - Paste Tomatoes—Searching for More Flavor

January 2021 - New Gardeners - Dig In!


October 2020 - The End of the Season

September 2020 - Planting Now for Fall Harvest

August 2020 - Midsummer Garden Notes

July 2020 - Cukes Now! Tomatoes for the Fourth?

June 2020 - Tomato Plant Supports and Fertility

May 2020 - Time to Plant

April 2020 - Making Salads More Memorable

April 2020 - Victory Gardens Then and Now

April 2020 - Turn Off the News and Get in Your Garden

March 2020 - Stay Healthy---Plant Some Greens

February 2020 - Winter Planning, Winter Reading


September 2019 - Planting Fall Greens---what's your excuse?

September 2019 - 2019 Tomatomania Review

August 2019 - The Hypochondriacal Garden

July 2019 - Tomatoes 2019---A New Record!

June 2019 - Tomatoes---Early Summer Progress Report

June 2019 - Dwarf Tomatoes---The Next Big Thing

May 2019 - The Urge to Plant is Getting Stronger

April 2019 - Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Greens

April 2019 - Jefferson's Tomatoes & Tomato Nutrition

March 2019 - The Year of the Potato

March 2019 - Tomatoes---America's Favorite Vegetable

February 2019 - The Greens are Coming

January 2019 - Long, Chilly Nights Make Me Think of Tomatoes


June 2018 - Learn the Rules Before You Break Them

May 2018 - To Plant or Not to Plant

March 2018 - Brrr...Can You Plant this Early?

February 2018 - February's Climatological Shift


October 2017 - Remember: Every Tomato Variety is Someone's Favorite

August 2017 - A Tomato Miracle

July 2017 - Our Big Garden & Some Unpleasant News

June 2017 - Mid-June Tomato Report

June 2017 - Tomatoes----The Acid Test

April 2017 - It's Time to Plant Onions

April 2017 - Raspberries: It's time for annual pruning

March 2017 - Warning! Internet Garden Danger!

March 2017 - Tomato Talk---Shorter Varieties are Trending

March 2017 - It's Only the Start of March, but...

February 2017 - Tasty Greens and Winter Tomatoes

February 2017 - Green is Right Around the Corner


October 2016 - Autumn Greens, Eggplant and more

September 2016 - The Tomato Polls are Closed, the Winner is...

September 2016 - Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.

August 2016 - It's true!---Sometimes tomato beauty is only skin deep!

July 2016 - Summer Heat Means Fast Ripening

July 2016 - July Tomato Update---a few concerns

June 2016 - The Great Bell Pepper Challenge!

June 2016 - Super Start for 2016 Vegetables!

May 2016 - Tomato Planting Date Inches Closer!

May 2016 - Vintage Veggies Now & Disease Resistant Tomatoes!

April 2016 - A Few New Plants & Garden Updates!

April 2016 - Go Outside---It's Time for Planting!

March 2016 - Yep! ----It's Time to Plant Greens!

March 2016 - The Quest for the Perfect Tomato

March 2016 - Think Green! It's almost time to plant

February 2016 - Pepper Pointers: it's all about patience

February 2016 - I See Greens on the Horizon

January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?

January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!


November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)

October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!

September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!

September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!

September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!

August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!

August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes

July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden

July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato

July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?

July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!

June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   (Click here for Spreadsheet)


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 BlogVideo and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog

July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables

May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers

May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013

April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013

April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!

April 2013 - It's Planting Time

March 2013 - Onions

March 2013 - Vintage Veggies

March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update

February 2013 - Hot Peppers

February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes

February 2013 - Greens to Grow


September 2012 - Tomatomania Results

July 2012 - Compass Plant

July 2012 -July 2012 - Heat Wave

June 2012 - Okra

June 2012 - Potato Onion

May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012 - My Tomato Garden

May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest

March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin

March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project

February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers

February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature 

January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2011 -Tomatomania Review  

August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview

August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour

July 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden

July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes

June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple

June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing

May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes

April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview

March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement


September 2010 - Tomatomania Review  

August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color 

July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes 

June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review  

September 2009 - Tomatomania Review

July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems

June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization

June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience 

May 2009 - Tomatoes General

May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases

May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing

April 2009 - Tomatoes General