Pepper (Capsicum Annuum)

564. History

According to De Candolle, the pepper probably originated in Brazil. It is now grown in many countries in nearly all parts of the world.

565. Importance

The pepper is increasing in importance. Formerly, its culture was restricted to the hot, pungent varieties, but the introduction of the sweet peppers or mangoes has greatly extended its use. It has become an important crop on many truck farms, especially in New Jersey and in other sections near the large cities. The hot varieties are used for seasoning, while the mild sorts are valued for pickling and stuffing and to some extent for salad.

566. Climatic Requirements

Although this plant is most at home in tropical and subtropical countries, it is grown successfully in nearly all parts of the United States. It is tender to frost, but does not require as high temperatures as the eggplant. The conditions in South Jersey and southward along the Atlantic coast are excellent for this vegetable.

567. Soil

The pepper thrives best in a warm, deep, fairly moist, fertile, sandy loam, although often grown commercially on moderately heavy soils. The drainage must be good. A southern exposure will hasten the maturity of the crop and be favorable to the largest yield.

568. Varieties

Peppers are divided into two classes; namely, those which produce hot or pungent fruits and those which bear mild or sweet fruits, which are also called "mangoes."

Pungent-Fruited Varieties

Tabasco produces an immense number of small, slender, very hot, bright-red fruits from which tabasco sauce is made. It does not usually ripen fruit as far north as Pennsylvania.

Long Red Cayenne is well known for its pungency.

True Red Chili produces small, hot, bright-red peppers.

Bird Eye or Creole is the smallest red, extremely hot pepper.

Hot Bell has the same shape as Bull Nose, but the flavor is very pungent.

Mild-Fruited Varieties (Figure 96.)

Bull Nose is one of the most popular varieties.

Chinese Giant is extensively planted.

Ruby King is a favorite with some growers.

Neapolitan is a very early, extremely productive variety adapted to the cooler sections.

Golden Queen is a large, sweet, yellow pepper.

569. Seed

Seeds should be selected with the greatest care. Some successful growers produce their own seeds and maintain superior strains. To prevent the development of the pungent character in sweet peppers there must be no cross-pollination with hot-fruited varieties.

570. Starting Early Plants

The directions given for starting eggplants (454) under glass, apply equally well to peppers. A high temperature is required to germinate the seed and to secure rapid growth in the frame or the greenhouse. As early peppers command the highest prices, it generally pays to grow strong seedlings which will mature peppers at the earliest possible date.

Fig. 96. Mild-Fruited Pepper.

571. Fertilizing

Rotten stable manures may be used advantageously, especially in rather thin soil. Excessive amounts of nitrogen should be avoided, although it is important to supply the plants with an abundance of available nitrogen early in the season. The mineral elements are needed to encourage fruiting. From 600 to 1,000 pounds to the acre of a 4-8-10 fertilizer will produce satisfactory results in most soils.

572. Planting

The plants should not be set in the open ground until the weather is settled and there is no further danger of frost. Fifteen to 18 inches between the plants in the row will furnish sufficient space for most varieties, and there should be about 30 inches between rows if the crop is to be cultivated with horse implements. Ridging is practiced to some extent to help support the plants when heavily laden with fruit.

573. Harvesting And Marketing

Peppers will remain on the plants after they have reached maturity, with no danger of deterioration, much longer than eggplants or tomatoes. They may be sold green or after they have turned red. Baskets of various sizes and styles are used in packing. Hampers of the bushel and half-barrel type (Figure 48, b) are in common use. The crop is also packed in barrels and in six-basket carriers (Figure 48, a). Receipts and profits have a wide range, but the net returns should not be less than $100 an acre. Often they are larger.

Pumpkin (Cucurbita)

574. Culture

For cultural directions, see Squash (page 427) and Watermelon (page 467). Sweet pumpkins are sometimes grown on a small scale for commercial purposes.

Radish (Raphanus Annuum)

575. History

The radish, which has been cultivated since earliest historic times, is indigenous to the temperate regions of the old world (De Candolle, "Origin of Cultivated Plants," p. 29). People of many countries consume the roots in large quantities.

576. Importance

The radish is particularly important in this country as a spring and early summer crop. It is easily grown. The roots attain edible size in three to six weeks from time of sowing. As it is highly appreciated as a salad plant, immense quantities are grown by market gardeners supplying the city markets. It is also a profitable crop with some of the southern truckers, who ship to markets of the northern states.

577. Climatic Requirements

This is a cool-weather plant, but may be grown under a wide range of climatic conditions. If the supply of soil moisture is ample, high temperatures are not very damaging.

578. Soil

The soil should be cool, moist, fertile and friable. Sandy loams are preferred. In heavy soils the roots are likely to be rough or ill-shaped, with a large number of small, fibrous laterals.

579. Varieties

Wide variation exists in the character of the roots. In form they may be oblate, spherical, top-shaped oval, oblong, conical or conical-cylindrical. In color they may be white, red, yellow, light brown, orange, red, purple or black. Some varieties are especially valuable for early spring planting, others for summer use and others for winter.

Beckert's Chartier is a favorite long radish, crimson, shading to white at the tip. It is a summer variety.

Cardinal Globe is a valuable globular-shaped radish that matures very quickly.

Chinese Rose and New White Chinese are the most popular winter varieties.

Earliest White is an early, olive-shaped variety prized in home gardens.

Early Long Scarlet Short Top is popular among market gardeners.

French Breakfast is a well-known bright carmine radish, clear white below.

Hailstone is a quickly growing white radish. Long White Vienna is valued as a summer variety. Round Red Forcing is adapted to very close planting under glass or in the open, because of the small foliage. Scarlet Frame is a red, very early, turnip-shaped radish. White Delicacy is said to be an improvement on the White Strasburg.

White Icicle is a valuable, very early variety.

580. Planting

Radishes are planted from early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked, until six weeks before freezing weather. By the proper selection of varieties and sowing at frequent intervals a constant succession may be had throughout the season. The roots of winter varieties may be stored for consumption when they cannot be had from the garden or the field. The seeds are strong in germination, and should be sown thinly, to avoid a large amount of thinning. The distance between plants in the row will vary from I to 5 inches depending upon the size of roots and tops. As a general rule the rows are 1 foot apart, although the small varieties may be planted much closer.

Fig. 97. Radishes Bunched For Market.

581. Fertilizing

Decayed stable manures may be used in large amounts, but fresh manures should never be employed immediately before planting. A fertilizer carrying 4 per cent nitrogen, 8 per cent phosphoric acid and 10 per cent potash, applied at the rate of half a ton or more to the acre, should produce excellent results if other conditions are favorable.

582. Marketing

Radishes are bunched (Figure 97) for market, the number in a bunch varying from 3 to 10. It is important to grade them. Grading, however, is generally neglected.