questionswhy are my bell peppers hot and spicy?

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Are you growing anything else nearby? There's always a chance of some cross-pollination.

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Yep, it sounds like they got cross-pollinated with a hotter variety. The pollen from the spicy variety would be dominant, and "pollute" your Bell Peppers.

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I was amazed at how sweet home grown bell peppers could be. The stuff you buy in the stores is practically tasteless.

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@novastarj: Yes, I'm growing tomatoes nearby. I doubt those would make them hot.

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@dreamyvelvet: I agree. The first batch was very sweet. I eat them raw like apples. Now the second batch is extremely hot. I rubbed my eyes and they are still burning from the residue.

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@cengland0: In this situation I think it's a case of "It's not the peppers, it's you." Clearly you're hot & spicy and contaminated or cross-pollinated them. Use extra care when you plant any melons & such.

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@cengland0: To inject a note of sanity into this, I point out that the seeds used may have been a hybrid, and have reverted to a parent. From the description, it sounds like the seed was harvested from one or more plants. Not all hybrids are stable, and this would provide an explanation for what happened. I've grown tomatoes from seed using a tomato I'd purchased in the grocery store, and it's a mixed bag as to whether they breed true, or revert to type. I've actually grown a tomato that was as tasteless as any you could buy in the middle of winter (it went in the compost heap after trying three different tomatoes).

The tomato usually called "Cluster Tomato" seen here

is interesting to grow from seed. It seems to be an actual variety, and breeds true. It's no better than it should be, but was entertaining to grow.

Where did your seed come from?

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@shrdlu: Thanks but I bought the seeds from a company that specializes in seeds and the first crop was perfect. That leads me to believe the seeds were correct. Then, it went a couple months without producing and then the second crop has new fruit and the peppers are now hot.

I was wondering if I'm picking them too early or too late. They are not the green bell peppers but are the yellow and red variety. These are also mini-bell peppers instead of the large ones you get at the grocery store.

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@cengland0: What you are describing doesn't sound like a Bell Pepper. Those are named that because of their shape. Do you still have the package the seed is from? What seed company are we talking about? There are actually very few; most are repackaged from the few that actually create seeds. It's some serious work, making sure that the seed you have will create the plant that folks think they're buying.

I've seen quite a bit of evidence that many people (for example) have started selling plants that say they are Brandywine tomatoes, and yet the tomato produced by the plant is clearly (to my reasonably experienced eye) a hybrid, and not a true brandywine. These tomatoes are noted for their pink flesh, and they are long to ripen (and distinctive in shape). I love the taste of a true brandywine. I have been lazy the past few years, buying mostly seedlings, but intend this Spring to put in only seeds.

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@shrdlu: I found the package. It's from Burpee and is part of their signature collection. It says "Sweet Pepper" but looks like a bell pepper in the picture. Says it's a sweet mix, Pimento Dulce, Rainbow Color Blend.

The back side of the package says, "Our mix contains equal parts of Big Red, Chardonnay, Diamond, Orange Sun and Purple Beauty. Harvest about 70 days after transplanting.

So I did harvest about 70 days after transplanting and those were delicious. I kept the plants and they produced fruit again -- except these are hot and spicy -- not like the originals. Do they only produce a good crop once?

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@cengland0: Ah. Now I see. Yes, these are hybrids all. Anything could have happened, including reverting to the parent plant. Since you say they produced after a certain amount of time being dormant, I'd suspect that you have the parent plant, which may have had one or more forebears that were hot peppers (known for their hardiness). I think you'd also mentioned that they were miniatures, which I should have paid more attention to, originally. That speaks of a hybrid, also.

Once in a while I create something, as my mother did before me (it requires q-tips, and plenty of time). Mostly I just save a couple of plants out for seed, and use that for the next year. One of my favorite winter squashes lost vitality with each successive generation, and I finally gave up on it last year. It was a cross between a hubbard and an acorn, was was very tasty.

Pull up your old plants, and start with fresh seed.

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@shrdlu: I was so hopeful that I didn't have to start over again. The plant has grown since it's first crop and is producing more fruit than ever before. If I start over, I'll have to wait 70 days to get one or two peppers at the most.

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My first response to this was going to be, "You must be Minnesotan."

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@cloudscout: I've lived in Florida for the past 25 years but I did live in Duluth and Babbitt Minnesota in my younger years.

So what is special about people from Minnesota and bell peppers?

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@cengland0 I've lived in Minnesota for two-thirds of my life and there's sort of a joke about Minnesotans not being able to handle spicy foods. When someone says something is spicy, a sarcastic response is, "you mean like ketchup?" So the idea of a bell pepper being considered "hot" triggered the same kind of sarcastic response in my mind.

I am not one of "those" Minnesotans, though. I like it hot... well, my food anyway. Weather? Well, there's a reason I moved away from Florida.

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@cloudscout: Now that's funny. I moved away from Minnesota because it was too cold. That's why I now live in Florida.

We may have crossed paths while I went from Minnesota to Florida and you from Florida to Minnesota :)

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You said that you had two crops of peppers. Were these crops from the same, exact plants (from seeds purchased from the plant store), or was the second crop from the seeds of the first crop? If it’s the latter, then the hybrid-thing others mentioned is a possibility. However, the original seeds should probably produce the true plant.

If you only had one set of pepper plants, I think you just got one of those peppers that are sweet when it’s cooler and they get lots of water and spicy when its hot and dry with more sun (and when they aren’t watered as much). It would probably be hotter and dryer later in the year, on the second crop. So, this makes sense.

We’ve had peppers that were pretty much sweet sometimes and really spicy other times, and this seems to have been the reason for it. I could be wrong, I suppose, but I would consider it. You could try shading your peppers and/or watering them more.