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When I grow peppers and tomatoes in containers, I elevate the pots on a stand to prevent a marauding terrier-mix dog from swiping the fruit.

Andy loves Roma tomatoes and sweet bell peppers, and he’s a brazen thief. He’ll slip behind the containers, plant his front paws on the stand and strain until he snags a low-hanging fruit with his teeth. Ollie, his Jack Russell sidekick, grabs any extras that drop, going to ground under a hydrangea bush. Andy gobbles his bounty where he stands, but quickly gets shooed away when he reaches for seconds.

Who doesn’t enjoy growing peppers? The foliage can be just as attractive as the fruit, which means the plants look perfectly at home in a flower bed or border. Nothing beats fresh peppers and tomatoes out of the garden to whip up a homemade salsa.

There have been a number of new introductions in the last two years. Here are some new favorites, based on information from the National Garden Bureau.

“Candy Cane Red” F1 — A sweet, crispy snack pepper with fruit that ripens from green striped to solid red. Foliage is variegated, too. The fruit can be eaten fresh at any stage. Harris Seeds.

“Cornita Giallo” F1 — This golden yellow bull’s horn sweet frying pepper is smaller than its full-sized cousin, “Escamillo,” and it’s an All American Selection winner. Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

“Habanada” — Sounds hot, but it’s not. This pepper boasts the habanero flavor without the heat (haba-nada). The lime green pepper turns orange when ripe. They are bred using open-pollinated techniques. Botanical Interests, Inc.

“Mexican Sunrise” F1 — A brand-new release for spring, this semi-hot Hungarian Pepper ranges from lime green to yellow then orange and red as the fruit matures. The early maturing, conical pendant-shaped peppers are thick walled and can be eaten at any time.

“Roulette” F1 — Another new release, the “Roulette” resembles a habanero pepper in shape, size and color – but without heat. The fruit can be red or green. It’s an All American Selection winner.

“Dragon Roll” — The new variety of Shishito pepper tops out at about 200 Scovilles, milder than a jalapeno pepper, but still having some heat. Green fruits are 3 to 5 inches long. PanAmerican Seed Co.

For best results with seed germination, wait until days are 65 F or warmer and nights stay above 55 F before sowing seeds — or setting out bedding plants, for that matter. Look for healthy, stocky green plants that are not flowering and have been kept well-watered. Peppers don’t like transplanting, so handle carefully.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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