FROM READERS: Joe Dillard revives last year's pepper plant

Monday, July 14, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Joe Dillard's pepper plant.

Joe G. Dillard, a longtime Columbia resident, wrote the book "A Full Cup of Joe," a humorous autobiography of his funny life experiences thus far.

Do you pull up your spent pepper plants, or leave them in the garden to be cleaned up next spring? 

Most do one or the other, but not me. No, I had to be different (big surprise!). I just couldn’t bear to pull them up or let them freeze. So, last fall, I dug up the best looking pepper plant from our garden, put it in a flower pot and brought it into our sun room.

It did pretty well early on in the house. Of course, no peppers set on. Duh!  (We have no bees in our sun room to pollinate the blossoms.)

By spring, it was looking a little puny so I sat it, pot and all, out on our deck where it began to revive.  Soon it began to set on little peppers, so I took it back up to the garden and replanted it.

Now it is doing quite well and we have harvested three peppers off of it so far.

According to the University of Missouri Extension Guide G6372, "peppers (Capsicum sp. L.) are a member of the Solanaceae plant family and are botanically related to other popular garden vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants.

"Like beans, potatoes, pumpkins and sweet corn, the pepper is native to the New World. Originating in Mexico and Central America, it was reintroduced into North America from Europe by Columbus. In tropical regions, the pepper grows as a perennial plant, but because it is tender and easily killed by frost (unless you bring it inside like I did), it is cultivated as an annual in temperate regions such as Missouri."

Bell peppers have been cultivated for more than 9,000 years, with the earliest cultivation having taken place in South and Central America. While the name "pepper" was given to this food by European colonizers of North America who first came across it in the 1500-1600's and then transported it back to Europe, the original name for this food in Spanish was pimiento.

In summary, if our "pimiento" survives the summer, it will be back into the sun room for a second winter.  Stay tuned.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.

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