Experimenting. It’s a huge part of my garden every year. Just seeing what works, what doesn’t, and how I can make something work. It’s about improving soil, technique, and, of course, finding new favourite varieties.
Over the winter months, when there isn’t much activity in the garden, I spend hours flipping through seed catalogues, swapping seeds with other gardeners, planning what I’m going to grow, and how I’m going to fit it all into my urban Toronto backyard.
When I’m looking for new varieties to try, there are several things I look for. One is flavour, of course, along with yield, appearance (I love unusual crops), disease resistance, and how it grows.
But even after reading all the reviews about a variety, you never know how it’ll do in your garden. So it’s such a pleasant surprise when you find a new garden favourite, such as the Zulu pepper.
Zulu has thoroughly impressed me, and the summer still isn’t over yet. The plant stays quite compact, and the production for me has been phenomenal. I only have one plant, which
is growing in a container on my garage roof, and I’ve already harvested at least 20 peppers from it. The unripe peppers are a very dark purple, almost black. They eventually ripen to red, but I like “green” or unripe peppers, and love the colour of them at that stage, so that is when I’ve been picking them.
In the Kitchen
It is sweeter when used when it is fully ripe and red.
But the beautiful colour of unripe Zulu peppers makes them great for adding visual appeal to any dish that uses “green” peppers. We throw it into salads, onto sandwiches, and enjoy it as a snack. It is thin-walled.
Grow Your Own
Grow Zulu as you would any other pepper. Start it in the spring around the same time you plant tomatoes. Transplant it outside after the risk of frost has passed. I’ve found that peppers thrive with a bit of extra heat. That’s why I grow them on my garage roof. Give them the warmest spot you’ve got. Black plastic mulch can help heat up the soil for the plants faster.
Peppers are prone to blossom end rot, just like tomatoes. Make sure to water deeply and often to prevent this from happening.
Where to get it
Zulu is available from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.
Emma Biggs is a 13-year-old gardener and garden communicator. Emma raised over 130 tomato varieties in her Toronto garden in 2018—gardening in containers, in straw bales on a driveway, in a neighbour’s yard, in wicking beds under a walnut tree, and on the garage roof. Her garden is the source of many of her stories—and the source of produce that she sells in her neighborhood. In 2015, at the age of nine, Emma co-authored of Grow Gardeners, Kid-Tested Gardening with Children with her father and started helping him at garden talks and workshops. For the past couple of years, Emma has been giving her own talks at libraries, seed exchanges, garden clubs, and garden shows. Emma is the co-host of The Garage Gardeners Radio Show. She hosts kids gardening videos on the From Dirt to Dishes gardening channel on YouTube. Her latest book, Gardening with Emma, helps kids find the fun in gardening (and helps adults remember how much fun gardening is!)