It may sound crazy but I was excited to see rat turds in among my heirloom pepper plants this summer, and I’m about to share the particulars as to why you should look forward to seeing them in your own garden next season!
First you can relax in knowing that I’m not talking about rodent poop, but rather an unusual, rare, and ornamental variety of hot peppers that are called Rat’s Turds. Also known as Turkey Chile Peppers, Chilipiquin, Pring-Kee-New, or Grove Peppers, I grew them for the first time this year and was very impressed by this spicy variety of capsicum.
A Happy Cat Organics Introduction to Rat Turd Peppers
I may never have stumbled upon Rat Turd Peppers in the first place if they hadn’t been recommended by a friend from Happy Cat Organics… seems to be a bit of irony there!
I’ve stumbled unto some great heirloom vegetable varieties based on recommendations from Amy and Tim. So this spring when he pointed out a stunted looking pepper plant that he was peddling at the Landis Valley Herb Faire, I decided to give it a try in spite of the small seedlings unimpressive appearance.
After tending to the plant for the entire summer and now into the fall season, I love it and definitely plan to grow it again next year. Guess you want to know what’s so special about this Rat Turd pepper plant, don’t you?
Well you can start with the ornamental appeal of this compact growing plant that works well as a potted edible. It’s a very attractive specimen, especially when adorned with its tiny jet black or dark purple fruits that change to a brilliant red color as they ripen.
If you want to grow Rat Turds directly in the garden keep in mind that the plant is a dwarf pepper so don’t place it in the middle of other pepper plants where it could be shaded or crowded out. The dwarfing size turns into a big advantage in the fall, that’s when potted plants can easily be moved indoors before frost to extend the harvest or to over winter them!
Rat Turds are extremely productive with fruit spread all over the branches of the plant. The peppers also hold well both before and after they ripen which means that you can always have fresh peppers on hand when you need them in the kitchen.
And Don’t Frown Upon these Rat Turds in the Kitchen Either
This is without a doubt a very hot and spicy pepper, but it also has a nice flavor to lend to your favorite recipes. The small fruit size is a plus for me because a whole Rat Turd is just about right for kitchen recipes without being overpowering or adding too much heat in comparison to cooking with larger jalapeños or habaneras.
Rat Turds will keep well under refrigeration, or even better, they are a cinch to dry for extended storage, or to use in making your own organic crushed pepper flakes. I used an electric dehydrator but they would also dry well on a screen or in solar dehydrator.
So there you have plenty of reasons to head for the kitchen rather than the exterminator when you encounter Rat Turds in the vegetable garden!
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