It probably sounds ridiculous to those of you swaddled in snow in other parts of the country right now, to know that also right now, my most prolific harvest from the garden are these darling chile peppers called Filius Blue.
It’s February, Punxsutawney Phil is telling us six more weeks of winter, but apparently California missed the memo. (Not that Phil’s ever been right, anyway; according to NPR, the poor fella’s only had 39 percent accuracy since he started his forecasting career in 1887.)
With our own weather lingering in the 70s and 80s all winter, these little peppers have been flowering and fruiting like gangbusters. Every other week I bring in another handful of deceptively tiny peppers that are so potent, a little goes a long way. That means I’ve been inundated with peppers all season long and keeping a bowl in the kitchen where I dump them all, ready for drying.
Filius Blue is an heirloom chile originating from Mexico. It’s a compact plant, growing no more than 2 feet tall with blue-tinged foliage and delicate white flowers, and because of that it makes a beautiful container plant.
The peppers are very ornamental, starting out as a deep bluish-purple and maturing into an orangey-red. When young, the peppers have a lot of heat, measuring 40,000 to 58,000 units on the Scoville scale. (In comparison, a serrano pepper measures 10,000 to 23,000 Scoville units.) But as they ripen into flame red fruit, they become surprisingly milder in flavor (though they still have quite a kick).
My plants are entering their second year and doing well, even adapting to this weird weather when I thought I’d for sure lose them during an early December cold spell. I keep them right outside my kitchen door in 10- and 12-inch pots, and they haven’t grown more than a foot tall. But they produce more peppers than I’ll ever need and seem to tolerate our occasional coastal fog and nighttime lows in the 50s. I’m a little afraid of what these plants will look like once we start getting more sun in the summer!