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Up your app game with bite-sized snacking peppers for summertime hors d'oeuvres

A small wooden pint-sized basket holds many green Shishito Peppers
photokitchen/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Shishito peppers from Japan grow well in Vermont, as do Padrón peppers from northwestern Spain. These types of peppers provide lots of fruits throughout the season and make great snacks and appetizers for all your summertime appetizers and hors d'oeuvres.

Soon enough, we'll be loving the warmer weather and simple meals and snacks made from garden veggies. So make sure to plant some fun-sized peppers this spring!

These peppers come in range of heat - from sweet and mild to packing a bit of a punch - and from regions around the world. They are meant to be eaten as an hors d'oeuvre or an appetizer, instead of a main course.

A variety from Japan is called Shishito. This pepper plant grows to a foot or two tall and each pepper is three or four inches long.

A new hybrid Shishito variety called, "Mellow Star" can vary in its flavor depending on when you harvest it.

Pick it when it's still green and it carries a very mild flavor. Let it ripen to its red stage and it tastes sweet.

These snacking peppers make great hors d'oeuvres when harvested small and early, and grilled or charred in a cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil and salt.

The Padrón pepper from southwestern Spain does have a little heat. In fact, Padrón peppers bring a bit of mystery to your garden, because one out of 20 peppers will be hot!

These grow three to four inches long and leaving them to ripen till they're red affords them a sweeter, milder flavor.

And even the old favorite bell pepper can be snack-sized. A new hybrid of bell pepper grows two to three inches long and wide and come in red, yellow or orange color.

This hybrid is called, "The Lunchbox Series." Just one plant will yield plenty of fruit all season.

Q: I began watering my balcony plants - like basil, green onions, hyacinth bean and cherry tomato - with seaweed concentrate, along with my dozens of houseplants. The houseplants all perked up and did really well! But the cherry tomatoes barely ripened, and the hyacinth beans produced only a few flowers and were somewhat stunted in height. Can you give me some idea why the outdoor plants didn't do so well with the added seaweed? - Susan, in Montréal

A: Seaweed is generally a good fertilizer but overuse could have this effect on plants.

Hyacinth beans, for instance, don't need much nitrogen. And though seaweed doesn't have a high concentrate of nitrogen, that may have caused a nutrient imbalance.

This imbalance could have occurred with the cherry pepper, as well.

This year, try cutting back on the seaweed solution and try mixing a little granular organic fertilizer into the potting soil.

Q: I have an amaryllis bulb on its fourth or fifth year. I water once a week and have it in a sunny window, in a cool room. It hasn't been flowering for as many days as it did in the past. Am I asking too much of this old bulb? - Mary, in Saxton's River

A: Congrats on keeping your bulb going this long!

This summer when you put it outside in a partly sunny location to grow outdoors, make sure to water regularly, but fertilize regularly, too.

Then when you bring the amaryllis in this fall, cut it back and let it go dormant for six weeks, as usual.

When it begins to send out shoots and flowers next spring, you'll probably notice that it will grow stronger and the flower should last a little longer.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with Vermont Public host Mary Williams Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublicWe've closed our comments. Read about all the ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.