Cap Farmer

Sex, Lies, and Chile Gardening

In Gardening, Stories by Mark Masker1 Comment

The weather is warming, and chile pepper gardeners all over are plotting Cap Farmertheir plantings for the season. Meet Cap Farmer, a former marijuana grower who has switched to chiles to prevent his house and property from being seized by the Feds. We hear he learned everything he knows from Dave DeWitt! For more of the real truth about chile growing, buy The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

You Can Plan on a Great Garden This Year!
The Myth:
You’ve read all the books, blogs, and sites about chile gardening and you know this year you’ll have a record chile pod yield.
The Truth:
Dude, it’s not that easy. There are dark forces at work far beyond your control, like when my brother Rick’s chile field was totally trashed by five inches of rain in two hours. Another time, my own beloved home garden was wiped out by superfreak 70 mph winds. Talk about a blow job!  Then there’s hail, tornados, early frost, curly top virus, root rot, marauding rabbits, DEA agents dressed up like snails, slugs, hornworms, thrips, and even chile thieves. What you need most is luck!

Fertilize for More Pods!
The Myth:
Since corn grows better when you add lots of nitrogen, so will chiles.
The Truth:
Do you have recipes for lots of chile pepper leaves? Have you figured out how to smoke them for a pleasant, reality-altering buzz?  Because that’s what you’ll get with a lot of nitrogen: leaves and no pods…which is sort of like stems but no buds. Use only aged compost as a fertilizer. Old shit is still good shit, as they say.

Cure Chile Plant Diseases Instantly!
The Myth:
Using simple organic gardening techniques will prevent or cure most chile pepper diseases.
The Truth: I remember the time my friend and I both had colds and we tried to cure ourselves in a Jamaican Steam Bath. That worked about as well as organic disease-control.  Most of the crappy stuff that makes your chile plants sick is transmitted by vectors like white fly and leafhoppers that are seriously gnarly.  And once your plants get a viral disease like curly top, they are doomed to die. You wouldn’t think that something with such a cute name could kill your plants, but there you are.

Fun in the Full Sun—All Day Long!
The Myth:
All chiles grow best in full sun.
The Truth: Just like albino redheads, right?  Some chiles do grow best in full sun, but it all depends on latitude and altitude.  The further north you live, and at lower altitudes, full sun is fine. Now, I’m usually all for being as high as possible. But if you go south and higher in elevation, full sun with all its ultraviolet light can burn the crap out of your plants, causing sunscald on the pods and leaf drop on more sensitive varieties like habaneros, which need some shading. And if you’ve ever sunburned your pod, dude, you know it’s a mistake you only make once.

Trim the Flowers and Produce More Pods!
The Myth: Keeping the flowers trimmed back will increase the yield of your plants.
The Truth: So, if this were true, that means you could have a world full of virgins and we’d still have a population explosion.  Man, you need every flower your plants can produce because of possible flower drop when the weather gets hot. Otherwise you’ll have no chile pods, no virgins to deflower, nada.

Jalapeños Love Bell Peppers
The Myth: Jalapeños planted next to Bells will make the Bells hot the same year.
The Truth:
Let it never be said that I’m opposed to vegetable love, but if peppers growing next to each other can affect heat levels, then you should be able to set up a camera in your garden and film chile porn. Not likely, man.

Certified Seeds of Proven Varieties Will Always Produce Perfect Fruit!
The Myth: Chile breeders strive to perfection so the pods are uniform on their varieties.
The Truth: You know, my mom thought all her kids would be perfect and normal, then she had me. I mean, there’s nothing about me that a good spliff won’t fix, but chile genetics can also go awry. Sometimes the results will totally freak you out. Talk about human-fruit hybrids!

Hatch Chile is the Best There Is!
The Myth: Since produce vendors and fiery foods manufacturers always seem to feature Hatch chiles, it must be the best chile.
The Truth: I hate to harsh your buzz, but  Hatch chile is a total myth—it simply does not exist.  There is no variety called ‘Hatch’ and there’s not enough acreage around tiny Hatch, New Mexico (population 1,647) to grow all the New Mexican chile that is supposed to be from Hatch.  The number one crop grown around Hatch is alfalfa. I bet the number two crop is kush, but you didn’t hear it from me.

New Mexico’s State Vegetables Must Be, Uh, Vegetables!
The Myth: The legislators knew what they were doing when they named the chile pepper and the pinto bean as co-state vegetables.
The Truth: Dude, that was pretty stupid. But we are talking about politicians, after all.  “Co-State Crops” would make make more sense, because chiles are fruits and beans are legumes—neither is a vegetable like, say, arugula, or rutabaga—wait a minute, that’s a root!

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Managing Editor | Mark is a freelance journalist based out of Los Angeles. He’s our Do-It-Yourself specialist, and happily agrees to try pretty much every twisted project we come up with.


  1. Kathy Weir

    I disagree about jalapeños not impacted green peppers. We have had this happen two different years. This year our green peppers are planted in the opposite end of the yard.

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