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Mike's Pepper Garden

ex-Soviet Peppers

ex-Soviet Peppers
Polaroid MP-4, 135 mm, 1x, f/16, 1 s, lights at 45 degrees
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I was first given these peppers in 1993 by a co-worker who had immigrated to the US from the former Soviet Union. According to her, these peppers, which are nice and hot, are commonly grown in the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. The peppers that she gave me were from the first generation of this seed line grown in US soil.

My father grew peppers from this seed stock for two seasons- 1994 and 1995. In 1995, he gave some dried peppers from his current crop to my great-uncle, who grew from this second-US-generation seed stock for two seasons- 1996 and 1997.

The peppers returned to me in 1997, when my great-uncle gave me a small ristra from his current crop. This was his last season growing the Uzbekistani peppers, as my grandmother (the matriarch of the family) decided that they were "too hot to do anything with", and thus an inefficient use of row-space. The peppers pictured above are from his last crop.

While the ex-Soviet peppers have doubtless been grown in proximity to other chile peppers during their stay in the US, they have retained their original appearance. The peppers are 1 1/2" to 2" long, and 1/2" to 3/4" thick at the top. Their shape resembles that of a jalapeno, although the taper is more pronounced. The ends of the pods are rounded. As these peppers mature, they change from green to a light orange, and finally to a dark red. Most of the dried peppers that I have from 1997 are light orange in color, or light orange splotched with dark red.

Seeds from the second US generation have been grown as far south as Florida and as far west as California by various chile-loving friends of the family.

In 1999, I grew ex-Soviets from seeds from the second US-grown generation. Later, I obtained some seeds from the first US-grown generation (1994); no other peppers were grown in the garden during 1994, so there should not have been any cross-pollination. I attempted to get these old seeds to germinate in 2000, but was unable to find even one viable seed.

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