Peppers Beat the Texas Heat


Photo by Carol Ann Sayle

We would not have any decent bell peppers at all this summer were it not for our "shade house." It's a hoop house structure we installed six years ago, primarily for growing salad mix. Equipped with overhead misters and 47 percent shade cloth, we hoped it would extend our salad season a month at the beginning and again at the end.

That experiment concluded badly when fire ants continually stole all our lettuce seeds to replant in areas more favorable to their style of farming. 5,000 seeds planted in a square foot of soil next to an irrigation line. I busted them when I saw them toting the seeds away. A week later, I found the plantation, at the far end of the hoop house.

With the sun blanching out even our field peas' leaves, it'd be nice if we could erect a giant shade house over the entire five-acre farm!

Next we tried growing arugula under the shade, in the summer. It did fine, except a new-to-us-bug, the "shade bug" (yes, that's its name) came along and extracted the chlorophyll out of the leaves, leaving tiny white dots as leftovers. Giving up on pampering, we just made the arugula tough it out in the field under full sun.

Amazingly, it's been a great crop for us ever since. Feisty flavor of course, as it has to stand 100-degree days, but true arugula lovers care not. They relish it as one of the few greens we can grow here in the hot season.

With arugula vacating the space and the temperature hovering daily between 100 and 108 degrees, we planted a lot of peppers in the shade. Bell peppers--green, gold, and red--sweet Marconi peppers, and hot ancho-type mini poblanos. They seem to thrive with the shade, especially if we can supply ample water.

With the sun blanching out even our field peas' leaves, it'd be nice if we could erect a giant shade house over the entire five-acre farm! But that's just heat-stroke talking.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do Men Assume They're So Great?

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of this month's Atlantic cover story, sit down with Hanna Rosin to discuss the power of confidence and how self doubt holds women back. 

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more


Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.


What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world



More in Health

From This Author

Just In