My experience in the garden with peppers is mixed. On the one hand, I’ve learned to grow pepper plants fairly well; that is, they take time to get going, really like the heat, benefit from some staking, and I now know to not expect much of a harvest until late August. But on the other, I have not had much success battling my gardening nemesis, the dreaded pepper maggot. Because of them, I’ve pretty much given up on sweet or bell peppers, and stick nearly exclusively to peppers that at the minimum have a bit of mild heat. I like to think the pepper maggots can’t live in such an environment.
Given that mild heat requirement, one of the peppers I am including in my garden this year is a brand-new variety called Dragon Roll from Burpee. Dragon Roll is a type of shishito pepper, which have been popular bar snacks in Japan for a number of years. Dashed with oil, blistered over a flame and sprinkled with a touch of salt, these shishito peppers have been just the thing to accompany an ice-cold beer at the local pub. Here’s the “mild heat” tidbit about shishito peppers: They have the slightest hint of heat in general, and about one in 10 of them are grab-some-water hot. These blistered shishito peppers have now become a trendy item not only at American eateries but also as whole fruit at farmers markets. The uncertainty of whether you’ll get a hot one or not also adds some excitement to the experience.
The Dragon Roll variety pays homage to that pub food popularity and gives home gardeners the ability to grow their own at home. It’ll reach 12 to 18 inches tall (plan on staking them!) with an equal distance of spreading. Keep well watered but not overly so, and give them at least six hours of sunlight or more each day. The fruit isn’t all that large, topping out at 3 to 5 inches in length. The perfect blistered bite if you ask me.