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      U.P. Gardening Tip - September 17, 2009

      For years I stubbornly tried to grow green/red Bell peppers. I had visions of the crunchy sweet green and red bell peppers highlighting the color of every meal and hearing the oohs and ahhhs of my family. But alas! No matter how I tried, my pepper plants were spindly and produced one measly pepper or if I was lucky, two small ones. The plants took up too much room on my little garden plot. I was ready to give up when my husband, also an avid gardener, offered a simple solution: Why do we limit ourselves growing Bell peppers when there is a whole world of other varieties? For once the man was right!

      For the last five years we have documented the ones that worked best for us. The following pepper plants are listed in three categories: mild, hot and drying. All eleven plants have produced an ABUNDANCE of peppers. The five mild/large pepper plants are: Carmen, Pimento, Giant Marconi, Marachi and Sweet Banana. The hot: Annaheim Chili, Hot Portugal, Jalapeno, Hot Banana (and if you dare-Habanera).

      The drying pepper is the red Ruska. It TMs my all time favorite probably because it TMs the easiest to preserve. I learned from a Mexican lady that all a gardener has to do, is sew a string through the stems of the long skinny red Ruskas. Gather them together in a bunch of perhaps twenty and let them dry in the sun. Every time you make a pot of soup, a bubbly stew, a steamy pot roast or sauted shrimp, cut a Ruska from the bottom of the bunch and throw it in the pot. It TMs yummy, not to hot, and adds a spicy flavor.

      Here in the U.P. of Michigan I give my readers a coveted family recipe. Hot Pepper Finn Moyaakaa Soup (our family is half Finn). Or as the feisty French cook, Julia Child may have stated: Hold On To Your Hat, Toivo, Pepper Soup.

      Take one ripe red pepper from each of the above list except Habanera. Cut in strips, de-seeds and discard stems. Wash hands thoroughly-do not touch eyes-wash hands again!!!!8 cups beef brothLeftover beef/and or browned hamburger (approx.1lb.)Six carrots/2 celery stalks/1 large onion chopped4 fresh tomatoes/potatoes cubedA handful of frozen peas/corn 1/4 rutabaga dicedBring to boil and then simmer on low for about 1 & 1/2 hoursThe recipe is very forgiving. If the soup is toooo hot, just add more water. Serve with fresh bread and a large glass of ice water.Benefit: Mosquitoes/Black flies won TMt bite you for one full day afterwards!

      TV6 Contributor - Donna Campbell, Master Gardener

      Check out our TV6 Family Garden page for daily tips, local growing tips, and news and video, plus helpful links to gardening fun.