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Pepper is in the Air ‘Round Here

DIY pepper flakes

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I’m trying to recreate a gift. A friend of my husband’s is an avid pepper aficionado. He grows lots of varieties of peppers from seeds, cross pollinates them, saves seeds, and shares the bounty from his garden. In addition to fresh peppers, last year he gave us a spice shaker full of dehydrated pepper flakes and seeds. It was so good! All through the winter, it was a great addition to chilis, stews, and sauces.

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This year, we’re growing 8 pepper plants of our own in our backyard cedar raised vegetable boxes that we built last year. Our pepper plants are thriving! Yay! (We have red MexiBells, yellow cayenne, jumbo jalapeΓ±o, Serrano, banana peppers, and cowhorn peppers this year.)

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We’ve had short splashes of rain everyday this week, at just the right times, my garden thinks. Just yesterday, the kids spent time in our backyard playing, swinging on the tire, flipping on the monkey bars, jumping on the trampoline in the upper part of the yard out in the hot, humidity all afternoon. The air was so thick, you could almost cut it with a knife. Then, right as they came inside for dinner, we had a wonderful hour long downpour, ending about an hour before sunset. This left us the perfect window of time to pull a few weeds and harvest a basket of tomatoes, peppers, and yellow squash.

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I just LOVE that my middle daughter Abigail wanted to come out there to work in the garden with me, too!

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In addition to eating fresh peppers, using peppers for cooking, and freezing peppers, we’re having such a bumper crop of peppers, we decided to try making our own dehydrated pepper spice, like the one gifted to us last year! This is my first time attempting this project! We’re six hours into dehydrating right now (it takes 2-3 days), and our whole house is filled with the scent of peppers from the dehydrator! It’s not so intense that it burns eyes or noses or anything, but there’s definitely a noticeable pepperiness wafting throughout the house. (pepperiness? Peppery-ness? Idk. You understand… πŸ™‚ )

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The white platter is holding the peppers I’ve picked from our garden the last three days. I also purchased a few little orange colored habenero peppers from the grocery store to make our blend have extra heat for our winter chili! Love.

So far, we’ve simply cut the peppers in half lengthwise and placed in the dehydrator (skin side down.)

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It takes 2-3 days for the peppers to dehydrate fully in the dehydrator we’re using. Then we’ll crush/grind them and store them in a pretty little stainless and glass container! I’ll update/edit THIS post in 2-3 days with our results.

Until then, we’ll be here, at home, totally enveloped in the aroma of fresh peppers being dehydrated!

UPDATE!:

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Our dehydration of my garden peppers into pepper flake shaker form is a success!!! YAY!!
The peppers dehydrated for two days, then I put them into my blender. I then just used a funnel to pour them into their new container! It’s a glass and stainless container that is about the same size as a soda can! I’m soooooo pleased with the results! It has intense, fresh garden pepper flavor plus LOTS of heat! (Two trays of fresh peppers yielded my soda size shaker about 2/3 full.)

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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DIY pepper flakes

PS
Love linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
NibblesByNic ~ Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursdays
ADelightsomeLife ~ Home Garden Thursday
MizHelensCountryCottage ~ Full Plate Thursday
EverydayEnchanting ~ Inspiration Link Party
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin it Thursday
RattleBridgeFarms ~ Foodie Friday
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best #63 ParTay

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Garden Boxes, Peppers, Peas, and Okra for kids!

Building Raised Garden Boxes and Watching our kids watching PEPPERS, PEAS, & OKRA grow has kept me in smiles recently! Want a peek at part of what has been happening in our yard this season?

I enjoy every season, but I must admit that being so fair (um, pale) skinned, summer hadn’t always been a favorite. It is amazing how different I feel about summer as my garden interests have grown through the years, especially now that my daughters are interested in raising edibles!

(click on photos to enlarge and zoom!)

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(click on photos to enlarge and zoom!)

4ft. by 4ft. might be the most common dimension for traditional square foot gardening, however we built 6ft. by 3ft. raised garden beds for our daughters’ melons and vegetables in order to minimize cost and minimize waste of material by using readily available, USA cedar fence pickets!!

We are quite pleased with how easy it was to source materials, how easy the planting boxes were to assemble, and how well Bonnie plants and Burpee seeds are performing for our daughters!

We have built a total of 5, so far, but have room for a few more!

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BUILDING THE BOXES:
Basically, we needed the raised beds to be affordable, large enough to plant what we want on our rocky hilltop yard, yet small enough that the kids can reach into the center for planting and harvesting. The kids helped with the entire process, including excavation of the plots where the boxes sit!

Tools for box construction:
power chop saw; cordless drill with drill bit and Phillips head bit; stapler

Supplies purchased:
We bought 6″ wide 6′ long fence pickets (6 pickets per box, the ends are half length pickets)
4inch by 4inch post, 6′ long (cut into 1′ long sections)
Plastic sheeting, 12mil. thickness (keeps water and soil from escaping between the pickets, simulating using much more expensive wider width lumber. DO NOT cover the bottom of the box, as drainage is important!)

Plants and Soil, Manure, & Organic Compost:
Our daughters are interested in trying to raise a variety of edibles! So far, things are going well! We’re already harvesting some things, watching blooms on others, and trying to decide what else to raise as the seasons change!

We are so pleased with our plants, so far!
Here is a peek at the variety of BONNIE Peppers that our kids are already harvesting and BURPEE Sweet Peas we harvested are planted beside our BONNIE Okra that will be ready soon, as modeled by our two older daughters, Caroline and Abigail.

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BONNIE Plants and BURPEE seeds may have just reached a completely untapped, youth market audience for their products in our neighborhood! As far as we’ve seen, we’re the only family in our neighborhood growing vegetables this year. The neighborhood kids seem fascinated when our daughters show them their vegetable gardens and talk about the plants! LOVE!! We’re enjoying ourselves, so it is very rewarding for there to be so much interest in our little gardens! It won’t surprise me at all to see more of this style of gardening start popping throughout these suburban backyards! They’re just so fun! They’re great additions beside our RAINBOW swing set/playground, trampoline, and basketball court!

Next on our “to-do” list? Our middle daughter will be in 3rd grade this next school year, and I hear that BONNIE plants has a 3rd grade cabbage patch program! We’re interested! We’ve never tried our hand at growing cabbage before! It would be fun to try! I wonder if Mitch would be willing to make a few more of these garden boxes for Abigail’s elementary school? πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

We’ll post more updates on other things growing in our gardens and fruit trees in the backyard, soon!

“Later, ‘Gators, and Afterwhile, Crocodiles!”
Your Friend,

~Amber Hamilton Henson

This article is featured in Hat Trick magazine, page 108-111. Click on magazine cover to be re-directed:
Hat Trick magazine

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Linking this post to these great blog parties:
Arkansas Women Bloggers’ “Sunday Link Up”
We Made That’s “Made by Kids! #45”