Dependable and delicious, ‘Jimmy Nardello’ is a highly prized heirloom pepper used in Italian cooking. Recently rated as the sweetest non-bell pepper, the plant does well in most areas and is very prolific, with the fruit being one of the sweetest and most palatable varieties that you can find.
It produces 25cm (10in) fruits which are sweet and light when eaten raw. It is considered one of the very best frying peppers, as its fruity raw flavour becomes perfectly creamy and soft when fried. The peppers are curved at the top and often twisted, the long pods ripen from green to a beautiful glossy, fire engine red.
The vigorous plants grow 50 to 70cm (20 to 28in) tall, they quickly establish a strong centre stalk, which is quite sturdy, they could use support as the heavy fruit set lasts all summer long and can weigh heavily on some plants. 75 days to maturity.
Unexpectedly sweet, yet similar in look to a cayenne, usually, this pepper’s fate is to be dried or fried, but it's also delicious when used fresh in salads. The peppers are delicious, whether cooked in a little olive oil, grilled, chopped, sautéed with other vegetables, or used raw in salsas and salads. It's no wonder that this variety has been grown and cherished for generations.
The back story to this pepper makes a wonderful conversation opener at the greenhouse. This famous Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Pepper was first introduced to the USA in 1887 by Giuseppe Nardello, (originally Nardiello), an Italian immigrant originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy who popped a few seeds from his favourite pepper into his pocket before leaving his home country.
His son, Jimmy, kept the family treasure safe and gave seed to the Seed Savers Exchange. It is still registered as ‘endangered’ on the Slow Foods Ark of Tastes.
- Organic Seed.
This seed has been organically produced. The seed has been harvested from plants that have themselves been grown to recognised organic standards, without the use of chemicals. No treatments have been used, either before or after harvest and the seed is supplied in its natural state. It has been certified and is labelled with the Organic symbol.
Sowing: Sow indoors from mid February to April
Peppers can be sown February to April but are best sown before the end of March. They flourish in a sunny, sheltered position on a south facing wall, in fertile, well-drained soil or grown in a green-house, in pots or in the ground.
Fill small cells or trays with a good sterile seed compost and sow the seeds on the surface. “Just cover” with a fine sprinkling of sieved compost or vermiculite. Keep the compost moist - don't let the top of the compost dry out (a common cause of germination failure) If you wish, spray the surface with a dilute copper-based fungicide.
Cover the pot or tray with plastic or place in a heated propagator, south facing window or a warm greenhouse. The ideal temperature is around 22°C (72°F). They can be slow to germinate from 21 to 28 days. Remove the cover as soon as seedlings appear.
When the seedlings have produced their first pair of true leaves and are about 5cm (2in) tall they can be transplanted to individual 9cm (4in) pots. Use good quality potting compost and mix in some organic slow release fertiliser. Pot the seedlings on again into 2 litre pots before they become root-bound.
Water the seedlings regularly, but don't let them become waterlogged as this encourages rot. Don't let them dry out as they rarely recover at this stage. Water the soil, not the foliage. Once the plants have established, it is better to water heavy and infrequently, allow the top or the compost to dry out in between watering.
Seedlings should be grown in good light, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight from late spring to early autumn. Weaker sunlight from autumn to spring is unlikely to do them harm. Once seedlings have put on some growth they need lots of light. Growing them under a grow-light produces excellent stocky plants, as will a warm sunny windowsill. Adult plants need lots of light. However, more than 4 hours or so in hot direct sunlight will dry them out quickly.
In May to June transplant to greenhouse border, growbags or large pots. Wait until June for plants that are to be grown outdoors in the ground or in 4 to 5 litre pots
Acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 2 to 3 weeks before they are moved permanently outside. Plant them into rich moist soil. Flowers do not form and fruit will not set if the temperature is much below 17°C (62°F) for most of the day, so wait until June for best results with outdoor planting.
The plants can be left to grow as cordons with supports and just pinch out the top when they reach the greenhouse roof. But the best method is to pinch out the growing tip and produce a smaller bushier plant that will only need a little staking and produce earlier fruits which should ripen easier.
After the first flowers appear, feed every one or two weeks with a half-strength liquid tomato feed. You could also add some Seaweed extract to the water once a week.
Pollinating Flowers: (optional)
The plants are self fertile and will generally pollinate themselves. However, if you want to give them a helping hand to ensure that lots of fruit are set indoors, use a cotton wool bud or paintbrush to gently sweep the inside of the flowers, going from one flower to the next, transferring the pollen. The flower's petals will drop off as the green middle part of the flower starts to swell slightly. This is the pepper beginning to grow.
Harvesting: July to October - 92 days from transplant to harvest.
The peppers will take a few weeks to develop and a further couple weeks to ripen. You may pick them off the plant any time after they are fully developed but do not leave them on for too long, as delaying after the pepper is ready for harvest will result in a decline of further yields.
Store in a plastic bag in the fridge for several days, or chop and freeze for up to six months.
They can be dried by putting them into a mesh bag, hang the bag up in a dry, airy, but not sunny spot.
Good Companions: Tomatoes, geraniums, and, petunias.
Bad Companions: Avoid beans, kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.
- Organic Seed.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 Seeds Common Name Mild and Sweet Other Common Names Sweet Pepper Family Solanaceae Genus Capsicum Species annum Cultivar Nardello Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Fruit 25cm (10in) long. Ripens from green to red Height 50 to 60cm (20 to 24in) tall Position Grown in good light, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight Soil Rich moist soil. Time to Sow Sow from mid February to mid June Harvest Pick them off the plant any time after they are fully developed Time to Harvest 75 days to harvest