All of the following gardens received serrano pepper bed donations at the beginning of the 2016 growing season. Many will sell back their serrano peppers to make the Bronx Hot Sauce although they are under no obligation to do so.
Below are some tips and instructions for growing and harvesting your peppers;
Serrano peppers are native to the mountains of south-central Mexico and now, many areas of the Bronx. The plants can grow to a height of 2-3 feet and yield prodigious quantities of peppers.
For the purpose of the Bronx Hot Sauce we encourage you to harvest the peppers GREEN. Peppers can generally be harvested about 2.5 to 3 months after transplanting when green, depending on weather conditions.
Sow seeds indoors, 8 weeks before you anticipate transplanting outside. Seed germinates best when soil temperature is 80 F or higher. It will not germinate below 55 F.
Keep plants indoors in a warm (70 F during the day, 65 F at night), sunny location. Lack of light will produce leggy, unproductive transplants.
Don’t rush to transplant outside. Set plants out 2 to 3 weeks after average last frost when the soil has warmed and the weather has settled. Cold temperatures can weaken plants and they may never fully recover. A few days at 60 F to 65 F with reduced water will help harden plants and reduce transplant shock. Over-hardened plants grow slowly after transplanting.
Plant your pepper plants 12 to 24 inches apart, in rows 24 to 36 inches apart, or spaced about 14 to 16 inches apart in raised beds. Select a location that receives plenty of light and heat, and has not been used for tomatoes, potatoes or other members of this family for the past couple of years. Peppers will do best with soil that is fertile, lightweight, slightly acidic (pH 5.5-7.0) and well-drained.
Mulch plants after they are established and the soil has warmed to retain moisture and control weeds.
Your plants need a steady supply of water. Water deeply at least 3 times per week, especially in the driest point in summer. Peppers like the heat, so full sun exposure is ideal, but they also thrive with more water.
Peppers can be temperamental when it comes to setting fruit if temperatures are too hot or too cool. Nighttime temperatures below 60 F or above 75 F can reduce fruit set.
Don’t recommend you use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers in your community gardens. If you’d like to fertilize your plants, add finished compost in the planting holes when you transplant, or topdress the garden surface with a 2-3 inch layer of compost.
You can also use fully composted chicken manure if your garden keeps chickens. Fish and seaweed-based fertilizers like Neptune’s are also good. Dilute them in water and drench the soil around the roots of the plants, following the recommendations on the package.
Stake your plants for best performance. Once they are heavy with peppers, your plants will grow best when staked, with peppers kept off the ground.
Too much nitrogen fertilizer may promote lush vegetative growth but fewer fruits. Peppers usually respond well to phosphorus fertilizer.
Do not plant in same spot more than once every 4 years.
Check the blog as the season progresses for in season tips and pointers. Feel free to share any and all wisdom along the way.
Our peppers are grown in Community Gardens throughout the Bronx by community gardeners. At the beginning of each season, we donate pepper seedlings to these gardens. At harvest, we buy the fully mature peppers back from our gardeners at premium, fair trade prices.
The Bronx Hot Sauce is made exclusively from serrano peppers, hotter than poblanos, but milder than habaneros. They originally come from the Mexican highlands, which combines the dry arid air of Mexico with cool mountain air. They are perfectly suited for the climate in the Bronx. We think of them as the goldilocks of peppers.
Our peppers are grown in over 30 community gardens throughout the Bronx. Please check out our list of gardens for more information about ways to get involved. All of our gardens are managed by our partners at GrowNYC, who train farmers in sustainable growing practices.
Check out the constantly updated list of retail locations on our website. Also you can purchase the Bronx Hot Sauce online. We ship everywhere in the world.
Unopened, our hot sauce has a shelf life of at least 18 months. Once opened, if it is refrigerated, it should still last another 6 months. But we guarantee you’ll finish it before then.
The Bronx Hot Sauce is primarily a community development project dedicated developing and maintaining community gardens and green spaces throughout the Bronx. In addition, it is delicious. Our hot sauce has only six ingredients, without additives or preservatives so it’s always natural and fresh. Lastly, the Bronx Hot Sauce is more savory than other hot sauces, allowing you to actually taste your food without simply overpowering it with spice.
King Phojanakong is at the forefront of the burgeoning Filipino food movement and is the chef-owner of Kuma Inn and Tito King’s Kitchen at Jimmy’s 43, in New York City. King is a NYC native whose culinary influences began at home with the inspirational cooking of his Filipino mother and Thai father. A Culinary Institute of America graduate who worked with Daniel Boulud at “ Daniel” and David Bouley at “The Danube”. Chef King has been featured in television programs including Cutthroat Kitchen, The Rachael Ray Show, Food(ography), Selling New York and Mike Colameco’s Real Food. King was a presenter at CIA’s Flavor, Quality and American Menus 2012, Worlds of Flavor 2013, Worlds of Flavor 2015 and Flavor Summit 2016.
Off line he likes to spin old school hip hop, jam on his Fender Strat and play pinball with his daughter.
GrowNYC is a hands-on non-profit which improves New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations. For more than 40 years, GrowNYC’s garden program has been building and sustaining community gardens, urban farms, school gardens, and rainwater harvesting systems across New York City.
Bronx Green-Up is the community gardening outreach program of The New York Botanical Garden. They provide horticulture education, training, and technical assistance to Bronx residents, community gardeners, urban farmers, local schools, and community organizations
Small Axe Peppers is run by John A. Crotty, John Fitzgerald, Todd Snyder and Drew Doscher, four partners who share the central belief that successful communities are made, not by brick and mortar, but mutual collaboration. Our name comes from a Bob Marley song which embodies this central philosophy: “if you are the big tree, let me tell you that / we are the small axe, sharp and ready.” We believe large societal problems become solvable when everyone works together to do their small part. Small Axe Peppers empowers everyone to swing their own small axe.