Pimentos are mild or very slightly hot peppers

April 21, 2021

For many of us, Jack Benny sums up golf, “Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.” The Augusta Masters does have yet another point of interest in the pimento cheese sandwich at a very 1950s price of just $1.50. The original pimento cheese recipe belonged to Nick Rangos’ Woodruff drugstore. But after 45 years, the tournament broke ties with Rangos, who took his recipe with him.

Once isn't enough in golf, so Ted Godfrey, who took over after Rangos came up with a recipe that was virtually identical to Rangos’. Not learning their lesson, the Masters dropped Godfrey. He did what Rangos did and walked away with his recipe.

The thing that gets overlooked in all this drama is the pimento pepper central to the recipe. Pimento peppers are mild or very slightly hot peppers usually dried and ground into powder or stuffed into green olives.

Pimento peppers (Capsicum annuum) are often called “cherry pepper” because of their red color and round, heart-shaped fruit. The peppers are about three to four inches long and two to three inches wide, topped by a short, thick green stem. Use pimentos in place of bell peppers in everything from chili, stews and soups, to using them in lentils, pasta and risotto.

One of the best pimento peppers to grow at home is the Sheepnose Pimento Pepper. This is a beautiful sweet pepper that ripens from green to fire-engine red in just 70 days from transplanting or about 85 days from direct seeding in the garden. The ribbed peppers are quite stunning in the garden or on your plate. Sheepnose Pimento Pepper is an Ohio heirloom, able to handle northern climates where peppers often grow poorly.

For earliest harvest, sow seeds indoors a quarter-inch deep. Peppers germinate best in warm soil, so gentle bottom heat may be helpful until seedlings emerge.

Set your transplants into the garden after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Ideal soil has a pH of 6.5.

Plant the peppers 12 to 18 inches apart in rows 24 to 36 inches apart where they will get full sun.

You can also plant seeds directly in the garden. Seeds are available from heirloom seed sellers such as Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( and Seed Savers Exchange Heirloom Seeds (

For early crops you can use black plastic mulch, and lightweight fabric row covers. Roll back row covers during sunny weather above 85°F.

You can control climbing cutworms by applying the powdered bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. Use pyrethrin to kill aphids and other pests. Keep the plants well picked to encourage the plants to set even more peppers.

Plant Sheepnose Pimento Peppers and you will soon be dining on them chopped, mixed with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and cream cheese for pimento cheese sandwiches. And remember what golfer Ben Hogan said, “As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” 

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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