This year I selected Early Thickset. Descriptions made it sound like a good substitute for my Karma peppers. But wait ... I found a few Karma seeds hiding in the seed tin after the Thickset seeds arrived! I had the chance for a head to head competition.
Both peppers germinated in their indoor starter cups. For my pepper-thon, the best seedling of each variety was planted next to the other in the front cottage garden. Both had the same good soil, ample sunlight, water, hot weather, and fertilizer. They grew as side by side companions through the spring and summer, and now the results are in. Karma still rules.
Both plants appeared identical in size, coloring, and leaves, and were not bothered by pests or disease. But there was a difference in the peppers.
Early Thickset was not early after all. Both plants set fruit at the same time, and both matured to red at the same time. No advantage to either. The Karma produced only two large peppers, while the Thickset had five in the first summer cycle. The Karma peppers were uniformly large and turned red. The Thickset peppers had one large, four smaller, and turned a rusty reddish-brown. Thickset probably has a better tolerance for our summer heat, and thus could set fruit at higher temperatures. So we get bigger peppers with Karma, more peppers with Thickset. Notice also that Thickset had four internal ribs, while Karma had three.
The important test is taste. Both were cut into. Both were juicy and had that fresh bell pepper aroma. Surprisingly, the Early Thickset not only flunked the 'early' test, but the 'thick' test, too. Karma had much thicker walls. Maybe as indicated by the color, the Karma were definitely sweeter tasting.
Karma is the winner, since I would rather have fewer fruits per plant if it means I get sweet tasting, juicy, meaty peppers.
Blooming: pink cosmos, mexican zinnia, rudbeckia, cosmos, zinnia, nicotiana, cleome, sunflowers, marigold
Harvested: 5 peppers, 1 tomato, 3 cukes, 56 cherry tomatoes