Of all the plants in my garden, I find that peppers are the ones I tend to neglect the most, knowing that they're hardy enough to tough-it through the storm. The past several years I've had both jalapeno and sweet banana plants and they are so prolific that I have more peppers than I know what to do with. Last year I had so many extra jalapenos that they ended up turning red on the vine, then drying and freezing during the winter - a spicy christmas tree, if you will. No matter how many salsas, eggs, chilis, or stir-frys that I make, we still have more than we need.
This year the jalapenos are off to a slow start due to those darn starlings, again (sense a recurring theme here?). For some reason it seems to be really fun for the birds to snip off the leaves one by one. I know they're not making a nest with leaves, and I know they can't be good-eats, so what gives? I've read that these birds, while oily, pudgy, and noisy, are actually pretty smart. Maybe this is all just a game of mental acrobatics for them. Are they bored? Maybe I need to install some birdie play-toys on the balcony - something with bright colors and a mirror or a bell. That's got to be more attractive and eye-catching that a humble little pepper plant.
The sweet hungarian wax peppers seem to have been spared from the birds, oddly enough. I currently have three planted, which should be more than enough. I've started to see little flower nibs on the tops, so things should be up and running shortly.
Peppers seem to need less water and less attention than most other garden plants - this works out nicely as the balcony gets full sun from about noon til sunset. By the time I come home from work most days in the summer my little plants are crying out for a drink.
On the topic of watering, I'm wondering if anyone has information on using glazed pots vs. unglazed clay pots. I've been seeing some fungus gnats in some of my pots, and my hunch is that those pots are not getting enough drainage. It makes sense that unglazed pots would get better aeration than glazed, but they just look so darn nice. For now I think I'm just going to closely monitor my watering and maybe put up some of those yellow fly papers.