Unique Kingsburg garden features new trend

FRESNO, Calif.

Plants overloaded with chili peppers thrive in Stan and Lise Ruiz's yard. They grow everything from bell and serrano peppers to sweet Italian and the ridiculously hot ghost chili. Stan explained, "I wouldn't recommend picking it out without gloves because the capsaicin level is so high it will stick to your fingers."

Ruiz raised garden supports pots on a long table. He said, "Instead of bending over and hurting my back now I can harvest my crop just like this. There's no more weeding, no more tilling."

You water the plants from the base of individual pots. "All the water goes into the bottom so evaporation goes right to the roots vs. mother nature and there's no water loss going into the soil."

It used to take Stan four hours to water 64 plants in the ground - using a water hose at full blast. Now a pressurized drip system does it in a flash. "I can water these 96 plants in 3 minutes or less so it's a great savings on water and Kingsburg being on water meters I can save some money."

Ruiz uses Miracle Grow potting soil and an organic fertilizer to push his pepper production to new heights.

His wife Lise said, "At first quite honestly I thought my husband went berserk."

Consider Stan the "Peter Piper" of the valley. He could pick enough pecks of pickled peppers to fill 400 jars this year. But the Ruiz family also grows tomatoes, eggplant, squash and cucumbers. No need to hit the produce section at the store.

Lise said, "We both love vegetables and it's such a joy to come out here and pick your product, bring it in the house, pick your fresh herbs, cook with it."

Whenever friends and family visit they start taking measurements and ask how to get started. Stan said, "I tell everybody this is the way to go."

Many stores and nurseries sell pots which allow you to water plants from the base. Stan said you can't over-water because the excess water just spills out.

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