I stopped by my local greenhouse yesterday looking for ACE (F1) Hybrid pepper seedlings. I asked the owner if she had any 'ACE' Pepper seedlings. She said I'd have to look through them and directed me to the pepper seedlings. I found flat after flat of 'Bell Boy' pepper seedlings. After some searching, I discovered several of the 'Bell Boy' plant markers had 'Ace' penned in beside the name.
Thinking that perhaps the F1 Hybrid has been sold under the name of 'Bell Boy' (I found it sold under several names, depending on the seed company, this spring.) I decided to ask the nice lady if they were the same variety. The reaction I got was not what I expected.
She quickly told me that they were all Bell Peppers! I, of course, explained that I was aware of that, but just wanted to know if the variety 'Bell Boy' was another name being used for the ACE (F1) Hybrid. I even explained that I grew the F1 Hybrid last year and loved them, but forgot to order my seeds this spring and needed to buy seedlings.She informed me that she wrote ACE on them so people would know - but that they were all bell peppers!
She did not explain whether these 'ACE' peppers were the F1 Hybrid, or how they differed from the 'Bell Boy' variety. I'm not sure if she didn't know whether they were the same variety or whether she thought all peppers were the same, but it was clear to me that she didn't think I should be asking. Unfortunately when you live in a rural area with limited resources you sometimes need to do business with those who you would likely avoid if there were other alternatives.
I bought a dozen pepper seedlings with the commercial label 'Bell Boy' with 'ACE' penned in. I'm not sure exactly which variety I purchased, but I am hoping they are the 'ACE' F1 hybrid pepper, as these do amazingly well here in my part of Maine.
A quick search online revealed that the two pepper varieties are very different. 'ACE' F1 is best for northern, short season gardens and produces a elongated pepper, while 'Bell Boy' is a blocky bell pepper. The ACE pepper produces green peppers in approximately 50 days, while the 'Bell Boy' is listed as 70 days to maturity.
Next year, I certainly won't forget to order my seeds and start my own pepper seedlings. Then I can be sure of what I am growing and won't need to put up with a condescending attitude if I ask a question about the variety I am purchasing.
Until next time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!