Sweet peppers, also known as bell peppers, are so versatile in cooking. They can be used raw in salads and cooked in stir-fries and casseroles. Peppers will grow well in a greenhouse. But will also thrive in pots outside if you place them in a warm, sunny spot. Growing Peppers!
When you decide to grow peppers, you could easily become overwhelmed at all of the options that are available to you.
However, they can be summed up into three main categories: bell peppers, banana peppers, and hot peppers.
Prep The Site
The right site can make all the difference in how well peppers perform. Choose a sunny, well-drained spot where peppers haven’t grown recently. The soil should be deep, rich, and loamy. If yours isn’t, amend it with about 1 inch of compost.
Avoid adding too much nitrogen to the soil, however. Excessive nitrogen can cause the pepper plants to grow too fast, making them more susceptible to disease and less productive.
Pepper Seeds Or Plants?
Most pepper seeds sprout in about a week at a temperature of 70-80 degrees F. But germination can be spotty depending on variety. Hot peppers can be very finicky. To speed the process, place the seeds between damp sheets of paper towel. Put them in zippered plastic bag, and put the bag in a warm place (the top of the refrigerator works fine). As soon as the pepper seeds sprout. Carefully plant them in individual containers such as pea pots.
When the first true leaves develop, move the plants to a sunny southern window until you can transplant them into the garden. Don’t set out your pepper transplants until night temperatures average around 55-60 degrees F. If you’d rather not start seedlings. You can order Sure Start Plants from Burpee which will arrive shortly before transplanting time or purchase peppers at a local garden center. However, choice of varieties is generally very limited.
Soil and Care
Growing peppers is easy in any sunny, well-drained spot. And they are good candidates for roomy containers, too. Peppers have a naturally upright growth habit, so they often benefit from staking. Which keeps brittle branches from breaking when they become heavy with fruit. Colorful peppers also make great additions to beds planted with flowers and other edible ornamentals. Where they can easily serve as specimen plants.
In beds or rows, the best spacing for most pepper plants is 18 to 24 inches apart, check the tag for exceptions. Peppers grow best in a soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.0, although they can tolerate slightly alkaline conditions near 7.5. For in-ground gardens, mix a 3- to 5-inch layer of compost into each planting hole. A generous amount of organic matter helps the soil retain moisture, and moist soil is crucial for good pepper production.
Though peppers like to be kept on the dry side rather than having wet feet. Pepper plants grow best when they get a consistent amount of water. Inconsistent watering can stunt the growth of both the plant and pepper production, and is a contributing factor to blossom end rot.
A drip irrigation system is super easy to install, and it makes a huge difference when it comes to giving your peppers the right amount of water.
Wit And Wisdom
The popular green and red bell peppers that we see in supermarkets are actually the same thing. The red peppers have just been allowed to mature on the plant longer.
Changing color and also gaining a higher content of Vitamin C.
If plants are flowering but you’re not seeing fruit, give stakes a gentle shake each day – enough to rustle plants. Pepper flowers are self-pollinated, which means that while blooms are pollinated by bees, they can also be wind pollinated. If stems on peppers turn black, that’s a sign of maturation, not disease.
Start picking your peck of peppers when they’re green, or wait until they turn red, yellow or orange. Sweet peppers are sweetest and hot peppers are hottest when fruits turn red. Pick green peppers, and plants will continue to form more fruit. To harvest, use a knife or snips to slice through stems to make a clean cut and avoid damaging growing stems. Leaving a piece of stem on peppers enhances storage.
There are many different varieties of hot peppers. You must use caution when handling hot peppers, though. When picking them always be sure to wash your hands before touching any part of your face. Some of the varieties pack so much heat that they can literally burn your face and eyes if they are touched with contaminated hands.
So please keep that in mind when picking your variety of hot peppers. The most common variety of hot peppers are habanero, jalapeno, ghost pepper, or red chili peppers. These can be used to add spice to any dish or even dried and used as a seasoning.