Growing peppers in an edible garden is among the most rewarding things you can do with your time. They have a high rate of productivity, providing gardeners with more fruit than they can possibly consume, and the fruit, as it matures, looks absolutely stunning.
Here is the information you need to have at your disposal in order to successfully plant and grow peppers in your garden:
In the same family as eggplants and tomatoes, peppers are classified as nightshade vegetables. Not only is it simple to cultivate peppers, but there are also an incredible number of varieties available.
Peppers can range from mildly sweet, like bell peppers, to extremely spicy, like jalapeno peppers, to unimaginably hot, comparable to that of the Carolina Reaper. When a plant has become well-established, it will keep producing right up until the very first frost of the autumn.
Additionally, many varieties of peppers can also be pickled or dried so that they can be used in cooking throughout the entire year.
When to Plant Pepper Seeds
Pepper plants are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures and will die if exposed to frost. It is best to sow pepper seeds inside between eight and ten weeks before the latest potential date of frost in your region. This will ensure that the plants have enough time to develop and bear fruit before the next frost date.
Plant the pepper seeds in the sterilised seed-starting mix at a depth of one-quarter of an inch and use a plantlets heat mat to keep the temperature of the soil between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, germination can still be inconsistent even when temperatures are within the optimal range.
There is a possibility that some seeds will germinate in as little as a week, whereas others from the identical variety might take as long as 21 days. The spiciest peppers are typically the ones that take the longest to germinate, particularly if the temperature of the soil is too low.
The germination of pepper seeds does not require light; however, the seedlings should be cultivated under the light in order to develop into robust plants that can eventually be grown outside.
Peppers that are not given enough light to grow properly will wither and become spindly. In order to reduce the risk of damping off disease, running a fan can be of assistance.
When the seedlings have reached a certain size, they should be transferred to larger containers and “potted up.” Prior to being planted outside, the seedlings should be “hardened off,” which means they should be steadily exposed to their new surroundings.
This is accomplished by taking the plants outside for a brief period of time on the very first day (anywhere from half an hour to an hour), and then gradually extending the amount of time they spend outside each day for anywhere between seven and ten days, till the crops are ready to be exposed to 8 hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis.
You also have the option of purchasing seedlings from the nursery. It is more convenient to start with pepper starts, but you should be aware that there is less variety available to choose from when purchasing plants instead of seeds.
Plant seedlings in the ground outside 2 to 3 weeks from the final date on which there is a chance of frost. When the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees and the air temperature remains above 50 degrees Fahrenheit overnight, the plants will have the best chance of survival.
Where and How to Plant Peppers
Pepper plants need full sun, which translates to not less than 6 hours of bright sunlight per day, as well as soil that is well-drained and has a pH that falls somewhere between 5.5 to 7.0. The pH of the garden can be determined with the help of a soil test, which can also identify any nutrient losses in the ground.
Because peppers require a lot of food, the first step in growing them successfully is to amend the soil with a lot of compost and just a little bit of aged manure. Be careful not to apply too much manure, however, because doing so will result in increased foliar development at the cost of fruit production if there is an excess of nitrogen.
Before transplanting, you should remove any fruits or flowers that are currently developed on the plant. Although the plant may experience some discomfort as a result of this, it is ultimately in its best interest.
Remove them so that the plant can focus its energy on developing its roots and stems and getting used to the natural environment outside. After this, the plant will grow new fruit and flowers because it now has a firm foundation and the weather is warmer. In the end, the yield will be significantly higher.
Depending on the type of plant, leave a distance of between 12 to 18 inches between each seedling. (The recommended distance between seeds in the seed carton will be specified for the particular variety.) When started growing in close enough proximity to one another, but not necessarily touching, pepper plants typically produce the best results.
When you are transplanting, it is acceptable to bury some of the stems; however, there are no benefits to planting the roots very deeply. In contrast to tomato plants, pepper plants do not readily produce roots from their stems in the same way.
If pepper plants are not supported, the heavy fruit that they produce often causes the plants to topple over. Install tomato cages or stake plants as soon as possible, preferably before the crops have grown significantly.
Different Types of Peppers
You can eat bell peppers raw or boil them to bring out their sweetness and their high water content. Before turning red and achieving their full potential as food, some types are green and taste bitter.
Some may remain green as they age, while others will develop into white, pink, orange, or purple. Most people find that orange bell peppers have a more tart flavour than red ones.
Cajun Belle is a bell pepper plant that has won the All-America Selections award and produces fruit that is between 2 and 3 inches in length. These disease-resistant plants reach a height and width of 2 feet, making them ideal for gardens with limited space.
They mature rapidly, in about 60 days. Peppers can be harvested at any stage of development, from green to red. There’s a hint of heat to the flavour.
The Islander bell pepper has three lobes and matures from purple to yellow with orange stripes to red. You can pick them when they’re still a pale lavender colour, or wait until they’re fully ripe. It has a gentle, slightly sweet taste.
Curved and yellow like a banana, the banana pepper is barely two to three inches long. They have a Scoville heat index of only 0–500, making them only mildly spicy.
The riper they are when harvested, the tastier they will taste. Yellow wax pepper is another name for banana pepper.
Dried poblano peppers, known as anchos, are a milder chilli pepper. It’s a must-have ingredient for any authentic Mexican meal. Stuffed poblanos may be made with ease, and ancho chiles are a key ingredient in mole sauce. The average Scoville heat level of a poblano is between 1,000 to 1,500.
The jalapeno pepper is a common ingredient in Mexican dishes like salsa and pico de gallo. Poppers are a fried jalapeno and cheese snack. On plants that reach a height of 14 to 18 inches, the fruit matures to a length of about 3 inches.
Picking jalapenos while they’re still green is standard practice, but if you leave them on the plant for too long, they’ll turn black and afterwards red. Scoville heat units range from 2,500 to 8,000 for jalapeno peppers.
Corking, or white scars, on older fruit, are an indicator of a pepper’s increased spiciness.
A Hungarian hot wax has the appearance of a banana pepper but is significantly hotter, scoring between 1,000 to 15,000 here on the Scoville scale. The fruit reaches a length of 4 to 6 inches before being picked, usually before it turns red and orange. These peppers are commonly used for pickling.
Ground cayenne pepper, pepper sauce, and even squirrel repellent include cayenne. The length of these thin red chiles ranges from 6 inches to 8 inches. Scoville heat units range from 30,000 to 50,000 for cayenne peppers.
A little Tabasco pepper can deliver a powerful punch, measuring between 30,000 and 50,000 here on the Scoville scale. Tabasco sauce’s namesake, it also adds flavour to vinegar. They’re great as container decorations because of their upright growth and gradation of yellow, orange, and red.
The habanero chile pepper is widely used in spicy condiments like salsa and hot sauce. The fruit ranges in length from 1 to 2 inches, depending on the variety, and is most commonly crimson or brilliant orange when ripe.
Although habaneros typically range in heat from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units, new “heat-less” varieties have recently become available.
The Scotch bonnet chilli, like the habanero, is a C. Chinense pepper that packs a punch. Its peculiar shape was inspired by a traditional Scottish hot, hence the name. Compared to habanero, it is milder and more diminutive.
A Guide on Watering Peppers
Water is scarce yet usually deep. The target rate of rainfall is one inch each week. If it hasn’t rained at least an inch in a week, you should water your plants to make up the deficit. Hydration below the shrubbery, close to the earth. (Disease is encouraged when fruit and foliage are left damp from being watered from above.)
After the soil has warmed to above 60 degrees, apply an organic 2-inch mulch layer to assist the garden stay hydrated between waterings. Mulch options include shredded leaves, wood chips from an arborist, and straw.
During the hottest parts of the summer, plants may need as much as two inches of moisture per week, but this water should not pool. Well-drained soil is crucial for pepper plants since they do not like to have their roots sitting in water.
Peppers of all colours begin their lives as green. When planning your garden, keep in mind the perfect pepper colour for harvest. Otherwise, you can accidentally harvest a red pepper before it’s ready, or leave a green pepper on the vine for too long.
Damage to a pepper plant is likely if you try to pluck a fruit from it. Harvest by cutting slightly above the point where the stalk joins the fruit with a serrated knife or pruning shears.
Refrigerating unwashed peppers for one or two weeks is fine. Another option for long-term storage is drying them in an oven or dehydrator.