How to Grow Peppers
It’s easy to learn how to grow peppers from seed. If you want a vegetable that will give you bold flavor, bright colors and is easy to grow in a home garden, chili peppers will make an excellent choice. Jalapeno, cayenne and bell peppers are three of the most popular chili peppers for home gardeners, but there are many varieties to select from, and since the plant take up very little garden space, you may want to grow a few different varieties.
Chili peppers can be grown in-ground or in containers. All pepper varieties are warm season vegetables and will only grow when the temperature is above 75 degrees. The hotter the temperature is, the better the pepper plants like it. Select a location that is in full sun all day for in-ground growing or for placing containers. Pepper plants can be successfully grown in cool climates if a soil-warming row cover is used.
Till the soil to the depth of 12 inches or use a 12 inch deep container. Work in 1 inch of compost or well-rotted cow manure and 1 cup of slow-release, granulated fertilizer into an in-ground garden location. If you’re preparing a container, start with good quality potting soil, then mix in 1 cup of compost and 1/4 cup of slow-release, granulated fertilizer into each container. Use a balanced fertilizer, like 10-10-10. The combination of compost or cow manure and fertilizer will create fertile, well-draining soil that will nourish the plants throughout the growing season.
Chili pepper seeds can be sown directly into prepared soil (in-ground or in containers) after the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost has past in the late spring. If pepper seeds are sown too early the seeds will not germinate. Wait until late spring when temperatures are above 75 degrees for 3 consecutive days. Sprinkle seeds on top of prepared soil and lightly cover with potting soil, then water gently. Keep soil moist, but not soggy, until sprouts appear. When seeds germinate and plants are about 1 inch tall, thin the seedlings to 18 inches apart.
Start with quality, pepper seeds or plants to ensure the highest rate of successful growing and best flavor.
Seeds can be started indoors 6 weeks prior to the last frost date. Use a flat container that is at least 4 inches deep and fill it with good quality potting soil. Sow the chili pepper seeds on top of the soil, lightly cover with a more potting soil, water well and place in a warm location. Keep soil moist and when sprouts appear, thin plants to 6 inches apart. Allow plants to continue growing in the container until the weather has warmed sufficiently to transplant them outdoors.
Transplanting Chili Peppers
When planting pepper plants in an in-ground garden, dig holes into prepare soil that are 6-8 deep and 18 inches apart. When growing peppers in a container, choose a container that is 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide and plant 1 plant per container. Place pepper plant in the hole up to the first set of leaves. Back-fill hole and gently tap soil into place around stem and water in well.
The organic matter (compost or cow manure) and the fertilizer that was added to the soil will keep the chili pepper plants fed and growing strong all summer, so there’s no need to feed plants again. Place two inches of organic mulch around the base of each plant to help the soil retain moisture and prevent weed growth. Only water when pepper plants begin to look droopy.
When to Harvest Peppers
Chili peppers are one of those wonderful vegetables that can be harvested and eaten at any stage of maturity. Snip the pods off the stems when they are small and green, or allow them to ripe to any range of color that you prefer. As a rule of thumb, the longer the pods remain on the plant, the more intense flavor and/or heat the pod will have. Experiment by harvesting different pod sizes and colors to discover the one(s) you and your family prefer.
Try Our Chili Pepper Seeds
Interested in growing peppers at home? You can find our Chili Pepper Seeds here.
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