Peppers comprise the foremost diverse and varied tribe within the nightshade family with reference to color, shape, and flavor. Peppers are often sweet, warm, or hot, their shapes range from long and pointed to the familiar short, squat blocky appearance of the bell, and therefore the array of colors runs from sunshine yellow all the thanks to reddish-purple, with a rainbow in between. Despite these differences, the one constant is that the existence of the distinctive crunch and savory pepper flavor that creates this vegetable one among the foremost useful to cooks worldwide.
Peppers are relatively easy to grow and a number of other varieties should be a part of any vegetable garden. The deep glossy green leaves and colorful fruit on the plants make peppers attractive to use as ornamentals also, so growing peppers during a large pot on a porch or patio are very feasible.
All peppers require an extended season, warm soil that’s slightly acid, and a sunny location. The plants also are highly frost-sensitive. Gardeners who live north of Tennessee and who want to enjoy a good sort of peppers should start plants indoors in March and transplant into the garden after the last frost in late April or early May. Alternately, starter plants for the foremost popular varieties are usually available within the garden centers of “big box” hardware stores or at local nurseries.
Most pepper plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall, and plants should be spaced two feet apart. Peppers don’t need soil with high fertility, but they are doing enjoy soils with a pH that’s between 5.5 and 7.0 that contains a big amount of sulfur. One folk remedy was to place the heads from two kitchen matches into each hole before planting the pepper. For those folks who not use kitchen matches to light our wood stove, adding a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to the soil in each planting hole accomplishes an equivalent end.
CARING FOR PEPPERS
Peppers thrive when their roots stay toasty, so mulching the pepper beds with perforated black plastic keeps the soil warm, moist and friable and controls weed growth. Pepper plants can tolerate dry conditions, but it’s an honest idea to water deeply once every week while the plants are growing; a stunted plant produces small, woody fruit that tends to be bitter. Hold off fertilizing peppers until they start in touch fruit; early fertilization results in strong vegetative growth but limits fruit production.
Pepper plants tend to be fussy about the air temperature. Cool summers will limit flowering; extreme heat stops the plant from setting fruit. If days stay below 70° F during the summer (a rare situation) the plants are often covered with clear plastic “caps” which will increase the air temperature around each plant. Unless the plants are growing in movable pots which will be taken indoors during the day, there’s nothing a gardener can do about extreme heat. Once the plants begin to flower, scatter a tablespoonful of time-released “bloom booster” fertilizer around the base of every plant, or water with a water-soluble fertilizer every other week. This enhances the plants’ productivity and increases the dimensions of the fruit each plant produces.
Peppers are one among the few vegetables which will be used before they’re ripe. Every green bell or chili that’s on the market may be a pepper that’s not fully ripe – these vegetables turn color (usually red) once they’re fully ripe. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers tend to be sweeter than their green counterparts, so harvest consistent with your flavor expectations. Hot peppers don’t increase in heat once they ripen, because the “heat” is contained within the seeds instead of the flesh. However, if these peppers are to be dried, it’s best to reap them once they are ripe; otherwise, harvest as they’re needed. If the pepper has wrinkled skin or appears to be bleaching out, it’s dehydrated and won’t have an honest, crunchy texture or considerable flavor.
COOKING AND PRESERVING PEPPERS
Using peppers in cooking or canning is a whole article in itself. Any pepper is often used raw in salads, are often stuffed and cooked with chopped meat and rice or eaten raw full of pasta or seafood salad, sautéed with other flavoring items (onions, garlic, bacon, etc) and added to stews, sauces or omelets. Pickled peppers – sweet or hot – make great garnishes for sandwiches, hot dogs, or hamburgers.
Dried peppers are often reconstituted to be used during the winter; dried chilies make attractive decorations also as being handy within the kitchen, and ground dried hot peppers mixed with water and dishwasher detergent keeps even the foremost persistent possums and renegade raccoons faraway from the remainder of the garden. Sauce, salad, pickles, and pest control – what other vegetables have those bragging rights? Pepper plants may have to be treated like divas to supply well, but the rewards are worth all of the efforts.
COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: the way to GROW PEPPERS
DO PEPPER PLANTS NEED tons OF WATER?
Peppers are thirsty enough plants and wish a moderate amount of water when the weather isn’t rainy, but they don’t like their soil to be oversaturated or waterlogged, either. When the weather is hot, pepper plants will wilt during the most well-liked part of the day even once they have much water. However, they ought to perk copy within the cool of the night, so if your pepper plants are still wilted within the morning, they have some hydration. To avoid letting your plants get to the present point, you’ll check how wet the soil is by sticking a finger into it near where your pepper plants are growing. If the soil remains wet at the highest three or four inches, it’s not time to water yet, but if it’s dry, it’s time to water your plants. You’ll know the soil is wet if dirt clings to your skin once you touch it.
DO PEPPERS come EVERY YEAR?
Pepper plants are usually annuals that flourish for a season to die afterward, but you’ll keep them indoors for the winter so they’ll continue producing subsequent year as perennials. If you do, you’ll have a way larger harvest the second year because the plants will start producing peppers immediately and you won’t need to await them to succeed in maturity, so your picking period is going to be longer. to try to do this most reliably, grow your pepper plants in pots, to start with so they’re easy to maneuver and won’t be shocked by being transplanted into containers.
Before moving your plants indoors, prune the foliage by about half with clean, sterilized shears to encourage rootage development and make them easier to store. The greenery will still die down a touch within the cooler months, which is normal. While the plants are indoors, prune them whenever it’s needed to get rid of discolored foliage. The plants may drop all their leaves, but don’t be alarmed. The plants will grow new ones within the spring.
The best place to stay your plants for the winter is during a sunny windowsill far away from radiators and other heat sources. Wherever you store the plants, they need to be kept at a temperature above freezing for the winter. Reduce watering to stay the soil barely moistened, letting it become almost completely dry between waterings.
Start preparing plants to maneuver back outdoors a month and a half before your last frost date by moving them into new, larger containers with compost and fertilizer and amping up the quantity of water you give them.
DO YOU SOAK PEPPER SEEDS BEFORE PLANTING?
Soaking pepper seeds will make them germinate faster, but it’s not necessary. If you select to soak your seeds, allow them to sit within the water for 2 to eight hours until they sink to rock bottom.
HOW am I able to MAKE MY PEPPERS GROW FASTER?
There are several methods you’ll use to hurry up the expansion of your pepper plants. Choose one or two of those tips to use in your garden.
Choose seed varieties labeled “early season” or simply “early” on the package. These will reach maturity faster and may often be started before other plant varieties.
Start your seeds during a sunny window indoors early to urge a hop on the season. Use grow lights or heat mats to stay the temperature between 80 and 90 degrees because peppers germinate fastest during this temperature range. you’ll start peppers indoors a month before your outdoor temperatures will reach a 60-degree daytime average. confirm to harden off your plants to avoid damage and loss when moving them outdoors.
Remove the primary flowers your pepper plants produce to encourage the plant to grow larger, eventually leading to a more substantial yield.
HOW LATE are you able to PLANT PEPPERS?
If you’re starting with young plants from the nursery or garden center, you’ll add peppers to your garden throughout the season. Seeds are often planted for a fall harvest up to 12 to 16 weeks before your first expected frost.
HOW LONG DO PEPPERS fancy GROW?
Sweet pepper varieties average between 60 and 90 days to maturity, while hotter pepper plants can take up to 150 days to succeed in maturity.
HOW OFTEN does one WATER PEPPER PLANTS?
Most pepper plants got to be watered about once per week, but the watering schedule will vary counting on factors like your soil type, climate, and amount of rainfall. you’ll perform an easy check to work out the moisture level of the soil two or 3 times per week to stay your plants well hydrated. Just stick a finger into the bottom near where your plants are growing. If the soil has dried out three or four inches deep, it’s time to water again. it’ll stick with your skin if it’s still moist, which suggests you don’t get to water your plants just yet.
SHOULD I CUT THE FLOWERS OFF MY PEPPER PLANTS?
Some gardeners recommend isolating the primary few flowers your pepper plants produce so as to extend plant size and yields later within the season. then, though, leave the flowers on, as they’re what produces the peppers you grow the plants to reap.
WHAT IS the simplest FERTILIZER FOR PEPPERS?
Any fertilizer that’s intended for vegetable plants will work well for peppers, sort of a 5-10-10 fertilizer, as will tomato fertilizers, compost, fish or seaweed emulsions, or well-rotted manure.
WHAT quite SOIL DO PEPPERS LIKE?
Pepper plants prefer loamy soil that drains well and is deep and rich. the perfect range for pH levels is between 6.0 and 8.0.