Peppers: Growing Tips

by Polly

3259154867_20685b73f7_m.jpgGrowing tips for peppers are the same, whether they’re sweet as candy or hot enough to knock your socks off. Peppers are picky about temperatures right from the get-go so if you don’t want to fuss with details, buy transplants.

With literally dozens of varieties of peppers to choose from, in all shapes, sizes, and colors, how can you even begin to decide which ones to grow? And,

Here are some criteria we use when choosing peppers to try in our garden:

Heat or sweet? First, we narrow our choices by flavor. Sweet peppers are great for frying, stuffing, or simply enjoying raw in salads. Hot peppers are a must for adding zip to cooked dishes.

Over the rainbow. Both hot and sweet peppers come in a variety of colors. Hots are typically green, red, or yellow. Sweets can be green, red, yellow, orange- and even lavender, creamy white, or chocolate brown!2825892494_c9c325d2b1_m.jpg

Sizing them up. Large-fruited peppers tend to be slow to mature- ours usually don’t start ripening until late summer. In most areas of the US the growing season isn’t long enough for them to produce another set of flowers and fruit.

Small-fruited types, like cherry peppers, mature quickly and bear their fruit through summer. Our suggestion? Plant several varieties of different sizes to have a steady supply of peppers for months!

Garden Secret
In a hurry for your harvest? The secret to getting peppers to develop faster is providing them with magnesium in a form they can use quickly.

To try this in your own garden, mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts in 1 gallon of water. Apply 1 pint of this mixture to each plant just as the blooms appear. You’ll get a fantastic set of fruits that’ll ripen before you know it.

Hot peppers don’t just taste hot – the juices in fruits and plants can burn your skin, and it hurts! So wear gloves when you’re working with hot peppers, whether they’re in the kitchen, the garden, or their starter pots. And, keep your hands away from your face!

Fire, Fire!
Here’s our little secret to help you get the hottest hot peppers in town. Just before you’re ready to harvest, flood their bed with water. This stresses the roots and sends out a signal to “turn up the heat!”

Hold Hands, Kids
My husband usually says that pepper plants are like kids crossing the street: They like to hold hands. By that he means you should space them so that when the plants mature, their leaves are just touching one another.

Want to know more about growing peppers?
Post a  question or a comment below, please. And,

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Yours truly for a great garden with outstanding berries, veggies, and flowers,

Polly, Organic Grower

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna July 9, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Do you apply the solution in the dirt around the pepper or on the leaves?

Polly July 14, 2009 at 12:47 am

I apply the solution on the leaves and it eventually gets into the soil

Nick Koch August 3, 2009 at 12:30 pm

You guys have some great ideas. Peppers are like kids i agree thank god they don’t ask as many questions as kids. Just wanted to stop and say hi and look at your great blog.

Keith Burnett April 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I think the epsom salts solution is the answer tomy problem but I’ll ask anyway. My peppers are runty about the size of a tennis ball or smaller. Also the flesh is almost nonexistant. Will the salts cure this problem?
Keith Burnett

Claire April 24, 2012 at 6:00 am

I usually plant a hot pepper or two in with my sweet peppers. This helps keep squirrels and our pet dog at bay. Do you do the same? One pitfall is that my teenagers sometimes grab and munch peppers as they are out playing basketball in our yard. Any ideas as to how to differentiate the hot peppers from the sweet?

Polly April 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I try to plant them separately. Someone has told me that if you plant them together, the hot peppers loose their hotness.

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