Growing peppers in the backyard is a great way to insure plenty of these nutritious vegetables for cooking and making salsa.
The price of produce has risen over the last few years and the cost of peppers has made it very economical to grow your own pepper plants.
Peppers are native to tropical areas and grow on woody perennial shrubs that reach 6 to 8 feet tall. In cooler climates peppers grow as tender annuals and are 2 to 3 feet tall.
Peppers may be harvested while green in the immature stage or later when they turn red, yellow and orange depending on the variety.
Peppers range from mild sweet to hot and spicy. The hot varieties are hot when they are green and become hotter as they ripen and change to red, yellow or orange.
The vitamin C content of peppers increases to almost double when the peppers change color in the mature stage.
The nutrients in 149 gms(1 cup)of green peppers contain the following:
Growing peppers need the same climate as tomatoes. Peppers can tolerated
more cold than tomatoes but grow best at temperatures around 80 degrees
F. To set fruit, peppers do best between 65 to 80 degrees F.
Sweet Pepper Varieties:
Golden California Wonder Bell pepper 70 days to maturity. Same as the wonder bell pepper.
Hungarian Sweet Bannana Pepper 68 days to maturity light yellow fruit, maturing to golden to orange to red. This pepper is used for pickling.
Purple Beauty bell pepper 70 days this is a purple pepper with fruit 4 x3 inches. This pepper will add a nice color contrast to your salads and salsa.
Hot chili pepper varieties:
80 days to maturity with long tapered peppers that reach 6 to 8 inches
long. Green, turning to red at maturity. This pepper is a mildly hot
pepper that can be used fresh, frozen or dried.
75 days to maturity with 4 inch long fruit tapered to a blunt end. Has
dark green skin that turns deep red at maturity. Slightly hot with a
sweet taste. Use fresh, Stuffed or roasted. This variety has been very
popular for the last few years. You see it used in a lot of cooking
Cayenne, Long Red 70 days to maturity this is a hot pepper with great flavor. Use for pickling, canning or drying.
72 days maturity with dark green, tapered fruit 3 inches long. Turns
red when mature. The red jalapeno peppers are sweeter but still hot.
Good for pickling, in fresh in salsas and making poppers.
varieties are reliable and produce very well. They are open pollinated
so you can save the seeds from year to year. You can purchase them at
I like to buy my pepper seeds from online companies so I can have them early in the winter to get the plants started for spring planting.
Start pepper seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before last frost in the northern parts of the country. In the southern parts of the country you can start seeds in a protected seed bed outside.
Peppers are temperamental and can take 8 to 21 days to germinate. Pepper seeds will not germinate at 50 degrees F or lower. I have found if the temperatures are too low the seeds will rot in the cool soil.
I usually buy
my pepper plants from my local nursery, but lately I have had a hard
time finding the varieties of peppers I want so learning to start your
own pepper plants can be worth while.
Starting Pepper Seeds;
Growing peppers produce better in well drained rich soil with plenty
of humus (organic matter). Light sandy soils in the northern parts of
the country grow good bell peppers. Hot pepper varieties like heaver
I have grown peppers in all types of soil and have
found rich soils grow larger plants with more fruit. Continuing to build
your soils fertility will increase your vegetable production.
your soil in the spring when the soil has dried out. Add composted
organic matter or well rotted manure. Till in a good 10-10-10 vegetable
fertilizer at this time.
Your growing peppers are ready to
plant outside when the night time temperatures are around 55 degrees F.
Planting the peppers to early before temperatures have warmed up will
slow and stunt your pepper plants.
Peppers can be planted in
single rows 12 to 18 inches apart or wide rows staggered 12 inches
apart. Make paths between rows between 12 to 18 inches, or enough to
Plant the peppers deeper than they are in
their growing pots. Bring soil level up to an inch or two from the
bottom leaves. If you have cut worm problems in your area, put a paper
collar on the plants stems at this time to protect your plants.
Plant your hot chili peppers and sweet peppers plants at different locations in the garden to keep them from cross pollinating.
Care and Harvesting Growing Peppers
Pepper plants need plenty of water in the early growing stages. If
rain is spotty irrigate at least 2 times a week with a nice deep
watering. Depending on your soil you may need to do this more often in
the hot summer months.
After the soil has warmed you can
apply a mulch of straw or grass clippings around the pepper plants to
help keep weeds down and moisture in.
Green peppers are ready
to harvest when the green fruit is firm to the touch and heavy. The
walls of the pepper will thicken and become meatier as it matures. If
you want red peppers, leave the fruit on the plant until they turn a
nice deep red.
I like to pick some green peppers and leave a few on the plant to turn red later in the summer.
Try our family's favorite Stuffed Pepper Recipe