Consuming fruits and vegetables is of utmost importance, it is clear. However, when it comes to salads, people tend to forget some of those which are growing (or can be grown) in their gardens. This is precisely the case I’ll be writing about, and therefore, here’s how to grow bell peppers.
They will certainly make your meals tastier if you decide to give them a go. As you will see, those are not difficult to maintain, and you will have a blast while growing them. Also, as it is with all of my articles, you will gain a broader picture of gardening overall.
Why Should I Grow Bell Peppers In The First Place?
Although in some parts of the world term “pepper” is used for all kinds of peppers, there are some differences between various cultivars. Also, there are some facts which are often overlooked. Here they are.
As shown, peppers don’t need much. This is the main reason on why you should try and grow them. Of course, there are few ways to introduce them to your garden, and let’s start with that.
Seed Or Seedling?
Depending on the weather in your area, you can start the pepper seeds indoors and transfer them later, or to buy seedlings and plant those directly in your garden. It also depends on your spare time and preference, but I’ll cover the first case only.
The most important thing when growing peppers is the temperature. For example, for germinating process to start, at least 70°F are required. So, take a trellis, fill it with soil, and plant three seeds per cell, if you have those conditions in your house. Water them generously, but don’t overdo it.
This whole process will last about 8-10 weeks, so make calculations that planting date comes after the last frosts have been passed. If you are uncertain, add a week or two, just to be sure. Now, not all seedlings will be transferred, so after the seedlings sprout and begin to grow, remove the one which is the weakest.
Proper watering, stable temperature and plenty of sunlight will produce nicely-looking seedlings which will represent the base for your further growth.
How To Prepare The Soil?
The last week of starting the seeds can be used to prepare the ground for new peppers. This is done easily by starting with choosing the location for the lines.
When you consider the area for peppers, see that there is maximum coverage of sunlight. I’m sure that you know your garden rather well, and that there will be no trouble in finding it. Next, grab your faithful pH measuring kit, and see what it says. It is highly unlikely that you will get some insane numbers, but still, remember that limestone will increase the alkalinity, while sulfur will reduce it.
As for fertilizing, add a few inches of old manure, and work it in into the ground. Try to avoid using a fresh one, since it packs quite the punch, and can burn the plants quickly. Alternatively, you can add pre-made compost, which will also do the trick.
Drainage is another important factor which mustn’t be overlooked. If the soil is continuously wet, this location won’t suit the peppers. If this is the case, try building raised beds, since those can be placed wherever needed.
Should I Sow The Seedlings Now?
Whenever I plant my peppers, I take weather into account. My usual time for planting is at the beginning of May since April can be a bit troublesome with sudden frosts, so this is what I can advise you to do.
If the ground is ready, seedlings are progressing well; you can make plans about sowing. Make lines on the location where peppers will be, and leave about 25” of space between. If you wish to boost the results a bit, cover rows with black plastic since it can help to keep the moist under it, and to prevent any weeds from appearing.
Dig holes along the line at each 18-24”, and those should be the size of a tennis ball. The seedling with dirtball should fit in, so don’t dig any larger than that. Sowing is rather easy, drill a hole, put a seedling in, and add more soil if needed. Keep in mind that you will have two plants growing together.
If you notice that there are some limp-looking stalks, don’t worry, they will recover after proper watering. Of course, the first watering is done right after sowing.
Some people will advise you to add fertilizer right after moving seedlings to the garden, but you don’t need to do that. Just stick a match in the ground (with its “head” facing downward) right next to a plant. It will release the sulfur which is essential for proper pepper growth.
Is There Anything Special About Care And Harvesting?
There are few factors you must always keep in mind while growing peppers. All of those must be taken care of the best way possible, to increase the income.
The first one is watering. I don’t need to tell you how important water is, but you have to know that at least an inch of water (sometimes two) is required for proper growth. Now, if you live in an extremely hot area, daily watering might be needed.
Peppers are sensitive to low temperatures, but they are also susceptible to extreme heats. If the temperature goes higher than 95°F, it can prevent the plants from bearing fruits. If this happens, use row covers to create partial shade and to reduce the temperature.
There is a secret about getting bigger fruits and includes a quart of water, with about a teaspoon of Epsom salt added. This will boost the production, trust me on this one.
If everything goes well, you should see the fruits appear eventually. Wait for them to change color from green to red or yellow, depending on the variety you have chosen. Green ones can be eaten too, but don’t have such a good taste.
Are There Any Pests To Be Worried About?
Luckily, peppers will keep a lot of pests away; this is why those are good as companion plants for tomatoes. Still, there are some troublesome pests which can cause the damage.
Rotting or black lower part of the fruit usually means that there is blossom end rot in action. This can be countered by adding calcium to the soil.
Aphids are a whole different story. Anything based on pyrethrin can be useful in removing the colony, so this is your safest bet. Also, some flowers can attract lacewings and ladybugs which are known enemies of those pesky little guys.
So, after I have shown you how to grow bell peppers, I’m sure that you will have these on your table rather fast. Since peppers will; require careful management of water and sunlight, it will also be good for you to try something new entirely.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts, opinions or questions in the comment section below.