harvest a pepper

How to Grow Peppers: 6 Tips and Tricks

Do you have a home garden?

If so, you probably like to grow your favorite seasonal veggies. A seasonal garden is a great way to make sure you get your recommended servings of fresh vegetables each day. Once you’ve tasted in-season produce, it’s difficult to go back to the grocery store for hothouse-grown veggies. And you don’t have to!

Learning how to grow your own vegetables is a rewarding accomplishment. With time and experience, you’ll be able to grow almost any kind of produce.

What Is Pepper?

Do you like peppers? You can find so many varieties of sweet and hot peppers in your local supermarket, but you can also learn how to grow peppers in your own garden.

If you enjoy a delicious stuffed pepper, you can learn to grow bell peppers or poblano peppers. Or, if you like jalapeno jelly, you can grow your own jalapenos and make some at home. You can even grow a variety of peppers if you have the space in your garden plot.

You only need to know a few simple tips and tricks, and you can learn how to grow peppers in your own home garden. Come with us as we discover the best way to prepare your garden for peppers, and how to avoid some common pepper pitfalls.

1. Types of Peppers to Grow

green peppers

When we talk about peppers, we’re referring to any of several different kinds of fruits. You can grow sweet or hot peppers in the same way. Soil, light, and water requirements are virtually the same.

You can classify peppers in three main ways:

  • Pepper Shape: Peppers can be bell-shaped, banana-shaped, or cherry-shaped.
  • Color: Peppers can be red, yellow, orange, or green. Usually, a green pepper is an unripe pepper, and it will ripen to a different color if left on the vine longenough.
  • Hot or Sweet Flavor: Sweet peppers, such as bell peppers, are not spicy and often taste sweet when cooked. Hot peppers, on the other hand, are spicy because they contain capsaicin. 

You may want to plant several kinds of peppers. Luckily,peppers don’t require much space and can be self-fertilizing, if you don’t haveroom.

2. Preparation is Key: Soil and Planting

bell peppers

The first obstacle you might encounter is your soil. If you’ve planted peppers before, don’t plant them in the same place twice in a row. The soil has already been drained of the nutrients the pepper plants need to grow.

Also, some vegetables are better neighbors for your peppers than others. If you grow several vegetables, you can plant your peppers near basil, tomatoes, carrots, or parsley. Don’t plant peppers near kohlrabi or fennel.

You’ll want to choose a place getting lots of sun and where the soil isn’t overly wet. While pepper plants like water, the roots will rot if they get too wet. The soil needs enough organic material to retain moisture while draining well.

You should also use mulch on top of the soil to trap water. Only put mulch on the soil while it’s warm, though. Adding mulch to cool soil will stunt the growth of your plants.

In terms of fertilizer, you won’t need much. If you mix a small amount of 5-10-10fertilizer into the soil before planting your peppers, this should be enough.Over-fertilizing will help the peppers to grow, but not produce fruit.

Should you plant seeds or seedlings?

If you live in the south, where the growing season is long, and temperatures are mild, you can grow peppers from seed. If you live further north, you can start your seeds in small pots in a warm sunny location. Once the plants are large enough, you can transplant them to a prepared plot. Alternatively, you can purchase seedlings during the growing season and plant them directly in your garden.

​3. How to Care for Pepper Plants

red pepper grow

An enormous part of learning how to grow peppers is learning how to care for the pepper plants. You’ll see several ways we can help pepper plants to flourish and produce plenty of fruit.

You’ll begin by planting your peppers between 12 and 20 inches apart in mostly sun. As the plants grow, you may need to stake them in order to keep them upright as they start to bear fruit.

Remember to water them, but not too much. You’ll want to give your pepper plants at least an inch of water per week when it’s not raining. Be careful not to water it too much, or you’ll get root rot.

Pretty soon, you’ll see some blossoms start to come out. It may sound counterintuitive, but you need to remove the first blossoms from your pepper plants. Even though blossoms lead to fruits, you should remove the first blossoms, so your plants will be hardier and produce more fruit when they become more mature.

Keep up with your watering schedule, stake your plants if they get too top heavy, and make sure your peppers get as much sun as possible. Shortly, you’ll see the fruits of your labors.

​4. Watch Out for Pepper Pests

red pepper with a bug

Peppers are susceptible to several common bugs and diseases. These pests can affect the plants themselves or the fruits. Either problem can limit the number of peppers you’ll be able to harvest from your plants.

Luckily, we have some tips and tricks for getting rid of these pests so you can have a full harvest of delicious peppers.

For insect pests, you may see one or more of the following:

  • Aphids: These little insects like to congregate near the base of the pepper plants.They secrete a sticky substance that will get moldy with time. You can get ridof them by using pesticides or encouraging ladybugs to live in your garden.
  • Flea Beetles: Flea beetles eat the leaves and stems of young pepper plants. Youcan keep them away by using plenty of mulch and keeping your garden area neat and clean. Some recommend using your home vacuum to collect some of these beetles.
  • Cutworms: Cutworms also go after young pepper plants. They’ll chew through the stems and leave you with nothing left. Pesticides are the more reliable way to deal with this pest.

Like other household garden plants, your peppers aresusceptible to diseases. These pathogens can damage your plants, shorteningtheir lifespan and preventing them from bearing as much fruit.

Some of the diseases you may encounter are:

  • Powdery Mildew: This disease can happen when the plant is exposed to too much humidity and not enough sunlight. It looks like a white powder on the leaves and stems. You can use fungicide treatments to get rid of this pest.
  • Southern Blight: Southern blight happens when the plant gets too moist and begins to rot at the soil level. Once a plant has succumbed to it, you can’t save it. Pull it up and discard it away from your healthy plants.
  • Ripe Rot: This is when you leave fruit on the plant in humid conditions. It can’t be reversed, so be vigilant about harvesting your peppers.

Watch out for these harmful pests and diseases, and you’llbe able to keep your pepper plants healthy and fruitful.

​5. When to Harvest Your Pepper Bounty

yellow, red, orange pepper

The question of when to harvest your peppers is easily answered. When they’re as ripe as you want them to be. Since you can eat peppers when they’re still immature and green, you can harvest them any time.

You can even grow a rainbow of peppers in as many colors as your breed of pepper will make. Remember, the riper a pepper gets, the sweeter it is, even hot peppers. If you want to harvest a mixture of green and ripe peppers, make sure to grow more than one plant. You can harvest green peppers from one plant, and ripe ones from the other.

 So, what’s the best way to remove your peppers from the plant?

Don’t tear them off the stem. You might accidentally damage the plant, limiting how many fruits you’ll be able to get from it. Instead, use a pair of shears or a knife to cut the pepper off the plant close to the stem end.

​6. How to Store Your Peppers

slicing a pepper

Once you’ve harvested a batch of peppers, what should you do with them?

Clearly, you plan to eat them, but you’ll need to store themin the meantime. You’ll also need a long-term storage option if you have aparticularly bountiful year.

Here are some great long-term storage options for your peppers:

  • Freeze Your Peppers: Freezing is an easy way to preserve the fresh flavors of your peppers. Don’t expect the texture to be the same, though. Thawed frozen peppers are best in cooked applications.
  • Dried Peppers: This is an extremely popular way to handle hot peppers. It worksbest on thin-walled peppers. You should dry them slowly, and carefully toretain their flavors and colors.
  • Pickled Peppers: Pickling is a great way to help your vegetables stay fresh andtasty all winter long. You can add spices to your brine to customize the flavorof your pickled peppers. 

Once you familiarize yourself with the options available, you’ll be able to successfully store your harvest. Now that you know how to grow peppers, you can look forward to years of delicious pepper recipes in the future

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