Growing Peppers - Tips for Success
From fruity sweet peppers in rainbow shades of yellow, orange, or red to habaneros hot enough to bring tears to your eyes, all peppers share a preference for a long, warm growing season. Set out transplants a week or two after your last frost, when the weather is settled and warm. While cool weather reigns, keep your seedlings indoors at night, and move them to a protected sunny spot outdoors during the day.
Peppers may be sweet and mellow or fiery hot, depending on variety. By growing an assortment of varieties, you can have mild, meaty peppers for salads or stir-fries, slightly spicy peppers for fresh salsas, and hot peppers for bold jolts of flavor.
When choosing varieties, include a range of both flavors and fruit sizes. Under hot summer conditions, varieties that bear huge fruits may shed their blossoms, but small, thin-walled peppers often keep going strong. Small-fruited peppers also ripen faster, which is important in cool climates where summers are short.
As peppers change from green to yellow, orange, or red, both their flavor and their vitamin content improves dramatically. People who think they don’t like peppers often change their minds once they have tasted fully ripened, garden-grown peppers.
Soil, planting and care
Peppers grow best in a near-neutral soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.0, although they can tolerate slightly alkaline conditions near 7.5. Mix a 3- to 5-inch layer of compost into each planting hole, as shown in the step-by-step planting directions. A generous amount of organic matter helps the soil retain moisture, and moist soil is crucial for good pepper production. After planting, mulch each plant to keep the soil cool and moist.
About 6 weeks after planting, soon after peppers begin flowering and setting fruit, it is often helpful to feed plants lightly with an organic or timed-release fertilizer to keep them going strong. Simply pull back the mulch, scatter fertilizer around the base of each plant, and replace the mulch before watering well.
Gardeners in hot climates may need to be patient with big bells and sweet roasting peppers, which often wait until nights become longer and cooler in late summer to load up with fruit. The wait will go by faster if you have less flashy (yet phenomenally productive) banana peppers to combine with tomatoes and basil in cool summer salads while bigger varieties slowly load up with fruits.
Hot weather can cause bell peppers to pause, but just keep watering and caring for your plants. They will come back as soon as nights cool.
Harvest and storage
Most pepper plants hold numerous green fruits when the first freeze kills the plants. Very immature peppers often taste bitter, so it is better to compost them than to serve them for dinner.
Watch the video - How to plant peppers