If you live in a cooler climate: Start
seeds indoors under bright fluorescent lights in early spring, eight
weeks before your last spring frost date. If possible, provide bottom
heat to keep the plants' containers near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make
sure the seeds stay slightly moist. Seeds should sprout within three
weeks. Transfer seedlings to larger containers when they are about six
Don't set peppers outside until at least
two weeks after your average last frost date, during a period of warm
weather. Always harden off seedlings by gradually exposing them to
outdoor weather a few hours each day for at least a week before
transplanting them outdoors.
If you live in Florida or other warm climates, plant Peppers as early as January. Peppers can easily be grown year-round.
I recommend soaking your seeds in water
for up to 24 hours. This can increase the amount of seeds that
germinate and how quickly they sprout. Use organic potting soil if you
are seed-starting indoors or in small containers to be transplanted
outside. Whether you direct sow or plant in containers, plant pepper
seeds approx 1/4 inch below the soil. Pepper seeds germinate in 7- 21 days. Sometimes even 30 days!
How to Plant Peppers
grow best under warm conditions, but gardeners in cool climates can
keep peppers happy by using row covers. Choose a sunny site that has
fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Loosen the
planting bed to 12 inches deep, and thoroughly mix in a 1-inch layer of
mature compost. Dig planting holes 12 inches deep and at least 18
inches apart, and enrich each with a spadeful of additional compost.
Partially refill the holes, and situate plants so they are planted
slightly deeper than they were in their containers. Water well.
You can eat peppers when they are mature
yet still green (green peppers), although the flavor and the vitamin
content of peppers improve as they ripen to red, yellow or orange. Use
pruning shears or scissors to snip ripe peppers from the plant, leaving
a small stub of stem attached. Bumper crops can be briefly
steam-blanched or roasted and then frozen, either whole or chopped.
Peppers are also easy to dry. Dried peppers quickly plump if soaked in
hot water, or you can grind them into powders for your spice shelf.
Pepper Growing Tips
careful with nitrogen when preparing your planting holes, as overfed
peppers produce lush foliage but few fruits. Use a high-nitrogen
fertilizer only if you're growing peppers in poor soil.
cool climates, use mulch in addition to row covers to create warm
conditions for peppers. In warm climates, use shade covers during
summer to reduce sunscald damage to ripening peppers.
stakes or other supports to keep plants upright as they become heavy
with fruits. Cover surrounding soil with a mulch of clean straw or
grass clippings so ripening peppers don't come in contact with soil,
which can cause them to rot.
wear gloves if handling hot peppers, and avoid touching your eyes or
nose. If you do handle hot peppers bare-handed, immediately scrub hands
with soap and warm water, rub them vigorously with coconut oil, then wash them again.
Pepper Pest and Disease Prevention Tips
virus (TEV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and potato virus Y (PVY) can
infect peppers grown in warm climates. Transmitted by thrips and
aphids, these viruses cause leaves to become thick, crinkled or narrow
blister beetles may suddenly appear in large numbers in midsummer,
especially in warm climates. These large beetles are black with gray
stripes, and they devour pepper foliage. Handpick beetles, making sure
to wear gloves to prevent skin irritation.
weevils can also be a serious problem in warm climates. Clean up
fallen fruit daily to interrupt the life cycle of this pest, and trap
adult pepper weevils with sticky traps.
Diatomaceous Earth is a great Organic solution to pest control. DE kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Sprinkle DE around the base of the plant as well as on the leaves.
Companion Planting for Peppers
parsley, basil, geraniums, marjoram, lovage, petunia and carrots.
Onions make an excellent companion plant for peppers. They do quite well
with okra as it shelters them and protects the brittle stems from wind.
Chili peppers have root exudates that prevent root rot and other Fusarium diseases. Plant anywhere you have these problems.