Those who are new to the green thumb game can take courage: Growing peppers is actually quite easy as long as you have a sunny spot of grass to call your own. “Peppers are a great addition to the spring and summer season’s kitchen garden,” said city farmer Reed Newman, founder and CEO of Revival Roots, a Los Angeles-based company that builds and maintains kitchen gardens.
Ready to start reaping your very own red, green and yellow beauties? Keep scrolling to learn when and where to plant these moisturizing, vitamin C-rich fruits and the steps you need to set your seeds up for success. (Say it five times fast.)
What you need to know before planting peppers
Before putting on your garden hat and gloves, make sure that your outdoor area is prepared for pepper growing. “Peppers love sun and heat and will not produce well without both. They should be planted in a place with at least six hours of sun a day, but eight hours is even better,” says Erin Schanen, Troy-Bilt garden partner, master garden volunteer and creator of The impatient gardener blog and YouTube channel. In other words: If your garden is shady, peppers are not the fruit for you.
That said, if you check your garden in the sun and find that it is habitable for peppers, you will want to wait until late spring and summer – or until you consistently experience 70 degree days – to plant these babies.
How to grow peppers
Buy seeds, or a small pepper plant, in the garden center
If you want to raise your peppers from a seed packet, you can actually start your cultivation project inside about 10 weeks before the last frost of the season. “This works best if you have a growth light because peppers need lots of light at all stages, and even a sunny window probably doesn’t provide enough light, ”says Schanen.
You can sow your seeds in a finely textured seed starter mixture or use soil blocks. You will also want to place your seed in a warm place, such as on top of your refrigerator. When they germinate, move them under the growing light. “Once the roots have filled the cell, move the seedling to a larger two to three inch pot. Pinch or cut off the main stem to leave two sets of leaves when the plant is about eight inches tall. This will promote more branching, which will lead to a larger harvest, “explains Schanen.
Of course, you can save yourself a lot of hassle (and potentially heartache) by waiting for warmer weather, buying a baby pepper plant at your local nursery and calling it a day. But hey, you do.
2. Prepare the ground
“Make sure you plant the peppers in a high-quality organic soil mix mixed with organic compost,” Newman says. “That way, the peppers will receive the nutrients they need to thrive.”
Professional Tip: Peppers prefer a high pH growth medium to combat Blossom End Rot, a condition in which the fruit will form with a small spot at the end that will rot and make the pepper inedible. “The best insurance against Blossom End Rot is to put a small handful of organic dolomite lime under the peppers when planting in the garden. The lime increases the pH of the soil, preventing Blossom End Rot from occurring,” adds Newman.
3. Keep the soil properly hydrated
Peppers are thirsty fruits – so be sure to keep an eye on their soil. “[Peppers] appreciates consistent watering, between one and two inches of water per week to maintain a consistently moist, but not wet, soil, “says Schanen. You can measure this two-inch water allocation with a can of tuna.” Water the plant well at the bottom of The plant at the time of planting and maintain uniform moisture from then on, “says Schanen.
4. Give the peppers moral support and genuine support
“Most peppers need some support, such as a small tomato cage, and it’s good to put it in place at the time of planting,” says Schanen. Make sure you wrap the soil tightly around the cage so you do not create air pockets that could interrupt the watering of your baby peppers later. “After pepper plant grows to be about six inches tall, it can be moved to a larger container or directly into the garden, “says Newman.
5. Harvest the peppers
Yay! It’s autumn day … or is it? “Most peppers begin to form with a green color that slowly changes color over time. When the peppers completely change color – as long as you do not grow green peppers – they are ready to be harvested and picked by the stem,” says Newman.
While it’s tempting to pick your peppers early, the best bet is to wait for it to enjoy the most flavorful, nutritious fruit – so keep your horses. “It is also best to harvest the fruits as soon as they are ready. The only goal of a pepper plant is to reproduce and as a result it will grow fruit to drop seeds nearby. Picking the fruits when they are ready will encourage the plant to produce more fruit, “he explains. That way you will enjoy your peppers all summer.
If you really are into the slightly bitter, salty taste of green pepper, just pick some of the fruit from the stems before they are “ripe”. That way, you will encourage your plant to grow and you will get to enjoy a wide variety of peppers.
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