Growing peppers, whether hot peppers or sweet peppers is really very easy. You can grow peppers from seed, or you can purchase plants. Either way you choose to go, you can harvest the seeds from each ripe pepper and dry them and save them to use the following year.
Peppers grown from seed typically need to be started at least 8 weeks before you would plant them in the ground. Some people like to use peat pellets or pots because the plants can then be transplanted directly into the ground in the peat pot.
You don’t have to hassle with turning the pot over and tapping the bottom to release the pot. Peppers like soil with good drainage. The more organic matter you put in your soil (preferably by using your own compost,) the more nutrients the soil will have to give the plant. Peppers like sun, and the sun is what is necessary to make them go from one color to another.
When planting peppers, be sure to plant them sufficiently far apart enough that you can navigate through the path, and so that the plants have room to grow and breathe. You will also need to keep the area well weeded. If you don’t want to have to deal with hand weeding all the time, you can purchase landscape fabric or mulching plastic. These are put down prior to planting.
When you are ready to plant your peppers, you simply cut a hole in the plastic or fabric where you want the plant to go. Dig a hole in the ground that is deep enough to completely cover the plants roots. Plant peppers about 1 foot apart. A good multi purpose fertilizer will give them a jump start. Many people prefer fertilizers like Osmocote because they are long acting and because you can fertilize once and not have to worry about doing it again for several months.
Be sure you plant your peppers in a location that will allow them to get full sun. When you see the designation “full sun” on a seed packet or on a marker inserted in your plant, that should tell you that you need to plant that plant in a location that gets no less than 8 hours fairly direct sun every day. You should figure that any vegetable crop you grow (or flowers,) will need enough water to keep the soil most to a depth of two inches per week.
Rather than water a little bit every day (which often means that the soil drys out very quickly,) I prefer to water less frequently but for a longer period of time. If there is no rain in any given week, water two or three times for 1 1/2 – 2 hours at a time. You may need to vary your watering times a bit depending on how hot it is outside. You should never water during the hot parts of the day. The best times to water are very early in the morning (right after sun up,) or just before dusk. If you have an irrigation system, watering after dark isn’t a problem: if you don’t, then you need to schedule your watering time so you can see what you are doing. Providing your plants with a layer of mulch (if you don’t use plastic or landscape fabric, you can use grass clippings, straw, wood chips, leaves, newspaper, cardboard or even brown paper bags) will go a long way toward helping the soil retain that moisture.
After harvesting your hot peppers, you can also dry them so that you can use them later. You can typically do this by taking some kitchen string and a large needle and threading the string through the needle. Then thread the peppers through the needle, stringing them on the string as one would do with beads. Tie a knot at the bottom of the thread…try to make the string long enough that you will have some slack that you can use to create a loop for hanging the string of peppers. Place them in a cool dark place to let them dry. You can grind your dried peppers in a mortar and pestle and use them as you would any regular dried seasoning.
You should expect to be able to harvest your peppers sometime around 2 1/2 months after you plant them in the ground.
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