Grow a variety of peppers for some fun culinary possibilities.
image by Photo: stock.xchng
Growing peppers can be a fun and challenging gardening task. Peppers require a lot of sun and generally have fewer problems in drier climates. Different types of peppers can easily be grown in a single pepper bed resulting in a garden that provides a wide range of flavors. In addition to providing edible peppers, plants brought in to winter over can provide beautiful ornamental peppers.
Care From Seeds
Soak the seeds in three teaspoons of 5 percent chlorine bleach one tablespoon of trisodium phosphate (TSP) in a quart of warm water to soften the seed shell. Soak the seeds for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse them for 10 minutes under cold running water.
Plant your pepper seeds about one-quarter inch below the surface of the soil. Start the seeds between six and 12 weeks before the expected date of the last frost, depending on the length of your growing season. Water the soil until it is moist.
Place the seeded pots in a dark, warm area, between 75 and 85 F, until they germinate. Check the soil frequently to ensure that remains adequately moist.
Move the plants to a warm sunny location or a greenhouse after germination. Pepper seedlings need 10 to 12 hours of bright light per day.
Transplant the seedlings to 3- or 4-inch pots as soon as the first true leaves start to grow. Peat pots are recommended for seedlings. The plants must be kept above 70 F until they are planted outdoors for optimum health.
Transplanting and Outdoor Care
Harden off the plants the week prior to outdoor planting. Gradually introduce the plants to more direct sunlight and wind.
Transplant the young plants into the garden. Apply one teaspoon of balanced fertilizer 4 to 6 inches from the plant to avoid burning the roots and stem. Water thoroughly.
Water the new plants at least once per day. In some cases, two waterings may help promote healthy growth in dry climates.
Cover the plants at the end of the season if night time temperatures below freezing are projected. Use plastic or cloth sheets to protect the plants. Although impractical for large plantings, this is a very good way to extend the growing season for one or two of the best producing plants.
Pests and Disease
Use an organic insecticidal soap to control aphids, white flies and thrips. Follow the directions on the soap packaging for best results.
Apply fungicides for crown rot. Crown rot is caused by Phytophthora capsici fungus and can appear as a blight or rot on roots, stems and leaves of the pepper plants.
Use fungicides to deal with Ripe Fruit Rot. This condition is caused by several related fungi and generally occurs only in warm, wet weather. Initial symptoms are spots on the fruit that eventually expand and become dark depressions.
Control any aphid infestations, even minor ones. Aphids are a primary vector for a number of subsequent diseases, including cucumber mosaic virus and chile veinal mottle virus.
About this Author
Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.