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How to Grow Peppers Indoors During Winter

Peppers are a popular all-purpose vegetable that are used in many popular dishes, and make any meal more flavorful. Since it's a warm-weather crop, most gardeners have a fresh supply of peppers for a limited time. Over the winter and spring, pepper lovers have to rely on grocery stores for their peppers, when out-of-season fruits are poor in quality and prices skyrocket. You can solve this problem and provide yourself with a bountiful harvest of fresh peppers all winter long if you grow pepper plants indoors.

Choose a location in your home that is dry well ventilated, and where you can keep the temperature steadily between 70 and 85 degrees.

Install fluorescent light tracks above your growing area for indoor gardening. Don’t affix them to the ceiling. Rig up chains to suspend your lights from hooks so that you can lower and raise them as needed. How many light tracks you will need will depend on how long your light tracks are and how many plants you are growing. Grown plants will need about a square foot of space each.

Start your seedlings approximately four months before you want to begin harvesting. If you expect your outdoor plants to cease producing by November and want your indoor plants to begin offering fruit at that time, start plants in July.

Fill a container with compost, or a growing medium made by mixing equal portions of potting soil, peat moss and perlite. You can sow seeds in starter pots or flats, or you can sow them directly into the container that they will remain in throughout the growing season. Each pepper plant will require a container at least 12 inches square, or 12 inches in diameter if it is round. Containers should be no less than 14 inches deep.

Place your fluorescent lights 2 to 4 inches above the soil line. As your plants sprout and grow, continue to adjust the lights so that they remain 2 to 4 inches above the tops of the plants. Your lights will need to be on for 14 to 16 hours each day. Set them on a timer so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn them on or off.

Keep plants moist but not soggy. Transplant seedlings to their permanent container after they have sprouted three leaves, but before they are 4 inches tall, if you have not started them in it. Elevate containers slightly with bricks or wood blocks, and set them in a tray to catch draining water.

Use heavy duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, to reflect more precious light back to plants once they reach 6 inches tall. You can cover pieces of cardboard with foil and arrange them around the plants, using clips or tape to hold them up, or you can make a bowl-shaped foil container with a slit to the middle, and place it at the base of the plant.

Water infrequently but deeply, until the water drips out of the drainage holes. Apply an all-purpose, water-soluble vegetable fertilizer, or a balanced fertilizer such as 15-15-15. Reduce the dose to half strength and fertilize every three weeks.

Dust plants occasionally. Don’t smoke or cook in the room where peppers are growing, as the plants need fresh air. Be patient and attentive, and your plants will provide you with delicious peppers all through the season.

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