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How to Grow Peppers in Clay Soil

By Robin Coe ; Updated September 21, 2017

It can be difficult to grow vegetables in clay soil. You can amend your soil when planting peppers to reduce the amount of clay. Peppers typically prefer soil that is high in organic matter with good drainage. Clay soil can cause a problem with the amount of water that gets to your pepper plants, so it's important to take steps to improve the drainage. Once you amend the type of soil your peppers will be planted in you will improve your harvests.

Choose a sunny location to grow your peppers in the fall. Check for moisture by using your shovel to remove a 6-inch deep slice of earth. Squeeze a handful of the soil in your hands. If the soil crumbles you can begin to work the soil. Clay soil should not be wet when it is being amended.

Add about 3 inches of equal parts peat moss and compost to your garden area. Mix it into the top 8 inches of soil evenly to amend your clay soil. In the following spring, your soil will be much looser and loamy.

Begin your seedlings six weeks before the last frost. Plant two seeds 1/2 inch deep in each section of your starter tray. Keep them at 80 degrees F and give them 16 hours of light a day.

Water your starter tray daily to dampen the soil. Give seedlings a half-strength, water soluble fertilizer once a week.

Thin your seedlings to one plant in each section of the tray by removing the weakest seedling after the first true leaves appear.

Add 10-10-10 fertilizer to the top 4 inches of soil in your garden after the last frost. Lay a plastic mulch cover over your garden area. Cut holes for your plants that are spaced 18 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart.

Transplant your pepper seedlings when they have formed at least six leaves and are 5 inches tall.

Plant your peppers an inch deeper into the soil than they were in the starter trays. Water immediately to moisten the soil. Continue to give your plant 1 to 2 inches of water a week.

Add 1/2 tbsp. of 34-0-0 fertilizer around your plants when peppers begin to appear. Make sure you keep the fertilizer about 6 inches away from the base of your plants


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Pepper seeds
  • Starter tray
  • Potting soil
  • Water soluble fertilizer
  • Plastic mulch cover
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • 34-0-0 fertilizer

About the Author


Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.