By Kathee Mierzejewski
You’re starting your garden for the summer and you know you want to plant peppers. Peppers are great in all sorts of dishes and can even be frozen at season’s end so you can continue to enjoy them throughout the winter. It’s not difficult growing bell peppers; temperature is the main thing to watch. Let’s look at how to grow peppers.
How Do I Grow Peppers?
Growing bell peppers should be done in the warm season, which usually means you don’t plant them outside until sometime near Memorial Day. When thinking about how to grow peppers, remember that they prefer higher temperatures, and when you plant peppers, be sure that the chance of frost is long gone. A frost will either kill the plants altogether, or inhibit pepper growth so you have bare plants.
Pepper plants should be placed 18 to 24 inches apart in a row. They do well if planted near your tomatoes. The soil should be well drained and fertilized before you put them into the ground. You can fertilize once more after you pick the first crop of peppers, which helps to form another crop. Healthy pepper plants should produce peppers most of late summer.
How to Start Growing Peppers
If you’re wondering how to start growing peppers, you should always start seeds indoors. When growing bell peppers from seed, the plants get a great start inside where it’s warm. Keep them watered yet drained well. Once the seedlings are about 8 inches tall, they should be hardy enough to go outside, though it helps to harden them first.
When planting peppers outside, your plants will do better once temperatures remain above 55 F. (13 C.) at night. In cooler temperatures, they will grow quite slowly. Starting pepper plants indoors is best because growing bell peppers require this higher nighttime temperature.
It’s easy to determine when your peppers are ready to harvest. Begin harvesting peppers once they are 3 to 4 inches long and the fruit is firm and green. If the peppers feel somewhat thin, they aren’t yet ripe. If they feel soggy, they’ve been left on the plant too long.
Sometimes, you might prefer red, yellow or orange varieties. These varieties are just left on the vine longer to color. They start out green, but you’ll notice they have a thinner feel. Once they color, the peppers thicken and you can go ahead and pick them.