Planting Green Peppers
Peppers are one of the most popular fruits to grow in the garden. There's nothing like tasting them fresh off the plant. They are such a versatile food from fresh eating to frying, baking, and roasting they can be added to just about any recipe. Preserve your harvest in a number of ways through freezing or drying.
How To Prepare Soil
Grow peppers in well cultivated, weed-free soil. They prefer a neutral pH of 7.0 and suffer deficiencies in alkaline soils. Peppers must have good drainage around their roots. Soils that are compacted or waterlogged will harbor disease and impact production.
Prepare you pepper bed in the fall by weeding and fluffing the soil with a garden fork. Top the bed with two inches of finished compost, and mulch over that with straw, raked leaves, or any organic matter available.
In the springtime rake back the remaining mulch. The soil should still be fluffy and need little turning if any. If you are preparing a bed in the spring, remove all the weeds and turn the soil until it is loose and crumbly. Top it with two inches of compost before planting.
How To Germinate
Soak seeds in water for two-eight hours immediately before planting to speed up germination. Mix one-two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide per cup of water to give seeds a bit of disease resistance. Use this as a soaking solution, or soak in a weak chamomile tea for the same effect.
In USDA hardiness zones 9 and above, seeds can be planted directly outdoors when soil temperatures have warmed to 65°F(18°C). In cooler climates, start seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost date.
Plant seeds in four-inch garden pots using a peat or coir based potting mix. Moisten the potting mixture before filling your pots. This will reduce the chance of over-watering and prepare the soil to receive water later.
Pepper planting checklist:
- Soak overnight before planting
- Ideal germination temperature of 70°F(21°C)
- Start indoors before last frost in USDA zones 8 and below
- Plant in well-draining soil in full sun
How To Transplant
Transplant peppers outside after all danger of frost has passed as the soil has warmed. Pinch back any flowers before transplanting to encourage vegetative growth and root expansion.
Plants will need to gradually get used to direct sunlight and outdoor temperature fluctuations over the course of a few weeks. This process is called hardening off. Take seedlings outside for increasing increments of time each day. Plants are ready for transplant when they show no signs of stress after exposure to direct light and outdoor conditions for 24 hours.