Pepper Essentials

by National Gardening Association Editors

Planning

  • Plan to set out home grown or purchased transplants after the last spring frost date.
  • Start plants indoors in flats or pots 8 to 10 weeks before the average last frost date.

Preparation

  • One week before setting out transplants, broadcast 1 1/2 pounds of 5-10-10 or its equivalent per 100 square feet.

Planting

  • Set hot pepper plants 12 to 15 inches apart, larger bell types 15 to 18 inches apart.
  • Place a teaspoon of 5-10-10 fertilizer or its equivalent into each planting hole and cover with 1 inch of soil before setting in transplants.
  • Provide windbreaks.

Care

  • Provide deep watering weekly for pepper plants.
  • Side-dress plants monthly with about 1 tablespoon of 5-10-10 fertilizer or its equivalent for each plant.
  • Support bushy, heavy-yielding plants with 2-foot-high cages, or stake them.
  • Apply heavy organic mulches when summer heat begins to peak.
  • Temperatures over 90&deg F can cause buds and blossoms to drop; the condition is more serious if humidity is low also.
  • Pests are not a serious concern. However, see our article Summer's Bad Guys by Charlie Nardozzi for controls of common pepper pests such as corn borers, flea beetles, and leaf miners.

Harvesting

  • Begin harvesting when peppers reach a usable size.
  • Leave some peppers on the plant to ripen fully. The peppers will change color and develop greater levels of vitamin C. Don't let all peppers stay on the plant as this will cut off further blossoming and fruit set.


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