Sweet Peppers From Seed
Amazing Diversity of Tastes
There is something about growing sweet Peppers that seems to invade my gardener's soul.
Hot Peppers seem to be easier to grow but for this page we will confine our contemplations to thick, juicy, flavourful sweet Peppers. I grow them in the garden, in containers and as filler in the perennial border. Their bright glossy green leaves and sturdy structure make them quite decorative plants even though their flowers are rather indistinct. Ultimately it is the fruit, now in a rainbow of colours, that keeps us trying more and more new varieties.
When Do I Start? Most garden centres will have one or two varieties for sale as transplants in the late spring but Peppers are so easy to start at home, why would you deny yourself a few of the 50 - 60 varieties that larger
offer. Peppers love heat and don’t want to be out in your garden when any sign of cool spring weather or soil is still lurking about. Mine, (USDA Zone 4/5,) never make the garden before the first week of June. Working from that date and counting back about 8 weeks suggests that I should sow my seeds about early April. I will for many of them but a few will find their way into soil in early March. I can’t wait for fresh Peppers so I will have a few plants in 4 - 6" pots by the time they make the outdoor garden. It takes a fair bit of my precious indoor growing space to get a Pepper 2 -3 weeks early but it always seems worth it.
How Do I Start? If you are in a hurry, rush to the garden centre and find their seed rack. Buy what seeds are available. For greater choice go to the web site of most of the seed catalogues and spend a wonderful time perusing and contemplating the yellow, purple, orange, bell shaped, tapered, large and small Sweet Peppers on offer. Force yourself to choose just a few and the seeds will arrive in a very few days. Go to my
page and follow the easy steps. The bottom heat to warm the soil is of critical importance for Peppers. Rush to your germination table every morning and in a very few days you will be rewarded with a tiny green shoot full of promise and potential. Light now becomes critical but easy enough to supply.
Off To The Garden! Continue to grow the seedlings, transplanting them as needed until the soil is warm and the sun is hot. Use as deep a container as possible as good root systems are important to successful transplants. Cool June nights will cause blossom drop resulting in much delayed fruit production. Sweet Peppers are relatively heavy feeders so prepare their new home with lots of rich compost. They also are a bit petulant about insufficient water. Once you have transplanted them and watered them well a good mulch over their roots will keep down the weeds and conserve the available moisture. In sustained periods of no rain, water them deeply every week or three depending on your soil’s water holding capacity and the quality of your mulch.
Any Other Work? No! Peppers are sturdy free standing plants. No pruning, staking or other fiddly stuff. Just wait until the first fruit is big enough to hang on to then pick it and eat it. Almost all Peppers will start green and they are quite edible then. The various colours will evolve as the fruit ripens and the subtle differences in taste and texture will delight your palate. If your soil is rich enough in compost then no additional fertilizer need be applied. If you feel an intense need to fertilize then be very wary of using much Nitrogen fertilizer as this will produce lovely big green plants but very little fruit. Do try a few in containers as they perform quite well there and are reasonably decorative.
Be very careful when expanding your range of Sweet Peppers. I seem to have found that trying more and different Peppers, is somewhat addictive. Tasty, delightful and satisfying but addictive!
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