Monday, August 1, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

How to grow peppers

I love growing my own vegetables. It is a lot of fun and a great way to get cheap high quality vegetables. My backyard garden is very small, so I try to get the most out of the space I have. One of the things I consider is the yield and value of the vegetables I grow.

This means that while growing corn and water melon is a lot of fun, the space requirements and the very low cost of these vegetables in the store means I can put my little piece of land to better use.

One vegetable that is space efficient and fairly expensive in the store are peppers. It doesn't hurt that it's easy to grow many different varieties, that peppers are very versatile and that they can produce impressive yields of you give them proper care.

I live in a part of the US where I can plant pepper seeds directly in the ground in the early spring. Still, the best way to maximize your success with peppers is to plant them in small container garden inside and transfer them outside when there is no chance of frost.

Pepper plants usually grow to be about 3 feet tall and require full sun. They can be planted fairly close together. I have been successful when planting the peppers about 8 - 10 inches apart. This helps create a dense foliage cover that will protect the fruit from the sun. Even if peppers love lots of direct sunlight, very hot and direct sun can damage the fruits.

Peppers need fertilizer to thrive. You can use a commercial fertilizer, or use well matured compost if  you have access to a compost heap. Give fertilizer when the seedlings are established and once during the summer when the peppers will grow fastest.

With it's appetite for lots of sun, it;s no surprise that peppers also love water. Make sure that your plants get plenty of water. They prefer to be in well drained moist soil. Don't let the plant stand in water, this can lead to several diseases that will kill the plant. Many pepper growers prefer planting peppers on raised beds to make sure they won't stand in water.

If you follow these steps, your pepper plants will bloom and start growing delicious fruit. Make sure you harvest the plants often as this will encourage them to keep producing peppers throughout summer and fall all the way until the first frost comes.

I love eating peppers of all sorts, and I particularly love making chili con carne in the fall with a mix of hot and sweet peppers from my own garden. It saves me a lot of money, and as an extra bonus it is very easy to save seeds from most pepper fruits. I always collect seeds from many different plants and dry them for replanting next year. Make sure you label your seeds (and plants in the garden) as it's very difficult to tell the difference between different pepper seeds and plants.

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