Are there few peppers on your bushes with leaves wrinkled and twisted? Here is how to grow tantalizing peppers. Be they sweet or hot, peppers take me back to our ancient roots. Camels fully laden with aromatic treasures, travelling the spice route, bringing colour & flavour to the tables of the king and peasant alike.
|PARTS YOU CAN EAT:||Fruit pods|
|SOWING SEASON:||Late winter to early summer – see sowing chart|
|SOIL pH:||pH 5.5 – 7|
|HOW MANY:||5 plants per 4 people|
|PLANT AGAIN:||Plant 2 every 4 – 6 weeks in growing season – Plants live up to 5 years|
|SEED SPACING:||Plant 40 – 50cm apart|
|GERMINATION:||10 – 18 Days (transplant after 6 weeks)|
|HARVEST:||15 weeks after sowing|
|STORE:||Refrigerate or pickle|
|COMPANION PLANTS:||Tomatoes, basil|
|HEIRLOOM SEED:||Click for Sweet Pepper & Chilli varieties|
GROW PEPPERS IN 5 EASY STEPS…
Peppers need warm growing conditions and have a relatively short sowing season from August to November. All peppers (chillies or sweet) are green when immature but as they ripen change red, yellow, orange or even purple. I have successfully grown mine in containers and they also perfect for small gardens.
Peppers grow best in well drained fertile loam soil. I have found that for best results, my peppers must grow quickly. I prepare the soil with plenty of old manure (horse manure is best) and mulch with wood chips on top to keep soil moist.
I have seen that peppers grow best if grown in seedling pots first rather than sown directly into soil. I used the seedling pot maker to make my pots from recycled newspaper which gets planted straight into the soil = no root disturbance & the newspaper is fully biodegradable & feeds the earthworms.
*TIP: soak seeds overnight to speed up germination period which is 10-18 days.
I plant out my seedlings 40 – 50cm apart about 6 weeks after I sowed them. When transplanting, I bury them so that their leaves are just above the ground helping them develop stronger roots. They love a warm climate & don’t like the cold. I shade new seedlings with leafy twigs & keep well watered (never allow to dry out).
As peppers start to flower, I feed with a high potassium fertilizer like Biotrissol. I keep my plants well watered & mulched to stop poor flower set or bud drop (which can be a problem in hot weather) as flowers become the fruit. Pick fruit pods often, using sharp secateurs (the more I harvest the more they bear).
On my journeys I discovered the most delightful pepper seeds to plant like these gorgeous sweet purple peppers called “Purple Beauty“, or the heart shaped “Pimento” or the hot colourful “Tabasco” chillies, like in the famous sauce. I find that peppers do well as a follow-on crop to beetroot, carrots, turnips or radishes.
GOOD COMPANIONS: Tomatoes, basil
BAD COMPANIONS: Potatoes, eggplant
I eradicate pests like Cutworm and Powdery Mildew with organic Bioneem and/or Copper Soap. Chillies get hotter the longer they left on the bush and are the main ingredient in curry, cayenne pepper & paprika. I made some of Nigella Lawson’s ‘chilli jam‘ with mine.
REMEMBER: Peppers are prone to cross pollinate so if you want to save the seed plant the same variety together.
FACT: The same chemical that makes Chillies hot (Capsaicin) also helps boost the metabolism and burn calories in our bodies! If looked after, a chilli plant will keep producing for up to 5 years.