Some peppers are hot, some are sweet. Some are made for drying, some to be ground into pimentón (a type of paprika from Spain), while others are grown especially to be eaten fresh in salads. The hot varieties form the basis of curries and many other dishes in Asian cuisine.
There are many varieties of peppers, but in this pepper growing guide, it is not my intention to cover each type that can be grown. Still, there will be a few of the most popular covered here.
There are two ways to go about planting peppers: Either you buy small plants from the garden shop, or start them from your own seed. The best way to cover seed starting is to review how to start seed and get the most for your effort.
I have experimented with both methods, and I still find buying the plants the easier of the two for this type of vegetable. If you have the equipment by all means do the seed starting.
The one thing to remember here about growing peppers is not to direct sow them in the garden, as too much time is wasted in getting them to a productive stage.
The peppers in a popularity contest would be won by the sweet bell pepper, banana types and the hot peppers such as chili, cayenne and jalapeno. You normally pick your peppers in the immature green cycle for use in salads and other cooking dishes.
Growing Peppers In Your Garden
You can grow them as pictured but I feel they grow best in a garden environment. Whatever variety you decide to plant, the general instructions are about the same.
I will cover with you some of the most popular and interesting types after I cover the planting techniques to be followed. The growing pepper plant has its best chance of becoming an outstanding vegetable plant when the temperatures are warm.
It is very unforgiving in the cold and planting should be delayed until all danger of frost has disappeared. The pepper thrives in temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees during the day, and 60 t0 70 degrees during the night.
There are many circumstances with the growing peppers that can lead to blossom drop. This includes temperatures that soar to ninety and above.
You should listen closely to your weather forecast and if these extreme temperatures are predicted, by all means cover your pepper plants with a light cloth. Just be careful not to break the stems under weight of the cloth.
A temperature drop below 60 degrees at night will also result in blossom drop, again requiring some kind of heat or cover. A dry garden at bloom time can also result in blossom drop or the plants may fail to set fruit. The soil must be moist, but don’t mistake soggy and water logged conditions for moist soil.
Just An Additional Word About Starting Your Growing Pepper Plants From Seed
It is best to start your seeds inside about eight weeks before your last frost. I would use a 2″ or maybe even a little bigger pot, because from my experience, the larger pot will result in larger peppers because of a better root system. The seeds should be sown in a moist lightweight mix.
After you have the first true leaves, thin the bell pepper plants to only one in a pot. The worst thing you can do here is to utilize plastic cover start trays, as they create an extremely humid area which is too stale.
Please don’t use peat pots as they retain way too much moisture, and you could experience damping off of your plants. I know this from a season long ago of frustration. You are best to use plastic pots.
Whether you are transplanting your growing peppers from seedlings, or purchased garden shop stock, the method is the same. If you are purchasing them from your local garden shop, make sure they don’t already have flowers or fruits, because the shock of planting at this place in their growth could result in loss of blossom and or fruit.
You should space your plants 18 to 24 inches apart under the conditions described above avoiding cold weather, dry weather or lack of a good fertilizer.
A lot of gardeners become anxious and transplant their pepper plants too soon in the growing season. The soil should be at least 70-85 degrees before planting your growing peppers.
It would be a good idea to use black plastic mulch on the soil prior to planting to assist in heating up the soil. Another practice that should be avoided is planting your peppers in the same bed as other plants such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, because all contract the same diseases.
The growing pepper plants are not too vulnerable in regard to soil acidity, but your good results are usually with the acidity mark around 6.0 to 6.8 pH. A fertilizer of a 1-2-2 ratio such as 5-10-10 or 8-16-16 can be used for the best peppers.
You may want to apply an additional application of fertilizer as the peppers begin to set. This application may use a 12-12-12 fertilizer which is high in nitrogen and in both cases. at the package recommended rate.
Your peppers will require a lot of watering just not soggy. The use of mulches after your plants are well established, will aid in keeping your soil moist.
If you do use black plastic, mulch more frequent watering will be necessary. I have used a soaker hose beneath the plastic mulch which makes it an easier job in the watering process.
The plant diseases incude anthracnose, blossom end rot, early blight and verticillium wilt, which are all described in my discussion of plant diseases. The same goes for insects such as aphids in this article, while Colorado potato beetle and hornworms are both described in this article.
Several Varieties Of Growing Peppers
There are several kinds of peppers which I will briefly discuss with you here, besides the bell pepper that is pictured above. I have been quite surprised as to how some of these have turned out, especially the sweet banana pepper, which is a prolific little pepper producing sometimes in excess of 12 per day.
A number of suggestions can be found at the bottom of this pepper growing tips and guide to inform everyone how you make use of this particular variety.
The banana pepper is a very high producer, growing banana shaped peppers that begin in a pale color, but change to a deep yellow or orange at maturity. Sweet banana peppers maybe fried or cooked to brown, used raw on relish platters, in salads, sandwiches or even stuffed.
Growing Peppers In Cherry Form With Banana Peppers
Cherry peppers are very attractive pod type pepper and does resemble the shape of a cherry. It measures about one and three quarter inches in diameter.
It is a warm pepper and ranges from moderate in mildness to medium heat. A mildly hot pepper but still has minute trace of sweetness.
It can be described as very fleshy and matures from red to green. It is considered a good pickling and home garden pepper.
We also know about those peppers seen above, which is jalapeno in the upper pic and the cayenne pepper right below it—all excellent growing peppers.
What Can You Do With A Ton Of Banana Peppers?
There is just too too many of these banana peppers to cope with at our house. We grew these last summer and let me tell you, these are prolific little guys!
Do you need some ideas as to the use of these peppers, and maybe some good recipes to make other delicious dishes?
A salad is the only thing most people can think of, but there are ample of good ideas out there. Please refer below!
Idea #1: Rice Dressing
Some folks don’t like rice dressing with bell pepper or banana peppers, but as a home-grown south Louisiana boy, I think it’s great.
Use your favorite dirty rice or rice dressing recipe and just add banana peppers to taste while browning the ground beef.
There are hundreds of recipes online to help you if you’ve never made this delicious dish.
Idea #2: Oven Roast
You can roast them in the oven, remove the skins and then saute them in some oil and add a bit of crushed garlic. You can also freeze them once they have been roasted and the skins removed, and use them in dishes as and when needed. Once roasted they take up less space in the freezer as well.
Idea #3: Preserves
Use sweet banana peppers for relish and on burgers. I also do an ice wine jelly with the hot ones (fire and ice jelly). For the relish, I do a savory and a sweet pickle, and mix them half and half in the food processor.
For burger peppers, I grill them on the BBQ, skin them, core them, then pack in olive oil. The olive oil is great for cooking and salads too.
Idea #4: Pepperocini
I have used yellow banana peppers for years on sandwiches, just like using an onion. Even just peppers, slice of cheese and mayonnaise sandwich.
A sort of pepperocini, thin sliced rings mixed with green olives and salami make a nice antipasto item. Stuff the tube (cleaned out) with cream cheese, especially a veggie blend, for an appetizer. Dice them for use in spaghetti sauce, meat loaf, even grilled hamburgers.
Idea #5: Canning
Stem and slice peppers in half, remove seeds and rinse. Start a solution of 1 part water to 1 part white vinegar. Put sliced peppers in jar for canning and add one teaspoon kosher salt on top.
When solution is just about ready to boil but not boiling (small bubbles appear in bottom of pan), pour into jars till peppers are covered. Put on lids and rings turn upside down for 5 min on damp towel.
After 5 min invert and let seal. After a while check to make sure all have sealed.
Idea #6: Ornamental
Dry them out in a food dehydrator, and then find a way to make them stiff. Finally, paint them and make decorations out of them. Kind of like gourds for birdhouses 🙂
Idea #7: Fried
Mix equal parts flour and corn Meal, then salt to taste. Crack open a couple of eggs and beat.
Slice the banana peppers in half and put them in the dry. Shake off excess and put in the egg. Shake off and put in the dry again.
Fry in oil covering the peppers until golden brown. Garnish with horseradish sauce and cold beer.
Idea #8: Rhode Island Calamari
Rhode Island Calamari uses banana peppers and tomatoes. It’s a delightfully tasty dish that only the banana peppers make it superb.
Idea #9: Grilled pepper treat
For a spicy treat, I will sometimes mix ricotta cheese, diced green chilies (to taste), and Monterey Jack cheese (for 1 cup of ricotta use 1/2 a jalapeno or 2 tbsp. canned diced chilies and 1/2 cup M.J. cheese).
Slice a banana pepper lengthwise and stuff with cheese mixture. Sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs and grill just until bubbly. Goes GREAT with a mild cracker like Melba toast.
Idea #10: Makes Great Salsa
I use my banana peppers along with some cayenne to make my own salsa. I can’t remember the last time I bought salsa at the store.