In the U.S., sweet bell peppers are by far the most popular, but hot peppers such as jalapeno, cayenne and chilis are growing in popularity.
- Choose a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.
- Till the soil in early spring to eliminate young weeds and improve the soil texture. Add compost material or manure.
- Peppers need magnesium for good development so add a thin layer of Epsom salts to the soil
- A soil pH of 6.7 to 7.0 is recommended.
- A raised bed works well for peppers because they require a warm soil and warm air to thrive.
- Plant pepper plants 2-3 weeks after the last frost, and when the soil temperature and air temperature is 60° or above.
- Space plants 12-24″ apart (depending on the size of the pepper) to provide maximum air circulation and to give the plant room to branch out.
- Insects cross-pollinate peppers with abandon so be sure to plant your hot peppers and sweet peppers at least 900 feet apart or your sweet peppers will deliver a kick you hadn’t expected.
- Label the variety (use the Homegrown Gourmet plant tag) and date planted.
- Water thoroughly.
- Staking the plant is not required but it may be necessary for plants that bear a lot of large peppers at one time. Insert the stake a few inches from the base of the plant and use only flexible ties like strips of cloth or soft plastic ties to secure the plant to the stake.
- Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy.
- Water when the top of the soil is dry.
- Cover the dirt with mulch to help keep the soil moist.
- Once the plants begin to flower, add a balanced fertilizer (like 10-10-10) around the plants. Fertilize again about 3 weeks later.
- Regularly inspect the plants for a sticky “dew” on the underside of the leaves which is caused by aphids. If found, elminate them by spraying the underside of the leaves with a mild soapy solution.
- Peppers can be harvested at any time. To get the full amount of vitamins A and C, leave peppers on to ripen to full maturity.
- The more peppers you harvest, the more peppers the plant will produce, so keep on picking!
- Remove all fruit still on the plant before the first frost. They will store in a cool celler for 3 months.
- Remember, when handling HOT PEPPERS, wear gloves so you don’t get the hot pepper juice in your eyes or other areas.
- Garden Trowel
- Garden Hose or Watering Can
- Gardening Gloves
- Epsom Salts
- Pepper Plants
- Rubber Gloves (for harvesting hot peppers)
- Bell peppers come in a variety of colors including ivory, yellow, orange, red, and chocolate-colored.
- The traditional green bell pepper will ripen to a deep red and be at peak flavor if allowed to remain on the vine.
Hot vs. Sweet/Bell Peppers —
We offer several varieties of both hot peppers and bell peppers in our Homegrown Gourmet line of veggies.
Hot — Ancho Villa, Cajun Belle, Cayenne, Garden Salsa, Habanero, Hungarian Hot, Jalapeno, Serrano Chili, Super Chili, Thai Hot, Zavory
Sweet/Bell — Big Bertha, California Wonder, Fooled You Jalapeno, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Ivory Bell, Lady Bell, Purple Beauty, Red Bell, Romanian Sweet, Sweet Banana, Valencia Orange, Yellow Bell
Originating in Central and South America, peppers have been a part of the diet in this region since around 7500 BC and were domesticated between 5200 and 2400 BC, becoming one of the first cultivated crops of the Americas.
Discovered by Columbus in the Caribbean, peppers were so named because of the similarity in taste with the Old World spice of the same name. Through commerce and trade, the pepper quickly spread to Europe, the Philippines, India, China and Japan where it was incorporated into the local cuisines.
In general, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins and vitamin B6, in particular, as well as being high in potassium, magnesium and iron. Red chiles are also rich in vitamin C and vitamin A.
Did You Know… —
The substance that gives peppers their heat is called capsicum, the primary ingredient in pepper spray. The heat of peppers is measured in Scoville Units; Bell Peppers rank at zero Scoville units, Jalapenos at 3,000-6,000 units, and Habaneros at 300,000 units.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the pepper with the highest number of Scoville units is the Red Savina Habanero, measuring 577,000 units.