Spring Garden Tips

Pepper

Pepper410px.jpg

Botanical Name

Capsicum annuum

Hardiness

Annual

Height

1 to 3 feet

Width

1 to 3 feet

Flowers

Early to late summer: white

Fruit

Bell types; banana types; chili types; sweet to very hot; variety of colors, flavors and sizes

Light

Full sun

Soil

Moist, well drained, organic

Planting and Care

Pepper seeds best germinate in warm soil temperatures of 80 F to 95 F. Pepper seeds will not germinate in temperatures below 55 F.

Start plants indoors 8 to 10 weeks before transplanting outside. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep. Harden off transplants before planting.

Plant only when all danger of frost has passed and the air and soil have warmed. Space plants 12 to 24 inches apart in rows spaced 24 to 36 inches apart.

Use floating row covers to protect plants from temperature dips.

Extreme heat and cold can cause pepper plants to drop their blossoms.

Providing even moisture is critical to fruit set and development.

Mulch soil around plants to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture and temperature.

Tall varieties or those with heavy fruit may need staking.

Problems

Aphids, borers, cucumber mosaic virus, blossom end rot

Varieties to Consider

Big Early Hybrid - thick walled, 8 inches long, sweet, ripens to red

Caribbean Red - Very hot, habanero type, red flesh, use carefully

Filus Blue - beautiful ornamental with violet tinged leaves, round purple fruit, great in container grouping

Harvesting

Pick peppers when the fruits are firm and fully colored. Separate the hot and mild peppers during harvest and storage to avoid surprises.

Did You Know

Diary products, especially high fat milk, cheese and sour cream offer relief from the burn of hot peppers.  Dairy neutralizes the capsaicin (the compound responsible for the heat) by breaking the stubborn bond between it and your taste buds.  To tame the fire it's best to enjoy a little dairy before biting a hot pepper.

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