We all love hot peppers because of their seasoning abilities. But did you know you can actually grow hot peppers all by yourself? If you ever wanted to try out this exciting habit but didn’t know where to start, this post is for you.
Understanding The Types
There are three main types of peppers namely the bell peppers, sweet peppers and the hot peppers. However, this is not to mean there are only three known pepper flavoring varieties as you can find flavors that share the tastes of one or more of these peppers, or even a combination of one pepper and another substance. It is also important to remember that the size is not
necessarily a distinguishing factor for these types of peppers. So, what are the properties of each type?
Bell Peppers – One of the distinguishing features of Ball Peppers is that they start green but with time, many of them turn yellow, red, orange, chocolate or purple. Therefore, never mistake their green color as a sign of their not being ready because you can always harvest them even when they’re green. But to enjoy maximum flavors and health benefits, you could wait for them to change their color.
Sweet Peppers – Just as the name suggests, sweet peppers are those that can be consumed fresh because they are sweet in taste. Examples include Banana and Cherry peppers, Ajvarski, Pimento, to name but a few. They are predominantly red and green but you can also find them in yellow, purple etc.
Hot Peppers –Hot peppers can be something from spicy to mildly hot and very hot. Because of this feature, moderation is required while using them, lest it becomes too hot and make the food repulsive. Their spiciness is measured by the Scoville Scale and one distinguishing feature is that they need longer periods to ripen. They also come in various colors.
If you want to be successful at growing pepper, you will need to distinguish between the various varieties discussed above. Additionally, you will need to understand their estimated maturity periods as well as the most ideal climate for growing each. As a general rule, most colored peppers require more heat so as to ripen and go through color change and when it comes to hot peppers, it will take even longer for them to change their color, taste and fully ripen. However, you need not rely on natural heat sources when looking for that extra heat. The following are just some of the strategies you could use;
- You could transplant the plants under portable mini-hoop tunnels or grow them in DIY greenhouses.
- You could grow the peppers from seed or in the normal large greenhouses that are often unheated.
- You could add polytunnel greenhouses over the raised beds or grow the peppers under low tunnels.
How To Choose The Best Pepper Variety
As already mentioned, it is important to take note of the days of maturity of a pepper variety before deciding to grow it. Also, the climate plays a vital role when making this decision. For instance, you should understand the first and last frost-dates as well as the growing window. Short-season or temperate rainy climates demand that the pepper variety selected is one with shorter maturation days.
Lastly, choose the variety depending on the size of your pepper plants as well as the peppers. Shorter-dwarf varieties such as cherry peppers are known to mature faster than those of taller and larger plants. Also, they are easier to grow since you can simply grow them in small containers in your backyard.
How To Go About The Growing Process
Generally, peppers take long to germinate so it is important to begin your growing from seedlings. If you opt to go the seeds way, you would have to wait for between 8 and 10 weeks before you can begin harvesting your pepper. Another thing that works against direct sowing is spring weather that’s known for its unpredictability.
Growing Pepper From Seeds – If you choose to grow pepper from seeds, it is imperative that you begin the seeds about 8 -10 weeks before the final spring frost. However, there are ways you could protect them from the harmful effects of spring frost by growing them in polytunnel, greenhouses or under hoop tunnels. In this case, you can begin sowing much earlier and then transplant them sooner.
The seeds can be pre-germinated or sowed in seed starter-trays. We recommend seed starter-trays because they come in cells that are professionally spaced to ensure each seed receives individual care and attention. Also, you could cover these trays with a lid to help retain more heat.
One other thing to remember when sowing pepper seeds is to sow them close to the surface so that they take shorter time to germinate. It is also important to ensure the soil is warmed to facilitate the seed decomposition and germination process. This can be achieved either by use of grow lights or warming mats. After all these have been taken care of, you can transplant the seedlings into a bigger pot once they have shown their first 2 true leaves
Taking Care Of The Seedling – It is important to harden off the seedlings before you transplant them. One way of ensuring this is familiarizing’’ them with the weather outside. 2-3 hours a day spent outdoors, then progressively increasing it to 8 hours a day will make them have a taste of what the weather outside looks like. However, always ensure you check the weather outside before taking the seedlings out. For instance, torrential rains might work against the seedlings so always ensure you cover them. This is because the cold, wet weather occasioned by torrential rains may hamper their growth since peppers are warm-season crops. If you can, go for a portable hoop-tunnel so you don’t have to think harder about your plants losing much heat.
Growing In The Garden And Harvesting – After you are done with the seedlings stage and have transported the pepper to the garden, you can now proceed to ensure you make the soil more fertile so as to maximize your yields. Ordinary compost will do. Apply it at the base of each plant and do it in moderation. Also, do so following a bi-weekly routine. However, when the plant is about to ripen, you can reduce the application of manure or fertilizer as well as water. This will cause them less stress and the ripening process will be faster.
And as soon as the peppers are ready [based on the indicators we already described above], you can proceed to harvest them gently and then spread them on the ground where there is free airflow. Ensure they are not heaped over one another so as to prevent possible bruising. Do this till they are dry enough.
Growing peppers, hot or otherwise, is no walk in the park. At the very least, you need to pay close attention to the climatic conditions of your region and ensure it is favorable.
Warm climates are more ideal for growing of peppers but even if you live in the colder climates or if you wish to grow them during the colder seasons, you can always used improvised structure to ensure a steady supply of heat.