Gardening Guide: How To Grow Peppers

It’s Easy To Grow Peppers And You’ll Have Fun While Saving Money

Grow peppers correctly and you’ll have delicious, fresh, peppers all summer long. They go great in salads and recipes. Try stuffing them with your favorite filling or grilling them with fresh sausage.

Peppers are easy to grow but need the right balance of fertilizer, water and sun to maximize yield. We’ll teach you how to grow peppers and how to protect your plants from insects and animals. You’ll be an expert gardener in no time.

If you haven’t grown peppers in your garden before, why not try it. It’s fun and once your pepper plants start to produce, you’ll be saving money on your grocery bill every week.
Image courtesy of jschneid through Creative Commons.

How To Grow Fresh Peppers

Table of Contents
1. Choose A Good Location For Your PeppersStep
2. Start With Good SoilStep
3. Plant Your PeppersStep
4. Water And Feed Your PeppersStep
5. Watch Out For PestsStep
6. Harvest And Enjoy
7. Classic Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Step 1. Choose A Good Location For Your Peppers
They love full sun and good drainage.

Peppers need six to eight hours of full sun a day and should be planted in a well-drained location.

A mature pepper plant can be up to four foot high and up to two feet in diameter. Allow at least 18 inches between each plant for proper air circulation and to leave enough room for you to step around the plants and harvest the peppers.

Pepper plants will become quite heavy as they mature and become laden with ripening fruit. Provide support in the form of a stake, cage or other structure. If you use stakes, use one per plant. Drive the stake into the ground before planting seedlings and leave three to four feet above the ground. Use thin strips of cloth or old pantyhose to loosely tie plants to the stake. Do not use twine.

A tomato cage also works especially well for pepper plants. They provides just enough containment and support to prevent the pepper plant from splitting and ending up on the ground.

Hot, hot, HOT !
What to do when your mouth is on fire… What Makes A Pepper Hot? Capsaicin and The Scoville Scale
Many different compounds can give a pepper its “heat”. The most common is capsaicin.

Capsaicin is found in the flesh of the pepper nearest the seeds. The amount of capsaicin, or the overall heat of a pepper, is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), named after American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville who developed the test to measure the capsaicin content in a pepper.

Pure capsaicin is rated at 16,000,000 SHU and the scale ranges all the way down to 0 for a common bell pepper which contains no capsaicin. The habanero pepper pictured above is pretty high up on the scale, rated at 250,000 SHU . The hottest pepper, recently announced in February 2012, is the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion at 2,000,000 SHU, nearly double the previous holder of the # 1 spot, the Bhut Jolokia from India.

Because capsaicin is not water-soluble, drinking water after eating a hot pepper will not stop the burning. The capsaicin is soluble only in alcohol and fats. Food or drink containing these will ease the burning. Yogurt or milk (not the fat-free varieties) are good choices. Ice cream will also help put out the fire.

Step 2. Start With Good Soil
Build on top of a good foundation…
Just like everything in life, from buildings to relationships, you need a good foundation. When you grow peppers, that foundation is well-balanced, nutrient-rich soil.

If you have a compost pile, mix in generous amounts of your own fully-decomposed compost into the soil along with a slow-release fertilizer. We recommend Osmocote Multi-Purpose Plant Food. It is an all-in-one solution that provides up to 6 full months of 11 essential mineral nutrients. Rake smooth and your all set to plant.

If you don’t have your own compost pile or mulch available to you, purchase compost or manure by the bag from your local garden store. Instructions on how much to use for new and established gardens will be printed on the bag.

If your soil is in especially poor condition, consider supplementing the soil with a good quality top soil, peat, vermiculite and compost, all available by the bag for smaller gardens. For larger gardens, check with your local gardening center for possible suppliers of some of these ingredients by the truckload.

Peppers will also grow well in containers. One 12-inch or larger container will support one pepper plant. Use a premium potting soil specifically formulated for vegetables, also available from your local gardening store.

If you have your own compost pile, make sure the material is fully-decomposed before mixing it with soil to plant in. Never use fresh organic material. It will starve your plants of vital nitrogen as it decomposes.

Learn How to Create Your Own Compost

It’s cost-effective, promotes recycling and it’s good for your garden…
One of the keys to being a successful home gardener is creating and using your own compost. It’s easy but you need to know how to do it.

Step 3. Plant Your Peppers

Choose from seed or seedlings and hot or mild…

The first choice you need to make is whether to start your pepper plants from seed or purchase seedlings. There are benefits and drawbacks to each method.

Variety is not a problem if you start from seed. There are hundreds of varieties or pepper seeds available at your garden center or online. Starting peppers from seed, however, will take a little extra work. Unless you live in a very warm climate with a long growing season, you will probably have to start the seeds indoors up to 8 -10 weeks before the average last frost date date for your area.

Starting pepper plants from seed also requires a delicate balance of sunlight, moisture and warmth. Check the instructions on your packet of seeds for timing and growing instructions.

Unless you are an experienced gardener, I suggest purchasing seedlings. You will fast-forward the process by nearly 2 months and can plant them right outside in the ground 4 to 6 weeks after the average last frost date has passed.

The next choice you need to make is the variety of pepper you will grow. Varieties will be limited at your local nursery but they should at least have a few to choose from with varying degrees of heat. You might want to check the ChiliWorld Pepper and Sauce Heat Ratings.

If you want peppers with absolutely no heat, bell peppers are your best choice. Anything else will have some warmth. How much is up to you to decide. Check the chart, jot down the names of a few different varieties you would like to grow and head off to the nursery. They should at least have bell pepper seedlings and will also usually have one or more peppers with a little heat in them.

Look for stocky, dark green generally healthy-looking seedlings. Avoid thin, lanky plants or seedlings that have yellowed, chewed or spotted leaves. Leave at least 18 inches of space between seedlings and remember to install stakes, cages or any other supports BEFORE you plant the seedlings.

Step 4. Water And Feed Your Peppers

Peppers can get thirsty and hungry…

Peppers should always be kept well-watered and occasionally fertilized.

Provide 2 inches of water per week. A deep soaking once or twice a week is better than several shorter watering sessions. Use a rain gauge (pictured right) or a cup placed near your plants to measure how much water you (and Mother Nature) have applied and how much more is needed.

The ideal method for providing water to your plants is through a soaker hose placed under plastic mulch below your plants. This method delivers water right to the roots where it is needed most and prevents water and dirt from being splashed up onto the plant which promotes disease.

If you must water the whole plant with a sprinkler, do so in the early morning hours so the plant dries before evening. Wet plants at night promote fungus and disease.

Even if you mixed in a slow-release fertilizer into the soil before planting, it is still a good idea to provide one or more mid-season feedings. If you didn’t mix fertilizer into the soil before planting, then it’s very important that you provide one or more feedings per month.

When the plants begin to mature and start producing peppers, fertilize with a quality organic fertilizer such as Dr. Earth Organic Vegetable and Herb Fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the package for specific application instructions.

4 pounds of the best fertilizer you can buy

Dr. Earth 704P Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer Poly Bag, 4-Pound

I have used this for 2 years and my vegetables produce so much more than without it. My two cherry tomato plants have produced nearly 40 pounds of cherry tomatoes in plain old dirt mixed with Dr. Earth. Every time I plant new seeds I always mix in a scoop.

Step 5. Watch Out For Pests
Insects, animals and disease can all attack your pepper plants…

Do a weekly inspection of your pepper plants. Turn over a few leaves. Take note of the general appearance of the plants. If something doesn’t look right, you may have a problem.

The good news is peppers are resistant to many common garden insects that usually cause major damage to other garden crops. Some of the more common pests that affect peppers are cutworms, aphids, hornworms (pictured) and whiteflies. If you suspect a problem, treat with a general-purpose organic garden dust. We recommend Bonide Organic All Purpose Garden Dust. This product also contains a fungicide that will prevent or treat diseases triggered by fungus.

If you see a big green caterpillar (hornworm–tomato worm–tobacco worm) eating your pepper or tomato plants, AND it has little white projections on its back, those are the oval cocoons of a gardener-friendly 1/8-inch long wasp. The larvae of that wasp eat and kill the big ol’ worm. So, leave the worm alone and the tiny wasps can mature and go on to do more good work in your garden.

I have had problems with cutworms in the past and they can be tricky. They don’t usually give any clues before hand. You’ll just wake up one morning and they have already done their dirty work, cutting a young seedling right off at soil level. Unfortunately there is no way to recover but there is a way to prevent them from damaging your plants. Wrap a cardboard collar around the base of the seedling and gently press it about 1/2 inch into the soil. This will usually protect the plant from cutworms.

Many other pepper plant diseases can be prevented by simply choosing disease-resistant varieties of seeds or seedlings. Most seeds are clearly marked if they are disease-resistant. Most seedlings are not marked but are quite-likely disease-resistant. Ask your nursery if you are not sure.

Another way to prevent disease is to rotate crops from year to year. Never plant peppers in the same spot you planted them last year. If you do, soil-borne disease that weathered the winter can attack plants. If you have the room, use a 3-year rotation and include related crops such as tomatoes and eggplant in that schedule.

If your plants do exhibit signs of disease (yellow leaves, stunted growth, overall unhealthy appearance or spots on leaves), it is probably caused by a fungus. Treat affected plants immediately with a fungicide. We recommend Garden-Safe Fungicide Concentrate or a combination insecticide/fungicide like Bonide Organic All Purpose Garden Dust.

An even better way to address fungus is to prevent it. Fungus is usually caused by excess moisture. Water only in the early hours of the day, don’t over water and make sure there is no standing water near the base of the plants.

Although not related to disease, “blossom drop” is also a common problem with bell pepper varieties during very warm weather. Plants will only set fruit when temperatures are between 60 and 65 degrees F. If the day time temperature is regularly above 85 degrees or the night time temperature doesn’t drop to at least 65 degrees, the plants will not set fruit and may drop all of their blossoms in response to the heat.

No need to worry. When temperatures cool down, the plants will recover quickly and begin blossoming and setting fruit again.

The last threat to your peppers is from animals that may invade your garden. Although peppers tend to be one of the last crops they’ll eat especially if you are growing hot varieties, deer, rabbits and squirrels can all be a problem.

Visit one of the pages below for more information on how to control these animals with humane deterrent methods.

Step 6. Harvest And Enjoy
The best part after all your hard work…

When it is time to harvest your peppers, use a good pair of garden or pruning shears to cut the stem holding the pepper sharply and cleanly.

If you are not sure if the pepper is ripe, it’s a good idea to refer to the picture on the seed packet or a picture on the web of a mature, ripe pepper for the specific variety you are growing.

Peppers will continue to produce until the first frost of the fall. If a frost is forecast, cut any remaining peppers off the plant. Once frost kills the plant, peppers will turn mushy and will be inedible.

Once the fresh peppers start rolling in, enjoy them !.
One of my favorite recipes is below…grilled stuffed peppers.

Classic Grilled Stuffed Peppers

A delicious way to enjoy your fresh peppers…

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hr, 20 minutes
Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 cup water
6 green or red bell peppers
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Instructions
1. Place the rice and water in saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, cook 20 minutes.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the beef until evenly browned.
3. Preheat grill or oven to 350 degrees F.
4. Remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membranes of the bell peppers.
5. Wrap bottom of each pepper with foil or arrange in baking dish, hollowed side up.
6. In a bowl, mix browned beef, cooked rice, 1 can tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
7. Spoon equal amount of mixture into each pepper.
8. Mix remaining tomato sauce with Italian seasoning pour over peppers.
9. Cook on grill (or bake in oven) 1 hour, baste with sauce every 15 min.

Red Peppers Rule !

Red bell peppers have lots of vitamins and nutrients…
nine times as much carotene and lycopene and twice as much vitamin C as a green pepper and three times as much vitamin C as an average orange.

Support Your Peppers
Tomato cages are the perfect size for mature pepper plants.
Tomato cages are the perfect size and shape to support your mature pepper plants loaded with fruit from being knocked down by a gusty summer thunderstorm.

Learn How To Successfully Grow Other Vegetables In Your Garden …and other helpful gardening information here.

Happy Gardening !

DIY Timber Framed Pergola

Create your ideal outdoor space with a Dreamy Garden Pergola

I wanted a Pergola, you know one of those lovely thick timber cross frames that extends from peoples houses and provides a lovely slightly shaded sitting area, without the direct sunlight. Many I have seen are draped with climbing plants and Flowers, and just look so pretty and such a calm space. But you may be put off or think its too difficult or big a job, way too expensive?
Think Again, we just built our very own pergola. I am so pleased at just how wonderful it turned out. I was very surprised at how easy it really was to make , I wanted to share with you so you can be inspired into adding some outside living space to your house too.

I also am growing plants to climb around the pergola, and give even more shade. These pergolas are an awesome addition to any house, and very easy to make. OK we made our own, my hubby has a bit of DIY knowledge but hey you can even buy Pregola Kits All Ready made.

Or you can read on and find out how we transformed the boring dead space at the side of our house, which was exposed and not a very private space into a fabulous outdoor area.

Our Finished Pergola Timber Pergola Kits and Ideas Build your Own Pergola See how We did it Building Our Pregola in Pictures How to Build a Pergola Decorate your area with Beautiful Metal… More
Our Finished Pergola
even the dog loves it

Now all we need is some good Aussie Sun

Timber Pergola Kits and Ideas
….taking the hard work out of your DIY

When I was looking for ideas for what kind of pergola I wanted I was really nicely surprised by the amount of pre made, ready to put up kits there were. I knew I wanted something that would provide shade and where we could sit out and dine al fresco. I am an avid clematis fan, so I wanted trellis added so I could grow climbing plants up and over it.

We were really surprised by the ideas we could get online and many of the different styles of pergolas you could have.

You need to decide is it free standing, is it adjoining onto your side of the building. Once you have made these decisions then really the making of it was not that difficult at all. Once we had our plans. So make sure you draw out exactly what you want.

Build your Own Pergola See how We did it

What you need

My Back door needed something just to pizazz it, the pathway to the front of the house cuts right through this bit, and I felt it was a prefect project for the side of the house where really we could turn this wasted piece of ground, into a gorgeous sitting and eating area perfect for those hot lazy summer days or somewhere nice to relax on warm nights.

our neighbours Garage wall is right on our boundary so we wanted to add some privacy to this area, but did not want to go through the hassel of an extension or more structural change.

SO we chose a Pergola with trellis. Which I know by the time it is decorated, and the climbing plants take a hold it will provide that little bit of privacy yet, not fell enclosed in.

Top Tip : Paint your Wood before you do anything this save so much time later on.

You will need some basic woodworking skills for this project.

Timber Requirements
4 by 4inch posts 10ft tall
8 lengths of 6 by 2 timber
28 lengths of 2 by 1inch timber (this is for the trellis part)

We Dug 3 x holes 2 feet deep at 1.8meters (centered). (Positioned In a triangle as we were attaching to the roof frame.) These were cemented into the ground for extra strength.

Bolt the 6 by 2 timer to wall or roof line whatever you are attaching it to.

Mark your top level at 6 foot from your 3 posts. Then screw 1 length 6 by 2 timber at 6 foot mark along the 3 posts.

Using Angle finder and mark the other 6 by 2 timbers for running the 6 by 2s from roofline to posts.

Then cut all 6 by 2 timbers for running over top from roof line

Screw on 6 by 2 timbers (roofline to posts)

You will have left over timbers on your 6 by 2s.
Use these as your dwangs and centres of the top roof of the pergola.

Trim all overhangs from the 6 by 2s

Then if you wish like us we hand built our own trellis.

Many pergolas don’t have trellis I just felt since our neighbour’s driveway was so close to our pergola this would give extra privacy.

Add Greenery to Your Living Space with Hanging House Plants

Houseplants create a warmth and coziness in any room of the home. The lush green foliage softens a room and adds a cheery feeling. If you don’t want to set plants on your floors, tables or windowsills, consider hanging plants around a room.

Decorate a bare corner of a sunny room with a hanging plant or two. Hang a plant near a shaded north window to create privacy between you and the parking lot. Or, decorate a small patio without taking up sitting space with an assortment of hanging plants.

Hanging houseplants don’t have to be fancy and they don’t have to be high maintenance. There are many low maintenance plants that require a minimal amount of care yet pack a ton of beauty into a small package.

Here are four hanging plants that we have grown successfully, indoors and outdoors, and a few creative ways to hang houseplants without searching for studs, drilling holes and installing plant hangers.

There’s not much difference between our indoor living space and our outdoor living space. Both spaces maintain the same temperature and humidity levels throughout the year. We write and paint both indoors and outside. And, there’s an abundance of plants everywhere you look.

We’re not sure how this happened. We started out with just a few pretty green vines and, now, the plants create a wall that separates our world from rushing cars and noisy neighbours.

We didn’t intend to create this green leafy wall around us. We just wanted plants that were extremely easy to grow, could handle a bit of neglect, grew in hot weather as well as cool weather, and resisted pests and diseases.

The hanging plants in our collection that meet these requirements and need very little care are the Pothos, Spider plants, Arrowhead plants and Rhode.

There are many reasons we enjoy these plants. These hanging plants not only provide a buffer from the noise of passing cars, these plants also filter and freshen the air that blows through our studio.

All of these hanging houseplants have several things in common which makes these plants ideal growing companions.

  • Grow in a mixture of potting mix and compost
  • Enjoy full shade to bright indirect light
  • Withstand short periods of no water
  • Require very little fertilizer
  • Tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees
  • Survive after exposure to light frost or freezing temperatures

Landlords generally don’t like holes in the walls and ceilings. This plant hanger can be mounted on a patio railing, window ledge or table.

 

The Awesome Arrowhead Plant – A plant that keeps on living

My first apartment was bland and boring. While walking past a floral shop, I decided to add some life to my living quarters. I went inside the shop, found a bushy arrowhead plant, paired it with a bright yellow terra cotta pot and headed for home.

That arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum), which is commonly called Nephthytis, was the perfect way to brighten up a dingy apartment. It also turned out to be the perfect starter houseplant for me.

I killed that plant twice. The first time, I set it outside in the freezing cold while I moved into a new apartment. The second time, I went on vacation for four weeks and the plant didn’t get watered. Both times, the plant came back. I didn’t think it would. But the plant came back and it was a little stronger each time.

 

To Prune or Not to Prune? Prune vines to create bushy plants or let vines grow to create long flowing cascades of leaves.

 

Moveable Plant Stands – Arrange hanging plants in a suspended display

VCS SD51 Show Off Double Scroll Plant Stand, 51-Inch

This plant stand is the perfect height to set on a table. Place on a low table, such as an end table, in a sunny corner. Or, set on a table in the middle of a large entry way for a dramatic effect. The plants hang, suspended in mid-air, and the stand can be moved to different locations to suit the needs of the plants.

 

The Long Legged Spider Plant – A plant that keeps on sprouting

If you enjoy baby plants, the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) will make you smile. This plant sends off sturdy tendrils which sprout miniature spider plants (called plantlets).

These baby plants quickly sprout roots. Leave the young-ins hanging off the plant to add character to the plant. Or, cut off the plantlets and plant in a hanging container of their own.

We like to hang spider plants so that the container is just above eye level or just below chest level and does not interfere with our view. As the plant produces plantlets, it forms an additional screen between our inside world and the outside world around us.

Our Favorite Hanging Planter

Recycled coffee containers, the plastic kind. Poke six holes in the bottom for drainage and three holes, spaced evenly, around the rim for the hanger.

Tension Rod Plant Stands – Pole dancing for long plants
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SPRING TENSION ROD INDOOR PLANT POLE WITH 3 ADJUSTABLE ARMS

Here’s a great way to display plants in any location in a room. This spring-loaded rod fits snugly between floor and ceiling. If you have a large room and want a natural divider, space several of these tension rods in a row in the middle of the room.

 

The Pothos is Prolific

A plant that naturally grows into a living screen
This is the plant that started our current plant collection. When we opened our art studio, there was a single straggly pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum) hanging near the door.

It wasn’t much to look at but we re-potted it and found it a bright spot. Skip to today and there must be a dozen pothos hanging around the studio.

The pothos may be the fastest growing plant around our studio. In just a couple of warm months, the vines on the pothos plant may grow as much as two or three feet.

The long vining tendrils of the pothos make a natural room divider or can be used as a screen so that the neighbors can’t see inside your home.

We also use pothos to hide an ugly wall on one side of the studio until we get around to painting the building.

Make More Plants. After you prune, plant the cut off ends of vines in a mix of potting soil and compost. New plants will sprout roots quickly.

Plant Stands for Multiple Plants – Create a hanging garden in your living room

Yard Butler YT-5 Yard Tree Hanging Garden System
Have a large space to fill? Create a plant tree and display a garden full of hanging plants in one place. This plant stand is perfect when you want to fill up a room.

 

The Rhoeo – A plant that hangs in colourful spirals

Even a common ground-cover plant can be turned into a stunning hanging display. I didn’t like the Rhoeo (Rhoeo spathacea), or oyster plant, that grew along the walkway. So, he put it in one of our coffee-container-turned-hanging-planter inventions and hung it near the studio door.

I love the mix of green, white and purple. Did you know that purple is my favourite colour? I also enjoy the way the spiralling vines surround the container. I think these plants are best viewed from above.

This growth habit makes the Rhoeo perfect when you want a plant that hangs low. We hang these plants so that the bottom of the container is between three and four feet above the floor.

Give Plants a Shower. Hang plants in the shower every few weeks to simulate a tropical rain. You’ll water less often and the leaves will stay clean and shiny.

Plant Care Guides

Here are some helpful plant care sheets about the four hanging houseplants showcased in this article.