One of the common questions I’m asked about my garden is how I get peppers to grow. I don’t think I am the pepper whisperer or anything, but I do usually get a lot of peppers.
A great thing about growing your own peppers is that you can have varieties you don’t see in the store. This year I’m growing chocolate and purple bell peppers, jalapeños, Anaheims, and a gorgeous cayenne pepper variety called Andy, which are sweet and spicy and turn bright red.
Another great thing about peppers: they are easy to store. Most spicy peppers dry easily, and all peppers freeze. If you live in a pepper-friendly climate, grow them. You will be glad you did.
Chocolate Bell Peppers
How To Grow Peppers:
Peppers are what I think of as a “greedy plant.” Like tomatoes and squash, they like a lot of light, rich soil, and consistent watering. Give them these things and they will reward you considerably.
Choose full sunlight. Peppers do not like it to be cold. They do best in at least 6 hours of sunlight.
Plant after the frost date. Pepper plants do not bounce back from frosts. I’ve found that even one frost will permanently sicken a pepper plant. In general, plant in the late spring, around the time you would put in tomatoes.
Peppers like good drainage. The last thing you want is a pepper sitting in clay soil where its roots will stay soaking wet. If your soil isn’t the type that drains well, consider planting 2 or 3 peppers in a big (20-gallon-ish) container, where they will have room to stretch out, and where the water will drain better.
Mix fertilizer with the soil. When planting peppers, I add steer manure or compost to the soil for added richness and to help establish roots. I find this is all the fertilizer that peppers need.
Watering peppers is easy. Water every day, consistently, but don’t over water. At the height of summer, each pepper plant gets about 1/2 gallon water a day.
That’s it! It’s pretty simple: keep them warm, give them regular water, and make sure they have rich soil with good drainage. This formula should lead to a harvest of nice big peppers in late summer.
Optional companion planting tip: I find that basil and peppers seem to need the same resources in terms of water, soil, and light, so planting them together makes sense.
Basil likes to bunk with tomato plants, too.