Whether you like 'em sweet or hot, peppers are growing in more home gardens than ever before as new and colorful varieties are being made available.
In the U.S., sweet bell peppers are by far the most popular, but as Mexican food comes to the fore, pepper varieties such as
jalapeno, cayenne, and chile are "hot" on the list of home grown garden vegetables.
Planted about the same time as tomatoes, the pepper is usually started in pots indoors in early spring, then transplanted outdoors when all danger of frost is past.
As a rule of thumb, the pepper takes a bit more patience, since it is usually smaller and slower growing. The payoff, however, is
an abundant crop of either deep green or bright red or yellow prize specimens that are the pride of any home gardener.
An added advantage? The more you harvest, the more peppers the plant will produce. Many pepper varieties can be picked at any time
while still maintaining their flavor and crunch.
To get the full and rich amount of vitamins A & C,
however, leave peppers to ripen to full maturity. Peppers can be eaten raw, pickled, cooked and stuffed, or used in
relishes, sauces and stews.
Just remember to keep plants supplied with well-drained soil, plenty of sun and uniformly moist (but not water-logged) during the
peak growing season to keep your peppers healthy and growing.
Potted green pepper plants growing on a NYC windowsill.
Feed once when setting out, then again with a nitrogen fertilizer as fruit begins to set.
Regularly inspect for sticky "dew" on the underside of leaves caused by aphids. They be easily eliminated by spraying the
underside of leaves with a mild soapy solution, or ask your garden center expert chemical sprays might cure a particularly bad infestation.
Fun facts about peppers
• Like tomatoes, peppers are produced from a flowering plant and contain seeds, and therefore are more accurately classified as a fruit.
• Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers and nine times the level of carotene and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. http://www.chiff.com/vitamins/antioxidants.htm
• Traditional Chinese medicine used peppers to treat indigestion and increase blood circulation.
• In Australia bell peppers are known as capsicums, in the UK simply as pepper, and in Japan as ’パプリカ’ (papurika).
On the Web - How to plant & grow peppers :
Watch Your Garden Grow - Peppers - Find out how to grow home garden sweet pepper varieties, including when to plant or harvest, spacing & depth, care & feeding, plus tips on preserving and cooking with related recipes & instructions, from the University of Illinois Extension.
Pepper - Find an excellent one-page fact sheet with helpful Q&A including answers to common problems such as leaf spot, stem rot and other maladies plus more on how to grow and pickle jalapeno peppers (recipe included), a history of pepper cultivation, tips on growing and fertilizing, storage and nutrition information.
How to Grow Peppers - Get step-by-step instructions for setting out plants, spacing, fertilizing, staking & watering with tips on recommended varieties,
and related resources.
All About Growing Peppers - Here's an archived story feature from Mother Earth News providing facts & information on organic pepper gardening including natural remedies for common pests and diseases, suggested varieties by maturity dates, and related recipes.
Growing Great Peppers & Chiles - Check out information on growing peppers and hot chili peppers with guides to starting, transplanting, fertilizing and harvesting your crop, photo gallery, and table illustrating a number of varieties, related "heat" index, and growing times, and more on pepper pest control.