Peppers: Hot & Sweet
Peppers are a must-have in any garden and there are as many recipes involving peppers as there are types. There are sweet peppers, which are versatile in the kitchen and there are hot peppers, which can add spice to any meal. It is best to pick the peppers you use most to plant in your garden or patio containers and you should expect to pick a lot of peppers in late summer and early fall.
Fact: While some of the heat of hot pepper is carried in the seeds, the heat actually originates from the interior veins or ribs near the seed heart.
The term sweet pepper covers a wide variety of mild peppers that belong to the capsicum family. The best known sweet pepper is the bell pepper, named for their bell-like shape. They have a mild, sweet flavor, crisp, juicy flesh and most bell peppers are a rich, bright green color. However, there are also yellow, orange, purple, red and brown bell peppers and actually red bell peppers are just green bell peppers that have been allowed to ripen longer. Other sweet pepper varieties include cubanelles, roasting pimantos, cherry and banana peppers.
The hot peppers group of infamous characters includes chili, cayenne, Hungarian wax and long yellow peppers. Most hot peppers have red and orange-scarlet fruits when ripe.
How to plant:
Choose a sunny location that gets six or more hours of sun each day and dig a hole about two times as wide as the pot that holds your pepper plant. Place your plant in the soil a little deeper than it was in the pot. Fill the space around your plant with soil, press lightly to compact the dirt and water immediately to settle the soil. Most gardeners fertilize with a slow-release or natural fertilizer when planting and follow up with liquid feed throughout the season.
Peppers are thirsty plants! They need a moderate supply of water from the moment you plant them until the end of the season. However, they will not tolerate saturated soil; the soil must drain well, yet hold enough moisture. To maintain this balance, work some organic matter, such as compost or humus, into the soil to enhance moisture retention and use mulch to prevent excessive evaporation during the dry summer months.
Do not over fertilize, this tends to make the plants develop lush foliage at the expense of fruit production. Generally, peppers are problem-free, but the same pests and diseases that plague tomatoes and eggplants will occasionally attack pepper plants. Avoid working in your garden after it rains because diseases can spread rapidly among wet pepper plants. Therefore with basic precautions, you can keep your peppers "clean".
Pepper plants are easily damaged when laden with fruit; you can support them by loosely tying the plants to stakes with rubber bands to allow for growth expansion. Do not use wire twist-ties or twine, which gradually choke off or even snap the stems.
- Burpee Home Gardens