Pettie Belle, as it is called in Africa or Bell Pepper in various other parts of the world, is a necessary addition to various types of cuisine is across the world. It is a great addition to any kind of sauces, main courses as well as salads. There are various types of new varieties that can be found from the various types of seeds and nurseries, which can include mini-bells and colored bells that you might be hard pressed to find in your grocery store. Even the farmers market would not help you to find such wonderful bell peppers. However, you can easily grow such papers in your backyard, particularly in very little space. For example, you could grow them in your small container, and start harvesting them in order to create the best Pepper for your meals.
Starting the cultivation:
In case you would like to grow bell pepper of an exotic variety like the Pettie Belle, you have to secure the seed from nurseries of your choice. If it is late winter, then start the seeds indoors. You should choose an area that contains plenty of light and warmth, or you could set up halogen lights and add a heat mat under the seeding tray so as to create a small greenhouse.
You can then choose a large pea pot, or large coir which can be planted directly into the ground. The peppers can then be transplanted from the pots made out of plastic to that secure location without having the roots disturbed.
After that, fill up your pot with good and lose potting soil. Plant your seeds according to the depth recommended in the Internet or given in the plastic packet containing the seeds. Always keep the soil moist, but not filled with water.
After the seedlings emerge, always make sure that you can turn them regularly, do not allow the plant to get bent; keep changing the direction of the light.
When the time comes for you to plant the pepper outdoors, always make sure that you take them outside for an hour or so in order to harden them. After a few days, keep increasing the time of keeping the plant outside in the sun, until you feel that the plant has been acclimatized, and there is no chance of any sunburn happening to the plant.
Make sure that the place is watered uniformly, do not allow the soil to dry out, and make sure that there is no sitting water. If the soil is excessively dry, particularly in the hot and windy days, then there would be no fruits, and the flowers will not bloom.
After the first batch of flower blooms, release some fertilizer. This will help you to get the best possible outcome from the Pettie Belle plant.
Grow Bell Peppers in your kitchen garden and enjoy its amazing uses
If you are passionate about growing chillies, then you would be definitely aware of the fact that it is indeed a very challenging process, demanding a chunk of your time, patience and effort. Nevertheless, at the end, it is also a very rewarding one. Nurturing chilli plants is an extremely delicate process. Certainly, you need to bring it up with care, attention and details. You would find the process to be simple with no iota of complications.
About bell peppers
Bell peppers are tender crops especially grown in warm seasons. So, once you crave for the sweet, spicy and hot touch to your meals, think of growing bell peppers. They come in a range of sizes, shapes and colours. To grow this seed, you have to start your garden for summer. Once you grow them in summers, you can freeze them throughout the winter to add them to soups and sizzlers.
Bell peppers are usually red, green orange and yellow. However, you can also try growing the rarely coloured ones like white, brown, dark purple, lavender, etc. They are most versatile veggies making place in your kitchen and garden, no matter where you are in the world.
Also known as sweet pepper, capsicum or pepper in various corners of the world, bell pepper is a cultivator group of Capsicum annuum species. Besides being a veggie, it is a botanical fruit that has a plethora of culinary and health benefits.
Germinating your chilli seeds
Let’s look into how you can grow bell peppers, a common and spicy chilly variety.
You can start seeding it indoors almost 10 weeks prior to previous spring frost date.
For germination, maintain temperature of 70 degrees F and keep in warm place for quicker and better results.
Start with 3 seeds to one pot and thin out the most fragile seedling. Meanwhile, the remaining two will grow as single plant.
Commence hardening off almost 10 days prior to transplanting.
Introduce aged compost and fertiliser to the soil a week ahead of transplanting.
Now, transplant the seeds outdoors with 24 inches in between.
Maintain 65 degrees F within the soil
Carefully place match sticks (2-3) in the hole with the plants along with spoonful of fertilisers.
Drain the soil well and maintain sufficient moisture.
Fertilise following the initial fruit set.
Water two inches every week, depending on your regional climate.
Uses of bell pepper
You can spice up your daily and boring meals with such bell peppers grown in your garden. More so, they also add perky crunch and zest to pizzas, wraps, tacos, etc. When roasted, they taste peppy. So, are you already craving to have them? Well, then it’s time to grow them in your garden. Here are some amazing uses of bell pepper.
Bell peppers are known to contain ample of vitamin C that fortifies your immunity and brings glow to your skin. You would find concentration of vitamin C in red bells.
They are known to be low in calories and hence bring good news to the health conscious ones. No wonder, it is a great addition to the platter of obese. On gulping down a full cup of bells, you will gain just 45calories.
Red bell peppers are a jackpot of carotenoids and phytochemicals. The beta-carotene can furnish you with anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidants.
The sulphur content protects certain kinds of cancer.
These chillies also contain enzymes like lutein that works wonder in protecting macular degeneration and cataracts.
They are rich in vitamin B6 that lavishes you with a healthy nervous system and renewed cells.
The capsaicin content in bell peppers can reduce diabetes, bad cholesterol, inflammation and pain.
Bell peppers make great salads and addition to casseroles and soups. Also, they can be grilled, stuffed and placed on sandwiches for crunchy snacks.
Pop some bright coloured bell peppers into your veggie basket and start reaping the amazing benefits.
Growing chillies is a very rewarding process, but often it’s the simplest things that get in the way of a great chili harvest, follow the advice below, and with a little care and attention you could be enjoying juicy, great tasting chillies in no time.
Germinating your chilli seeds
Many of us struggle with germinating chilli seeds and getting them out of the ground! First of all, make sure that you select a good compost or seed mix, and gently work out any hard lumps from the soil. Then place your chili seeds on top of the soil, planting them roughly 1-2 inches apart if planting multiple chile seeds. Then loosely sprinkle some soil over the seeds, but do not compact.
There are 2 main points that you will need to keep in mind to maximise your chances of germination. The first one is moisture – you can soak your pot(s) from the bottom using a tray filled with water the first time you water them to saturate the soil and activate your chilli seeds. For maintaining the moisture in the soil it is best to use a fine mist plant sprayer to water from the top. Aim to keep the soil moist but not soggy as this may cause your seeds to rot before them come up – just use your finger to test the surface of the soil. Watering your seed trays or pots with a plant sprayer causes less disturbance to your germinating seeds.
The second important point to note is temperature. Chilli seeds require a constant temperature range of between 27-32 degrees C (80-90 degrees F). This is easily achieved using a heated propagator, however an airing cupboard works extremely well for this purpose also.
Remember to keep checking your pots to see if any seedlings have emerged, as you will then need to move them to a well lit area such as a sunny window sill, otherwise you will end up with thin and wispy plants.
Re-potting your chilli plants into larger pots
When your seedlings get 3 sets of leaves and are strong enough to handle, now is the time to pot them on into a bigger pot. Chillies need to be potted on as they grow, otherwise their growth will slow and you may well miss the fruiting season because of this. Be careful not to damage the delicate roots when moving your seedlings and make sure you take as much soil as you can from the original pot to protect the root ball.
When potting on your chilli plant seedlings, it is better to increase the pot size gradually to allow the plant to adapt to the increased space and grow strong roots.
A good way to tell if your chilli plant needs replanting into a larger pot is by checking the drainage holes on the bottom of your pot – if you can see any root tips emerging from these holes, then now is a good time to transplant to a bigger pot. In addition, if your chilli plant suddenly droops for no reason and it has enough water, then this could also be a sign that it requires more space.
You can also plant your chilli plant outdoors once the danger of last frost has gone, although chilli plants usually grow quicker in warmer areas such as a sunny window sill or greenhouse.
When to water your chilli plants and how much
Often overlooked is the importance of watering. One of the most common situations is over-watering. Chilli plants like their soil to dry out before watering them again – they don’t like wet feet!
You can tell if your chilli plant needs water by its leaves – if they are drooping, give it a drink. The best way is to use your finger to test the top of the soil. Again, moist but not soggy is the goal here and if your plant looks well, then it probably is.
What to do when your chilli plant flowers
Once your chilli plant starts to produce flowers, you are doing well! Soon you will be enjoying the fruits of your labour, but now is a good time to highlight the importance of plant nutrition.
A lot is going when your chilli plant is in the flowering and fruiting stage and you will need to make sure that your plant has the correct nutrients it requires in order to produce big juicy chillies. You can feed your chilli plant with a general tomato fertiliser as chilli and tomato plants are very similar, however it is much better to feed your chili plants with a special chilli fertiliser, as they do have specific nutritional requirements – Chilli Focus fertiliser produces very tasty and juicy chillies and is organic based.
Remember to feed your chilli plant twice a week when it is fruiting and once a week at all other times to make sure it has all the nutrients it needs throughout the different stages of growth. This also makes your plants strong when it comes to “overwinter” them for next season.
Pollinating the flowers on your chilli plant
Unless your plants are outside where they are naturally pollinated by insects and the wind, then you will need to pollinate the flowers yourself as they open on your plant. You can do this with a small soft brush by gently dusting each flower. You will then notice over the next week or so that the flowers start to fall off and the fruits will begin to grow.
Chilli plants can also easily cross-pollinate with one another by insects or by air if the plants are close to each other, so if you are growing several different varieties, you may want to keep them apart as you will probably end up with some hybrids chillies.
Finally, make sure your plant gets lots of sunlight during this period and you will have some great tasting chillies at the end of the season!
Overwintering your chilli plants for next season’s crop
A common misconception is that chillies are annuals, but they can and will come back year after year, producing more and more chillies each season. Overwintering, as it is called, is the process of making sure your plant is ready to “sleep” for the winter. Feeding your plant well throughout the year can help make it’s roots and stem strong enough for the cold months ahead.
With a little care, a properly over-wintered chilli plant can bring a larger harvest, which will also arrive a little earlier in the season compared to growing again from seed. This is because when your plant “wakes up” in the spring, it already has an established root ball, so has a head start in the growing cycle.
The first thing to do when overwintering your chile plants is to pick all of the chillies from the plant when the growing season is over – this tells the plant to produce more in future.
Next you can prune back the plant to approximately 1/3 of its original height. This may sound harsh, but it allows the plant to conserve its energy for the next growing season by not having to maintain all that extra foliage, a bit like when you prune back a rose.
You will also need to keep your plants somewhere with a warm average temperature, where it doesn’t get too chilly in the night. Remember that you plant will also require a lot less water while it is dormant – once every 2 weeks is enough. Again, you can use your finger to test this.
Your plant will slow its growth as it goes into hibernation, so don’t worry if you don’t see any new shoots for a while. Come spring time, give it a few weeks and your plant will start to shoot and burst into life, read for the new years growing season with more chillies than you ever imagined! So, what are you waiting for, plant your chili seeds now and soon you could be enjoying plentiful fresh chillies that you can cook and entertain with.
After a long week wait and constant watering the Bhut Jolokia Seeds a single sprout emerged. I was a bit upset to see just 1. After reading my notes on the plant I then decided to leave the sprout and seeds as is and watered waiting for more sprouts to hopefully emerge. I’m glad I did because as the days past I noticed more and more green shoots popping out of the soil. Our Bhut Jolokia plants life has begun.
In fact these leaf looking things are called cotyledons which is part of the seed and serve as food sources until true leaves form. While the plant has no true leaves its not ready to move. I waited another week before i started to notice true leaves growing. While the chili plant is growing its true leaves the cotyledons are no longer needed, therefor it will die and drop off. This is when the plant begins to photosyntheise (the process that converts carbon dioxide into organic nuteriats, using the energy from sunlight) so the sprout container must be moved into a sunny area.
Once the sprouts are healthy with 4 leaves its time for the next big step. We must transplant the young chili trees into their adolescent pots. Choose a pot that is 3-5 inches tall. This will be the plants home for the next couple of months and will allow the growing chillie plant to establish a solid root system and grow. Transplanting a chili plant is delicate work as they are quite fragile especially at this young age. Ensure you minimize the root disturbance when you are separating the sprouts and if there is too much of a tangle it is best to choose the strongest looking ones and chop the other sprout. Do not transplant during the hottest part of the day, pick a cool time such as late afternoon.
Once the chili plants are setup in their new pot and had a few days to settle down fertilization is essential. Use a balanced fertilizer preferably one high in nitrogen and potassium, to encourage good roots and healthy growth.
Going forward the plant should be slowly introduced to full sunlit conditions. The Bhut Jolokia plant will need lots of sunlight and a daily watering. The next step we will need to take is move the plant to a bigger pot but this wont be for 2-3 months.
Follow my steps for transplanting your seedlings.
1. Ensure you have setup some new pots for the young plants, they should be about 3-5inches tall to accommodate a few months of growing. It needs to be filled with a good potting mix with plenty of drainage.
2. Loosen the soil that is currently holding the chili plants, do so by squeezing the containers sides. Once loose enough you should be able to carefully tip out the young chilli sprouts
3. Thin the sprouts if you can but be gentle, if you cant separate the chili sprouts your better off cutting the less healthy looking ones then damaging the roots of all.
4. Only handle the leaves of the chillie plant, the stem is very fragile and if injured will end the plants life, leaves will always grow back.
5. Make a hole in the soil of the new pots with your finger big enough for the sprouts to be placed in. Carefully move the chili sprouts into the new pot and lightly pack the soil in so the plant is held firmly and in a upright position.
6. Water the plant well and and put in a calm but sunny place.
7. A week later fertinilise with a high in nitrogen and potassium product.
Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of Capsicum annuum (eg. bell peppers or chili peppers). Paprika is said to be derived from the Hungarian ‘paprika’, meaning pepper (Capsicum). Although paprika is now recognized and produced globally it was first created in Spain and Hungary. Spanish Paprika (Pimentón) is available in three versions, mild (Pimentón Dulce), moderately spicy (Pimentón Agridulce), and very spicy (Pimentón Picante.) Some Spanish paprika, including Pimentón de la Vera has a distinct smokey flavor and aroma as it is dried by smoking, typically using oak wood.
Paprika is found in most supermarkets around the world. The chili spice is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot depending on the peppers used in production. Paprika varys in colors from bright reds to browns and even yellows thus making it a excellent garnish. Slightly heating paprika with oil will extract the heat from the spice and can add a great punch to a dish. Paprika is also very high in vitamin C even more so then oranges.
To produce paprika from chilli peppers you first must dissect the chilli peppers to remove the seeds and stems. Once the chili fruit is isolated you will need to dry the fruit until the skin is extremely dry and brittle. The peppers then need to be worked into a fine power. Use tools such as mortar and pestle or coffee grinder for this process.
This guide will follow the exact steps I took to grow the Bhut Jolokia. From obtaining the chilli seeds to harvesting the first fruit. It should take 4-6 months for the process to be complete and we encourage you to join along with your favorite hot chili.
Thanks to Auki Henry co-founder of HighRPM and the maker of How to make a cosmopolitan for his kind donation of the Bhut Jolokia chillie. A nice big fat chili was given to me to remove the seeds and start the growing chili process.
The first step was to cut the chili in half to get the Bhut Jolokia seeds. Great care was taken not to get the chili oils or seeds on my hands. Handling was done from the stem only and a sharp knife was used to remove the bhut jolokia seeds. This was a simple process which involved cutting the chili in half then cutting out the seeds.
WARNING: the Bhut Jonokia / Naga Jonokia is the world’s hottest pepper. The scoville scale rating is 1million scoville units. Extreme care must be taken to prevent contact with the eyes and other sensitive areas. Handing the chili or the seeds should be avoided and if you need to do so wear disposable gloves.
Once the seeds were extracted from the chillie we had to soak them in water for 20min. This will make the seed softer and water the inner seed to start the growing process.
Once the seeds were nice and wet they were ready to plant. We simply used a plastic cup filled with normal potting soil to germinate the seeds. We placed the seeds in the cup and covered them with no more then 5-10mm of soil. We watered the seeds well and ensured all the soil was moist. Keeping the soil moist in the next week or so is vital. The seeds need water to grow and the seeds must stay soft so that the sprout can break out and start to grow.
for the germination process we recommend placing the chili seeds in the most warm and humid location as possible, but not in direct sunlight.
We hope to have half a dozen sprouts penetrate the soil in the next 7-10 days. Please return to the site to see the next installment.
Happy chili growing readers.
One of the biggest aids we have encountered when growing chillies is fish emulsion.
We recommend fertilizing the chili plant every 2 weeks up from the time of germination to when the plant just starts to fruit.
For best results with the fish emulsion we would suggest these steps.
- Ensure that the chillie plants had a very good watering the previous day or that morning as we will cut down on water over the next 2 days.
- Mix the fish emulsion as per packet instructions.
- Water the chilli plants at the base with the liquid. Ensure a generous amount is used as this is the plants only drink for the day. Also make sure that the liquid soaks through he soil to the roots so they can consume all the nutrients.
- The following day water the plant lightly trying not to disrupt the soaked in fish emulsion mixture under the soil. Feel free to give the foliage a good spray with water though.
- Resume normal watering daily.
As said we would only suggest doing this every few weeks. Results we have noticed is the following days after fish emulsion is added that the plants really wake up and grow, they appear greener and fuller and vibrant, it’s amazing when you go outside and notice it.
Do not fertilize while the plants are fruiting.
Also note the fish emulsion has a foul smell, try not to get it onto your hands where possible.
Fish emulsion can be purchased from local gardening stores, larger supermarkets and retail stores with gardening section. You can also purchase fish emulsion from amazon which we would highly recommend. Their products are below.
Chili Plants are like people they will grow weak if not given enough of the basic necessities such as sun, water, air and nutrients. The tell tale signs of a sick looking chilli plant is when it starts to wilt. When your chili plant starts to wilt you must act fast to revive the suffering plant.
Chili plants in pots and particularly prone to dehydration and wilting. When you do not water your potted chillie plants enough, the soil tends to harden and clings closer to the roots and away from the pot’s sides. This creates gaps in which water can run off and out of the pot through the drainage holes, effectively starving the roots of your potted chillie plants.
First aid for sick Chili Plants
1. Fill a bucket, sink, container or basin halfway with water. Make sure the container is large enough to fit the entire pot, all the way to and over the rim.
2. Plunge the whole pot and plant into the water filled container. The water must cover the whole plant even over the pots rim. It’s all right if water covers some of the foliage. You may need to weigh down the pot with a brick or a stone to keep it from floating in the water.
3. Keep the plant in the container until bubbles stop rising from the soil. Bubbles indicate air pockets in soil and roots.
4. Keep the plant in the water for at least a half hour after the bubbles stop, to ensure that the soil is completely saturated.
5. Remove the pot from the container and allow the plant to drain.
6. Place the potted plant in a plastic bag and close it tightly. This step will provide much needed humidity to the foliage while the roots go back into action. Keep the bagged plant in a shady area so that the moisture doesn’t dry out.
7. Remove the plant from the bag and move it back to its original location once it has revived. This could take as little as a few hours, or several days. Do not put the plant back into the sun till its looks healthy and green again as the sun will extract water from the plant.
8. Give the post some mulch that will hold moisture and humidity. Remember to water your growing chillie plants regularly. Once a day is ideal.
Other Tips for Dehydrated Chili Plants
– Any brown leaves or stems will been to be cut off, they are dead and we cannot save them.
– Plants in the ground or in pots too big to shift can be treated by pushing the hose as far into the soil around the roots as possible so that it can soak the roots and eliminate any air pockets or dry root balls.
– Moisten the leaves when watering as it increases humidity around the plants leaves keeping them moist and reducing dehydration.
The reason i wrote this article was because i went on holidays for 8 days and my plants got dehydrated. I was so upset to come home and find 6 wilted chili plants. Luckily doing these steps revived all but 2 of the chili plants.
The most common pepper species is the bell pepper named appropriately from the physical shape of the fruit. In British English, the fruit is simply referred to as a “pepper“, or additionally by colour eg. Green pepper. In many Commonwealth Nations, such as Australia, India, Malaysia and New Zealand, they are called “capsicums“. Another name is the sweet pepper because of the sweet taste. Bell peppers are the mildest form of chili’s. They are listed as zero on the scoville scale and don’t emit any heat at all.
Bell Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Pepper seeds were later carried to Spain in 1493 and from there spread to other European, African and Asian countries. Today, Mexico remains one of the major pepper producers in the world.
Bell pepper plants are vigorous upright plants producing green ,yellow, orange, red and even purple fruit. Bell pepper skins are glossy and deeply colored, with the flesh being crisp and succulent. Bell pepper plants measure 18-30 inches in height and are generally very productive. The ‘Jingle Bell’ pepper plant produces miniature bell peppers measuring less than 1 inch long. This variety is excellent for container growing. A tray of stuffed miniature bell peppers is delightful.
– Plant seeds eight weeks before the last frost indoor using a pot that is at least 2 inches or slightly larger.
– Transplant young seedlings in the ground or a pot outdoors after the last chance of frost. If the weather is still cool, delay transplanting for a few days. Wait until the soil is 70 to 85 degrees before setting the seedlings out.
– Space the seedlings 9 to 12 inches apart and in rows 12 to 24 inches apart.
– Water the plants regularly, especially in the hot, dry summer months. Pepper plants like moist soil. If you do not water enough, the bell peppers will acquire a bitter taste or even worse get frail and die.
– Surround the peppers with mulch to keep weeds from growing and to retain moisture.
– Harvest the bell pepper at any point after they reach an edible size. Most bell pepper peppers are green when immature and can be harvested at that time. Mature bell peppers can be red, orange, yellow, green or purple depending on the variety. Continue to harvest bell peppers by clipping them off the plant. Bell peppers will continue to grow until the first frost.
Bell peppers are delicious eaten fresh in green and pasta salads, and make a wonderful addition to spaghetti sauce. The fruit is also frequently consumed in its unripe form, when the fruit is still green. Green peppers are less sweet and slightly more bitter than red, yellow or orange peppers. The taste of ripe peppers can also vary with growing conditions and post-harvest storage treatment. The sweetest are fruit allowed to ripen fully on the plant in full sunshine, while fruit harvested green and after-ripened in storage are less sweet. Compared to green peppers, red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients and contain the antioxidant lycopene. The level of carotene, another antioxidant, is nine times higher in red peppers. Red peppers have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers
One of the most common bell pepper recipes Stuffed Bell Peppers. Dad’s Stuffed Bell Peppers is a very good post detailing how easy and great this disk is to make. I would highly recommend give it a crack.
The Cherry Pepper also known as a chili tomato, or Hungarian cherry pepper is a fantastic chili to grow. This mild to hot pepper is commercially grown in the USA, Euproe and Mexixo. The Cherry Pepper has been documented as far back as 1543.
The peppers produced by these plants are small and round, they resemble a cherry tomato. Peppers range from mild to hot and register 5000-8000 scoville scale units. The cherry peppers grow a dark green colour and as they ripen they will change to a very vibrant red. Truly a spectacular plant to have.
The chilli tomato is commonly used in Asian, Southwestern, Mediterranean, Portuguese, African and Mexican cuisine because of the size and shape. This chilli is a great garnish and really puts some colour into food especially salads. These chilies are also great for stuffing or picking because of the thick fruit walls and round shape. Due to the thick walls this chilli cannot be dried.
As with most chili’s this plant enjoys hot climates, well drained soil and generous amounts of water. Maturity takes approximately 120 days. These plants can mature and fruit at a small size so they are great for a small bench or windowsill.
We have a Chilli tomato plant in our inner city apartment and we get one full ripe fruit each week from the plant. We bought it at a mature age at a local hardware store for $6AU and it only stands 40cm tall. We would highly recommend the cherry pepper to anyone wanting a small but very colorful chili tree.
Seeds available here.