It is really nice if you can harvest your own bell peppers in the backyard. Peppers are not cheap and being able to grow your own means you can cut down your grocery expenses. If you don’t have spaces, you can choose to grow the peppers in containers. It will still thrive and produce an abundant of crop as long as you meet the right growing condition.
The seeds of the bell pepper should be planted 6 – 10 weeks before the last spring frost. You will want to use a premium seed mix instead of the soil from your garden as it can drain more thoroughly. Quality potting mix can hold moisture and provide proper aeration for the plant. Organic seed mix contains all the necessary nutrients that are required for the plant.
The seeds are to be sown about 1/2 inch depth in the soil. You can sow the seeds in seedling tray with two seeds in each cup. The peppers will take 2 – 3 weeks to germinate. After 2 – 3 weeks, you can move them to small pots with each seedling occupying one pot. The seedling that has been sprouted should be moved to bigger size pots with the final pot being 10 – 12 inches in size. The pots you use need to have well draining quality.
Transplanting the Pepper
It is time to move the pepper outdoor when you see at least 1 – 2 true leaves. The ideal temperature for growing pepper plant is 65 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime. The blossoms will drop if the temperature is higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This condition called blossom end rot can be fixed by adding calcium granules to the soil. The young plant is to be transplanted to a container that is filled with well draining potting and have a pH between 5.5 – 6.8. You can add 5 – 10 grams of neem cake to protect your pepper plant from blight disease.
The container where you plant the young bell pepper plant should be placed in an area that gets ample sunlight and sheltered from the strong winds. Pepper plant can be quite big when it is mature so you will want to prepare a big pot that is at least 12 inches in diameter. It should get at least 6 hours of full sun in the day time. Plastic or metal pot is preferred because it grows in consistently moist soil. At first, the young pepper plant will look small when transplanted to the large plant. However, it will eventually fill the large container as it mature to an adult plant.
Watering the Plant
It is important to regularly water the pepper plant to keep the soil moist. The frequency of watering will depend on the weather. Tipping the pot slightly allows you to know whether it needs more watering. Light pot means that the soil has dried out and need watering. To prevent fungal infection, you should water at the foot of the plant and not over the plant.
When to Add Fertilizer
Imbalanced soil can cause the plants to be weak. This is why you need to improve the soil by adding different types of fertilizers. Nitrogen rich fertilizer can encourage the growth of foliage. Tomato fertilizer, compost, and mature tea can also be used. Adding Epsom salt can help to improve the yield of your pepper plant. It is recommended that you add new fertilizer every 2 weeks or so.
Controlling the Pests
Aphids is the number one pest of bell pepper plants. Plants that have been attacked by aphids will appear stringy and weak. If you see aphids, you can use a water hose to spray them off. You will need to continue this for a few days until the aphids don’t come back to the plant. Another way to control aphid is to use ladybug. Ladybug can lay eggs which will hatch into larvae that devour the aphids. You can get ladybug eggs from your local nursery. Organic pesticide can also be used to kill caterpillars that are spoiling your pepper plant.
Harvesting Bell Peppers
During harvesting, you can use a knife to cut off the fruit from the stem. There should be a bit of stem attach to the pepper plant after you cut the fruit. When unripe, picking the pepper fruit by hand may cause the whole branch to be torn off. Unripe peppers are green color. From green color, it can change to red color and then to orange color and finally to yellow color.
You can pick the green peppers as they are safe to eat. Purple bell peppers varieties can change color to dark purple and finally to muddy black color when fully ripened. When the pepper is fully ripened, it is easy to pluck with the hand in a gentle twist.