It’s that time of year to get the peppers ready for the garden, if you haven’t already. Here in zone 5a we are just getting past our frost danger. We are usually in the clear once we pass Memorial Day. In this post I am going to discuss how to grow peppers from seed. The pepper plants are warm loving plants but can still be grown in the north, you can grow peppers from seed indoors to get a jumpstart on growing. If you live in the desert with very poor soil, this is a good container plant as well. Either way, no matter where you live you can grow peppers from seed and plant them in your garden or transplant to a larger container for container gardening.
Start Peppers from Seed
To start peppers from seed, you will need the following items
- Container – with drainage holes
- Organic Soil
- Plastic Dome or Plastic Wrap
If you have a short growing season or the soil isn’t great for Peppers, then start seeds indoors, approximately 8 to 10 weeks before planting in the ground or in an outdoor container.
Fill your container with organic potting soil, make a space in the dirt a 1/4″ down and place the seed in the hole and cover the seed with the soil. Water the seed well and let excess water drain out the bottom of the container. Place a plastic dome or plastic wrap over the top to create a greenhouse effect and place under a grow light or sunny window. Each type of pepper has their own time for germination.
The peppers I started from seed are, Giant Sweet Peppers, Chili Medium-Hot Peppers and Poblano Peppers. I have never grown Poblano Peppers before so we will see how they do.
Heirloom Variety Giant Pepper
This heirloom variety giant pepper, is a large fancy, nice quality sweet pepper, that is bell type. The pepper grows 4″-5″ x 3.75″, mostly four love fruits, thick dark green to red flesh. This giant pepper grows to 28″ to 30″ tall with thick stems to ensure continuous harvest and high yields.
This seed takes 10 days to germinate. Wait to transplant outdoors when the night stays 50 degrees or above. Transplant into warmed soil with full sun. Harvest is approximately 76 to 80 days from transplant date. Regularly harvest peppers from the plants to continue crop growth, This pepper is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
Chili Pepper – Medium-Hot
This is a spicy variety if you didn’t get it from the name. I have not grown this variety either. I have grown basic jalapenos but not this kind. This kink is Big Jim’s Chili Pepper Medium-Hot. These Fleshy tapered pods average 7″ to 8″ long, and about 4 oz at maturity.
This variety was developed by Dr. Nakayama has held the world’s record for the longest chili pepper grown to 13″ with superior yield. The plants produce 25-40 pods. Start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant into fertile and fell tilled soil and space 18″ to 24″ apart.
When this plant is ready to harvest, all the fruits ripen all at once in 75 to 80 days from transplant. The plants can be pulled and hung upside down for drying. Good for frying, salads and grinding into chili powder or having fresh.
Ancho/Poblano Chile Pepper
The Ancho/Poblano Chile pepper is one of the most popular chilies in Mexico. These are an heirloom seed too. The green 3″-6″ pobano is most often stuffed with cheese or meat for chilies rellenos. This pepper is dark, reddish-brown, dried ancho is used in a variety of sauces, such as the traditional “mole poblano”.
This pepper likes warm soil. Start these indoors, for mild climates 2 to 4 weeks after last frost and for us in the north, start 8 to 10 weeks indoors before transplanting outside. Ideal soil temps are 70 to 90 degrees for germinating seeds outdoors by direct sow. If you started them indoors wait to move them outdoors until the daytime temperature is 70 degrees or above and nighttime temperatures don’t go below 55 degrees. When planting outside, space them 24″ to 36″ apart and put in full sun.
Planting Tips for Peppers
Peppers like to be planted by tomatoes, they are good companion plants for the garden. Before transplanting outside, it’s good to harden them off. The term hardening them off means, to put the plants outdoors during the day in a sheltered warm place, then bring back in at night for a week to 2 weeks. Depending on how your weather is in your area.
Peppers like a very slightly acidic soil to neutral (6.5 to 7 pH). Peppers need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to produce and if growing indoors, they need to grow under a grow light for 14 to 16 hours.
Make sure the soil is amended before planting the peppers, you want to give them the best start possible. Make sure you are weeding around the pepper plants. Weeds steal nutrients from the plants, so use a weed barrier or mulch and pull weeds as soon as you can.
If you start to see signs of bottom rot on the fruits, the plant is lacking calcium. Get some powdered milk and sprinkle around the base of the plant. If it continues, add more powdered milk, this will fix the problem.
If the plant flowers great but then hardly any or no fruits, the plant is nutrient-deficient and needs magnesium. To help this issue, place Epsom salts around the base of the plant when needed.
After harvesting your first crop, it’s a good idea to give the plant some organic fertilizer to give the plant energy to produce more peppers. Some people like yellow, orange and red peppers. Just keep them on the vine longer. The peppers start out green but feel thin.
Once the peppers start to take on color they get thicker and ripen for harvest. When it’s time to harvest, use a sharp clipper to clip off the pepper. This will keep from damaging the plant and other peppers. Sometimes peppers are hard to just come off, and it could damage the plant if the fruit doesn’t snap off easily.
Growing peppers is pretty easy. They don’t really require much but sun and some water. I have always had good luck with growing peppers. I have grown in my raised bed, containers and regular garden too. If you have never planted peppers before, this should help you get them started and with a nice crop!
I hope you found this post helpful, especially for someone who has never planted and grown peppers before. There are other types of peppers too. There are many types of pepper seeds to choose from.
Let me know what peppers you are growing this year in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Are you growing in a container, raised bed or ground garden?