How to grow Peppers

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Pepper seeds

When to plant peppers in South Africa.

The planting and growing season for peppers is August to December.

Where to get pepper seeds

You can either purchase seed from your local nursery but if you eat peppers regularly you can collect the seed from them . Cut them out of your pepper and dry them in a container on a window sill. Once dry they are ready to be planted.

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Young pepper- still green in colour

Method:

Preparation of soil.

You can plant peppers in pots or in the ground. If you are planting them in the ground ensure that you have a nice sunny spot and are not planting them where peppers have grown recently.

Find a nice sunny spot protected from the wind for your pots. Next to a wall of your house where they are protected from the wind and in full sun should work well.

Fill pots with a potting soil and compost mix. For ground planting your soil should be rich and loamy. If not, add compost to your soil.

Germinating the seeds.

Seeds should be spread out around the pot so that they are have space when they start shooting. It does not matter if they are too close because once they are large enough you can transplant them into the ground or into other pots where you can give them the space they need to grow. Depending on the variety of pepper you can space them between 20 and 30cm apart . The larger the variety the more space the plant requires.

In some areas where frost is experienced seeds should be planted indoors in pots and once the seedlings are ready to be planted outside the seedlings should be acclimatised to outside conditions over a couple of days. To do this lengthen the time they are outside every day. Keep them inside at night for the first two days.

Watering.

Plants should get about 3cm of water per week and if it is very hot and dry add a layer of mulch around each plant. This will help to keep the roots damp and the soil cool. Don't allow the plants to dry out.

Maintenance

As the plants grow larger and start bearing fruit it is a good idea to stake them. This will stop the stems breaking under the load of fruit.

Once every two weeks spray the leaves and fruit with a mixture of Epson salts and water. This will supply the plant with much needed magnesium. Your soil can also be fed with a seaweed or fish emulsion fertiliser.

As the plants start to flower it is a good idea to remove the first flowers by pinching them off. This will allow the plant to mature further and give you bigger and more fruit later in the season. Allow some plants to give you early fruit and others to fruit later in the season. This will mean that you have peppers available throughout the season and not just toward the end of the season.

Harvesting.

There is no exact science to harvesting your peppers. They can be harvested when they are green or purple or you can wait until they change colour to red, yellow or orange. The only rule here is not to pick the pepper by hand but to rather use a pair of pruning sheers and clip it off the plant. This will stop you damaging the plant and allow other fruit to mature on the same stalk.

Pests.

Glasshouse red spider or two spotted mite:

To avoid these pests which thrive in hot , dry conditions spray your plants regularly with organic sprays based on soft soaps such as dishwashing liquid, plant oils or extracts.

Red spider cause the leaves to become mottled, pale and covered in webbing. If you look closely you will spot the mites on the leaves. Infestations cause the leaves to drop off the plant.

Aphids.

Greenfly colonies form on the tips and soft shoots of pepper plants. They damage the plant by sucking the sap out of it and then excreting a sticky honeydew which encourages black sooty moulds to form.

To rid your plants of these pests squash them with your fingers or spray them with sprays such as pyrethrum, plant or fish oils.

A natural way to protect your pepper plants is to practice companion planting. Tomatoes, parsley, basil, and carrots will attract bugs away from your peppers. Don't plant your peppers near fennel or kohlrabi.

Happy Gardening.

2016 Garden-tips - All Rights Reserved
Peppers
Article posted 23.11.2015 Page updated 5.5.2016










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