Tips for Growing Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are a long season plant, so they require patience from gardeners before anything is ready to harvest in late summer, especially if you want red, yellow or orange peppers since green bell peppers are actually immature fruit.
Thankfully though, if you love peppers and want to be able to harvest a large number, each plant is able to produce multiples. Plants do not require a lot of growing space so you can pack a lot into a single bed, or like I said, grow them in pots.
Setting Up Your Garden
Bell peppers like loose, well drained soil, so make sure that the soil in the garden bed or containers is not dense and heavy. Add nutrients to the soil with organic fertilizer or organic compost, that is well mixed in. Because bell peppers are vigorous growers, they need to be in a garden space that is located in full sun for at least eight hours out of the day.
You can start bell peppers as seeds. You need to start your seeds 8-10 weeks before your last frost date. Then bring them out into the garden once all chance of frost has passed. Transplants are easier and can be added to a warm garden bed spaced approx 10-18 inches a part (check your tags) or 1 per square if you’re doing Square Foot Gardening.
Caring and Maintaining Peppers
Bell peppers do not require a lot of oversight before they begin to flower and bear fruit. Water thoroughly and regularly but don’t overwater the plants. Pepper roots do not like to be wet all the time and rotting will occur at the base of plants that are left to grow in soil that is constantly moist. So allow the soil to dry between watering.
Bell peppers are good companions to many other plants but do not plant with the brassica family. I like to plant peppers with tomatoes, basil and eggplants as companions. Support your plants with cages or stakes because they’ll start to bend once they are heavy with fruit.
Once the peppers begin to flower they will begin to bear fruit. There are always going to be peppers that are ready to begin growing, or are in the middle of growth, so it is important that you carefully remove each fruit from the stem. Use sharp scissors or a knife to cut your peppers off the stem, avoiding damage to the plant. The longer you let a pepper mature the sweeter it will taste.