Growing Bell Peppers II
After you have prepared the soil and your raised beds, it’s time to plant your bell pepper transplants. For the best results, it’s good to plant bell peppers in two rows per bed. Make sure that the rows are about 12 inches apart, with individual plants 18 inches apart. This will ensure the air flow between the plants, which will reduce the diseases.
It’s useful to leave a wide path mulched with straw between the beds. This will also help with the air circulation. Also, it gives the plants enough room to grow and enough room for you to move around the garden. The mulch itself will help ripen the fruit evenly. Also, mulch will keep the soil cool during the hot periods of the year and it will up humidity a little. Remember: while bell peppers need heat to start growing, they will not start producing fruit if it’s too hot.
Make sure that night temperatures are under 80 degrees F and the day ones below 95 degrees F. Higher temperatures will make the flowers drop so they won’t produce viable pollen. Mulch will help reducing the temperature a little.
When transplanting your bell peppers, make sure to do it gently so you won’t hurt the plants. it’s also best to choose a cloudy day with no wind for transplanting. After transplanting, it’s important to give your plants some good watering and also some fertilizer solution.
The transplanting itself is best done with a trowel. Set the young plants carefully in the soil. They support themselves best if they are planted a bit deeper than they were in the seedling flat. In case you live in a hot climate with sandy soils, you may plant the seedlings up to the first true leaves. This will put their roots down into the cooler, moist soil. In case your garden soil is heavy, it’s important to plant your bell peppers a bit shallower. This will reduce the risk of stem blight that can develop in waterlogged ground.
Growing Your Bell Peppers
After transplanting, make sure to water your peppers regularly. Give them 1-1/2 inch to 2 inches of water each week. They should grow like crazy, so all you need to do is to keep the favorable conditions and watch for the pests.
The main pests bell peppers have are caterpillars of the European corn borer and the corn ear worm. They are a problem in mid-July, so this is when you should watch out for them. If you notice some pests, it’s best to use a good pesticide. Organic pesticides work the best: they will get rid of the pests but won’t damage the plants or the environment.
Another thing you need to observe are the leaves. They should always have dark green color. If the color is lost, it’s a sign you should feed your plants. It’s best to use some liquid fertilizer. Your fertilizer should have a bit of nitrogen (though your peppers don’t need much). The more it rains, the more often you’ll need to fertilize, because nitrogen is easily washed out from the soil. Make sure not to feed your bell peppers with lots of nitrogen: this may reduce the amount of fruit you might get.
About 50 to 60 days after transplanting, you may begin picking peppers. The green bells are always the first ones to be harvested. If you want peppers of other colors, you need to let them mature a bit more.
Usually, it’s best to pick the peppers once per week. Start picking from the lowest fruits to the top. Early harvest will also encourage your bell peppers to produce more fruit. This early harvest should happen in July.
In early August, stop picking peppers and let them mature so you can get peppers of other colors. Maturing make the peppers taste sweeter. Start harvesting your matured peppers late in August. Harvest one per week for the next two months. You should harvest all the peppers by the time of the first freeze.
- It’s best to grow your peppers in a well-drained soil that can be freed up for the growing season (spring to fall).
- It’s important to remember that your peppers may need a nitrogen boost in mid to late July, which is when they develop their fruit. This is when you should feed them.
- To prevent diseases, it’s best to separate your pepper plants by 18 inches. This way, they will have enough room to grow, with enough air circulation.