Enough of Peter Piper who picked a peck of pickled peppers. It’s your turn to grow the biggest and tastiest sweet peppers in town!
Want to know my secret? Because there’s a trick. A secret ingredient you surely must add for pepper growing success.
For years, I grew puny peppers. I stopped growing them entirely until I learned how to grow humongous and tasty peppers.
Delicious bell peppers are one of the most attractive vegetables to grow. Delicate white flowers appear before the plant bears its colorful vegetable.
And peppers take you from breakfast (omelets) to lunch (veggie tray) right onto dinner (fajitas!) Not to mention healthy snacking in-between!
Keep reading to learn my tips!
The basics of growing the biggest and tastiest sweet peppers….
First off, buy young plants to grow the biggest and tastiest sweet peppers. If you didn’t grow your plants from seed, then seek out short, stock plants in individual pots. All I could find was a 6-pack of stocky plants this year at the local garden center.
Avoid plants that are leggy or pale. Do not buy plants that are obviously too large for the pot.
Sun. Sun and more sun. Bell peppers thrive in the heat of the summer sun. So plant in your sunniest spot out of the wind.
Humus-rich soil is a big plus since bell peppers prefer well-drained soil. During the growing season, it’s a good idea to sprinkle compost manure alongside the plants during the growing season.
Space peppers 18 to 24 inches apart; rows 2 feet apart.
And I know you’re been wondering this for a long time….drum roll please. Are red peppers different from green peppers?
No. All green peppers will color to red or yellow as they become more mature.
Flowers but no fruit? What’s going on?
Peppers are sensitive to high temperatures, low humidity, and drying winds. Under these conditions, plants of many varieties do not set fruit well and flowers drop off.
Well-developed plants set in the garden often flower and set ample fruit before these extreme conditions arrive.
You know you’ve met with success when your bell pepper plant grows into a thick bush that often needs staking to support the heavy set of vegetables.
- Bell pepper plants
- Trowel (like this one)
- Compost manure (like this)
- Epsom salts (shown here)
- Lime (like this)
- Dr. Earth tomato, vegetable & herb fertilizer (shown here)
- Fish fertilizer (like this one)
- Stakes (like these)
Step-by-step planting instructions + my secret ingredient!
1.) Dig a hole about three times the size of the seedlings/starter plants root ball. Mix one cup of compost manure thoroughly with the soil from the hole.
2.) Sprinkle in garden lime manually by hand….my secret ingredient to grow the biggest and tastiest sweet peppers!
Garden lime, also known as ground limestone, is useful for either growing crops that prefer neutral to alkaline soil or for correcting overly acidic soil. Limestone is a mineral, composed mostly of calcium carbonate.
Shoot for ground limestone because it’s gentler to plant roots and won’t burn them.
Bell peppers prefer slightly acidic soil of 5.5 to 6.8. If your garden has a pH lower than 6, lime might solve all your problems. If you have no clue what your soil pH is, it’s a good idea to find out! You’ll need a pH tester!
I apply lime the old-fashioned way, sprinkling it on the top of the soil and manually tilling it in with a small shovel or cultivator.
Just make sure the lime gets deep enough when you till to reach the roots. Overturn that soil. Roughly 12 inches deep works well. Lime laying on top of the soil won’t benefit your plants much.
3.) Till in Dr. Earth fertilizer to grow the biggest and tastiest sweet peppers.
4.) Fill the hole slightly making sure you leave enough space for the plant’s root ball to sit at the same height it did in the pot.
5.) Carefully remove the seedling from its original container. If the roots are tangled, cut one-quarter off the bottom of the root ball.
6.) Place seedling/starter plant into the hole; gently firm the soil. Sprinkling 1 tsp Epsom salts around the base to promote growth.
7.) Stake the plant when necessary to support the clusters of mature fruit. Keep bell pepper plants well watered, especially during dry spells.
Why lime and how much lime should I add to grow the biggest and tastiest sweet peppers?
Lime raises the pH level of too acidic soil making it more alkaline and conductive to vegetable and flower production. Lime supports other nutrients too, such as nitrogen. So lime is going to not only increase your yield but the size of your colored peppers.
Adding lime to your garden soil also improves water penetration and with the raised pH, the plant nutrient uptake increases. Lime supports healthy soil bacteria and beneficial microbes.
If you have lots or organic matter already added to the soil, you will need more lime or dolomite in order to raise the pH level. This is especially true of clay soils.
The Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association advises that if the pH level is 5.5 to 6.0 then add five pounds of limestone for every 100 square feet.
Activate the lime by thoroughly watering your garden. I like soaker hoses and drip irrigation for this purpose.
Other garden veggies that will appreciate a little lime love are beans, cabbage, peas, spinach, lettuce and other leafy vegetables.
Fertilizing requirements to grow the biggest and tastiest peppers…
Fertilize the plants lightly, with a low-nitrogen fertilizer, as too much nitrogen can cause the plant to stop producing!
I like to use fish emulsion once the plant begins to bloom. Fish fertilizer is great for all indoor and outdoor plants for us organic gardeners and best of all; it won’t burn plants.
Apply the ratio of 2 Tbsp fish fertilizer per gallon of water every two weeks directly to the base of the plant so it reaches the roots.
Fish has been used as a natural and organic fertilizer for centuries. Fish emulsion provides a rich source of organic matter that breaks down and releases nutrients into the soil to enhance the strength and vigor of your plants.
Naturally occurring soil microbes thrive and work their best in soil rich in organic matter.
I also like to use Dr. Earth every 2 months during the growing season. But for your newly planted pepper plants (a little alliteration!) mix in 1 1/3 cups per 10 square feet of growing area.
Fast pepper facts…
For the best yield, pick the first set of bell peppers when they are green, then let the next set ripen to their mature color and size.
This tricks the plant into thinking it has produced too few peppers, so then it goes crazy to produce more.
Keep the yield strong by picking peppers as soon as they reach their mature color, rather than letting them age on the plant. Picking earlier also yields a milder-tasting pepper if that’s what you’re after.
The flip side is that the longer you leave the pepper on the stem, the more color it gets and the tastier it gets. And if you’re after a sweeter, more nutritious pepper, redder is better.
Colored peppers are high in Vitamins A and C; a good source of fiber and carotene.
Did you know?!?
Columbus discovered peppers growing in the West Indies, but mistakenly thought they were a relative of the prized peppercorn!!! Silly explorer.
The secrets of coffee grounds…
Both your peppers and your garden worms love coffee grounds. Delicious! Pepper like nitrogen and coffee grounds are full of it.
You can mix them in the soil or spread them on top. Providing enough nitrogen ensures solid leaf growth and it’s the leaves that protect the peppers from sun scald.
So I give my regular coffee grounds to my pepper plants and save the decaf ones for the worms. No one wants hyper worms! Or do we?