Whether you like them sweet or with a little heat, peppers are an amazing veggie to have on hand in the kitchen. Learn how to grow, care and harvest your pepper crop this year.
Whether you like them with a little bit of heat or a little bit sweet, peppers are undoubtedly an amazing kitchen staple to have on hand. You can eat them raw on their own, in salads, or cooked in everything from tacos to stir-fries. If you are a seasoned gardener or just getting started, you’re sure to enjoy growing peppers from tiny little seeds. Follow these easy steps to yield a bumper crop this harvest season.
All About Peppers
There are a few different varieties of peppers you can learn how to grow from seed. They vary based on flavor, color, shape, and what you plan to use them for in the kitchen. Some of the more commonly grown varieties include Anaheim, pimento, jalapeno, and Hungarian wax. Recommended bell pepper cultivars that do well in gardens in Iowa include Better Belle and California wonder. Both turn from green to red as they mature.
Sweet Peppers are high in Vitamin C, making them an excellent choice for kids and adults. They make for a great addition to any veggie platter and are found in a lot of Eastern and Western recipes.
Albeit spicy, hot peppers, which tend to be lance-shaped in appearance, are a great source of vitamins D, C, and Potassium. They can even help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure if consumed regularly! Just keep an eye on the little ones in the garden around your hot peppers if you plan to grow them from seed, as their bright colors and exciting shapes might tempt them.
How to Grow Peppers from Seeds
If you plan to grow your peppers from seed, the ideal time to start your seeds indoors is about six to eight weeks before the date you intend to plant them outside. Be sure to hold off on transplanting your pepper plants into your garden until there is no more risk of frost. In Iowa, this is generally around mid-May.
Because they are a warm-season crop, they need a relatively long growing season if you want them to reach their full potential. So, generally, the latest you would like to push planting peppers in your garden is about June 20. They can also take anywhere from two to three months to mature, so you need to start them indoors early. Now is a great time to buy pepper plants and plant them directly into a container or into the garden.
As you plan your garden, keep spacing in mind. It’s ideal to spread pepper plants about 18 inches apart and rows about 25 to 30 inches apart. After transplanting, you can fertilize your peppers with a starter fertilizer solution. Follow the application directions on the container to ensure proper use.
Also, remember that peppers are sun-loving vegetables! Plant them in well-draining soil in a location that gets at least six hours of full sun a day. Too much water may damage your pepper plant roots, but to maintain a consistent moisture level in the soil, you can add some compost and then add a layer of mulch once you have transplanted your seedlings into the garden.
Caring For & Harvesting Your Pepper Plants
Now that you have learned how to plant and grow your pepper plants from seed, you’ll want to make sure you are caring for them properly! Peppers tend to enjoy about one inch of water a week during the growing season. Keep an eye on the weather, and if you have a dry spell, be sure to water quite thoroughly about once a week.
Harvesting will depend on some basic principles, as well as a bit of personal preference! When you are growing bell peppers, harvest time will depend on desired taste. If you leave them to mature completely, you’ll end up with those sweet red peppers. If you like them green, pick them a little earlier! Other ways you can tell they are ready to harvest include: softening flesh and easy separation from the stem when pulled.
Now that you know the basics, you can grow a pepper harvest that will be the envy of all your neighbors. If you are on the hunt for pepper plants or seeds for sale in Iowa, or would just love a little bit more information about growing these tasty vegetables, come visit us! We’d love to help.