How to Grow and Harvest Bell Peppers at Home

How to Grow and Harvest Bell Peppers at Home

Did you know that bell peppers are extremely rich in vitamin C while also having a low-calorie count? They are great for eye health and they can prevent anemia, aside from the fact that they can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways. If we got your attention, maybe you’d also like to know how to grow bell peppers at home, in which case this guide is going to help you.

Bell Peppers: FAQ

bell pepper growing in containerAre Bell Peppers Easy to Grow?

While the process of growing bell peppers isn’t complicated in itself, it is a lengthy process because these vegetables can take between 60 and 90 days to be ready for harvest. If you’re willing to wait that long, then you should be able to enjoy bell peppers that are really good for your health. There are far easier vegetables to start with, though, if you’re looking for easy vegetables to grow.

Can You Grow Bell Peppers from Store-Bought Peppers?

It depends. The seeds found in your average store bell pepper are less likely to sprout. For the best chances of growing beautiful bell peppers, you will need seeds that come from non-hybrids or open-pollinated bell pepper varieties. Even if you buy bell peppers of the open-pollinated variety at the store, there are high chances that the vegetables were harvested before they were fully ripped, which means that seeds lack the maturity needed to plant them.

How Tall Do Bell Pepper Plants Grow?

Again, it depends. There are a variety of factors that can influence the size of this plant. Some bell pepper plants can be as short as six inches, while others can grow to be three feet in height.

Are Green, Red, Yellow and Orange Peppers Different?

You may have noticed that bell peppers are available in a wide range of colors, which leads a lot of people to wonder what is the difference between these products? What a lot of people don’t know is that bell peppers of different colors are basically the same vegetable, only in different stages of growth. A green bell pepper is one that’s unripe, a red one is a fully-grown pepper, whilst yellow and orange peppers are right in between the two.

color bell peppers on counter top

How to Grow Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a bit more pretentious compared to other vegetables, but once you’ve understood exactly what they need and how to care for them, they can provide you with a delicious ingredient for many meals to come. If want to know how to grow bell peppers at home, here is the know-how to do it:

  • You can choose to grow bell pepper by transplanting, but there are plenty of gardeners that recommend growing them from seeds. You can start your seeds indoors about eight to 10 weeks before the last spring frost in your area. Seeing as how they take a really long time to grow (about two to three months), starting them indoors is the best option.
  • For a bountiful harvest, it is best to plant bell peppers in a very sunny spot. Choose a location that won’t get any kind of shade.
  • Also make sure that the soil is rich in organic matter and well-draining. The best soil pH for bell peppers is between 5.5 and 6.5, so it should be acidic.
  • Seven days prior to putting the bell peppers in the soil, you can add fertilizer.
  • For seed germination, the temperature of the soil should be about 70°F (even more than that, preferably). A good idea would be to use a heating pad under the seed tray if the temperature is not ideal.pepper growing on plant outdoors in sunshine
  • When you’re ready to plant the seed, do so at a ¼-inch depth.
  • When it’s time to move them outside, harden off the plants 10 days prior to transplanting.
  • You need to make sure that nocturnal temperatures are at least 60°F before transplanting the seedlings.
  • The distance between the seedling should be about 18 to 24 inches.
  • The ideal soil temperature for transplanting is at least 65°F.
  • Even if the best soil for growing bell peppers is well-drained, you need to make sure that it has a good balance of moisture, so use plastic covering or mulch if needed.
  • For the most part, bell pepper will do with watering about one or two inches per week. However, gardeners that live in really warm climates might need to water every day.
  • Feel free to fertilize after the first fruit set.
  • The roots of bell peppers can be really sensitive, which means that weed removal should be carefully done.
  • In plenty of cases, you might have to use stakes to give the plants some support and prevent them from bending. You can easily find cone-shaped wire tomato cages that will also do the trick.
  • You can proceed with harvesting the pepper once they grow to the size of your choice.
  • The best harvesting process is to use scissors or a sharp knife to cut the produce directly from the plant.
  • Bell peppers usually stay fresh about 10 days after harvesting.

Bell Peppers: Diseases & Pests

We need to quickly review the potential pests and diseases that could destroy a pepper plant, so that you’ll know how to protect your harvest and prevent just illnesses from spreading:

Anthracnose

This is a type of fungus that makes the leaves of the plant have spots that are yellow, brown, purple, or black. You might also notice a gelatinous mass or dark spots on the stems. You will need to destroy the infected plants and make sure that the soil has compost rich in nutrients. You can also rotate crops to make sure that the plants don’t rot.

Colorado Potato Beetles

These are also a threat to the health of bell pepper plants. They can play yellow-orange eggs which are typically found on leaf undersides. You need to remove the eggs or the beetles manually by using straw mulch. Make sure that you remove the weeds around plants.

The Mosaic Virus

This can also damage your bell peppers. The mosaic virus has a variety of symptoms which include distorted leaf growth and stunting. If you notice that, you will need to get rid of the infected plants. Make sure that your gardening tools are disinfected after each use to prevent the virus from spreading.

Aphids

These are insects that pose a threat to bell peppers. Your plants likely have them if the leaves turn yellow or if you notice sticky honeydew (which is a term used to describe the excrement left behind by these insects). One of the best ways to fight these plants is to practice companion planting. Nasturtiums will attract aphids away, while herbs like rosemary or basil will repel them. You can also use a water spray bottle to knock the insects off from the plants.

aphid closeup on a green leaf

Root-knot Nematodes

These are insects that will tie up the roots of the plant, and you will notice them turning yellow, stunted, or wilted. To get rid of them, you will have to destroy the roots. Exposing the soil to the sun (through a process that is known as solarizing) also helps, just as adding age compost does. You want to make sure that you disinfect the gardening tools after each use as well.

Blossom-end Rot

This is a nutrient deficiency that results in a lack of calcium. This deficiency is manifested through water-soaked and dark spots located on the blossom end of the fruit. If you notice that, you want to remove the affected fruit. Make sure that bell peppers are planted at proper soil temperature. Another way to prevent this from happening is to make sure that you water the soil in depth. It is also important that the pH of the soil stays around 6.5, as excessive nitrogen can also lead to blossom-end rot.

Conclusion

Bell peppers have found their way into many international dishes, and whether you’re cooking stuffed bell peppers with minced meat, adding them to a vegetable soup, or slice them and add them to salads, they are a great source of vitamin C that should be part of everyone’s diet.

roasted bell pepper strips on a sheet pan

The best way to ensure that you eat only the healthiest bell peppers is to start growing your own. The tricky part is that bell peppers most likely won’t sprout if you use the seeds from store-bought peppers, which means that you will separately have to purchase them (choose heirloom seeds to get the best results).

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