Planting And Growing Peppers

Peppers: General Tips

Soil: Well-drained, fertile soil with abundant phosphorus and calcium is best.

Germination: Sow seed in shallow flats, 4 seeds/in., 1/4" deep, in late March or about 8 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Ideal soil temperature is 80-90°F (27-32°C). Pepper seed germinates very slowly in cooler soil. When the first true leaves just show, transplant 2-3" apart in flats or 2" cell-type containers. (The use of 2" or larger cells will produce larger plants with better-developed root systems.) Grow plants at approx. 70°F (21°C) day and 60°F (16°C) nights.

Cool Treatment: Exposing the seedlings to controlled cold treatments can increase the number of flowers and fruits. When the third true leaf appears, grow the plants at a minimum night temp. of 53-55°F (12-13°C) for 4 weeks. The plants should receive full sunlight. After 4 weeks adjust temp. to 70°F (21°C) day and night. If this technique is used, peppers should be seeded 1-2 weeks earlier than usual.

Transplanting: Transplant out after frost when the soil is warm and weather is settled. Ideal seedlings have buds, but no open flowers. Set plants 12-18" apart in rows 24-36" apart, or 2 rows on poly/paper mulch, 18" between plants. Water-in transplants using a high phosphorus solution.

ROW COVERS: Cold weather is buffered and earliness increased by using plastic tents or 1 gal milk jugs. Remove row covers when in sunny weather above 85°F (29°C) to prevent heat damage.