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Sweet peppers are fun and fairly easy to grow. They also don't take up a massive amount of space, the only downside to them is that they will really only succeed if you grow them in a poly tunnel or greenhouse because peppers like high levels of heat and humidity.
With many different colours, shapes and sizes available these days this is a crop that everyone should try to grow at least once. I recommend seed as buying pepper plants from the supermarket or garden centres works out a lot more expensive than growing from seed.
Like almost all vegetable seeds, you can pick up pepper seeds very cheap (for example as I write this review the first result on Amazon shows a packet of 125 seeds for 50p and free postage!!). There are literally tonnes of varieties to choose from - you will find ones that produce fruit like that in the supermarket, there are also tiny varieties that are the size of golf balls for some extra cuteness, there are packets that come with multiple colours (green, red, yellow, orange, purple and white are readily available in a mixed pack). It all depends on what you fancy.
I have grown the small orange ones which added an unusual splash of orange colour to the poly tunnel last year, the long banana varieties and this year I am growing the mixed colour types.
I don't recommend buying a green variety because all peppers no matter what colour they are start out green and then will change colour as time goes by.
Peppers like it hot and will survive in the highest UK temperatures even if the greenhouse is baking! They can be grown outside and I have seen this happening at some gardens I have visited, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you don't have a greenhouse or poly tunnel. The forecast tonight as I write this at the end of August is 8 degrees overnight and this could kill a pepper plant or at least seriously slow down its progress. The UK weather is so unpredictable that I wouldn't risk putting them outside after the work put into starting them off.
I have heard of people growing peppers inside on windowsills - this shouldn't be a problem but I have never tried it - my only thoughts are they will get less light this way.
The final potting size and positioning of a pepper takes up quite a small amount of space (unless it is a bushy variety and you can prevent it from getting bushy by NOT removing the tip of the plant). Final pot size is around 20cm high and the circumference of a tea cup saucer is sufficient space for it to grow without too many issues. Mine are positioned all in a row neatly with the edge of each pot touching the next one along a windowsill in my greenhouse.
I start mine off in March because Feb is too cold, even in a greenhouse - peppers are supposed to require at least 18 degrees to grow, so keeping that in mind you could start seedlings off inside the house and protect them from the outside elements until the time is right.
I do start mine outside in the greenhouse in seed trays of John Innes seed compost covered with a plastic propagator lid. Germination can take 2-3 weeks and in my experience the temperature when the seed germinates can seriously affect the rest of its life - I sowed some this year in Feb trying to get ahead of the game - the seedlings are still less than 10cm high whereas ones I sowed a month later are up to 1.5 feet...
You can transplant your seedlings when two true leaves have formed; these are not the first two leaves you see as a seedling but the subsequent leaves that grow afterwards.
I transplant my peppers only twice, that combined with the little space they take up compared with everything else makes them one of the easiest veg to grow without much maintaining required.
They like a warm sunny position and that is where I position the seedlings - when transplanted from the seed trays I plant them into a small pot (the ones the same circumference as a coke can (roughly!)). Then once the roots really establish and look like they will emerge from the holes in the bottom, they get transplanted into their final pots - this bit is easy as I fill the final pot with compost leaving a hole in the middle the same size as the other pot. When you remove the pepper plant from its smaller pot the compost and roots will just come out in one big chunk and you place that into the hole in the larger pot. This way there is minimal root disturbance and there will be no hindering growth.
I remember reading somewhere once that you should pinch the tips of a pepper plant when they reach a certain height to encourage bushiness and more fruit to develop. I was always worried about doing this kind of thing to my plants (including tomatoes back in the day - I know better now!) and so I did this to two of my ten pepper plants the first year I grew them - it did make them bushier but it severely delayed the crop compared with the ones I left alone, in fact they were never ready to harvest as the October weather got the better of the plants before they had a chance to get big enough.
Feeding wise, like most other fruiting vegetables you can stick to two simple types - seaweed fertiliser once a week until the fruit has started setting from the flowers. After the fruit is visible switch to tomorite or similar fertiliser once a week instead of the seaweed.
The flowers on pepper plants have a tendency to drop off before fruit has had a chance to set - to avoid this happening, spray the foliage of the plant every couple of days.
As mentioned above, all peppers start out green so if you think one is ready and you have a nice juicy ripe green pepper then I would suggest you leave it for a few more weeks yet! It is likely to change into a much nicer colour which will also produce a slightly different flavour.
There is one positive to this though - you can eat them green so if Autumn is taking hold and you are worried about the plants and the cold, you can pick them green and eat them rather than them going to waste.
Between sowing and harvesting is around 5-6 months from my experience - the packet always says less time but I don't think it takes into account the average British summer... We had that massive heatwave in July 2013 and during that time my pepper plants grew massively, but then slowed down again when the weather went cooler. As I write this now in August I haven't actually harvested a pepper yet although some are close, they are a few weeks away yet. I was harvesting until the start of October last year and the year before and it will probably be the same in 2013.
I have never done this, but you can make fruit ripen faster by removing the plant from its pot and hanging it upside down! This is best done at the end of summer to help speed things along.
To harvest the fruit, use a sharp knife as the way they are attached to the plant can make it quite awkward to remove them using scissors; you may damage the plant if you aren't careful.
Why grow sweet peppers?
The cost of a pepper is around 50-80p from a supermarket, seeds, compost, trays and feed work out cheaper and its more fun!
I love the pepper plants as well; from that tiny little seed you plant they form a fantastic looking plant which is almost like a bonsai with a tiny wooden trunk, masses of roots at the base, great leaves and colourful stems.
They take up little space considering the yield, need not much attention and add colour and style to your greenhouse or poly tunnel (Or windowsill!).
Have I mentioned they taste nice as well? They are very good for you and contain very high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Thanks for reading, hope I have inspired or helped you and contact me with any questions.
Peppers can be grown from seed, or bought as baby plants. They're easy enough to grow from seed so give it a go. In March/April fill a 9cm pot with soil and plant 2 seeds about 13mm down. Put the pot in a propagator or on a window sill. Once a couple of cm tall think out the weakest plant, and allow the other to get to about 10cm. They can be planted in pots outside, or even in the ground but you may well struggle to get them to fully develop in colder climates. The will thrive best in greenhouse (whether it be cold or heated). Wherever they are planted, make sure you water reguarly (to ensure the swelling of the fruit) and prodive a thin stake as support). As soon as the peppers reach a reasonable size just harvest them. Peppers are perfect to be used in salads, with a main meal, or as a healthy snack.
The sweet pepper is native to Mexico, Central America and South America and it has been spread across the globe since 1493. it is called the bell pepper because of its shape and comes in three colours red, yellow and green and is widely available in all supermarkets and grocery shops.
The sweet pepper can be grown from seed and is relatively easy to grow in a green house, but it can just as easily be grown in a pot or a window box. They like a sunny area and love to be grown in compost. planting them in a little pot and placing it on your window sill will produce a healthy strong plant. if your not confident enough to grow your plants from seed, then you can always buy an already cultivated plant from a garden centre which will set you back about £1.20 but the cheapest place to find plants is a bootsale, where they can be bought for 50p.
Once your plant has grown to about four inches tall it will need support and this can be done by sticking a cane into the pot and carefully securing it with string.
Re-potting the plant into a larger pot when it gets to about three inches high will help it to spread more and if you re-pot into a large pot then you won't have to re-pot it again, so it will settle and grow easier. Don't forget to water your plant twice a day. Once the flowers have appeared you can then begin to introduce the plant feed. A tomato feed will do just nicely, but any liquid feed high in potash is goodfor the plant.
your fruits should be ready to pick between July and September.
HEALING PROPERTIES OF PEPPER
Peppers are great for the stomach and is good for the circulation. Hot peppers have also been used in heat treatments but the sweet pepper is good for cramps, wind and gastric complaints.
A pepper has only 20 calories so you can really tuck in as they are good for anyone dieting and they are packed with vitamins, iron and zinc which our bodies need.
We have all eaten peppers raw on salads but there are so many things you can do with a pepper.
Roasted Vegetable Tart
1 red pepper
1 small onion
500 g plum tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
250 g shortcrust pastry
Preheat oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ Gas Mark 6. First prepare the vegetables. Cut the aubergine into chunks. Cut the peppers in half and de-seed. Place all of the vegetables in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and the thyme and roast for about 40 minutes. Line a 20 cm tart tin with the shortcrust pastry; bake blind for 10- 15 minutes or until golden. When done, spoon in the vegetables and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Serve while still warm!
Peperonata is an Italian dish. It can be made with any or all colours of bell (or sweet) peppers, and is delicious on pasta or any grains, pizza, as a side dish or condiment. Capers, though not appearing in this recipe, are often included as well. Serves 4.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/3 teaspoon dried
3 to 5 bell peppers, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and just golden, about 10 minutes. Add the peppers, a pinch of salt, and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, then add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the excess water has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Chinese Sweet Pepper and Peanut Noodles
The secret is to toss the sauce and noodles together just before serving cold or warm - alongside or combined with chicken, beef, prawns, fried tofu, spring onions, carrots, broccoli. Serves 4 as a main
125 g smooth peanut butter
1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
400 g dry noodles
Puree all but noodles and bell pepper in a blender until smooth then add the pepper slices and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Cook the noodles until tender then drain and rinse them under cold water (if you want to serve them cold). Toss in the sauce and serve immediately
So there you have it a very versatile vegetable often under used to its best ability.
Have fun x
Growing Sweet Peppers
I took a gap year out and the communities I seen along the way grew a lot of their own food, which inspired me to grow some vegetables of my own. I decided to be adventurous and grow peppers. They are quite hard work but worth it in the end when you are cutting off the delicious peppers to eat. Sweet peppers are in the same family as tomatoes and potatoes. They produce large fruits, which can be yellow, green and red depending on how ripe it is.
**HOW TO GROW**
From February/March onwards you can scatter seeds thinly onto moistened compost. Keep this compost moist but not soaked. Cover the seeds with about half a centimetre of compost, then glass and newspaper. Turn the glass daily to prevent condensation dripping onto the seedlings.
I have successfully germinated seeds with just newspaper over them in a unheated greenhouse. It will take 7 to 12 days for germination to happen. In my experience this may be because I do not have a heated greenhouse it can take up to two weeks to see the seedlings. Sweet peppers need high temperatures and humidity to grow well.
As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle prick a single seed out and put them into 3 inch peat pots. Feed them to maintain steady growth. It is possible to grow these plants outside in mild sheltered areas with the aid of cloches or tall-sided cold frames.
Personally I have not tried this and find it easier to stick to using the greenhouse as I find it easier. You can plant them out from the end of April to June, really after the risk of frost has passed. These plants really don't like the frost and will not survive in frosty conditions.
When planting out you will need to transplant the plants as they now will be bigger into 9 inch pots and space them 18 inch's apart each way so each plant has the best chance of getting enough light and growing properly. At this stage water and liquid feed once a week.
Now your plants should be growing well and once they are 6 inch tall you will need to remove the growing point (this is the leaves at the top of the plant that are clumped together). This will leave 3-4 branches and will encourage the plant to branch. At this point it is best to support and tie them to bamboo canes if necessary.
At this stage onwards you will have to look out for pests and bugs. Some common ones are spray aphids, whitefly or red spiders. If you check the leaves you can remove them manually and if the problem persists you can use sprays to kill or remove them. The main problem I have is slugs eating the leaves. I had to buy slug pellets and made sure I got ones that did not harm my cat, as he is silly enough to eat them. Even so I try to keep the cat away from the plants and pellets. I tried egg shells to start off with but to be honest they weren't very effective and the slugs ate a lot of my plants and even ate some of my peppers quite badly.
Now this is the fun part and this is harvesting the fruits. From July onwards they can be harvested. The fruits will be large, green and glossy. If you leave the pepper for a few extra weeks it will turn red. Some people prefer red peppers but it is just a matter of taste. To remove the peppers from the plant make sure to cut them with something sharp so you don't damage the plant. Then eat your delicious organic pepper, which you have grown.
It takes a considerable amount of work to grow pepper plants from seed and it takes a long time before they bear any peppers, however I feel that it is worth the time and effort. Seeds only cost roughly £1.50 and you can half lots of plants from a packet. You will just need to have the space to grow them all.
Also posted on Ciao under my username Denisekelly40