Growing Peppers

Peppers!  So many flavors, colors, sweet, mild, hot and………WOW give me some milk fast HOT!  I grow them all.  Peppers are warm weather lovers.  Although, over 90 degrees for extended periods they stop producing fruit.    I start planting peppers starts in my garden around the first of May.  Any earlier they don’t grow and the spring winds we get howling through the garden, they seem to suffer and get torn up.  If I do get the urge to plant sooner I do cover them with row cover.  My peppers usually get popped into a spot where lettuce was grown for early spring harvest and is then cleared out.  I work the soil and add 4″ of compost.  Ahh, compost!  My peppers receive full sun until around 5 pm.  It gets hot here and I have to protect the fruit with floating row cover from sunburn.  Peppers with sunburn get a leathery, sunken look on the top and south side of  the pepper where the sun hits it the most during hot days.  Space peppers 12 inches apart.  This close planting helps the plants shade their own fruit from sunburn.  When planting, I will add a tablespoon of all-purpose fertilizer (well-balanced) in each hole and mix it up a little with the existing soil and pop the pepper plant in covering the roots ball, but not firmly.  Water deeply and don’t let the soil dry out.  I start to mulch mine when the mercury rises.   This helps retain water and keep the roots cooler.  I fertilize every three weeks until mid-fall.  When harvesting your peppers cut off the fruit rather than tug and pull.  The plants are brittle and you don’t want to pull on a pepper and end up with half of the plant in your hand.  Peppers don’t like to be planted with onions.  It seems to stunt them. Try some new varieties this year and surprise yourself. Ancho and Anaheim for roasting,  little sweet stuffing peppers with a little bit of cheese on the grill,  jalapeno for mango salsa, cayenne for making your own cayenne pepper.  What ever peppers you choose find new ways to serve them, because there are so many.  Why get stuck in a rut! 

Summer Bell Salad

  • 1 large red bell pepper cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large green bell pepper cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 green onions, minced
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans coarsely chopped
  • Mix everything in a large bowl and toss with dressing

Dressing for Bell Salad

  • 1/8 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Combine all ingredients until blended and pour over bell salad

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