Having fresh fruits and veggies is one of the many benefits of gardening. One particularly interesting veggie to grow is the bell pepper. What’s neat about the bell pepper is the different flavors that can be grown by simply postponing the harvest date. From green to red to orange, the many flavors are all delicious in their own right. Here are some expert tips to help you start growing bell peppers indoors!
Providing Ideal Soil conditions
To start, bell peppers like their soil to be warm. Your best bet is to grow your peppers in a soil that has been warmed up to 70 Degrees F. You can also add mulch to your soil to prevent it from soaking up a lot of heat during extreme summers. For colder seasons, you can wrap the area with plastic so as to increase the ambient temperature of the soil. In all cases, use a loose well draining soil to prevent standing water problems.
When growing from seeds, it’s very important to keep the soil above 70°F or the seeds will not germinate. A good place to keep your seed trays is on top of the refrigerator as this is naturally a bit warmer. You can keep them in seed trays until the seedlings are a few inches tall, and then transplant them to their permanent pots or move them outside. Peppers transplant well and it is not too difficult to do so.
Another commonly used technique with bell peppers is to plant them in pairs. Having two peppers very close together is said to both increase pepper yield, as well as provide additional protection from the sun.
Red Peppers Love the Sun
Generally speaking, red peppers are warm-season crops and germinate under temperatures of 70°F, keep them around this temperature for best results. You’ll also want to provide them with plenty of bright light.
Peppers generally like to have more light than other plants, aim to hit 12-14 hours per day! This is pretty difficult to hit, especially in the winter, so don’t be afraid to supplement natural sunlight with a grow light. A good florescent light placed close to the plant is a good choice.
If your peppers start to look flimsy or bend using a simple wire guide is an easy solution. This generally is an issue when growing outdoors, but can also crop up from time to time for larger indoor ones as well.
Watering & Feeding
Watering should be done when the soil is about an inch dry on top. Keep the soil moist but not drenched. In most climates, this amounts to roughly 1-2″ of water per week. However, bell peppers are quite sensitive to the sun. If in a warmer or desert like climate watering everyday may be necessary. At the very least, misting the plant daily can help combat high temperatures without over-watering.
For feeding, use a half strength water-based fertilizer. Do this roughly once a month. Using an organic or homemade fertilizer is also another good option. You can also repot with fresh soil once a year to help recycle nutrients back into the soil.
Don’t get discourage if your peppers don’t appear immediately. It’s not uncommon for peppers to not be ripe until late into the season. This is especially the case in very high climates where the peppers will wait until cooler nights later in the season to really start growing.
Harvesting Your Red Peppers
Harvest your peppers as soon as they reach a desired size. Make sure you wait for the plant to grow a full size as they generally become sweeter and vitamin C rich as they age. In fact, the green and red peppers you see in the typical supermarket are the same type of vegetable just picked at different times. If you’re looking for a sweeter pepper, wait until they turn red to begin picking.
While harvesting, snap your peppers with a sharp knife so as to avoid repeatedly cutting and hurting the plant. Once harvested, you can refrigerate your peppers in plastic bags for up to 12 days after picking.
Growing Bell Peppers Indoors
Red peppers take a bit of time and patience, but it’s well worth the effort. Having delicious red peppers ready to pick and eat is a delicious treat. Now that you’ve learned all the tips for growing red peppers indoors go out there start your own garden!