How to Grow Bell Peppers

comments (2) August 5th, 2008

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If rainbow colors are your thing, plant some bell peppers. You can get a color burst of peppers from one variety. Islander is a chameleon, turning green, yellow, purple, orange, and red.
A two-level trellis supports pepper plants. Lines at the base brace main stems, while the upper zigzag helps bushy higher growth.
Elisa is an elongated, four-lobed red bell pepper with good disease resistance and continuous fruit set.
If rainbow colors are your thing, plant some bell peppers. You can get a color burst of peppers from one variety. Islander is a chameleon, turning green, yellow, purple, orange, and red.Click To Enlarge

If rainbow colors are your thing, plant some bell peppers. You can get a color burst of peppers from one variety. 'Islander' is a chameleon, turning green, yellow, purple, orange, and red.

Photo: Boyd Hagen

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It’s dinnertime. Show time. Time to go to the pepper garden. I always seem to have time for the pepper garden, especially toward the end of summer. That’s when the piece of Carolina piedmont we’ve cultivated since the spring starts paying off with a pepper bonanza. For eating and entertainment, our diverse cast of bell peppers can’t be beat. The rows fill with rainbows as the fruits mature under dark green canopies of foliage. Some are so sweet we eat them like apples.

What we don’t eat fresh we freeze so they’re available all year. Without the color, texture, and flavor of peppers, why cook? We’ve developed system to grow great plants, allowing us to pick colorful peppers over the entire harvest season, which lasts through much of the fall. The production is well worth the price, which is no more than good planning and the usual TLC.

Quilting the pepper patch: Choosing the best varieties to grow
Techniques matter, of course. But the right variety makes all the difference in the world. The problem: What grows well in my part of the country may not in yours. You must try different varieties, choosing those with the characteristics you want— color, size, disease resistance, fruit that sets continuously or in a concentrated period, etc. And read seed catalogs carefully.

Our long, hot, humid growing season means more exposure to all the problems that plague any garden plant. So disease resistance, especially to tobacco mosaic virus and bacterial leaf spot, is high on my list of plant attributes. For a continuous harvest you need a large plant with lots of foliage that will support and cover lots of peppers. Compact plants just don’t have long enough side stems to support fruit far out on the branches. They also don’t have dense enough foliage for the critical role of screening fruit from scalding sun rays.

We test varieties side by side for several seasons, keeping only the best but always testing new ones to make sure there isn’t a better mouse trap out there. After 10 years, here are the varieties we really like:

In green bells, ‘Camelot’ and ‘Galaxy’ produce nice blocky, four-lobed fruit. Green peppers are selected mainly for shape, since they will all turn color when mature.

In red bells, we grow ‘Elisa’, an elongated, four-lobed fruit with good disease resistance and continuous fruit set. In yellow, ‘Orobelle’ with its blocky, thick-walled, four-lobed fruit is tough to beat. It even makes a good general green bell if picked early. In orange, the sweetest of all, ‘Valencia’ takes the prize. Generally, I don’t believe in purple food. But for the kids and for bright, fresh salads, ‘Islander’ is a beautiful lavender fruit.

Lastly, and not to be overlooked, are the long, narrow, thin-skinned, thin-walled peppers. Used for salads, sautéing, and grilling, they mature early and are prolific. We grow ‘Aruba’ or ‘Biscayne’, but many people favor the ‘Corno di Toro’, or bull’s horn.

 

Four beautiful bell peppers    
'Orobelle' pepper   'Valencia' pepper
 'Orobelle'    'Valencia'
     
'Elisa' pepper   'Aruba' pepper
 'Elisa'    'Aruba'



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Comments (2)

TeddyFlyfisher writes: Will Cayenne Pepper sprinkled around my pepper plants, prevent snails from eating the plants...? I live in Thailand and just planted six sweet pepper plants and discovered a snail has eaten one already...Can't use salt as that will destroy the soil...Any advice would be welcomed and thanks...
Posted: 7:45 pm on February 10th
kimms writes: Are the first peppers that form on a pepper plant supposed to be picked before a plant will set anymore peppers?
I've never grown peppers before but this year I decided to give it a shot with one plant. It has always been a healthy plant and is growing in a container. The problem is, it blossomed and set it's first two peppers [which have grown beautifully] but every blossom since has grown when it comes time to turn into a pepper, the stem turns yellow and I find it laying in the soil. The temperatures have been normal, not too hot or cold and moisture stress isn't an issue either. The plant is growing in a large pot with high-quality potting soil, so I doubt it's the soil. I've gone through all my gardening books and I can't find any reason that could be applied to this plant. I don't want to pick the first two peppers prematurely if I don't have to especially if they are going to be the only two that I am going to get from this plant.
Posted: 8:00 am on July 5th
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