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....Poblano Pepper. Photo by Maggie Dwyer
Common Name: Peppers

Botanical Name: Capsicum spp.

Family: Solanaceae

Type and Use: Perennial, usually grown as an annual with edible fruit.

Location: Full sun to fairly heavy shade. Morning sun and afternoon shade is best.

Planting Dates: Spring after all danger of frost, about 2 weeks after tomatoes are planted. Fall about 2-1/2 months before first average frost.

Planting Method: Peppers transplant easily and that is the most common method, although they can be grown easily from seed. For spring, plant after last frost.

Seed Emergence: 10-14 days at 65-95°.

Harvest Time: 60-100 days

Height: 12 inches-6 feet

Spread: 18-36 inches

Final Spacing: 18-24 inches

Growth Habits: This is a nightshade vegetable that varies greatly in size and heat of peppers. Small white flowers are followed by fruit in many sizes, colors, and flowers.

Culture: Easy to grow in most any healthy soil. Use lots of compost, lava sand, Texas greensand, sugar, and soft rock phosphate. Mulch heavily and spray often with Garrett Juice. Fertilizer twice a year with an organic plant food. Peppers are very sensitive to fertilizer. They need it in small doses only at bloom time. Use: about half a handful of organic fertilizer per plant.

Troubles and Solutions: Sunburn on the fruit can be avoided by planting in afternoon shade. Leaf miners and spider mites are controlled with healthy soil, Garrett Juice, and garlic tea. Add potassium bicarbonate for disease problems. Nematodes will no longer be a problem if citrus pulp is tilled into the beds before planting. A basic organic program prevents most pest problems.

Harvest and Storage: Don’t break peppers from the plant. Cut them off to prevent damage to the stems and the rest of the plant. Peppers can be stored in a cool dry place for a good long time, but they are best eaten fresh. All peppers turn red or yellow, but they can also be harvested green.

Notes: Peppers are good for you in that they can help blood circulation and are good for digestion. On the other hand, macrobiotic practitioners say that all nightshade vegetables are bad for the joints, so ease off if you have arthritis.

Peppers are loaded with vitamins and minerals, plus they just taste good. The juice from hot peppers like jalapeno, cayenne, and habanero can be used with garlic juice to make an effective organic pesticide. Peppers make lovely ornamental landscape plants. The small fruiting varieties can be used as potted plants, and the chile piquins will perennialize in north Texas under an organic program. All peppers are actually perennial plants, but most will freeze out at the first frost.

When choosing your peppers, remember that color has nothing to do with how hot they are. The amount of capsaicin in a pepper can be scientifically measured by the Scoville Organoleptic Test. This test measures the number of units of water it takes to make a unit of pepper lose all traces of heat. The hottest chile pepper known, the habanero, checks in at an incendiary 150,000 to 300,000 Scoville units, but it looks so tame, like a tiny orange pumpkin.

Varieties: Hot - Cayenne, Chili Piquin, Habanero, Poblano, Bolivian Rainbow, Jalapeno, Serrano, Tobasco, Spanish Spice, Purple Peruvian; Sweet - Big Bertha, Pimento, Jupiter, Top Banana, Golden Summer, Nardello


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