September 20, 2022 4 min read
For many of us, peppers aren’t just a cooking ingredient; they’re a lifelong passion. From Beyonce singing about carrying a bottle of hot sauce everywhere she goes, to everyone here at Grandma Jones’ continuing the generations-old family tradition of making delicious homemade pepper jelly dips and spread, spicy foods inspire a level of excitement unlike anything else.
Naturally, a lot of “chili heads” eventually get bit by the gardening bug and want to try their hand at growing some peppers of their own. At the same time, if you don’t have a natural green thumb, you might be unsure of how to get started. Below, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips that should prepare you for the next growing season.
Who knows? Maybe some ofyour peppers will end up in a jar of Grandma Jones’ Pepper Jelly!
Not unlike members of the Jones’ family, peppers like a bit of heat. Specifically, they need to be planted when the soil is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on where you live, this could be as early as mid-February. That said, we recommend giving yourself a head start by planting seeds indoors for about 6-8 weeks before then. A single crop of peppers can take as long as 20 days to sprout, so it’s a good idea to get them to that point before moving them outside.
The best growing season for peppers generally occurs in the spring and summer. A reliable rule of thumb is to wait weeks after the last frost date. Peppers thrive best in temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees. Remember that the temperature cools during nighttime. If the temperature dips below 55 degrees, your plants may suffer as a result.
Now that you know when pepper growing season is, it’s time to start planning your garden. Here are four key items to keep in mind when planting peppers:
Not all peppers are created equal. That’s why, before heading out into the garden, it’s important to know the different kinds of peppers and their uses. Bell peppers have no discernable heat but add a touch of mild sweetness. Jalapeno peppers are quite a bit hotter and have a grassier taste. Habaneros are much,much hotter, with a subtle smokiness that really enhances a dish. Growing peppers takes a lot of work, so don’t waste your time planting varieties that you don’t have a use (or taste) for.
2. The Three Essentials are Fertilizer, Sunlight, and Water
Like most plants, all peppers require to grow up big and strong is a little tender loving care. And fertilizer. And sunlight. And water. Finding the right plot of land is crucial, as pepper plants tend to do better in loamy soil and are very sensitive to changes in the pH. As warm water crops, they also thrive in direct sunlight, so try to avoid areas that get a lot of shade. Finally, make sure to water them regularly, especially if you live in an area with a hot or dry climate. In arid conditions, pepper plants may need watering daily.
3. Be Vigilant About Combating Pests and Plant Disease
One good thing about peppers is that they tend to naturally resist pests and disease. That doesn't mean they're immune to either, though. Some of the more common ones include aphids, spider mites, anthracnose fungus, and cucumber mosaic virus (or CMV). To get rid of the first two, examine the leaves of your plants for black residue or webbing, then spray affected areas with insecticidal soap. For the latter two, total destruction of the problem plant is the only way to keep the disease from spreading to the rest of your crop.
4. Be Careful When Harvesting and Handling Fresh Peppers
Because of the diversity of the pepper kingdom, it’s hard to give a simple answer to the question “When should I harvest my peppers during the growing season?” Some peppers, like jalapenos, turn a deep green color when ripe. Others, like cayennes and serranos, go from green to orange to red. The one thing almost all peppers have in common though is capsaicin. That’s the compound that causes your tongue to tingle; it also can cause severe pain if transferred to your eyes or sinuses via your hands. When harvesting peppers, stay safe by wearing gloves.
Depending on when you’re reading this, it might be a while before the next pepper growing season. If you’re craving something sweet and spicy in the meantime, why not reach for a jar of our tasty homemade Pepper Jelly. It comes in a wide variety of flavors, from Jalapeno pepper jelly to Southwestern Chipotle to Caribbean Mango; there’s something for everyone at Grandma Jones’ house!
Give your taste buds a treat they won’t soon forget. Try Grandma Jones’ Pepper Jelly today!
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