Short season home gardeners should be getting ready to plant your pepper seedling starter pots.
Every gardens soil and weather conditions Are Not suitable for growing peppers. Hot and very hot types are more difficult to grow successfully.
Pepper like Tomatoes and Eggplant are in the nightshade family and will not do well in cool wet growing conditions.
When daytime air temperatures rise above 90F(32C) or fall below 70F(21C) peppers will often stop setting blooms that produce fruit.
Nighttime temperatures below 60F(15.5C) or above 70F(21C) may cause blooms to drop off the pepper plants.
Two of the biggest mistakes many want to be pepper growers make are using the wrong pH potting soil mix and not keeping their starter pot soil warm.
Soil Thermometer is a must have gardening tool. If you don’t have one, consider buying a Stainless Steel Soil Thermometer. I have seen them advertised on Amazon and Ebay for as little as $8.50 – $10.00.
Pepper seed dislikes acid soils. Soils with a pH lower than 6.5 may cause your seed to fail to germinate. Soil pH of 7 to 7.5 is a good pH range to shoot for in your pepper patch.
Avoid soil mixes that contain peat/peat moss, do not use peat pellets or peat pots in an attempt to grow pepper seedlings. Even a small amount of peat in your potting mix can cause your soil pH to fall causing pepper seed to fail to germinate.
An interesting thing about germinating pepper seed is the hotter the pepper type the higher the soil must be for seed to germinate.
While Bell pepper seed may germinate fine at 70F in as little as 7 days,
Jalapeño require soil temperatures of 75F-80F and may require 30 days to germinate.
Habanero peppers germinate best at 85F-90F soil temperatures and have been know to take 3 or even 4 months to germinate.
For the reasons listed above I recommend the casual pepper grower purchase healthy pepper plants from your local nursery. However you must still provide a soil type that is beneficial to peppers to be successful.
As much as peppers love warm soils they are not very drought tolerant and will require an inch or more of rain or supplemental water through out the growing season. Container grown peppers may need watering everyday or two.
If you are container growing peppers, move then into a warm place when temperatures are forecast to drop below 55F.
Peppers are a very tender and temperatures below 40F have been know to kill pepper plants.
Feeding your peppers. Don’t over fertilize you pepper plants. Over use of nitrogen will make the pepper plants develop lush foliage at the expense of fruit production.
Peppers are light feeders. Work a little bit 5-10-10 fertilizer into the soil prior to transplanting, that’s probably sufficient. However you can also side-dress the plants with a light sprinkling of 5-10-10 when they began to bloom, this may give them a boost in producing abundant large healthy crops.
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