Sweet peppers are sown in early March (late winter, early spring).
But you better sow some earlier (my experience of 2013 with a cold cloudy spring). When you sow in January or February (mid to late winter), you can have sweet pepper plants of 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inch) high, in April (mid spring). Further in this tip you can read how you can take the plants with big root balls out of flower pots and put them in a box in a layer of compost.
And you can store and ripen the peppers in a tray on 3 or 4 lays of kitchen paper. On the tray is plastic foil with a small air opening. More info in chapter J)# Ripening and storing sweet peppers.
- Fill a plastic box with sieved potting soil.
- Flatten the top side of the potting soil.
- Use an other margarine box to press on the potting soil.
- Spray cold tap water on the potting soil.
- Lay dry pepper seeds (uniformly distributed) on the potting soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of sieved potting soil.
A2) Sowing tip 2: big margarine box
- Fill an original 500 grams plastic margarine box with sieved potting soil.
- Spray cold tap water on.
- Lay a piece of sink mat on the potting soil.
- Drop each seed in a mat hole.
- After sowing, remove the mat.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil.
- Put a well fitting lid on the box.
- Put the box with lid indoors on a warm place.
- Regularly check if the paper is moist. Keep the box (without lid) oblique askew. Check if a little water appears at the lowest corner after a few seconds. When water visible, paper is moist enough. If not, spray some cold tap water on the paper.
Putting lids under the box when too warm
Big lid, small lid on
Put the margarine box with small plants before a window in a warm room (temp 20 to 25 C, 68 to 77 F). The plants must grow in full daylight. Then you’ll get firm plants.
On a dark spot, they will grow into thin, long, slender plants.
On a cool spot before a window you can put the plants in this mini greenhouse. This transparent top is a box of mushrooms. But you can also use a similar transparent plastic box that fits over the margarine box. Take care of a small air opening between the transparent box and the window sill.
At a big margarine box you can put the transparent box on top of the short sides of the margarine box.
Pepper seeds germinate well when they are not covered with soil. That is not so weird. In free nature, seeds fall on the soil and stay there (and are not covered with a layer of soil or so). Seeds fallen on moist soil, between plants or in the shadow, do not dry out so fast. At a good temperature and with some rain, most seeds germinate. After a short time, many mini plants grow in the soil.
Below there is a description of how to germinate sweet pepper seeds when not covered with soil. Very illustrative and educational. You can lay the seeds on top of the soil or in shallow sowing holes. Seeds in sowing holes do not dry out so fast, I think.
When the sweet pepper plants have 4 or more leaves, you can transplant them.
Remark 2 (toppling):
It can happen that a pepper plant topples, a few weeks (or so) after transplanting. The plant can “wiggle” right above the top of the planting soil.
Carefully take the pepper plant out of the flower pot (to prevent breaking the stem). Rinse the root ball with water to remove the planting soil from the roots.
The pepper plant can look like this; there is a necking (girdling) in the stem above the roots. This girdling can be caused by “too moist planting soil”. This plant disease is also called “Damping Off”. More info about this disease on the internet; here and here .
Put the plant “some deeper” in dry planting soil in a a flower pot. Add little water during the next weeks. Perhaps the plant goes on growing; the plant of the photo has grown bigger in the summer. The plant was the smallest one of all.
C)# Pepper plants, taking out of flower pots and putting in a compost layer
When pepper plants are about 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inch) high, the pots will be too small.
Fill a low tray, or a window box liner (both with holes in the bottom) or a shopping crate with compost or potting soil. Layer thickness about 10 cm (4 inch).
Take each pepper plant out of the flowerpot. Taking out can be done easily according the next procedure;
Eleven (11) plants in a shopping crate with compost layer in.
Or 8 plants in compost in a tray with holes in the bottom.
Or 6 plants in a small basket with compost, also with holes in the bottom.
Put the tray or crate with plants at a warm, light place by day.
Or put the tray or crate with plants in a greenhouse, when you have one. On this photo you see trays with plants in my “deep greenhouse”.
Water the plants and the compost sufficient. Excess water flows out of the tray or crate via the holes in the bottom.
End of May: many sweet pepper plants in trays. Each plant has its root ball in a thick compost layer.
Plants are big enough to put in the garden soil.
C4) Green or yellow leaves
Pepper plants on June 1.
Plants in green/blue shopping crate have yellow leaves. Other plants have green leaves.
- The plants with yellow leaves are the “oldest” plants. They have been in my green house since early april. The plants have been there during cold nights.
- The plants with green leaves are “younger” plants. They were in the greenhouse since late april. The plants have not been in the greenhouse during cold nights.
- The younger plants are somewhat bigger than the older plants.
- My experience: The plants with yellow leaves will have a normal green leaves within a few weeks after planting in the garden soil.
- You better put pepper plants indoors during cold nights or cold days in spring.
D)# Plants outdoors, in the garden, planting out
- Loosen the garden soil.
- Dig a hole in the soil. Width and depth about 15 cm (6 inch).
- Mak a “dam” of garden soil around the hole. For better watering of the plant. Water will not “flow away” from the plant then.
- Fill the hole with (self made) compost. Sprinkle some agricultural lime on the compost.
- Mix the compost and the agricultural lime with some garden soil. This is a good mixture for pepper plants.
- Put the pepper plant (with big root ball) in the mixture in the hole. Press a little on the mixture after planting.
- Put a (bamboo) stick next to the plant in the soil.
- Water the soil with cold water.
- Fix the plant to the stick using a strip.
This photo shows 12 sweet pepper plants in the garden soil.
- In time the soil around the plants will get more flat. Thanks to the compost, water will fall in the garden soil (and not flow away).
- The compost in the garden soil holds the water better than garden sand.
- After some weeks you can put a thin layer of hay or straw around the plants. To keep the soil moist and to have water better dropping in the soil.
E)# In a mortar bucket
E1) Support for big plants or branches with heavy peppers
- Put bamboo sticks in the compost layer. Use laths and plastic (conduit pipe) clamps to keep the bamboo sticks upright. See tip 2) nr 55.
- Fix each pepper plant to the bamboo stick using plastic strips. See also tip 2) nr 10.
- Use elastic band and clothes pins to support branches with heavy fruits. See tip 2) nr 17.
This photo shows how laths and clamps support bamboo sticks in a mortar bucket.
F)# Seeds from ripe sweet peppers
In summer you can take seeds out of ripe sweet peppers. Spread the seeds on a piece of kitchen paper in a margarine box. Write info on the paper before laying seeds on. Dry the seeds for 2 weeks. Then you can put a lid or another margarine box on.
G)# Removal (breaking off) of first flowers or flower buds
At the end of May (mid spring), sweet pepper plants can have flower buds or flowers already. Click on the photo above for wide screen.
At each plant you better remove the first 5 to 10 “things” (flower buds or flowers or tiny peppers). After removal of these, the plant can use all sun energy to make new stems and new big leaves. Later on, when the plant is much bigger, you can keep a few buds and flowers at the plant. And you can have 3 to 6 fruits growing on each plant.
Pepper plants can be attacked by aphids.
Pepper plants in trays in my deep greenhouse. (greenhouse opened for this photo)
Some plants are attacked by aphids (yellow arrow). This is due to draughts (air currents) in the greenhouse. To keep the temperature in the greenhouse low during warm sunny days,, there were 2 (opposite) air openings below the corrugated plates. This caused the draughts (air currents).
Plants in a mortar bucket or in the garden soil with aphids attack.
Further at chapter H2) No aphids allowed you can read how to prevent the plants from aphids.
H1) Help against aphids
When plants have aphids you can spray a mixture of dish soap and methylated spirits on the leaves. Or use a small sponge with this mixture to wipe the aphids from the leaves.
But when you “do nothing to this attack”, the pepper plants will grow well in the garden soil within a few weeks after planting. And the aphids will disappear.
The plants in this mortar bucket look healthy; only a few crinkled leaves visible.
H2) No aphids allowed
To prevent the small pepper plants from aphids, do not put the plants in a draught.
- I put my little pepper plants in the deep greenhouse with a narrow air opening at one side of the greenhouse. To prevent a draught.
- At the tunnel of corrugated plate with plants under it, there is a plate at each end of the tunnel.
- At warm, sunny days I put a white sheet on the transparent plates of the deep greenhouse. And a white sheet at the sunny side of the tunnel greenhouse. To keep a good temperature in the greenhouse.
I)# Sweet pepper plants growing in the open air or in a greenhouse
Sweet peppers like warm weather. You can put them in a warm greenhouse.
You can make this roof (greenhouse). See tip 25) Plastic foil at ..
You can put the pepper plants in the open air in your garden (when you live in a good climate).
Pepper plants in my allotment garden. Click on the photo for wide screen.
J)# Ripening and storing sweet peppers
Green bell peppers are not ripe yet. You can keep the peppers at the plant until they have a “ripe” colour (red, yellow, orange…). But ripening cost much time and much energy of the plant.
You better pick the fruits when they start changing colour from green to red, to orange, to yellow, etcetera. Or when a pepper gets dark green, almost black. Within a few days this pepper starts colouring to the “ripe” colour.
After picking the unripe fruit, the pepper plant can use all sun energy for growing the other fruits at the plant. And for making new fruits.
Pick “riping” fruits. Lay them in a tray on 3 or 4 lays of moist kitchen paper. On the tray there is plastic foil against drying out of the paper. You can use clothes pegs to fix the plastic foil to the tray. Take care of a narrow air opening, as shown on the right side on the photo above. Put the tray in your house, on a light or a dark place, that does not matter. Temperature somewhere between 15 and 22 C (between 59 and 72 F).
- You can pour much tap water on the kitchen paper. The 3 or 4 layers of kitchen paper can absorb much water. The peppers lay on “very moist” paper. When you press with your finger on the paper, a little puddle of water is visible. That’s okay.
- The paper does not dry out so fast; it keeps moist for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Store the peppers indoors at 15 to 20 C (59 t 68 F).
- Thanks to the very moist kitchen paper, the peppers stay robust. The peppers do not rot because the kitchen paper “holds” the water.
In this way, peppers can ripen while they stay robust. After 1 to 2 weeks you have firm red (or yellow or orange or….) bell peppers.
K)# Small and big bell peppers
You can grow small or big sweet peppers.
Peppers are ripening in a washing-up bowl with foil over it. (The big green and small yellow pepper are in this bowl)
The same big pepper after 24 days of ripening. The stem is rotting a little.
The stem has been cut off.
This is a “giant” bell pepper of almost 400 grams. It grew in my allotment garden under the roof with plastic foil at both sides.
The same pepper after 11 days of ripening on moist kitchen paper. I removed a small (rotting) piece of the stem.
Below some photos about preparing this big pepper.
Cut in half.
Break off the stem with seeds.
Remove the white “ribs with seeds”. Cut away a little pepper material near the top (yellow arrows).
Useful sweet pepper material; 328 grams.
And 50 grams of stem and ribs.
And (calculated) 8 grams of moist pepper seeds.
L)# Small snails on sweet peppers
Peppers can be attacked by snails. It happened in my garden at plants that grew in the deep greenhouse or under the roof with plastic foli at 2 sides.
A bell pepper with these small holes can start rotting soon. You better prepare the peppers for a meal or to freeze.
M)# Growing egg plants (Aubergines)
You can grow egg plant on a similar way as peppers.
Sow in potting soil in a greenhouse of margarine boxes. Let the plants grow big until they have 4 or more leaves.
Put each small plant deep in a flower pot with a mixture of compost, potting soil and agricultural lime.
Put each big plant in the garden soil at the beginning of June (late spring). Planting info at chapter D)# of this tip.
Big plants in the open air in the garden soil. Let 1 or 2 fruits grow at each plant. This photo show plants with fruits at mid September (end of summer).