Add a little spice to your life by growing hot peppers in your home garden. Regardless of how much heat you want, there's a pepper for you. And it's fun to experiment with this easy-to-grow plant by growing several different types!
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Hot peppers can be grown from seed, but it can take 10 to 12 weeks to grow to the point that the plant is ready to transplant into the garden. The seeds also need a lot of heat until they germinate. Ideally, the soil should be at least 80 degrees F (27 C) until germination. You may need a heat mat or grow light to accomplish this.
You can also find transplants at the nursery, but you won't be able to get as much variety as when you grow them from seed.
If you choose transplants, do not choose those that already contain some tiny peppers, as they will not bear as well. Peppers do very well when grown in pots, so you'll be able to grow them even if you have only a deck or patio.
Do not rotate your hot peppers with any plant from the Nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes), and select a garden spot or container that will get plenty of sun.
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Hot peppers need fertile and relatively warm soil and are sensitive to too much nitrogen. If necessary, use plastic mulch to ensure that the soil remains above 60 degrees F (15.5 C) and use row covers if the air temperature is predicted to fall below 55 degrees F (13 C).
When you set the plants into the ground, they will benefit from fertilizing with a starter solution. After this, do not fertilize too much, as it can cause blossoms and small pepper pods to fall off the plant.
Peppers are subject to "transplant shock", so it's best to transplant them in the evening. Plants need to be kept evenly moist but not soggy and may need to be staked, particularly if there is a lot of wind.
You can harvest hot peppers whenever their size and color suits you. The longer you wait, the sweeter and hotter they will taste. But fruits picked earlier will result in a higher yield. Regardless, wait to harvest at least until the fruits are swollen and glossy.
Hot peppers should be stored in a plastic bag placed in the warmest part of the refrigerator for about two weeks.
To freeze them, wash and place them in a 400 to 450 degree F (204 to 260 C) oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Then remove from the oven and wrap in a wet towel and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Peel the skins from the peppers and remove seeds and stems. Flatten to remove air and then freeze.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Hot Peppers. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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