Peppers do more than just add color to a garden, they are a deliciously sweet and juicy fruit that you will enjoy harvesting and, raw or cooked, will enhance a variety of dishes. Peppers will grow very well and with little help in a warm, sunny location. If you live in a cooler area, greenhouse growing will probably work better.
Choosing a location
In Canada, most people choose to grow bell pepper plants in a greenhouse, where the temperature can be maintained at least 18°C. Growing peppers in pots requires a little more care than in the ground, but is generally better suited to the Canadian climate.
If you are growing your peppers outdoors, make sure to protect them from wind. Choose a warm, sunny spot, such as the base of a wall. The soil should be well drained; too much moisture can cause the plants to rot.
If you choose to grow in a pot, wait until two leaves have formed and then transplant the plants into containers of about 3 inches in diameter. If you plant them directly in the ground, space them about 17 inches apart. You can start your seedlings in mid to late March, but the best time to plant is during May. Be sure not to plant the seeds more than 6 mm deep, otherwise you risk compromising their growth.
Wait until all risk of frost has been eliminated and temperatures are still above 7°C at night before potting your plants to spend the summer outdoors.
It is important to water the plants well, especially in hot weather or if you are growing them in pots; you may need to water them daily. As soon as flowers appear, start fertilizing your plants with a liquid fertilizer, such as tomato fertilizer.
Plants are generally quite resistant to pests and diseases. However, they can be prey to aphids; you should be able to get rid of them fairly easily by rinsing the leaves. There are other problems that may threaten your plants if they are exposed to frost. If there is a late frost warning, take the trouble to cover your plants to protect them.
A productive plant will yield between 3 and 8 peppers. You can harvest them as soon as they are green and shiny, but if you let them ripen on the plant, they will turn yellow, orange and then red. The longer the bell pepper remains on the plant, the sweeter it will be, but the yield may be lower.
To pick the bell pepper, use sharp secateurs or a knife to cut the stem (pulling the bell pepper off the plant can damage the branches). Depending on the variety planted and the weather conditions, you can harvest your peppers from August to September.
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