Sweet bell peppers are a garden staple. They can be used in everything from chili and tacos to standard garden salads. You can cut them up and mix them onions and pureed tomatoes to make salsa… and so on. They are very useful, especially when your goal is to be self-sufficient and grow most of the food that you eat. Thankfully, sweet bell peppers are fairly easy to grow as well.
Start Off Right
You’ll need to begin growing your bell peppers indoor from seed, or choose already in progress seedlings from a garden shop. You cannot simply place the seeds in the ground and hope for the best. These plants need to be somewhat hardy before they can be transplanted outdoors. The seeds should be started between 8 and 10 weeks before the last spring frost. They prefer an indoor temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so have your grow lights ready.
Choose A Good Location
Bell peppers need warm weather and full sun. They also need warm soil – at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is any colder than that, your plants will not survive the transplanting process. They should be placed around 18 inches away from each other, as they will expand as they grow. It is okay if the growing plants overlap each other slightly, as they will protect each other from the heat of the sun, however, they shouldn’t be so close that they begin to choke one another, taking up all of the nutrients.
Care For Them Properly
Once you have your pepper plants in the ground outdoors, you need to water them properly. They do like warm weather and plenty of sunlight, but are sensitive and prone to drying out. If you live in a cooler climate, provide them with around three inches of water a week, but if you’re in a dry, desert-like environment, you may find yourself watering them daily. Once they have begun to grow buds, your plants can be fertilized. If they need additional support as the main stalks begin to mature, feel free to place them in tomato cages or tie them gently to larger stakes.
Know When To Pick Them
Once the sweet bell peppers have reached the size that you want them to be, feel free to pick them. However, keep in mind that they become sweeter the longer they stay on the plant. If you like your peppers super sweet, let them grow for as long as you can! Don’t twist the peppers to remove them, as that might damage the main part of the plant. Instead, use shears or a sharp knife to cut them off.
Once your peppers are off of the plant and in your kitchen, they will stay good for ten days as long as they are refrigerated. During this time, you get to enjoy the vegetables that you have grown yourself!
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Pic by joe beasley